One of my favorite articles every year is Bill Simmons’ trade value column, and, on the day it seems most important, I’m ranking the Pistons by trade values. I use the same criteria as Simmons:
1. Salaries matter. Would you rather pay Kyrie Irving $5.1 million a year or Tony Parker $12.5 million?
2. Age matters. Would you rather have Dirk Nowitzki for the next five seasons or Blake Griffin for the next 15?
3. Pretend the league passed the following rule: For 24 hours, any player can be traded without cap ramifications but with luxury-tax and next-day-cap ramifications. If Team A tells Team B, "We’ll trade you Player X for Player Y," would Team B make the deal?
4. Concentrate on degrees. I don’t think the Bulls or Heat would make a Wade-Rose swap, but Miami would at least say, "Rose’s available?" while Chicago would say, "There’s no way we’re trading Derrick for someone seven years older." That counts in the big scheme of things.
5. The list runs in reverse order. So if Rajon Rondo comes in at no. 15, players 1 through 14 are all players about whom Boston would say, "We hate giving up Rondo, but we definitely have to at least have a meeting and discuss this deal." And the Celtics wouldn’t trade him straight-up for any player listed between nos. 16 and 50.
Why Charlie Villanueva ranks No. 14
Charlie Villanueva has negative trade value. If there were an expansion draft today, the Pistons would surely leave Villanueva unprotected, and the new franchise surely wouldn’t pick him. The Pistons can’t trade Villanueva without also sending a sweetener to the team that receives him.
That said, Villanueva’s value has improved from distantly last on the team to just plain last. He’s playing better this season, and every day, his contract comes closer to expiring.
But three years of high expectations, poor production and broken promises of redemption aren’t easily forgotten. Unless they’re willing to give up a draft pick or player of actual value to trade him or amnesty him, the Pistons are probably stuck with Villanueva until his contract ends in 2014.
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