5 NBA Teams That Would Make Perfect Sense for Potential Derrick Williams Trade
Don't think for a second that player movement grinds to a halt now that all of the prominent NBA free agents have found homes. There are plenty of players who could be traded at any point in the near future, and Derrick Williams is one of the leading contenders to switch locations.
Before the Minnesota Timberwolves forward begins his third season in the NBA on October 31, the team that drafted him at No. 2 in 2011 will have to decide whether or not it wants to pick up his $6.3 million salary for the 2014-15 season.
As he's failed to live up to the expectations (and then some), this decision hasn't been made yet. Glen Taylor, Minnesota's owner, admitted as much to 1500ESPN.com, saying, "We'll evaluate his summer program, and how he looks coming into camp (which starts Oct. 1). I heard he is looking good."
While the two easiest options are either declining to pick up the back year of the contract or extending him and hoping he realizes more of his potential, trading Williams to a new team is a third choice.
Right now, five potential deals stand out above the rest, but do note that there's no urgency when it comes to trading Williams.
Potential Trade: Derrick Williams for Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Adrien and a second-round pick
Who doesn't want to trade one disappointing top-seven pick from the 2011 NBA draft for another?
Let's be clear that Bismack Biyombo is much more important than Jeff Adrien in this trade. The latter is included solely to make the salaries match up properly, and the second-round pick makes up for some of the talent difference between Williams and the Congolese big man.
Biyombo hasn't exactly worked out for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Although his offense looks awful, especially whenever he has to put the ball on the floor intentionally, he's making strides on defense. Synergy Sports (subscription required) shows that he was a pretty solid pick-and-roll defender, and his post defense is only getting better as he gains more experience at the sport's highest level.
Each of the two young draft busts needs a fresh start, and each of their teams have more use for the other player.
The Timberwolves desperately need a more experienced center than Gorgui Dieng to provide support for Nikola Pekovic whenever the Montenegrin big man needs a rest, and Charlotte doesn't exactly need yet another frontcourt player after drafting Cody Zeller, re-signing Josh McRoberts and acquiring Al Jefferson.
This would be selling low on Williams' potential—again, hence the inclusion of the low-value draft pick—but it still helps fill in a need for the 'Wolves. At least a little bit.
Potential Trade: Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea and a future first-round pick for Omer Asik and Isaiah Canaan
Now we're flipping course and having the Timberwolves attempt to acquire a lot more than Derrick Williams is worth by himself. As a result, they're the ones who have to throw more talent into the package, shipping off J.J. Barea (mostly for his $4.7 million salary) and a first-round pick to the Houston Rockets.
Omer Asik and Isaiah Canaan, who will have to learn on the job as he backs up Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved. The centerpiece of the trade is definitely the Turkish center, though.
If Asik isn't going to be happy as the backup center in Houston, he probably won't in the Land of 10,000 Lakes either. But at least he'll get a little more time as the second-string guy behind Nikola Pekovic rather than Dwight Howard.
And it's not about Asik's happiness. He can't block the trade, and the move makes sense for both teams.
Houston needs a power forward who can help space the court, and while D-Will isn't an ideal option, he's at least a workable one. NBA teams still can't just leave him wide open out on the perimeter, even if he's struggled to hit shots with any semblance of consistency throughout his professional career.
Meanwhile, Minnesota gets that solid backup center that is so desperately needed, especially given the proclivity the injury imp has for attacking players on the 'Wolves roster.
Giving up Barea and a first-round pick hurts, but it's worth it to shore up a roster that should already compete for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Potential Trade: Derrick Williams, Chris Johnson and a first-round pick for Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova is way better than Derrick Williams. It doesn't take a deep analysis to show that, as you just have to look at their per-36-minute numbers and shooting percentages from the 2012-13 campaign, courtesy of Basketball-Reference:
Williams scores more points and blocks more shots (barely), but he loses literally every other category. He's far less efficient, contributes less in the other main statistical aspects of the game and just isn't as good. Plus, he played slightly less in 2012-13, so it's easier for him to have higher per-minute stats.
