Monday, 11 June 2012

On the move: predicting trades

For the armchair GMs among us, the new CBA was a blessing in disguise. A bevy of changes such as the harsher luxury tax, raising of the salary floor and easing of restrictions on salaries being matched in trades all offer compelling reasons for front offices getting to know their contemporaries around the league. And if not them, then we'll gladly contribute via the blogosphere!

Before I get into things, I'll offer a brief explanation of why the above changes matter.

1. Harsher lux-tax: In the pre-lockout era, many teams chose not to spend over the luxury tax threshold. In many cases, it's understandable - the old lux-tax meant a team at the threshold looking to sign a player with their MLE might have signed a decent role player to a $5 million/year contract... but the tax meant that player really cost $10 million. Harsh. Now it's harsher. Need me to go on?

2. Higher salary floor: Now, there's almost no such thing as a contract that can't be traded. A team like the Hawks are probably interested in shedding Joe Johnson's behemoth of a contract, and a team like Charlotte might be interested in acquiring it. Why? Because teams have to spend a certain amount - 85% of the cap next season, 90% for the seasons after that. And, if a team is spending a large portion of its cap on one player then there's more room for young, cheap players - usually guys on their rookie scale contracts.

3. Pre-lockout, player salaries in trades had to match within 125% - now it's 150%. That's pretty significant - it's now perfectly legal according to the CBA to trade John Salmons for Marc Gasol (doesn't mean such a trade wouldn't be criminal!). Basically, there are many more possible trade scenarios (not necessarily probable or plausible) than there once was. Unfortunately, teams over the lux-tax still suffer the 125% rule. Otherwise, the Heat could trade Dwyane Wade for DeAndre Jordan! At least, the numbers would work if both teams weren't tax payers...

So, with that in mind, there are a number of teams that will be seeking trades for financial reasons. Obviously, in some cases on-court reasons apply, too.


Rudy Gay - Whether you believe Michael Heisley or not, Gay is an interesting addition to the teams rumoured to be interested, Golden State, Toronto and Brooklyn especially. My biggest fear as a Suns fan is the Raptors getting all Pat Riley on us and trading for Gay, signing Nash in free agency and conquering the world. Nash-DeRozan-Gay-Bargnani-Valanciunas is as good a roster on paper as one could hope to put together without cries of conspiracy.

Pau Gasol - He was quoted in his exit interview saying that he has no interest in playing third wheel for the Lakers, and given his price tag - and lackluster play - a trade seems inevitable. I expect Pau's play is more to do with his circumstances than any decline in his abilities, so I expect the Lakers will be able to address a number of flaws in their roster by trading Pau. Houston covet Gasol, and nearly had him at the start of the season in the infamous nixed Chris Paul trade. Lowry-Scola-Budinger for Gasol helps both teams - would this happen? It wouldn't surprise me.

Chris Bosh - IF Miami fail in the Finals again, I could see them exploring trades to better fill out their roster. Dwyane Wade would best achieve that goal, and would also make the most sense for the future, but players like Wade don't get traded in their prime, so Bosh is the only other option. Miami needs to address 3pt shooting and interior defense, so any trade would have to offer solutions in those departments.

Josh Smith - I'm sure Atlanta would prefer to hold onto Smith and get rid of Joe Johnson instead, but Smith has expressed a desire to move on, and is far more tradeable than Johnson. I've had fantasies of Josh Smith on the Suns for years now (right around the time I learned The Big Apostrophe was off the the Big Apple) and I think the Suns would be able to get a deal done - depending on Smith's market. A sign and trade centered around Robin Lopez could be enticing for both sides.

There are certainly many more potential trades out there - Houston, Phoenix, Toronto, Golden State, Minnesota and Brooklyn are all teams I expect will pursue trades to facilitate a "win now" approach. Look for something big from one of them!

No comments:

Post a Comment