Trade Deadline Scenarios Pt. 1: Contender-Tweaking Big Deals

Trade Scenario #1

The first trade is a four-team deal involving Golden State, the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the New York Knicks.

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GSW gets: Wilson Chandler (DEN), Darrell Arthur (DEN), and Jason Smith (NYK)

DEN gets: Andre Iguodala (GSW), Jose Calderon (NYK), Cleanthony Early (NYK), 2018 First Rd Pick (NYK), 2016 Second Rd Pick (OKC)

OKC gets: Aaron Afflalo (DEN), Shane Larkin (NYK), and Festus Ezeli (GSW)

NYK gets: Kendrick Perkins (OKC), Anthony Morrow (OKC), Reggie Jackson (OKC)

Why Golden State Does It

Golden State’s current cap situation isn’t bad. They’re about $8.6M over the cap with about $71.7M committed in team salary. The problem is that Draymond Green becomes a free agent after this season and the Warriors have $81M committed to ten players for the 2015-16 season.[1] Since Green is going to be a highly sought after FA this July, Golden State could be committing anywhere from $12M-14M to keep him. Even if we assume the luxury tax level jumps to $85M, Golden State comes dangerously close to (or maybe even exceeds) that number with only 11 players. So they need to save money.

Andre Iguodala is a really nice player but he’s not having the impact that the Warriors expected when they traded for him him two years ago. A big reason for this is the greatly improved play and impact of Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. And while Iggy is a good defensive player and still a good athlete, GSW is paying $12.3M to a backup SF who has a 10.6 PER on 30 minutes per game.

This trade allows them to replace Iguodala with Wilson Chandler, getting better offense for roughly half the price ($6.8M). Chandler shoots the three at a higher percentage and while his assist numbers are notably worse, he is a willing passer and doesn’t force his offensive game, much like Iguodala. Defensively, Chandler has never been the player Iguodala is, but Iguodala’s defensive win shares this year aren’t much higher than Chandler’s for the past three seasons.

GSW also gets Darrell Arthur, an athletic PF who would fit well in their rotation and helps bolster a frontcourt that might be hard to keep on the court come playoff time. Jason Smith is another frontcourt piece that works as another body in a worst-case injury scenario. The benefit from these two pieces is that both players are on 1-year contracts, which means Golden State can renounce their rights to clear their salaries from their cap sheet this summer.

By renouncing Arthur and Smith, GSW can reduce their team salary by about $5.7M. And their roster would still be flexible. A decent year from Chandler either persuades GSW to keep him or use him as a trade asset. Either way, his contract next year, though for $7.1M, only has $2M guaranteed, which is a valuable contract provision from GSW’s perspective or that of a prospective trade partner. But the Warriors don’t need to worry about the tax this year and even if they go over this offseason, they have until the end of 2015-16 to move salaries and avoid the tax.

Why Oklahoma City Does It

The Thunder make out pretty well here all things considered. As their payroll currently sits, they’re about $2.2M over the luxury tax. And everything we’ve seen has shown us that Sam Presti and the Thunder owners are not interested in becoming a taxpaying team. This trade brings OKC under the tax right now and keeps them there for the rest of the season. The Thunder also avoid a bidding war for Reggie Jackson, who looks like he’s on his way out anyway.

This trade replaces Jackson with Shane Larkin, at a much lower cost for the next two seasons and who has shown some promise in New York. OKC hasn’t needed much out of Jackson since Westbrook and Durant returned and even less now that they traded for Waiters. Afflalo replaces Anthony Morrow’s lost shooting and also adds defense and a better all-around offensive game. Festus Ezeli replaces Perkins’ inside game. Ezeli has promise and looks good in stints, although he’s still pretty raw. But given Perkins’ overall ineffectiveness, this still would be an upgrade at the center position for OKC. Overall, this makes OKC better now. Putting Afflalo in Morrow’s current lineup position makes a lot of sense and makes the Thunder’s second unit more effective offensively.

Why New York Does It

It seems to be no secret that the Knicks are interested in signing Reggie Jackson and this deal makes that a reality. By getting Jackson now along with his Bird rights, it opens New York up to signing him via an exception or using the ridiculous amounts of cap space they’ll have come July. New York taking on Perkins is just part of the cost of signing the PG they want moving forward. Including Morrow in the deal is simply a sweetener-in order to attract free agents with all that cap flexibility the Knicks need something around Carmelo other than a currently underachieving PG in Jackson and Morrow does that for them. Jackson, Morrow, an absurdly high draft pick this year, and Carmelo should be attractive enough for New York to have its pick of plenty of FAs.

New York gives up a first rounder here, with conditions obviously, and that probably hurts a little bit. But it is the Knicks and it is New York. Phil Jackson shouldn’t have any problems bring in FAs, especially since the Knicks are willing to spend. Plus, when was the last time the Knicks built through the draft?

