Bill Simmons' annual NBA Trade Value column was published the other day (incredibly late, but he's been busy what with Boston winning every conceivable significant sports prize in the last 8 months including the KG sweepstakes). Here's the Clipper-centric recap of the column:
Shaun Livingston was on the list last summer at number 27, but is off the list now. There's no arguing that he should be off the list - the guy has played 145 games since being drafted, while
Dwight Howard has played 273. Howard will lap him before Shaun plays again.
Long aside - we've talked before about the decision to draft Livingston in 2004. My biggest issue has ALWAYS been that they should have gotten more thrown into the deal than a second round pick when they traded down from 2 to 4 in what was considered a two player draft. Here's the element that hadn't really occurred to me before - they made the trade on June 21, three days before the draft. If I'm remembering correctly, no one was sure whether the Magic were going to draft Howard or Emeka Okafor at that point. So although they ended up losing out on Okafor (a nice player, but not necessarily a game changer), at the time of the trade there was a very real chance that pick would turn out to be Howard (a leading MVP candidate at this point). OK, sure, it's revisionist speculation on a hypothetical straw man, but it's interesting, right?
Back to Livingston.... So obviously he's not on the list anymore. But Bill Simmons (annoying yes, but not a complete idiot when it comes to things basketball) had him 27 in his trade value column a mere 17 months ago. Bearing in mind that the Trade Value list takes into consideration things like salary and age, Livingston's youth and the fact that he was affordable obviously inflated his position even then. He was and is the poster boy for TUP (Tremendous Upside Potential, another Simmons column, not to turn this into the Sports Guy Review). But check this out - he's still young (22), and he's still affordable (the Clippers should have the field to themselves when he becomes a restricted free agent, as it seems highly unlikely that any team is going to make a serious run at someone with Shaun's injury history). Which still leaves two huge questions - after surgery and rehab, can he be the player he was, and more importantly, can he ever be the player he was supposed to be?
Elton Brand is at number 41 on the list, down 15 spots from the year before. EB's a year older, highly paid, less one Achilles tendon, and a year closer to free agency. Hard to argue with the drop - in fact you could make a case he should have dropped more (or maybe that he should have been higher than 26 last year).
But here's the big news: Chris Kaman is on the list at number 35, despite signing a contract extension that everyone thought was crazy as recently as October! So, according to Bill Simmons anyway, Chris Kaman is less tradeable to the Clippers right now than Elton Brand. I'm not sure I agree, but it's interesting. Kaman makes less, is 3 years younger and is under contract longer, all of which are in his favor beyond the basketball side. But assuming EB comes back 100% (and there's no reason he should not), who are we kidding?
Long aside 2 - We've also talked about going back in time and revising two drafts - taking Kirk Hinrich over Kaman 6th in the loaded 2003 draft, and then keeping the second pick in 2004 and taking Okafor - to fill the point guard and center positions. A couple months ago, it was painfully obvious in a 20-20 hindsight way that anyone would rather have Hinrich and Okafor over Livingston and Kaman. But Kaman, who we knew had more scoring talent than Okafor, is actually rebounding and blocking shots at a significantly higher rate than Okafor this season. Meanwhile, Hinrich is in a massive slump, shooting 37% from the field. Hinrich will bounce back, at least some, but it's fascinating how things have changed. Just to close the loop on the Simmons Trade Value tip, Okafor has gone from 16 in 2005 to 37 in 2006 to off the list, while Hinrich (who got paid recently) went from 28 in 2006 to off the list this year.