can someone upload the link to the potential "trade deals that must happen" on espn insider cuz i wanna read what it says but i dont hav insider
We're still more than a month away from the trade deadline, but as Oklahoma City showed with its recent heist of Eric Maynor from Utah, trading season is already underway.
As we head toward the Feb. 18 deadline, we'll hear lots of names and teams come up. Virtually every club in the league has some interest, whether as a buyer or a seller, in reshaping their roster.
For that reason, lots of potential trades could happen. Lots and lots and lots of them. But today, I'm going to focus on a much smaller subset of those -- the trades that have to happen.
NBA Trade Machine
Put on your GM hat and make your own trades and deals.
In each case, a team finds itself over the luxury-tax line and heading nowhere, providing a mammoth incentive to cut money between now and Feb. 18 to get under the threshold. The Wizards, of course, are the most prominent example, thanks to the Gilbert Arenas saga and their 11-22 record. But the Hornets, Jazz and Heat all find themselves over the tax line but without any realistic hope of contending. As a result, they're not just hoping to make a deal -- they need to.
Thus, I expect most of the action to happen around those four teams on deadline day. Other swaps can and probably will happen, but there's much less urgency to them. These are the four situations I'll be watching most closely over the next month, as they'll likely be the epicenter of any trade discussions:
Washington Wizards, $8.75 million over the luxury tax
The Wizards are going nowhere fast, so it seems preposterous to think they'll fork out nearly $9 million in tax and forego another $4 million or so in distributions from the league just to win 28 games instead of 25 (presuming they'll be unsuccessful in voiding Arenas' contract before the trade deadline).
Here's where it gets tricky -- since Oklahoma City swallowed up Matt Harpring's deal in the Maynor trade, there's nobody left with the cap space to take on a big contract. The most-discussed deal for Washington would be to send Antawn Jamison to Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas' expiring contract, since that gets Washington off the hook for the last three years of Jamison's deal; I have no doubt Washington could also be persuaded to waive Ilgauskas to allow Cleveland to re-sign him.
The problem is that such a deal does nothing for the Wizards' present tax situation. As a result, there's less urgency for such a trade than there is for other possibilities. In fact, the Wizards' best chances at deals may not involve any of their big three of Jamison, Arenas and Caron Butler.
For instance, consider this deal: Orlando uses its massive trade exception from the Hedo Turkoglu trade, adding Mike Miller, Dominic McGuire and DeShawn Stevenson (with the exception) from Washington, while sending J.J. Redick to Washington and Mickael Pietrus to Memphis. The trade would shore up the Magic's shooting and also clean up next year's balance sheet a bit.
If Orlando doesn't like that one, several potential variants work. For instance, Wizards center Brendan Haywood could go to the Magic while Redick stays in Orlando ... or the Magic could add Haywood, send Redick and Anthony Johnson to Memphis and hang on to Pietrus ... or the Magic could acquire Butler instead of Miller ... or the Magic could obtain Jamison instead of Miller and send either Brandon Bass or Marcin Gortat (with his consent, which presumably he'd give) back to Washington.
In any case, a three-way deal with Orlando and Memphis is the obvious escape hatch for the Wizards' predicament. But Memphis (or Sacramento) must be involved, since all the avenues above require using nearly all of the Grizzlies' or Kings' $4.2 million in remaining cap space. The best arrangement I come up with has Washington sending Randy Foye and Javaris Crittenton to Memphis and the Grizzlies sending Hamed Haddadi and Steven Hunter to Washington to complete the deal.
At the end, the Wizards will have wiped away $9 million in tax obligations, even before we get into any of the particulars with Arenas.
New Orleans Hornets, $3.33 million over
The Hornets may make the playoffs despite their slow start, but that doesn't change their terrible economics. The Hornets aren't making much bank and are unlikely to sign off on what amounts to $10 million in expenses ($3 million in salary, $3 million in luxury tax, $4 million in foregone distributions) just to give themselves a 50-50 chance of making the playoffs as L.A.'s Round 1 punching bag.
New Orleans has added incentive because the Hornets already are over next year's projected luxury-tax line by several million dollars. (Orlando, the Lakers, Denver and Dallas are the only other four teams that are certain to be over, though several other clubs dance perilously close to the line.) Because of this, some wonder if the Hornets will be forced to deal David West, but I doubt it will come to that.
