Over the next few weeks, I’m going to post a few trades that work under the NBA’s salary cap and make at least moderate sense for the teams involved. I cannot state this clearly enough: These deals are not based on any inside information. None of them will actually happen. They are meant only to a) place the Celtics within the marketplace as the deadline approaches; b) spark some discussion.
Without further ado: A trade that works.
Celtics receive: James Posey
Hornets receive: Brian Scalabrine
Grizzlies receive: Tony Allen, Boston’s 2010 first-round draft pick.
Hey, if you don’t want the C’s giving up any player you consider part of their post-season rotation, this is the kind of deal you have to do. Here is the basic reasoning behind it:
• Boston gets a capable swing forward with post-season experience, shooting range and defensive credentials
• The Hornets save $2.6 million this year, sliding them below the dreaded luxury tax line. They also get rid of Posey’s contract, which pays him $6.5 million next season and about $7.0 million in 2012, when he will be 35. In exchange, they get Scal’s $3.4 million expiring deal.
Niall Doherty, who writes about the Hornets at the outstanding blog Hornets247, says the following: I think absolutely the Hornets would do it, especially since it would get them under the luxury tax threshold. Posey didn’t prove to be the guy to put the Hornets over the hump, and now they’re on the hook to pay him more than $6 million a season through 2011-2012.
• Memphis gets an expiring contract in TA and a draft pick in exchange for renting its cap space. This may not sound like much, considering the Grizz are the last team with major cap room that may be willing to use it in order to facilitate a deal. Until last week, the Kings had a decent chunk of cap room that, experts speculated, could fetch a decent price with teams scrambling to get under the tax line. What did it fetch? Hilton Armstrong and cash.
A brief aside before I explain why this trade won’t happen.
The aside: You spend time tinkering with deadline deals, and you begin to realize how powerful a team like Memphis can be. They have a big chunk of cap room (about $3.2 million), and they have an open roster spot. They are basically the only team in the NBA with both of those things. It’s easy to line up a Scal/TA for Posey deal (it works under the cap), but New Orleans has no incentive to do that. They want to get under the luxury tax this season, so they would only dump a quality player (if you consider Posey as such) for immediate payroll relief; a combo of expiring deals that match Posey’s salary doesn’t accomplish that.
If the C’s want Posey and his $6M salary, they need to send out that amount (plus or minus 25 percent) in return, and the Hornets have no interest in taking on $6M in salary. But accepting $3.4 million in exchange for $6 million? That could work. The C’s would need to find a separate home for the remaining $2.5 million or so, and that home would have to be Memphis.
And the Grizz aren’t just going to help the C’s for nothing. They’d want a draft pick (almost certainly a first-round pick) or a hefty chunk of cash (the maximum amount of cash allowed in a deal is $3 million).
I would be shocked if the Grizz didn’t make a deal involving their cap space over the next month.
In any case, here are the reasons this deal won’t happen:
• Posey is declining fast, and the Celtics may believe they need Tony Allen with Marquis Daniels out another month or so. Posey is essentially a “three and D” guy, and while the three is still there (he’s hitting about 38 percent), it’s a fair question as to whether Pose can still bring the D. The Hornets defense has been a bit worse with Pose on the court this season, his adjusted plus/minus is well into the negative range and his direct counterparts have been putting up huge numbers, according to 82games and Basketball Prospectus. (Opposing small forwards, for instance, are putting up a 19.1 Player Efficiency Rating against Pose).
The C’s are not going to commit nearly $7M/year to such a player through 2012, not when they will almost certainly be over the tax in both of those seasons.
• The Hornets are a playoff contender at 20-17 and could use the revenue from a couple of home playoff games. They also have a point guard who could leave in 2012, and he has a temper. It would probably be best not to alienate him by dumping Posey for nothing. Also: The Armstrong deal with Sacramento has the Hornets just about $500,000 over the luxury tax, meaning they could get under it via a much smaller and less foundation-altering deal.
• As for Memphis, maybe they just want to stand pat instead of spending $2.5 million extra this season on someone like TA. Maybe Chris Wallace wants more than a low first-round pick or cash for the privilege of renting his cap space.
Again: This deal is merely to illustrate the kind of thing that is possible for Boston given its current cap situation. I’m going to try and do these things regularly over the next month, and if you have a trade you like—and that makes sense for everyone involved—please share in the comments. Completed trades only, please. Typing “we should get Al Jefferson back!!!!!!!” doesn’t do anyone any good if you can’t figure out a way to actually do it.