By Jesse Marx
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By CP Staff
Allen's presence almost ensures Redd would be coming off the bench in Milwaukee. The notion of starting for the Wolves alongside an unselfish superstar like KG might help convince Redd to agitate for a sign-and-trade arrangement to bring him here. If the Wolves' landed Miller, they could dangle Chauncey Billups, who could back up both Allen and Cassell in Milwaukee. If Szczerbiak is gone, Redd is preferable to Billups because Chauncey has proven to be too small to adequately defend opposing shooting guards.
If getting Redd isn't doable, the other options among free agent guards are Larry Hughes, Kendall Gill, Voshon Lenard; all three are less appetizing and, in any case, would function only as stopgaps. As mentioned earlier, given the diminished circumstances available to the Wolves, improving this team will require guts, creativity, and more than a little luck. Saunders and McHale can begin trying to woo free agents with their salary cap exemption slots on July 1, less than eight weeks from now.
Trading players aside from KG or Wally is another obvious option. Given the current state of affairs, the Wolves' will almost certainly retain Nesterovic--provided another team doesn't make him an offer he can't refuse--and Taylor doesn't want to match with a nice but not exorbitant bump in salary. Gary Trent is a good bet to depart for greener bankrolls, and the Wolves and Sam Mitchell need to reach an accommodation or say goodbye. KG, Joe Smith, Marc Jackson, Brandon, Peeler, Szczerbiak, and Billups (provided he's sincere about not exercising his option to leave this year) are all locked in.
McHale has properly stated that nobody is untouchable--not even KG, although it would take Shaq-like compensation for the Wolves to deal him.
Obviously it is far from certain that the Wolves could even be in a position to land Miller in a trade for Szczerbiak or to sign Redd. But it's not pie-in-the-sky fantasy either, and the point of my speculative scenario is that Saunders and McHale should be aggressive, even a little risky, in their off-season activity; especially if Taylor gives them the green light to spend a little more money. As the owner who paid KG the highest individual salary in the history of team sports, Taylor knows that sometimes you have to risk spending money in order for your franchise to make money. Your team is at a crucial crossroads, Mr. Taylor. Now is not the time to stand pat.
This will conclude my regular Monday column for the season. I've enjoyed writing on a steadier basis this year, and appreciate all the kind words I've received from online readers. Inveterate sports fans should check out our baseball writer, Brad Zellar, who brings as least as much passion and skill to writing on the diamond life as I do to covering hoops. And please feel free to check out this space the next time there is big news on the Wolves' front. Until then...