If the Nuggets are not able to land Grant Hill (and with the Celtics chasing him ... it's likely he'll "go green"), and if Linas Kleiza is not totally in the Nuggets plans and Dahntay Jones doesn't get the multi-year offer from Denver that he wants ... what about a sign-and-trade deal for Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets? Let's discuss the details after the jump.
If the Nuggets are not able to retain Dahntay Jones then the roster will be sorely lacking that "defensive specialist" that we all grew to love in the playoffs. Well, Shane Battier's name has come up in some recent trade rumors and the Rockets might be looking to re-tool a bit and get younger with the questions marks surrounding Yao Ming's and Tracy McGrady's health.
My proposed trade:
Denver receives: Shane Battier. 2009-10 salary $6.8 million.
Houston receives: Linas Kleiza (sign-and-trade), Steven Hunter ($3.69 million/expiring contract), and a future 1st Round Pick.
Why Houston does this deal: Linas Kleiza would provide them with some much needed scoring pop and another young player to build around with Aaron Brooks, 24, Trevor Ariza ,24, Kyle Lowry, 23, and Carl Landry, 25. Kleiza turns 25 years-old in June and if you are a Houston Fan reading this and want to know more about L.K.'s game ... just check out my Exit Interview on him.
Kleiza probably wouldn't command more than $3-$4 milion per-season, Hunter's contract comes off the books after the season, and the Rockets save having to pay Battier's $7.3 million for 2010-11 season. The deal would save Houston about $3.3 million in the 2010-11 season ... a big free agent offseason. And down the road, the Rockets get a first round pick that could pan out.
Why Houston doesn't do this deal: Battier is a very valuable team glue guy and defender. And there is always the case that the Rockets want nothing to do with L.K. after inking Trevor Ariza.
Why Denver does this deal: The Nuggets would be getting another quality character guy for the locker room and a great defender. Battier averaged 7.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists last season. For his career he's a 44% shooter, shoots 38% from three-point land, and 82% from the charity stripe. He knows his role on teams and would not command the ball on offense, but would be a perfect corner three-point shooter (much like L.K. tried to be.)
Battier solves all of Denver's issues for Melo's backup and is a major defensive upgrade to anyone they had at the backup small forward or shooting guard spots last season. Battier is very long at 6'8'' and makes life very difficult for Kobe Bryant. Battier will be 31 years-old in September and has a lot of life left in his legs. He played alongside Ron Artest in Houston and would be a nice complimentary guy to have next to Melo or J.R. Smith.
Plus, Battier is only under contract for the next two seasons ... so he's basically a low-risk. And if things worked out in Denver, I'm guessing Battier would re-sign with the Nuggets for less than the $7.3 million in the final year of his contract.
Why Denver doesn't do this deal: The Nuggets would be giving up a lot for Battier in some people's eyes. But at some point you have to trade potential (Kleiza and a first round pick) for proven veterans (Battier) that solve your team's major issues (defending Kobe.)