The funniest thing about the NBA Draft Lottery is how team reps try to balance acting happy about getting a high pick with looking sufficiently disappointed that their team was bad enough to end up at the Lottery in the first place.
The 2010 Conflicted Emotions winner was the guy from the Pistons: During the drawing he broke into a big grin when his team landed the No. 7 pick, but as soon as ESPN’s Mark Jones said, “The Pistons missed the playoffs for the first time in since 2001,” his face immediately shifted to a somber, focused look.
Danny Granger forgot the “act happy” part. Repping the Pacers, Granger brought a John Wall jersey to the Lottery and was ready to rip off his dress shirt like the Incredible Hulk if the Pacers got the top pick. When they didn’t, he dropped his head onto the table. Lost in the comedy of the moment: Granger was advertising that he needs help.
One year removed from his breakout ’08-09 season, Granger averaged 24.2 points this year, 10 more than Indiana’s second-best scorer (Troy Murphy, 14.6 ppg). Only the Cavs (LeBron, Mo Williams), Heat (Wade, Beasley) and Thunder (Durant, Westbrook) had a bigger discrepancy between their leading and second-leading scorer.
But amidst reports over the weekend that the Philadelphia 76ers are open to trading the No. 2 pick in this year’s Draft (read: Evan Turner), I thought up a deal that would get Granger the help he needs, while Philly also gets what they want:
* Indiana gets: Elton Brand, 2nd pick in 2010 Draft
* Philadelphia gets: Mike Dunleavy Jr., Jeff Foster, Brandon Rush, 10th pick in 2010 Draft
Pacers projected lineup
PG – Earl Watson/T.J. Ford
SG – Evan Turner
SF – Danny Granger
PF – Elton Brand
C – Roy Hibbert
6th Man – Troy Murphy
76ers projected lineup
PG – Jrue Holiday
SG – Andre Iguodala
SF – Mike Dunleavy Jr.
PF – Marreese Speights
C – Sam Dalembert
6th Man – Thaddeus Young
From everything I’ve heard, the Sixers are more eager to unload Brand’s monster contract — $51 million over the next three years — than they are to get a potential future All-Star in Evan Turner. But why would they take this deal to get back three players who might not even start and the 10th pick in a Draft that doesn’t have 10 “sure thing” prospects?
Because the list of teams willing to take Brand is short. And for a Sixers squad that’s short on basketball IQ, shooters and overall talent, Indiana can help fill some of those gaps. Dunleavy, Foster and Rush all have high basketball IQ; plus Dunleavy can shoot, Foster can bang, and Rush is a talented big guard still realizing his potential. And with that 10th pick, Philly can get a young center to eventually replace Dalembert, maybe a Hassan Whiteside or Ekpe Udoh or Greg Monroe. They also save money with Dunleavy ($10.5M), Foster and Rush coming off the cap in 2011.
(An alternative to the above deal would be one sending Murphy, Solomon Jones and Rush to Philly. Murphy is a better player than Dunleavy, but I think Dunleavy’s passing ability helps Philly’s offense move more smoothly, and Foster is a better defender than Jones.)
The Pacers, meanwhile, are desperate for a reliable low-post scorer/rebounder who can play D. Like I wrote the other day, Brand fell off from his 20-and-10 form faster than a roided-up baseball player, but after putting up 13.1 points and 6.1 boards per game this season he’d still be Indiana’s closest thing to a go-to guy on the interior. And in Turner they get an immediate starter at two-guard.
Talent-wise, is it a lopsided deal? Depends on how good you think Turner is going to be. But as we’re seeing even more in the NBA, saving money is just as (if not more) important as putting a winning team on the court. The Sixers have to save money, while the Pacers have to produce a winner — or at least look like they’re trying — to bring fans back to their struggling franchise that’s rumored to be in danger of relocating. This trade works for both sides.