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Richardson, Dudley Traded for Diaw, Bell

Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley, 2010 second round pick

Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Sean Singletary

This wasn't what I had in mind. On total talent, in an absolute best-case scenario, the Jason Richardson trade is probably a wash, and both teams are counting on improvements based on the different skills each player brings. However, it's likely we gave up more in talent, and it's certain that from a roster construction standpoint, this is an utter disaster.

The following paragraph is not what I think will happen, but what I imagine the Bobcats' "brain" trust envisions. On the floor, Diaw and Bell will step right in to the starting lineup. At the four, Diaw will be an improvement over Sean May, et al, thanks to his defense and health. And at the two, Bell will be a lockdown defender on guards.

Unfortunately, in reality, Bell's offense is on the decline, and his defense has followed suit. He's probably below replacement level at this point. Also in reality, Diaw has had one fluky decent offensive season, and on a per-minute basis, Ryan Hollins was probably more valuable on offense last season.

That's just on the court. On the accounting ledger, it's an utter disaster. Look at the contracts. Diaw will make less than Richardson over the rest of JRich's contract, but he's signed for yet another year after that, for the same $9 million he'll make this year. This ties us to a fourth expensive player through 2012: Emeka, Gerald, Carroll, and now Diaw, whereas we would have had Richardson's money coming off the books after the 2010-11 season. The money saved from Richardson to Diaw over the next two and a half years might sign another starter, at best, but you'll never get an impact free agent for that money.

Jared Dudley is probably the single most valuable asset changing teams in the trade. With salaries just over $1 million dollars this year and next, he's being paid far below the replacement level threshold. Virtually every contribution he makes to winning games is above and beyond what he's being paid to do. Compare that to Bell, who is might be below replacement level for a guard, but is paid $5 million this year and next.

"Depressed Dog" by waltfur, cc-licensed

In other words, they should have traded Richardson's superior talent to a team going for a title this year in exchange for contract opportunity in the form of either a draft pick or a free agent, when the new contract expires earlier than Richardson's. Instead, they traded JRich's superior, expensive, talent and Jared Dudley's middling, extremely cheap, talent for Diaw, a guy who's not as good as Richardson at his position, is probably overpaid to the same degree as Richardson, and is tied up for an extra year to boot, and Bell, a guy who's not as good as Richardson in sum and could be overpaid by an even greater degree.

It doesn't make the team better, and more importantly, it ties up our roster, adding another year of an overpaid player that we didn't have before.

To make the point stark, here's how the money works out if we cast the Suns' players in the best possible light for the Bobcats:

Richardson = Very good guard. Not All Star quality. Overpaid by roughly $3 million.
Dudley = Reasonable bench SF/PF. Limited offense. Average defense. Underpaid by roughly $2 million.
NET = +$1 million

Diaw = Okay SF/PF. Limited offense. Better than average defense. Overpaid by roughly $3 million.
Bell = Good guard. Shoots threes, but not much else on offense. Much better than average defense. Paid about what he should be paid.
Singletary = Probably cut.
NET = -$3 million

TOTAL = -$2 million dollars worth of talent equity.

In a more reality-based assessment, we could be looking at a $10-11 million deficit of talent equity here. I can't believe they traded Richardson for a worse contract.

Here's hoping the best case scenario plays out. Good luck, Jared. You deserve better than the Bobcats.