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The Rumor That Won't Die

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As we guessed at the time of the trade, the fact that Mike Dunleavy Jr is now a Pacer has not extinguished the rumors of a family reunion in LA.  We've had a running dialogue about the latest rumors in the Diaries (thanks to Citizen John R for getting it started), but I thought I'd try to summarize the situation here.

First of all, for the ongoing talk: the Cavaliers have seen two major deals in their division this week, which has Akron Beacon Journal columnist Brian Windhorst thinking that maybe his Cavs should get busy, and wondering what's next.  He says:

According to three NBA executives, the Pacers are now in talks to move Dunleavy to the Los Angeles Clippers for dynamic swingman Corey Maggette. Indiana has been after Maggette since last season when they were looking to trade Ron Artest.
Update [2007-1-19 12:9:41 by ClipperSteve]: The Clippers and the Pacers are trying to put an end to the trade talk. Pacers GM Donnie Walsh said yesterday that the above report was "absolutely untrue" according to today's LA Times.

Meanwhile, in stirring oratory that gave me a chill (maybe it's just this cold weather), MDSr. defended his son to Jason Reid in Thursday's LA Times.  Among other things, father said of son:

He's a really good team player.  He has won a championship at every level he's ever played at. He's played big in big games and does the things that many coaches want players to do.

He was one of the top five guys in the league last year at taking charges. He passes the ball well ... he's had big rebound nights. His percentages on shooting the ball are pretty good and he can play four positions.

He's not a superstar player.  People look at him and say that's what they projected him to be. Maybe that was the wrong projection, but that's not his fault.

Everywhere he's been, he's been good, and he has been dominant on certain levels. In the NBA, I've always said you'll find out how good of a player he is when he plays on a really good team.

He makes other guys better by making the right plays.

I don't particularly disagree with anything Senior is saying here.  But it all begs the question, so what?  He's won Championships at every level?  What level is he at now, coach?  You know, Chris Wilcox's Terps BEAT Junior's Blue Devils the next year, but it didn't make C-Weezy a favorite of the coach.  Junior was the FOURTH leading scorer on the Duke squad that won the championship.  And it seems like coach is arguing that somewhere in there, somewhere in the 4th to 8th range, that's where Junior fits on a good basketball team.  But that's not how he's being paid.

You know Ed O'Bannon was a great college basketball player.  He won a title at UCLA.  He was the College Player of the Year.  In college, he was a good shooter, a good rebounder, a good passer, and a good defender.  He could do everything well at the college level.  Trouble is, he could not do ANY of those things at the NBA level.  He was the classic 'Great College Player' who simply couldn't go to the next level.  He lasted 2 seasons and 128 games in the bigs.

If MDJr were a Clipper today, he'd be the third highest paid player on the team.  It's not his fault that someone made the wrong 'projection' about him, but unless you get him to tear up his contract, that projection comes out of Sterling's pocket, and counts against the Salary Cap.  That 'projection' keeps the team he's on from signing those really good players that Junior needs to be around.  It's not his fault.  It's Chris Mullins' fault.  But we don't want Chris Mullins' mistake.  Why would we?

At any rate, we can safely assume that a Maggette for Junior trade, straight up, is not going to happen with Indiana, despite what 'NBA executives' say.  If the Clippers had been interested in making that trade, it would have happened in December, because you know the Warriors wanted to do it.  I'll also note that while MDSr evidently did want to trade for MDJr, I'm hearing that Elgin and the rest of Clippers' management thought it would be a monumentally bad idea.  So let's just say that if MDSr wants to give up a lot to bring little Mikey to LA, he's going to have a tough time convincing anyone else to sign off on it.

The prospect of MDJr coming to LA is further complicated by the provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that says that a traded player can only be traded by himself (i.e. not packaged with another player) for two months after the trade.  Those two months take us beyond the February trade deadline.  So if the Clippers wouldn't take Junior for Dunleavy before, then those two aren't being traded for each other this year, since the Clippers are asking for more for Maggette, and the Pacers are not allowed to offer more, by rule.

The Clippers would apparently be willing to trade Mobley for Dunleavy, but the Pacers want Maggette.  

One creative way to get everyone what they want would be to swap Maggette for Marquis Daniels and Mobley for Dunleavy in two separate trades.  It's essentially a package, but done as two separate transactions to skirt the CBA restrictions.  The Clippers get rid of Maggette who they've been trying to move, and Mobley whose contract is their ugliest, and get Dunleavy, who they supposedly want, and Daniels, who is a young athletic wing.  

Let me be clear: I don't like this trade for the simple reason that I think it would be a huge mistake to bring MDJr to the Clippers, period.  He's overpaid for who he is (MDSr as much as admits that in his comments), and having the coach's overpaid son on the team is a situation fraught with peril.  BUT, if I am interpreting the motives of others properly, this seems like a trade that could actually happen, depending on just how persuasive MDSr is with Elgin.

In fact, if it comes to this, I'd actually rather trade Maggette for Daniels straight up.  If it is inevitable that Maggette is going to be moved, the Clippers could do worse than Marquis Daniels.

But I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  the right answer is to keep Maggette, start Maggette and play Maggette.