Ball Don't Lie - NBA

February 08, 2010

Trading Andre Iguodala

It appears to be the only big deal that survived the weekend.

It appears to be the only possible deal in this impending all or nothing trade deadline de 2010. The trade deadline that could see half of the NBA moved an inch to the left, or merely Dorell Wright(notes) shipped away from Miami for a conditional second-rounder. Conditional.

Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and potentially, we think (we're pretty sure, dude's opting out) his expiring contract to the Philadelphia 76ers for Andre Iguodala(notes) and his rather large contract.

It wouldn't be that simple. It never is. Philadelphia would certainly want the Suns to take on Samuel Dalembert's(notes) contract, and the 76ers would probably have to take on Jason Richardson(notes), and various parts (expiring or otherwise) would have to be tossed in so as to even things out. The point being that the 76ers, in the midst of an embarrassing season spent playing in front of some of the most dispassionate and smaller home crowds in this league, for the fourth or fifth year in a row, are trying to re-tool. Rebuild. Re-everything.

And the Suns? For some reason, they want Andre Iguodala.

This game never stops teaching us. And for whatever purpose, it has yet to teach us about Andre Iguodala. You watch him play, and all you can think about is what AI doesn't do right. He doesn't appear to be particularly adept at creating shots. He shows a peculiar affinity for the high-arching three-point bomb, no matter the situation, regardless of his success rate from behind that arc. He just doesn't appear to be much of a game-changer.

And then the game ends. And you see his line. And it reminds of a B-level LeBron James(notes).

And you look at how well the 76ers do with him on the court, and off the court. And you remind yourself to pay particular attention to Andre the next time you see the Sixers, to see what, exactly, he's doing. And you try, for a while, but those Sixers games come on at the same time as four or five other contests, and you have a column to write, and you flip around.

And you never learn why, exactly, it is that this guy's advanced statistics are so, so appealing. We get that he's efficient, that he defends well, that he focuses (at his best) on three-pointers and high-percentage finishes, the most effective takes a man could make. We know he passes, he boards, he creates turnovers, and he can be the biggest reason behind a 12-to-2 run.

But an all-world player? A lot of people think so. I think I think so. The Suns, according to rumor, think so.

Which is funny, because they had a chance at this guy back in 2004. Traded the pick away to Chicago in preparation for the great Steve Nash(notes) signing that summer.

Nash wasn't the only guy, mind you. The nice guy in you tells you that the Suns traded a lottery pick to Chicago for more room to sign Steve Nash. The prat in you reminds you that they also traded a lottery pick to Chicago for more room to sign Quentin Richardson(notes).

The Suns, apparently, are willing to break the bank for this guy. To trade big for small. To take on four more years at an average of $14 million per season. Yes, we know that for Phoenix's reputation as a heap of cost-cutters, the team still does pay the luxury tax, so a deal like this wouldn't exactly be termed atypical in spite of all those draft picks the team tosses away. And while the idea of AI throwing down on the break on a lob from Nash, finishing what he started with a steal or board on the other end excites, it still makes you wonder.

Nash is winding down. His stats might be trending up, but the run (this fabulous, fabulous run) has to end at some point. And this is the guy you're pairing him with work through these final years? Is there something we don't know?

In this league, there always is. As much as you think you might have things sussed out, there's always something that these people can teach you. Even if they traded for Shaq. Even if they valued money and Marcus Banks(notes) over Rajon Rondo(notes) and/or Nate Robinson(notes).

For the Sixers? Yeah, we kind of think we have them sussed out. This is a team that just signed Allen Iverson(notes). Clearly, they're out of ideas. Once you crib from the Grizzlies, after the Grizzlies admit defeat, you're lost.

Losing Dalembert's contract, though? Even if Nash lobs him toward a series of 20 and 20 games? Watching Iguodala blossom in the dry heat? Still faced with having to dump Elton Brand(notes), somewhere, while barely 8000 people show up to witness Amar'e Stoudemire  look strange for a few months in an (admittedly, sweet) 76ers uniform?

Worth it. Rebuilding, when executed properly, always is. Especially if the owner has your back, and Philly GM Ed Stefanski will clearly win points with Sixers owner Ed Snider. This should never be a reason for changing horses, but given the particular stream the Sixers are in, why the hell not? What's going right?

Even if Amar'e is only around for a few months, even if it is a passing paint predilection, you must lust after the chance to start over. Especially if it jettisons all those cap responsibilities. And if you lose Andre Iguodala in the process, oh well.

I think. AI might be the gem I'll never understand. That said, in a team game that demands the presence of four other players on the floor alongside your particular gem, this might not even matter to Philadelphia.

Work with what you don't understand.

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