While I’m busy taking credit for greasing the wheels to get Zach Randolph a home in Memphis to drop his nightly 20-10’s, I might as well try to get another ball rolling: Bringing Rip Hamilton to my Indiana Pacers.
Since agreeing to a five-year, $50 million deal with Ben Gordon, the Pistons have to be — if not actively shopping Rip — at least listening to trade offers for the 31-year-old who plays the same position as Gordon. Not only is he one of the strongest remaining links to the Wallace/Chauncey-era squad that Joe Dumars is steadily ushering out the door (you think Tayshaun Prince didn’t notice they picked up three small forwards in the draft?), Rip is also a potential powder keg given the way he almost started a team mutiny against Michael Curry and probably won’t react well as soon as Gordon starts taking his minutes and shots.
Here’s the deal that works: Rip ($11.6M) to Indiana for Mike Dunleavy Jr. ($9.7M) and Travis Diener ($1.7M).
In Dunleavy, the Pistons get a two-guard who makes sense as a bench guy behind Gordon, who can also play the three when need be. Little Dun can shoot, his basketball IQ is high, and he only has two more years left on his contract whereas Hamilton has four. The only problem is his problematic knee, which cost him most of this season. Diener is just there to make the salaries work, but isn’t a bad third PG behind Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum.
What’s in it for the Pacers? They get a certified All-Star as a #2 option next to Danny Granger, a shooter/scorer who is one of the best-conditioned athletes in the League and blends into their up-tempo system. And while Rip isn’t a great defender on his own, he at least brings an on-court knowledge of team defense and the right rotations, plus a tougher defensive attitude than anyone on the team currently. There’s a good chance Rip continues to sulk because he’s not on a contending team, but that could very well be outweighed by the chip on his shoulder to show the Pistons they gave up on him too early, plus the fact that he’ll be a solid #2 in Indiana as opposed to fighting for #2 or #3 in Detroit.
The Pacers love Brandon Rush as their two-guard of the future, but I see him more as an off-the-bench contributor, at least for the next couple of years. Bring Rip in now and this could be a playoff team in 2010.