As the NBA trade deadline of February 21 edges ever closer, general managers start to soften their demands for players they are determined to move. It’s human nature to want to sell high, and to over-value your players while under-valuing everyone else’s. [20-second timeout: in Toronto, this delusional state of mind even has a name: Blue and White Disease, because the brains trust of the Maple Leafs has been particularly afflicted, and the city is into its fifth decade without a Stanley Cup.]
Paul Millsap, the rugged undersized rebounder of the Jazz, has been on the block for some time. The front court in Salt Lake City is extremely crowded, with talented young players hanging from the rafters. Millsap’s contract expires this season, and, like our previous trade candidate Josh Smith, Paul will command a hefty raise. I’m quite surprised he hasn’t been traded sooner, which causes me to wonder if Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor has been stricken with Blue and White. There’s also rumblings of a difference of opinion in Utah as to whether Millsap should be retained, and Al Jefferson shipped out. If Bryan Colangelo could somehow bring Big Al to Toronto in trade, then sign him to a long-term deal, I swear I’ll write a “BC for Executive of the Year” post; that’s how highly I think of Jefferson.
Let’s stay with Millsap, who is what Quincy Acy aspires to be when he dreams. The Trade Machine says a Millsap-for-Bargnani works straight up, but gives a huge edge in forecasted wins to the Raps. That’s hardly surprising considering Millsap’s excellent PER of 20.7 compared to AB’s 12.3. The superficial analysis shows Utah giving up a cheaper yet far more valuable player – why would they do the deal? Remember: in the NBA, players aren’t traded, contracts are. Utah is understandably concerned that Millsap can and will walk away at season’s end for no return. Bargnani, despite being a big man going to a team with plenty already, doesn’t play like a typical seven-footer. Utah has lots of players to clog up the middle of the lane and score in the low post; what they need is a shooter. If Utah learned how to play inside-out, or drive and kick, and Bargnani received lots of open looks as a result, the trade might look brilliant for the Jazz.
The Raps would have the rest of this season to test-drive Millsap, and he them. Paul would provide immediate help for our long-shot playoff drive. If romance blooms, Paul will sign on, or he may test the market. Either way, we’re out from under Bargnani’s contract.
This deal has a better vibe for me than the Josh Smith one, largely because I believe our chances of re-signing Millsap are greater. What do you think, Rapture Nation? Get the dialogue started by dropping a Comment.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.