Will the Trade Machine be fun when we're a good team?

Although I am from Virginia, I'm a Sixers fan because my dad (from Philly) raised me to be one. The fact that Allen Iverson is from my hometown and is a constant character in the local sports mythology helped make what my dad was force-feeding me easier to swallow. I love the Sixers, but for most of my life, they've been terrible. When the Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers have been - for the most part - contenders during that same time period, I never really learned how to be a fan of a mediocre team. Luckily, ESPN has given me the tools to enjoy this period of disparity in a way previous Philly fans couldn't - the NBA Trade Machine. 

We all play with the thing. We have to because the NBA salary structure is so convoluted you can't just trade players straight-up. Geeze. You'd think there'd be a labor dispute some day to fix that... The following is my list of unlikely, imaginary trade scenarios that would let me forget about the Flyers or Spring Training or the NFL Draft for at least a week. 

James Harden (G, Thunder) and Nenad Krstic (C, Thunder) for Igoudala

This is a no-brainer for Philly, not so much for OKC. I figure the Thunder could use some defense. They're not going to beat anyone in the West unless they've got a wing who can lock someone down. Igoudala can do that. He'll also score and play well at the pace OKC likes to run. Iggy is even young enough to qualify under the Thunder Youth Development Plan. 

It doesn't make sense for OKC for the obvious reasons. Harden is a good, young (21 years old) guard who plays quality minutes off the bench. Not everyone in Philly would be a fan of his. I love him. Something about the beard. We haven't had a good beard on this team since Reggie Evans was shipped off to Bulgaria or somewhere. Heck, I'd trade for Baron Davis I love beards so much. Harden's presence would also squelch the advantage of Evan Turner gaining Iggy's lost minutes. Harden's ceiling might not be as high as Turner's, but Harden is clearly more adjusted to this level. Krstic ain't bad either. Maybe we can ship Spencer Hawes off with Iggy as a thank you (?). 

Caron Butler (SF, Mavericks) for Igoudala / or Any Trade That Brings Cap Relief

Why. The. Hell. Not. Swap them, straight up. The Mavs get a defender and a slashing wing for a banged up SF that has never proved himself much of anything. At least there's some mystery surrounding Igoudala and whether or not he can reach the "next level" if paired with a superstar... like Dirk. Iggy also adds a dimension to the Mavs that you can't necessarily "build around," but you can count on his contribution for the next few seasons. Maybe Jason Kidd and Dirk can keep him in line (i.e. not trying to take over the game). Mark Cuban wants a ring bad. He's just crazy enough to pull this trade. 

On our end, we get a decent player in Butler, but nobody we'll be rushing to re-sign after the season ends. He also won't demand big minutes so Doug Collins should be guilt-free to put E.T. in the game more. Fans might cry for more than an expiring Caron Butler for Igoudala, but seriously guys, I'm willing to throw in a few gift cards to Outback or Cheese Cake Factory just to get Iggy out of town.

Greg Oden (C, Blazers), Joel Przybilla (C), Rudy Fernandez (SG), Nicholas Batum (SF) for Igoudala, Thad Young, and Mo Speights

Portland does this trade if it believes Brandon Roy is finished... forever. On the surface, it's ludicrous to trade for Igoudala (and his contract) when you've got Roy on the books for another 4 seasons. However, if you want to continue to contend in the West, you'll need to move on. The Blazers could pull this trade and stay in the Playoff picture this season. Philly gets expiring contracts galore, takes the Fernandez headache off Portland's mind and adds a solid young SF in Frenchman Batum. I love Batum, actually. Fernandez is decent enough that I don't mind keeping him on the books for the length of his 2-seasons-remaining contract. Thad just sweetens the pot for Portland. 

I think what you begin to realize from going through different trade scenarios is how difficult it is to move a contract like Igoudala's. You're really just trying to dump his salary in most cases. For example: Eddy Curry (C, Knicks) and Kelenna Azubuike (G, Knicks) for Igoudala. Expiring contracts and injured players. That's what you have to do when you go in to Rebuilding Mode. To earn an A+, the front office wizards would need to use their magic to steal some draft picks and hope for the best. But in my opinion, just dumping Igoudala's contract makes the grade. 

I tried a million times to trade with Western Conference almost-contenders like Utah and Denver, but nothing really works. What is Jerry Sloan willing to give up for a player like Iggy or Lou? More importantly, what are the owners willing to take on?

If I was sitting in the big chair, I'd be looking around at who has draft picks. No team has the ideal mix of players and contracts that interest me enough to take on any multi-year deals. Face it, Sixers fans, we're left with only a couple options: 

1) Continue to pretend Igoudala is our best option.

2) Trade Igoudala for nothing.

Here's where our collective conscious can do wonders. We can define "nothing." To me, nothing means the development of Evan Turner and Jrue Holliday. It means potential draft picks (scouting department, I'm looking at you). What it can't mean, though, are more overpriced free agents. Just because we're freeing up salary space, doesn't mean we need to rush out and sign another overhyped wing to another albatross of a contract. 

If you've never played with ESPN's NBA Trade Machine, try it out. The first thing you'll notice is exactly how difficult it is to come up with acceptable trades. Comparable players don't necessarily earn comparable salaries. It's ridiculous actually. I often wonder if real NBA GMs use the Trade Machine before they call other teams. 

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