Friday, February 4

Down the Road

The clock is ticking on the trade front. The Sonics have about two weeks left to decide if keeping Ray Allen or trading him for some younger - and cheaper - players is the best option. Herewith is one man's argument for trading him.

It is always difficult to trade a player, and it is no less difficult when that player is at his peak, as Allen is now. That said, Allen is at precipice in his career, from which his statistics are sure to tumble into a range that will not reflect his massive salary.

In July of this year Allen will turn 30. Judging by a scan of 8 similar players, I expect him to have one, or perhaps two, more all-star seasons before sliding into a phase of his career I like to call "The Dale Ellis Years."

Here are the eight players I found to be most similar to Allen; that is, all-star shooting guards who were the best player on their team - for a period of their careers - and consistent all-stars:

Reggie Miller, Michael Jordan, Glen Rice, Ricky Pierce, Dale Ellis, Steve Smith, Allan Houston, and Mitch Richmond.

I broke down their careers into four phases - age 20-25, 26-30, 31-35, and 36+. No surprisingly, they all started out well in the early years, averaging as a group 18 ppg. From 26-30 they came into their collective own, improving to 22 ppg.

However, at the next level the decline began, as they averaged 18 ppg, before plummeting to 11 ppg at age 36+. In fact, the numbers will be even worse in a few years as Houston and Smith finish the 31-35 grouping and introduce the even lower ppg numbers they've been posting this season.

Folks, this is where we're headed. Say what you want about Allen, but there's been only one player who was able to maintain an all-star level from age 31-35 and that's Michael Jordan, and that's only because he dropped from another galaxy into merely the superstar level. Allen is already at the superstar level, meaning his drop will be to Jeff Hornacek-type numbers.

As the Sonics ponder their decision, I suggest they think about if it will be worth it to be spending $15 million a season on a player averaging 18 ppg, or if they would be better off trading Allen now, getting some cheaper players, and acquiring someone like Michael Redd in the offseason for the same amount they'd be paying Allen.

It's worth thinking about.

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