The Milwaukee Bucks can afford to give up the better player for a couple of reasons.
First, they don't need to compete. Williams still has more potential than Ilyasova, and Milwaukee has to make moves conducive to rebuilding at some point. Mediocrity can't be the goal.
Trading Ilyasova also opens things up for John Henson, who will desperately need more playing time this season. Plus, the Bucks are getting an athletic big man (Chris Johnson) and a first-round pick in the deal.
As for the 'Wolves, they could use a more established player in their hunt for a playoff spot. Ilyasova is a much more trustworthy option, even if he plays a fairly similar game to the former No. 2 pick.
The only thing truly holding back this deal is the first-round pick. Based on past moves, Milwaukee might be more likely to continue stockpiling second-round selections.
Potential Trade: Derrick Williams for Shannon Brown and Miles Plumlee
Up to this point, I've focused on either finding a quality frontcourt member or a true center who can back up Nikola Pekovic. But that's not the only need for the Timberwolves.
They still need some more help at shooting guard.
Signing Kevin Martin helped shore up the position with some offensive force and outside-shooting prowess, but the rotation at the 2 is still limited athletically and won't play particularly great defense. According to Synergy, K-Mart and Alexey Shved allowed 0.85 and 0.84 points per possession, respectively, during the 2012-13 season, and neither were in a position where they were asked to play lots of help defense. Those situations depress individual numbers, but no such excuses exist here.
Shannon Brown will not fix the defense. Let's get that out of the way right off the bat.
He's a similarly poor defender, but he does bring significantly more athleticism to the table. And I'd bet on Ricky Rubio desiring a more nimble partner in transition, especially now that Andrei Kirilenko has departed for the Brooklyn Nets.
Acquiring Miles Plumlee also helps. The former Duke big man had an awful rookie season for the Indiana Pacers—23.8 percent shooting from the field and an 8.8 PER—but he also played extremely sparse minutes. In fact, he was on the court less than an hour throughout the entire 2012-13 campaign.
He's never going to be a star, but he could be a solid backup option and a workable rotation big for the 'Wolves during his second year since leaving the Blue Devils.
Another fringe benefit for Minnesota is that Brown has an expiring contract and Plumlee's deal has a team option next year. This move would open up a bit more financial flexibility for the next offseason.
As for the Phoenix Suns, it's all about potential. And there's no doubt that the Arizona product is bubbling over with far more upside than either of the players the desert-based franchise would be giving up.
Potential Trade: Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea for Brandon Rush, Andris Biedrins, Rudy Gobert and a second-round pick
This is the only trade that would actually fill both of Minnesota's needs, although giving up J.J. Barea to make the salaries work would be tough to swallow and force Lorenzo Brown both onto the roster and into a more prominent role.
Brandon Rush is set to be one of the most underrated players in basketball during the 2013-14 season.
It seems as though he's been largely forgotten about after missing nearly the entire season with a torn ACL. But let's try to remember that Rush was emerging as one of the NBA's better "three and D" players as his post-Kansas career progressed.
During his last healthy season, he shot 45.2 percent from behind the three-point arc, making it the fourth season in a row in which he'd upped his downtown efficiency. And according to Synergy, he actually finished that 2011-12 campaign scoring 1.12 points per possession, the No. 7 mark in the league.
That would do wonders for the Minnesota backcourt, and it's not like Andris Biedrins is completely washed up at 27 years old. He can still be a viable big body in the rotation as long as he never gets fouled and sent to do terrible things at the stripe that's suddenly more charitable things for the other teams.
A fresh start and the ability to play for a competitive team with an actual place in the rotation might restore his confidence.
Adding Rudy Gobert and a second-round pick into the deal is what's needed to push it over the top for Minnesota, as the franchise is able to maintain some future potential that way.