Monday, May 28, 2007

Oden or Durant: Depends on Rashard Lewis?

Despite the fact that LeBron is quitely breathing some life back into the NBA Playoffs and the U.S. Open is coming up in June, the "Oden or Durant?" question just became the most riveting sports angle for the next month. I've enjoyed reading all the comments weighing in on the subject, but there is an X Factor that is laregely being missed in all this and his name is Rashard Lewis.

Most accounts say that Lewis' feelings for Nate McMillan range somewhere between "upmost respect" and "huge man crush." If Seattle is going to get value for him in a sign-and-trade, it would most likely be with Portland. So it would seem that both the Sonics and Blazers have an incentive to get these pieces sorted out properly. Since it is Portland with the #1 pick, they have the upperhand, but I think Seattle will be willing to pay the price to get this ironed out. And to me, "ironed out" means that one team winds up with Oden/Lewis and the other with Randolph/Durant. The pairings of Oden/Randolph or Lewis/Durant don't make nearly as much sense, especially if the former is in Portland (where MY man crush LaMarcus Aldridge roams the paint) and the latter is in Seattle where Ray Allen is already hoisting oh so many threes. It would behoove both teams to sort this out and create the most ideal pairings.

So ...

If it is to be Oden and Lewis in Portland, that means the Blazers can engineer a sign-and-trade that nets them Lewis in exchange for Randolph. It gives Portland a pure center to pair with a pure power forward (I don't share the growing concern that Oden will get in LaMarcus' way or stunt his growth - he is far less likely to do so than Randolph and the best case scenario has these two emerging as a Next Gen Duncan/Robinson) and Roy and Lewis on the wings. For now, Jack can handle the point guard duties until Sergio is ready or they find somebody else or bring back Steve Blake or make a move for Conley or whatever. Meanwhile, the Sonics feel great about getting Durant, move him right in as a better, more versatile, and more tenacious version of Lewis (one of the great draft steals of all time, by the way), and then get something instead of nothing in the form of a premium lowpost scorer.

On the other hand, if it is going to be Durant and Randolph in Portland (and there are certainly strong cases to be made for that duo, along with Aldridge, Roy, etc.), that means Oden is going to Seattle and that the Sonics would be likely to pony up the cash to keep Lewis and certainly Rashard would be more likely to stay if he knew Oden would be roaming the paint. But if you are Portland, there is no need to simply take Durant #1 when you know how much Seattle would love to have Oden. Certainly, the Blazers can exact a handsome reward for simply swapping picks and getting the guy they really want. I'm not sure who Nate would want to reel back in from his old roster, but if it is Ridnour, Watson, Collison, Wilcox, or whoever, I'm sure Portland could have its choice, meaning they could keep Randolph for one more year (or shop him to a team like the Bulls or Mavs), take the guy they want in eventual Uber Star Durant, AND snag a few more assets in the process. Call it the Ridnour Tax for swapping picks.

I just find it so interesting that the two Northwest teams already have the McMillan connection, were already going to be talking trade in regard to Lewis and Randolph, and now have strangely interchangable picks atop an unbelievable draft. The I-5 corridor is about to get pretty busy. It is definitely advantage Pritchard and Portland, but whatever price Seattle has to pay, they are likely to do it because they will come out ahead as well.

Fascinating stuff, I think. And all the more reason why we can't really analyze who the top pick should be without considering the Lewis Factor.


Anonymous said...

A tornado is a brewing in the northwest! Great piece.

Michael said...

Hey what's up Adam, it's good to be back reading this blog (I'm the guy who argued with long posts on your spurs-suns foul breakdown posts). I've done my battle with finals this past week and I'm ready for a summer of slackin' while droppin' by occasionally to read your posts.

Excellent take on the whole draft situation here. I would have to agree with just about all of what you said. Portland would be stupid not to do anything with the leverage they have.

Man...I'm really liking this Portland squad. I just really love how they've completely turned around as a franchise from their not too distant past of being the "jail blazers." I'm really pulling for them (they just need to find a way to get rid of darius miles and get something in return...or they could just get rid of him)

Great post man. I've read the previous posts and boy...I really vehemently, unequivocally, 100% totally with all my being, disagree with whatever you write about the spurs. I don't think there's any way I can talk any sense with you on that matter because I think you simply hate them...and hate knows no reason. that is a slightly subtle dig at you, if you didn't notice =)

But yeah...any other posts, you seem to be okay with. this was a good one though. I like both Durant and Oden man. I like them way more than Melo and Lebron, when they were coming into the league, and I didn't exactly hate those guys either. I think they outclass, out-character, and (MAYBE...just mayybee?) might out-accomplish them.

howlingfantods said...

Pretty much all the Portland fans and national press are taking it as a given that the pick's going to be Oden. I'm not so sure myself, I remember being way too awestruck by Durant, like with that 37/23 game and pretty near every one of the Kansas or Texas A&M games.

I've been a big fan of trading Zach to get Rashard for a while now, and a piece like Oden definitely makes that an even higher priority.

My favorite fantasy though is where we trade Zach for another lottery pick, and draft Durant and Noah, so we end up with a frontcourt of LaMarcus, Noah, and Durant, backcourt of Roy and Sergio. Not a lot of beef in the middle, but a lot of length, three hyperactive shotblockers and help defenders, every single person can get out on the break and handle the ball, and even though all three frontcourt guys are skinny, they're all max effort and high rebound/block rate guys.

I think that'd be my favorite plan, if it's possible to move Zach for whatever pick we need for Noah (according to Chad Ford, he's going around 10'ish, which seems lunatic to me).