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So long Sam? No so fast. Cassell trade analysis

From Chad Ford of ESPN:

The Sacramento Kings agreed in principle to a deal with the Boston Celtics on Monday night, a league source told ESPN.com. The Celtics will send Sam Cassell and cash to the Kings for a future second-round pick.

Quick analysis: Ford breaks it down pretty well from a Celtic standpoint in the later part of his article, but this move makes the trade deadline at least a little more interesting for Celtics fans. Let’s look at why this trade was done.

Money: The Celtics are well over the luxury tax threshold this season. When you are over the tax you must pay a dollar penalty for every dollar you are over the tax. The luxury tax is calculated for a team by calculating the salary on the roster for the last regular season game of the season.

By trading Cassell to the Kings, the Celtics clear his 1.2 million salary for the whole season from counting against the luxury tax, thus reducing the penalty they will pay at the end of the year.

The Kings (who are below the luxury tax threshold) will be getting money to cover the rest of Cassell’s salary this year and probably a bit more on top of that to make the deal worth their while.

The 2nd round draft pick the Kings will be sending Boston is rumored to be heavily protected so it is likely the Celtics will never see it anyway.

Roster Flexibility: The other major motivator for the Celtics in this deal is roster room. Before the deal the Celtics had a full roster with 15 players and although Danny Ainge has commented the Celtics are unlikely to make an addition at the trade deadline, you know he is still out there at least exploring some opportunities.

If the Celtics were to make an trade involving dealing draft picks for a player or an uneven numbers of players (2 for 1, 3 for 2 etc.) they would have had no roster space for them for the extra manpower before this deal. The same could be said if the C’s signed a free agent as they would have had to waive one of their 15 players on the roster to make room.

Waiving one of them would have still have caused their salary to count against the cap, thus costing the Celtics even more money against the luxury tax once the new acquisition was brought in.

By completing the Cassell deal, Ainge can explore these types of potential deals/signings without worrying about costing ownership more money which is no small deal in this economy.

The Kings almost certainly will waive Cassell immediately, allowing him to come back to the Celtics to continue serving as an assistant as he has all year. It is also possible the Celtics will just bring him back anyway as PG insurance if the Celtics don’t add any more players by trade or free agency.

Cassell will be able to rejoin the C’s once the 30 day period expires which limits a player from returning to the team that traded him (similar to Antonio McDyess with Pistons this year)

If memory serves me right the Gary Payton to Atlanta for Antonie Walker deal in 2005 caused the league to make that rule, as Payton was back in a Celtics uniform within days.

All things considered a smart deal for Ainge to make to increase his flexibility. And don’t worry about saying goodbye to Sam, he should be back in Boston within a month, if not sooner.

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