As I mentioned when we found out that he was lost for the season, Zeljko Rebraca still has significant value to the Clippers as a trade chip. Making $3.24M this season (the Clippers hold a team option for next season), he can be traded straight up for any player making between $2.6M and $4M, and with his contract expiring, he would be attractive to teams trying to shed salaray in exchange for players who are signed longer term.
The most motivated trading partner would be a team who just signed a player, but now regrets it. Marcus Banks is the cover boy. This trade works, and Phoenix would do it in a heartbeat, but Banks is not the player the Clippers need (not at all). But you get the idea.
Obviously, I'm not going to just put crazy unrealistic stuff out there. For instance, Z for Kyle Korver works, and he has a bunch of years on his deal so there would be salary relief, but why would Philly do it when Korver is a significant contributor for them, and a bargain to boot? They wouldn't. So that's the next thing we're looking for - a player who is not in the rotation for his current team.
The other question of course is what are the Clippers looking for in return? We've already said that Banks isn't a good fit (a shoot first point guard who would be a horrible fit with MDSr and would struggle to play ahead of Daniel Ewing), but what would a good fit look like? It's no secret that if ClipperSteve were running the team, he'd be looking for a shooter and only a shooter. The first consideration is the ability to stretch defenses, and everything else is incidental. With Rebraca's injury and Aaron Williams' back, I have no doubt that MDSr is looking for a big (the paper reported as much today). It might indeed make sense to look for a big on waivers or in the D-League, but not in this trade. By definition we're looking at acquiring someone for at least a couple seasons - MBFGC should be wearing red, white and blue next year, so the need for a big is a short term need at best.
To recap, we're looking for a player:
- Making between $2.6M and $4M currently;
- Signed for more than one year;
- Not in his team's rotation;
- Who can shoot three pointers.
There are potential exceptions for each criterion. For instance, Charlotte, Atlanta, Toronto and Chicago are under the salary cap enough that they could trade pretty much anyone for Z. Also, a team might be willing to trade someone in the last year of a deal if there was something else in it for them, like picks or cash. And of course one of the factors may be significant enough to override another - if a team is desperate enough to shed salary to avoid paying the luxury tax next year or to make a splash in free agency, they might be willing to trade a player currently in their rotation.
After a quick glance through NBA rosters, I came up with some interesting possibilities.
Real Possibilities - These players meet all 4 criteria:
Fred Jones - Toronto signed Jones to a 3/$11M deal this summer, but he has fallen out of the rotation this month, with six DNP's in the last 12 games. An athletic wing with a career 3FG% of 34.4%, he's shooting under 32% from three this season, which is undoubtedly a big part of the reason he's out of the rotation. Toronto would probably do this deal with Chris Bosh's extension kicking in next year, but the Clippers may be a little gun shy on Oregon Ducks after the Luke Jackson debacle.
Dan Dickau - Dickau is something like the fourth string point guard in Portland right now. He has one more year for $2.8M on his contract. A terrific college player, the one time he was healthy and given minutes in the NBA (in 04-05 with the Hornets) he averaged 13 points and 5 assists. His other 4 years in the league, he's averaged 3 points and barely gotten off the bench. Another floppy haired Oregonian (eerie), he might be worth a risk, since the price is pretty low. However, he's a 6'0" point guard, where the Clippers really need a wing in this trade. But he can shoot - career 3FG% of 34.5%.
Intriguing - These players meet at least 3 criteria:
Sarunas Jasikevicius - It may be too early to tell if Jasikevicius fits in with the Warriors, but he doesn't seem to fit long term. He has averaged 15 mpg in his 4 games in Oakland, but the Warriors have some looming cap issues, needing to re-sign Michael Pietrus and Matt Barnes this summer, with Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins looking for paydays the next summer. I've always loved this guy, ever since seeing him almost single-handedly beat the 2000 Dream Team in Sydney. But he hasn't gotten a real chance in the NBA yet - it would be fitting if he were traded for Z, as both of them were "The best player in Europe" before coming to the NBA as established players. Also a point guard, he's big enough to play the 2. He is 36.1% for his career from three point range.
