On the surface, nothing but curiosity and basketball joy should be derived from the latest transactional flowchart to hit the basketbloggers circuit. This one, courtesy of Blazersedge, is a interesting stroll through the Portland transactions, dating back to 2000.
However, in their own analysis of the chart, Norsktroll punches my button with this little nugget of their own happiness (emphasis mine):
Maybe the best trade of the Kevin Pritchard era (unless of course you count the Roy and Aldridge acquisitions while he was still an assistant GM): A small deal on draft day 2006 sending #31 pick James White to Indiana. Ultimately this was the foundation to get Nicolas Batum, Dante Cunningham and the rights to Petteri Koponen.
Mmmhmm. So, let me get this straight. In 2006, the TrailBlazers took a high pick in the second round and found a trade partner who was willing to deal a future resource to obtain a player today?
Now, this trade has netted them a player, Nicolas Batum, who has an 18.3 PER and is a vital piece to the Blazers success and a bargain at his current production level.
Cunningham has been a very inexpensive, league average player off the bench for Portland, and Koponen is yet another cost-free asset for which the Blazers may still have some use.
This was it. We were going to be one of those teams who played the draft with precision and skill, picking up a couple of players who can help the team and improve the overall depth. No more Jason Collins type player, even if it were a project big man coming into the fold. It was an odd feeling of "we're doing it, we're that team this year". Odd because draft night has been historically a collective stomach punch for Hawks fans over the years.
So the 31st pick seemed like it took forever to be announced. We just knew something sweet was coming. We were going to pull one over on the league, get a scorer and a shot blocking big man by trading back. This was going to be sweet. Folks even started to wonder what we could get at #53, daring to dream about getting (3) guys who could help even this season.
Something became amiss when the pick was announced, and it was Tibor Pleiss, the German center. Then, ESPN announced the worst: Not only was this pick not going to be a Hawk, rather, it would be going to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Hawks weren't even going to take a player for the pick.
Nope. They sold it for cash considerations. Guess somebody needed some rent money at the end of the month.
So long two for one. So long caring about the depth of the team. The Hawks are a financially strapped organization, you see, so they couldn't afford to have a second player they would have to pay coming out of this draft.
In my after"glow" of the draft, I failed to make an even more salient point that we see from the Blazers history......the Hawks didn't even have to have someone on the roster to make it valuable, just another asset down the road. Not to mention that the reason offered for the cash-grab, the "we can use the money to add proven players", only brought in a multitude of past-prime veterans.
It's the difference between franchise building and franchise maintaining. The Blazers and some other franchises like it have historically run their franchises this way and seemingly have a lot of cheap, readily available talent to trade or use themselves. Other franchises are constantly digging up bones or relying only on free agency to help fill gaps, which still trying to be cost conscious---a counter intuitive effort, but an old school one anyway.
All I want is for the Hawks to be the former and not the latter. Doing what we did on draft night makes it clear what column this franchise is in, and the flowchart only rubs salt in that wound.
Here's hoping the team can/will learn from other team's successes (of which Batum should certainly be considered) and copycat that model versus the dead end choice of cash.