Leading up to the NBA Draft there are All-Star caliber players whose futures will be signifigantly altered depending upon who their teams select. If the draft goes according to plan and Portland takes Greg Oden and Seattle takes Kevin Durant, than both Rashard Lewis and Zach Randolph will likely leave their respective teams. In Lewis' case he will just merely choose not to sign with the Sonics, but Randolph is in a much more complicated situation. There is no way that the Blazers can afford to keep Randolph and his $13+ million salary if they draft a center with a top two pick for the second consecutive year. (Portland picked LaMarcus Aldridge #2 overall last year) With both Oden and Aldridge, along with Raef LaFrentz and Joel Pryzbilla as well, Randolph will need to be moved to a different team. The question then is, where? And for who?
The "who" aspect of the equation is fairly simple. The Blazers are in desperate need of a SF. They started journeyman Ime Udoka last year, and Darius Miles is likely a non-factor after missing all of last season with microfracture surgery. Therefore the obvious move would be to ship Randolph to a team that 1.) Needs a scorer in the low post and 2.) has a dispensable SF. The following scenarios would fit those criteria:
Portland Receives: Ron Artest and John Salmons
Sacramento Receives: Zach Randolph
In this scenario the Blazers would essentially be taking a one year loan out on Artest, as he has a player option he would likely decline after next season. Salmons however, would be the real catch of the deal. Salmons is signed through the next four seasons at base salaries ranging from $4.7 million to $5.8 million which would make him a very affordable starter while Portland's young core of Roy, Aldridge, and Durant developed. On Sacramento's end the Kings would rid themselves of Artest while gaining some sorely needed rebounding and inside scoring. The Kings ranked 30th in rebounding this past season, and Randolph would certainly go a long way in improving that ranking.
Portland Receives: Andrei Kirilenko
Utah Receives: Vince Carter (sign and trade)
New Jersey Receives: Zach Randolph and Gordan Giricek
This three way deal would fill large voids for all of the teams involved. Utah has not had a solid SG in ages, and Carter would give them an elite scorer that could generate offense when the Utah offense stalls. Paul Milsap would then likely move into Kirilenko's former starting position. For New Jersey it would provide them the inside scoring threat they have been missing since Kenyon Martin left town and would also allow them to go after a SG prospect such as Rodney Stuckey or Morris Almond in the draft. From the Blazer's perspective Kirilenko would be the perfect SF for them, a player that does not need to score in order to make a big impact on the game. The trio of Oden, Aldridge, and Kirilenko would automatically become the best defensive frontcourt in the NBA.
Portland Receives: Shawn Marion
Phoenix Receives: Vince Carter (sign and trade)
New Jersey Receives: Zach Randolph and Dan Dickau
The logic here would be the same for the Nets, and for the Suns this deal would alleviate the locker room tension between Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire while still being able to bring in equal value in return. Carter could slide to the 3 for the Suns with Boris Diaw then starting at the 4 spot. For Portland, Marion would give them the best chance at making an early splash in the West while Roy, Aldridge, and Oden are still on their rookie contracts.