Gordon Giricek - Giricek's minutes in Utah fluctuate wildly, but he has been rumored to be on the trade block recently. The big problem with this deal is that there's not really a lot in it for Utah. They don't have an cap issues currently, so a move would be strictly to save Giricek's salary next year, or spend it on a free agent this summer, which is still attractive no doubt. He is 35.2% for his career from three point range.
Long shots - These players meet most of the criteria, if you squint a little:
Brian Scalabrine - The question with Scalabrine is, why would the Clippers do it? Boston would love to be rid of their 2005 free agent mistake. He kind of fills two different needs for the Clippers - a back up big who can shoot a little (I said, you have to squint). He is 33.6% for his career from three point range, and 16 for 41 (39%) in limited minutes this season. This one would be fun just to see the Sports Guy's reaction to his least favorite player being traded from his wife/Celtics to his mistress/Clippers.
Damon Jones - Jones is still getting significant minutes for Cleveland, but it is conceivable they would be willing to deal him. For one thing, they signed David Wesley who replicates what Jones does for less money, and they also have Sasha Pavlovic on the wing. They can't play them all. More importantly, when LeBron's max extension kicks in next year, the Cavs will be getting very close to the luxury tax, and I assume they plan to re-sign Anderson Varejao. So getting rid of two seasons of Damon Jones at over $4M each might be worth it to them. Now let me be clear - I HATE Damon Jones - but he can shoot the ball: 38.8% for his career from three point range.
Damon Stoudamire - Stoudamire is still the starting point guard in Memphis, and seems to like their new up tempo style. But he's 33 years old, has 2 more seasons at more than $4M each on his contract, and with Memphis in disarray, it's reasonable to think they'd like to get rid of him. He is 35.9% for his career from three point range, but he's tiny (5'10"). He doesn't seem to be a fit for the Clippers.
Pat Garrity - Garrity has fallen completely off of Orlando's depth chart, appearing in only 18 games this season, 3 of the last 11. The salaries match up, but the thing is, Garrity is in the final year of his deal, so Z is not of interest to them. The Clippers would have to throw in something else, like a second round pick or some cash, to get Orlando to bite. If they could, this might be an interesting possibility. Garrity is one of the best shooters out there (career 40.2% from three, and there aren't a lot of guys over 40% for their careers), and being in the final year of his deal, he'd be a gamble without significant downside.
Three-way trades - the possibilities are endless
The most interesting scenario I can come up with would be a three-way trade: Rebraca to the Warriors, Jasikevicius to the Cavs, Jones to the Clippers. The Cavs desperately need a decent point guard, and tried to Jasikevicius in 2005 but lost out to Indy. The Warriors get salary relief, and the Clippers get a shooter.
Other Ideas - I came across two other names that might be available but have nothing to do with a trade for Rebraca.
Salim Stoudamire - Damon's cousin was chosen with the first pick of the second round in 2005, one pick before the Clippers took Daniel Ewing, and the story is that the Clippers were coveting Salim at the time. He's been in and out of the doghouse in Atlanta, and has played only 12 minutes in their last 6 games. I doubt that Atlanta has soured on him enough to swap him for Ewing, but I suppose it's possible. He was the best shooter in the NCAA his last year at Arizona, and made 38% of his threes as an NBA rookie.
Eddie Griffin - I don't think the Clippers would consider this because of all the baggage (nor would any other team for that matter), but it is interesting. Griffin will probably be cut by the T-Wolves any time now, and, like Scalabrine, is a big who can shoot. Unlike Scalabrine, he's a documented head case, and a locker room cancer, so a team would have to be pretty desperate to give him a call. I don't think the Clippers are that desperate.
So what do you think? Do any of these strike you as things the Clippers would be interested in, or should pursue? What would you do with Z's valuable contract?