By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — I know, it sounds crazy. At a time when the Sixers are having more trouble than ever scoring points this season, specifically at the end of games, the notion of trading the team’s best pure scorer and number one end-of-game option seems pretty out of line. But at the risk of a hundred comments telling me to “trade Iggy instead,” I’m going to give this a try.
I think I should be clear that I don’t really think a trade during the season is particularly necessary for the Sixers. I’ve said time and time again that the most important result from this season is to grow the young players, and getting better. If Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner are the future, let’s see what we’ve got. Winning the division and a first round series would be a nice bonus, but don’t necessarily get the team any closer to its ultimate goal.
Trading a young piece of the team for a serviceable big man in the absence of Spencer Hawes is a short term plus but a long term minus. Trading Nocioni’s expiring contract most likely means you’re taking on a contract that isn’t expiring, limiting the team’s off-season flexibility in acquiring a major piece in a trade or free-agency. Doing that for a few more wins (even in a best case scenario) isn’t smart.
If you’re going to trade someone, trade Lou Williams.
Lou Williams is a nice player, and has been a good soldier. At just 24 years-old, he’s been a calming influence for the younger players on the team.
He is the team’s best pure scorer and end of game option. The problem is, he isn’t good enough to be the first thing, and he isn’t good enough to be the second either.
Williams has a clause in his contract that allows him to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. He’ll either not be here next year, or will be overpaid to do so. I don’t want the team to lose him without getting anything, and I surely don’t want them to overpay him. They’ve already given Thaddeus Young a long term deal worth almost nine million dollars a year, and they’re not talented enough to have two guys making that much money off the bench. I don’t know that anyone in the NBA is.
Williams is the kind of player who would be extremely valuable on a good team that needs some bench scoring to put them over the top. He’d be a better piece for a team like the Lakers (just a random example) than he is the Sixers. Because of that, you may be able to get a spare big man on an expiring deal, or a late first round draft pick in exchange.
With Williams, what you see is what you get, he’s most likely as good as he’s going to be.
On the Sixers, he’s asked to more than he’s capable, and because of that, his weaknesses are exposed. He shows no fear, and has hit some big shots, that’s for sure. Lou’s given me a memories that will last forever in last year’s Easter game against the Heat, and this year’s win over the Lakers. But if you’re looking for him to be your regular fourth quarter guy to get you points when the offense has stalled and the defense has tightened, you’re going to be disappointed more than you are thrilled.
What you get in return isn’t the most important thing though. There’s addition by subtraction here.
By moving Williams, you’re also opening up time for Evan Turner to play with the ball in his hands. Williams is a natural scorer, but Turner is a natural distributor. One of the problems Turner has had, is that his responsibilities most often include playing without the ball because he’s playing with Williams. It also gives you more opportunity to play Turner and Holiday together, perhaps even giving Turner time at the point with Holiday at shooting guard.
Many people assume it’s Jodie Meeks who is taking Turner’s minutes. Though it’s true to an extent, their skill sets are different, and aren’t entirely interchangeable. Meeks is a shooter, and doesn’t need the ball in his hands. Turner could actually get Meeks more open looks. Until Turner gets his shot to fall more consistently, we can use all the shooters we can get.
Moving Williams will allow those end of game looks to go to Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. I want to see if they can do it. There will be growing pains, turnovers and misses, but we may find out there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
This isn’t anti-Lou, this is pro-Sixers. It’s pro-Turner and pro-Holiday and pro-future.
Will the Sixers win fewer games this season? Yes, almost certainly.
Will the Sixers find out just how good Evan Turner is? Yes, almost certainly. And really, that was the point of this year all-along.