Why Denver Does It

Denver is in a tough spot as far as their team salary goes. While they’re only $6.4M over the cap and comfortably under the luxury tax, two of their three highest salaries are going to players who have played a total of 43 games combined the past two years. Galinari has struggled with knee issues and McGee has had leg and back problems. Collectively they are making about $23M for both this season and next. Next year their salary jumps up to $78.9M with Faried’s extension going into effect.[2]

This deal only increases their salary by about $2M, gives them two future draft picks and a young rookie in Early who has shown some good things this season. It also opens up more time and development opportunities for Gary Harris and allows Denver to focus on making their bigs, specifically Faried, a more vital piece of their offense.

Iggy and Calderon are good pieces theoretically replace Afflalo and Chandler pretty well, making Denver a better three-point shooting team and creating more fluid offense with better ball movement. But they’re expensive and both are contracted through 2016-17. The reality for Denver, however, is that their cap space is shot next year anyway and their roster is pretty much full as it is. They can decline Foye’s option, saving $3.1M, and Jameer Nelson has a player option that can help their cap situation a little bit.

But if there’s a team holding up this deal, it’s Denver. With the West as stacked as it is, they don’t have any incentive to win now and this trade only makes them marginally worse unless they foresee flipping Iggy and/or Calderon for a pick and very little salary this offseason to a team like Charlotte who is barely over the cap and could use both defense and shooting moving forward.

How It’s Constructed

Golden State

Golden State sends Iguodala in a simultaneous trade and uses his salary to match all of their incoming salary. Ezeli is then sent away in a non-simultaneous trade creating a $1.1M trade exception.

Denver

Denver can add Early via the minimum salary exception. Afflalo and Arthur are sent away in a simultaneous trade, allowing Denver to add Iguodala. Chandler is sent away in a simultaneous trade, allowing Denver to add Calderon.

Oklahoma City

OKC can match all the incoming salary with Perkins’ outgoing contract in a simultaneous trade. This then creates a two trade exceptions from Reggie Jackson ($2.2M) and Anthony Morrow ($3.2M). They could also add Ezeli via their Thabeet Exception but they might as well keep it in their back pocket just in case it’s useful this summer.

New York

New York completes one simultaneous trade for Perkins and using two trade exceptions to sign Jackson and Morrow. Morrow fits into the Knicks’ Felton Exception and Jackson fits into the Shumpert Exception.

[1] 2015-16 team salary quoted here includes Speights’ and Rush’s player options

[2] This amount includes player option amounts held by Afflalo and Nelson.

Trade Scenario #2

This trade is similar to Scenario #1, involving the same teams with a few minor tweaks to the players and assets being exchanged.

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GSW gets: Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, and Nick Collison

OKC gets: Aaron Afflalo, Shane Larkin, and Festus Ezeli

NYK gets: Kendrick Perkins, Randy Foye, and Reggie Jackson

DEN gets: Andre Iguodala, Jose Calderon, Jason Smith, 2018 1st Rd Pick (OKC), 2018 2nd Rd Pick (NYK), 2020 2nd Rd Pick (GSW)

Why Golden State Does It

This is pretty much the same answer as in Scenario #1. Golden State is able to replace Iguodala with Chandler and gets two big men to shore up their frontcourt. Collison adds more value to the Warriors now since he’s a more seasoned veteran and has playoff experience. Again, GSW can renounce both Arthur and Collison after this season, clearing their cap holds from team salary.

Why Oklahoma City Does It

OKC gets the same return as in Scenario #1 but they keep Morrow, who fits well in their offense as their only reliable catch-and-shoot, spot-up player. They still get Larkin to replace Jackson at the PG role and Ezeli to replace Perkins. Logistically the Thunder would probably put Afflalo in the starting line-up, replacing Roberson. This would give them a much more deadly first-unit and keeps their second unit largely in tact with Morrow at SF and Waiters at SG. As with Scenario #1, this trade brings OKC under the luxury tax this season.

Why New York Does It

The Knicks are also getting a similar return although instead of getting Morrow they are taking on Randy Foye. Foye and Morrow have different skill sets but Foye is still a decent piece even though he’s having a down year. With Foye the Knicks would also have an option that they can decline and that will save them an additional $3.1M next season.

Why Denver Does It

Denver is getting a slightly worse return here on the court, replacing Early from Scenario #1 with Jason Smith. The Nuggets are sending away more salary here, however, and would decrease their team salary by about $1.5M this offseason if they renounce Jason Smith.

Denver also still has movable pieces that may allow for more cap flexibility. Nelson has a player option next year and if he still wants to move to a contender like Cleveland or the Clippers I wouldn’t be surprised if he opted out. Also with McGee down and Mozgov traded, Hickson has been consistently putting up serviceable numbers and he also becomes a good trade piece looking toward this summer. Executing this trade and moving Nelson and Hickson saves the Nuggets just under $10M next season, which isn’t a ton but it certainly helps their cap situation.

