Lou Williams was once on the untouchable list for the Sixers. As we've been informed several times over the past couple of weeks, that list no longer exists. In fact, we've heard a couple of things regarding Lou. One, teams were interested in trading for him last season and also over the summer. Two, his name is again coming up this summer. After the jump I'll lay out what I think the Sixers should be looking for in return for Lou.
I'm going to start this post off with the same disclaimer that belongs atop any trade rumor post. I don't want any moves made before Eddie Jordan is fired. If Ed Stefanski won't or can't pull the trigger on firing Jordan, I want both of them gone.
Now that we have that out of the way, I'll lay out how I view Lou Williams. He can be a terribly disruptive scorer. He gets to the line (though not nearly as frequently this season as he has in the past), he can create his own shot, he can score points in bunches and carry the offense for stretches. He is not a point guard. He cannot run an offense. He really can't even run a fast break. He's not what I'd call a combo guard, he's an undersized shooting guard with a mediocre, at best, jump shot, who can get into the lane whenever he wants.
On defense, he's a zero. He can't guard the ball, he offers little-to-no resistance to drivers. He gives too much of a cushion to shooters. He doesn't fight over screens, he doesn't bounce under them, he pretty much just sticks to them. Off the ball he loses track of his man, he fails to rotate quickly or aggressively to close out on shooters. He gets steals by gambling and using his athleticism, a style which usually gives up more points than it creates.
I realize Lou is young, but he's been in the league for five years and playing decent minutes for four, I'm confident that we have a pretty good idea of who Lou is and what type of player he is. Instant offense, no defense. A bench player.
When you look at his contract and check around the league for comparable players, he isn't grossly overpaid. His contract is long, but it's not horrible. There's nothing about Lou nor his contract that screams albatross to me, but there's also nothing that screams asset. Honestly, I think if they traded him tomorrow and found themselves lacking for punch off the bench they could get someone to play his role pretty easily. I won't say he's a dime a dozen, but you get the picture.
To sum it up, Lou is neither here nor there. I don't concern myself with his contract one way or another, I don't think he'd be hard to replace and he's probably redundant on this roster. Meaning, if they traded him, I'd be fine with that.
Which brings us to the key question: What would the Sixers need to get in return? Here's what I'd be looking for:
- A defensive big - Lou's contract is right in the sweet spot for defensive bigs off the bench. The Sixers really need someone to play center when Dalembert is out of the game, someone who can protect the paint. Getting a young guy to fill this role would be ideal, but I'd settle for an older guy who could give you 10-15 minutes, more if needed.
- A real two guard - Meaning, a shooting guard who can actually shoot. Young or old, doesn't matter to me. These two things would be ways to improve the team by trading Lou, but there are stipulations to both.
- Contract length - As I've said before, I'm looking to summer 2011 as a time for the Sixers to make a move. So the ideal is to send Lou out and take back only contracts that expire after next season. If you can fill need 1 or 2 with a young guy, this isn't the primary concern, but if you're trading him for a veteran player, that player's contract must expire after the 2010-2011 season.
- Draft picks - I'd prefer a speculative pick, maybe something that's lottery protected for a year or two, but if you're trading with a playoff team, I'd prefer a couple of second-rounders to a late first for a number of reasons.
- Luxury tax relief - The Sixers probably need to shave at least a few million off their cap number next season to avoid paying the luxury tax.
That's what I'm looking for, but what would I settle for? Probably some combination of Draft Picks and Luxury Tax relief. It's not so much that I'm down on Lou, it's that I think you can fill his role at any time, and honestly, instant offense off the bench isn't the first hole I'd be looking to fill. If you can get out from under his contract prior to summer 2011, you've got more money to work with to address the bigger problems. If there's going to be a fire sale of sorts, Lou is the one contract that people seem interested in that I could stomach moving.
What do you guys think? Too young to give up on him? Maybe he could improve his defense if given proper coaching? Get rid of him tomorrow? Let me know in the comments.