As luck would have it, the Sacramento Kings are $4.15 million under the cap at the moment, making them an obvious trade partner. The two sides could set some kind of record for dead money included in a deal, actually, if the Kings swapped Kenny Thomas and Andres Nocioni to the Hornets for Darius Songaila, James Posey, Morris Peterson and Hilton Armstrong.
Such a deal would likely cost the Hornets cash and a first-rounder, too, since the Kings would be eating into their potential 2010 cap space. In fact, the Kings might turn the screws and demand that promising point guard Darren Collison be part of the swap. Nonetheless, that might be worth it for New Orleans since it would get them under next year's tax as well as this year's -- much as it made sense for Utah to deal Maynor recently.
Other variations on this deal also work. For instance, replace Nocioni with Beno Udrih and Armstrong with Devin Brown and the Hornets save just as much this year, albeit less next year. Subtracting Thomas and Posey from the deal also works. In all of these scenarios, incidentally, the four-for-two or three-for-one nature of the deal would require Sacramento to cut Sean May. But I presume they'd get over it quickly.
The point is that the Hornets have an obvious incentive to rent the Kings' cap space, and the Kings could use some of what the Hornets have to offer (cash, a pick, potential relief from the 2011-12 money owed to either Nocioni or Udrih). It cuts into Sacramento's cap room for next summer by about $3 million (depending on the exact parameters), but considering that draft picks normally cost $3 million, they'd get cash and a couple of useful players out of it. And since they weren't going to be in the LeBron sweepstakes anyway, it works out nicely on their end, too.
Utah Jazz, $4.86 million over
The trade of Harpring and Maynor was only the first salvo for the Jazz, who still have work to do to pull themselves under the luxury-tax threshold. As with their fellow small-market club in New Orleans, it simply isn't worth it for the Jazz to rack up such a tremendous expense just to be a fringe playoff team.
The Jazz have an obvious gem to dangle before interested parties in the form of Carlos Boozer, who has an expiring contract worth $12 million and has performed at an All-Star level through the first half of the season. Utah would likely need to package him with Kyle Korver, who has an expiring deal of his own worth $5.1 million.
One such scenario, for instance, would be if the Jazz sent Boozer to Charlotte, a team that's suddenly angling for a playoff spot and in need of some help at power forward given Boris Diaw's disappointing output. The potential haul from such a deal is likely disappointing from Utah's perspective, as they could get Diaw, Gerald Henderson and a lottery-protected first-round pick. But that's about all they can expect considering Boozer will be a three-month rental for whoever acquires him.
If they made it a three-way deal by sending Korver to the Clippers, Ricky Davis to the Bobcats (using the trade exception from the Raja Bell deal) and Mardy Collins to Utah, it would get Utah under the tax. The Clips would probably sign off on such a scenario only if Korver shows he's returned to health, so there are several hurdles here. But it strikes me as the most likely alternative as the Jazz aim to hit their financial goals, because the other potential acquirers would either put themselves deeper into the tax or have no strong need for a scoring power forward.
Miami Heat, $2.81 million over
Miami's decision to guarantee Carlos Arroyo's contract for the rest of the season surprised me because it made it harder for the Heat to get under the tax line come February. But with Miami's American Airlines Arena drawing poorly and another first-round playoff exit seeming highly likely, they're another team that I expect to cut money in the next month. It's not quite the slam-dunk case that the first three examples offer, but the dollar amount is small enough that Miami could accomplish the savings without much pain.
The simple, one-step plan for doing this is called "trading Dorell Wright." If there is one player I can almost guarantee will be changing uniforms in the next month, it's Wright -- the financial incentives are too good not to.
The Heat can offer anyone the $951,066 he'll have left on his contract on trade-deadline day to take Wright off their hands, likely adding a sweetener for the trouble (for instance, either more cash or one of the two second-round picks they got from the Hornets on draft day last year). Any number of teams could pull off such a deal, with the prime suspects being the Clippers (a $3.3 million trade exception from the Zach Randolph deal and an owner who loves to make a buck) and the Grizzlies.