All right, so we all know the rumored deal, which is probably nothing more than just that – a rumor.
The deal would be for the Kings to send Kenny Thomas back to the 76ers and move Andres Nocioni to the Boston Celtics. In return, they’d receive J.R. Giddens and Samuel Dalembert.
Sounds pretty sweet, right? You get an allegedly big-time shot blocker to come push Spencer Hawes to his fight or flight instincts and have yourself a legitimate three big man rotation.
Here’s the problem: you’re giving up way too much to get the deal done.
This has nothing to do with the fact that the Kings had a rumored deal of Emeka Okafor in return for Kenny Thomas the other day. Those discussions don’t affect this feeling at all. The problem is that you’re passing up on your deepest position, making it instantly thin and hoping that a high-risk, little reward “defensive” presence inside gives you more depth where you need it.
Initially, this seems like a no-brainer. The Kings are nearly gluttonous at the wing when healthy and even with the two big injuries to Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia, they’re still running four deep with the versatility of Nocioni, Casspi, Greene, and now Udoka. And with Nocioni being your biggest and longest contract of the four players (and likely the most coveted by a title contender desperate for a veteran wing player), it seems absurd to deny unloading Nocioni when you’re getting a defensive center in return.
However, this really has nothing to do with this particular deal and has more to do with the theory of making this trade in general. According to Sam Amick, the deal is mostly dead because the Kings are weary of Sammy’s remaining two years for almost $25 million and that doesn’t even include his 10% trade kicker that would push it closer to $28 million. Also, the Celtics are apparently good at the wing and want nothing to do with Andres Nocioni even if it means giving up a couple of bench players of no value to them.
I have a problem with the idea of trading Andres Nocioni for anything other than someone of Emeka Okafor’s caliber. Now clearly, they are not nearly equal level players. But when you combine his shorter deal with the expiring contract of Kenny Thomas, the team the Kings would be trading with is getting a fairly big return in these economic moments.
Tom Ziller had a great breakdown of what Sam Dalembert could mean to the Kings. And in it, he had this seemingly throwaway line about Andres Nocioni:
“Given that the financial commitment is relatively short, and the price relatively small (no knock on Nocioni — again, he’s a bit superfluous here), it’s something any team in Sacramento’s position should consider.”
I agree with Tom in theory here but the problem I have is calling Noc “superfluous.”
Nocioni’s defense has been pretty much spectacular and he’s easily been the best wing defender for the Kings this year. Even though it looked ugly the night Kevin Durant put up 37 points in Arco, Nocioni made him work for every single basket and KD got bailed out quite a bit by the refs and their quick whistles. Andres did a great job of playing off-the-ball denial and making Durant work hard just to get the ball, let alone get it in the basket.
Now, the thinking here is the Kings depth at the wing makes trading him for a guy like Dalembert something to consider. But when you trade someone like Nocioni and only get a player like Sam Dalembert, who has been replaced by a John Hollinger dream child in Marreese Speights before he even really proved he could play, you’re instantly cutting your depth at a young position. And you’re cutting it with too much of a risk in return.
Omri Casspi has been great off the bench but as a rookie, especially an international rookie, (historically) he’s going to have big ups and downs throughout his first season. On top of that Donté Greene is basically a rookie himself because he was under (not) used during his first season and is still starting from square one. As of right now, the Kings are a game over .500 and in the playoff hunt after nine games.
Are they going to realistically make a push for the playoffs throughout the entire season? Probably not. In fact, their schedule gets pretty tough after the month of November and we’ll actually get to see just how good/tough this young team really is. But as long as you’re still in the hunt and the trade deadline still hasn’t passed, why rush a trade in which you’re not really getting any better? There’s usually one surprising team that makes a big playoff push every season and the Kings haven’t been eliminated from that, no matter how big-pie-in-the-sky that idea is.
The Kings can get much better in trading Nocioni and I don’t think he should be a mainstay if you can use his contract space in better ways (by grabbing a REAL defensive presence through a trade, not someone who still commits unnecessary goal tends at the age of 28.
While in theory Andres Nocioni is superfluous, in reality (under these circumstances) he still fills a big role in helping the young guys. Keep him until you can flip him for something better.
You may now proceed with grilling me on this issue.