The Zach Randolph Rumor and so Much More

What an interesting morning of Clipper-related stuff.  Glad I don't have a job.  Or a term paper due.  (Except that I do have a term paper due.)

As you know, I usually like to have a game preview by this time.  Of course, there aren't many Citizens out there who need a game preview for this one.  It's not like you're sitting there wondering, 'The Sixers... hmm... now who plays for them again?"  At any rate, between my Brand post last night, and some of the stuff going on this morning, I may not get to the preview for a while yet.  Just keeping up with the comments on Clips Nation is pretty full time right now.

So about that other stuff going on.

You should read Lisa Dillman's story in the LA Times about tonight's meeting with Brand.  What's interesting is that, while Baron Davis has always maintained that it was no big deal and that there were no hard feelings about Brand's departure, it does not come across that way at all.  "The mention of Brand quickly wiped away Davis' smile.... Davis hasn't spoken to Brand, and said he doesn't plan to do so.... 'I've got nothing to say to him.'"

And you absolutely MUST read Ramona Shelburne's blog posts recapping l'affaire Brand.  It's in two parts, here and here.  It's an excellent overview of the key events and motivators.  You should also read my comment on the second part (for some reason it's from Anonymous instead of ClipperSteve).  I think the cap situation is slightly misrepresented in the story.  I'm going to try to find the time and the energy to do a full post about this.  Again.

And then there's that trade rumor.

From Alan Hahn's Newsday blog:

The Knicks, Warriors and Clippers are talking about a three-way deal that would involve Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins being sent in a cap-space clearing move that would bring in Tim Thomas, Cuttino Mobley and Al Harrington.

A hat tip to Blazer fan bedhead on this one.  I can't say Citizen bedhead - he was here on a visa.

At any rate, before I got around to posting on this, Ric Bucher on ESPN.com reported that the rumor was half true:  Harrington for Crawford is a done deal and will be finalized soon.

So what about Tim Thomas and Cat Mobley for Zach Randolph?  Well, here's what we can say about that.

First of all, it works under the cap, so there's nothing that precludes such a deal.

Secondly, the Clippers started the season 1-9 and are currently 2-9.  I'd say there's ample reason to be looking at changing things up, wouldn't you?

But the Newsday report was suspicious from the git-go.  Why is this a three team deal?  If Harrington for Crawford works as a standalone trade, and Thomas/Mobley for Randolph works as a standalone trade, then why complicate matters?  A little salary cap tip - when a third team enters into a trade scenario, it is usually because that team has cap space, and therefore is not bound by the same salary matching rules as the other teams.  It is very rare that three teams over the cap can complete a three way deal that can't be completed separately.  (It's not impossible, as the fudge factors on salary matching can be used to make a deal work that would not work standalone - but it's very rare.)

So it seems like some things were conflated this morning.  Obviously it was reported as a three team deal when it turned out not to be, and indeed never had to be.  Furthermore, there was an immediacy and 'realness' to the rumor that was totally justified - for Harrington-Crawford.  But that immediacy got transferred to a separate Knicks-Clippers discussion, that probably was a lot less serious.

By the way, the self same Newsday blog as much as admits that the Clippers portion of the rumor just wasn't right in a later post:

HOWEVER....the Clippers-Zach Randolph scenario we mentioned in the previous blog might not come to fruition.

Hey, that's why we call them rumors.

Change 'might not' to 'will not' and I think we're all set.

Why does this keep coming up?  We know that Thomas and Mobley don't really figure into the Clippers long term plans.  Cat's keeping the seat warm for Eric Gordon (though he's clearly the starter right now) and Thomas has never been a favorite of Clips Nation.  Both have contracts expiring in 2010, making them very attractive to the Knicks as they work to get into the LeBron/Wade/Bosh derby.  (By the way, when Oklahoma City or Memphis or even the Clippers talk about clearing cap space to try to sign a big time free agent, take it with a whole shaker of salt.  Do big time free agents want to play for those teams?  But New York City, Madison Square Garden, Mike D'Antoni, run and fun?  I'm not saying the Knicks get whoever they want in 2010 - but someone will take their money.  That's guaranteed.  So yeah, they are smart to play this particular game.)

We know that MDsr already pursued Z-Bo this summer.  Does he have an affiinty for the guy?  Or does the rumor keep coming up because, hey, he's available?  I wondered if maybe MDsr coached Randolph at Portland, and had some sort of attachment to the guy, like bringing in Vin Baker.  But as it happens, MDsr left Portland the year before Randolph arrived.  Maybe he watched the guy develop with a little more interest since it was his former team.  After all, Randolph quickly made Rasheed Wallace expendable in Portland and MDsr did coach Sheed.  Who knows what the perceived attraction is?

The rumor this summer was that the Clippers were trying to acquire Randolph in a Camby-like deal - giving up nothing but cap space - and that they wanted the Knicks to throw in a pick to sweeten the pot.  So I'll say again what I said when the Kaman rumor surfaced - why would they give up significantly more now?  No, Mobley and Thomas don't figure into the long term plans.  But Mobley is clearly the starting shooting guard right now, and the way Ricky Davis is playing, it would be a pretty big hole to lose Cat for the rest of the season.  As much as I love Eric Gordon, the combination of factors doesn't make sense.  Do they want Zach Randolph in order to compete now?  Well, you don't start a 19 year old if you are planning to compete now.  So you can keep Thomas and Mobley and start Gordon while you're building for the future when you have 2010 cap space.  But you don't make a move to compete now and in so doing decimate your backcourt.

If the Clippers are going to send all that cap space to the Knicks, they're going to get more than Zach Randolph.  Picks, David Lee... something.

But I think what we really have here is a non-trade.  It seemed like a trade because it got mixed up with some serious Knicks-Warriors trade talk.  But it's not happening.

UPDATE:  In classic ClipperSteve fashion (forget about Baron Davis,Elton Brand isn't going anywhere, Allen Iverson to the Clippers) I posted this at 11:55 and at 12:06 Ramona posted from a source that this trade is 'very real, and very close to going down.'  Poop.  Why do you guys read this blog?  I'm pretty much always wrong.  I really hope that if it happens, it involves the Clippers getting more than Zach Randolph.  I don't think that helps the team enough.  Not when both the current starting shooting guard and the future cap space are going away.

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