Trade Scenario #3

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GSW gets: Wilson Chandler, Gary Neal

OKC gets: Aaron Afflalo, Festus Ezeli, and Jannero Pargo

CHA gets: Andre Iguodala, Kendrick Perkins, and Reggie Jackson

DEN gets: Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, and Anthony Morrow, 2015 2nd Rd Pic (CHA), and 2016 2nd Rd Pick (OKC)

Why Golden State Does It

Golden State, again, gets an Iggy replacement with Chandler and adds a decent backcourt piece with Gary Neal. Neal has had shaky seasons since leaving the Spurs but if he got anywhere near his San Antonio form, he’s a player who could help the Warriors off the bench and has NBA finals experience. This deal saves the Warriors money and Neal’s contract ends after this year so his salary doesn’t have to carry through to this offseason. The Warriors can renounce him to remove his cap hold from their books.

The downside here is that they are giving up Ezeli and not getting any more help on the inside. But Ezeli is only averaging 11 minutes anyway and the Warriors have had success going small, with Green or Lee at the 5.

Why Oklahoma City Does It

Oklahoma City gets the same basic return as in Scenarios #1 and #2, but their PG replacement isn’t great here. This is a deal that, again, gets OKC under the luxury tax and effectively replaces Perkins and Morrow. OKC could also take on Brian Roberts from the Hornets instead of Pargo. While more expensive than Pargo, Roberts is a better option on the court and still keeps the Thunder under the luxury tax.

Why Charlotte Does It

This trade makes the Hornets better on defense now and gives them two athletic pieces in Iguodala and Jackson. It also gives Charlotte some serious cap flexibility. If the Hornets renounce Perkins after the season and trade Roberts instead of Pargo to OKC, then they will only have $57M committed to player salaries next year. This allows them to sign Jackson to an extension and still gives them some room to operate in FA.

The lineup situation probably isn’t ideal through the eyes of Jackson or Walker, but it should work out just fine. Jackson really doesn’t need to dominate the ball and has played his best in OKC when he’s working off of Durant and Westbrook, or at least one of the two. Jackson is also big and athletic enough to guard most 2 guards. The Hornets could start a Walker/Jackson/Iguodala/Zeller/Jefferson lineup, staggering Jackson and Walker’s to provide for a starting PG in both a starting and backup lineup. With a staggered lineup both Jackson and Walker should be satisfied with their touches and control. Although older, Iguodala is an upgrade from Stephenson in a lot of ways. He moves the ball better and more efficiently on offense and is a bigger and better defender.

Perkins is just a piece that helps OKC get under the tax and is of no real cost of Charlotte. The Hornets are barely over the cap as it is and this trade only adds $2M in salary (assuming the send Roberts instead of Pargo, otherwise this number is $4.1M) to their cap sheet this year.

Why Denver Does It

Denver is adding about $4.9M in salary this year, which isn’t ideal and they’re pretty much locking into the cap situation for the rest of this season and next. Stephenson has been bad this year, and that’s probably an understatement. But he doesn’t fit well with Charlotte’s system and would be much better suited in Denver’s offense with a PG who distributes more efficiently. The Nuggets would be betting on this and, if it hits, they could be a competitive team if people get and stay healthy. It also helps them draw FAs once McGee and Galinari’s contracts are up.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t hit and things go poorly, DEN has one more bad season and then will have the cap space to go crazy in the summer of 2016. As mentioned in the scenarios above, Denver’s cap situation is more or less locked in until then. Even if Afflalo and Nelson opt out next year, the Nuggets still have $68M dedicated to ten guys and they aren’t really attracting good FAs now. Additionally, They aren’t going to be able to move assets like Galinari or McGee with their price tags given that they can’t stay healthy enough to be of any basketball value. The contracts off their books in 2016 include McGee ($12M), Galinari ($11.6M), and Williams ($7M), and Stephenson’s contract has a team option for 2016-17. That gives them an absurd amount of money to float around and hopefully by that time Harris and Nurkic have improved to a degree that makes FAs more attracted to playing at the Pepsi Center.

How It’s Constructed

Golden State

Send Iguodala to CHA in a simultaneous trade to take on Chandler and Neal. Send Festus Ezeli to OKC in a non-simultaneous deal, creating a $1.1M trade exception.

Oklahoma City

Send Perkins to CHA in a simultaneous trade to take on Afflalo, Ezeli, and Pargo (or Roberts). Send Jackson and Morrow in two non-simultaneous trades, creating a $2.2M and $3.2M exception.

Charlotte

Completes one simultaneous trade, aggregating all outgoing salary to take on Iguodala, Perkins, and Jackson.

Denver

Completes on simultaneous trade, aggregating Afflalo and Chandler to take on Stephenson, Williams, and Morrow.

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One comment

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    We could have a link trade arrangement between us

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