Trade Deadline Scenarios Pt. 2

Trade Scenario #1

This is a three-team deal involving the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, and Charlotte Hornets.

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GSW gets: Wilson Chandler

DEN gets: Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, 2015 1st Rd (CHA)

CHA gets: Andre Iguodala, Aaron Afflalo

Why Golden State Does It

If you look at my previous post, Trade Deadline Scenarios Pt. 1, there’s a good explanation of why Golden State should look at replacing Iguodala now or sometime this summer. Chandler is a replacement who is 4 years younger and does a lot of the same things offensively as Iguodala. There’s somewhat of a defensive slip, but it’s not significant enough to dissuade the Warriors from saving money while still keeping the team’s style of play and overall effectiveness. This move saves GSW about $4.5M next season, which isn’t a ton but every dollar counts, especially when they’re probably going to be hovering around, or above the estimated luxury tax. And don’t forget that Wilson’s contract is only guaranteed for $2M next season, which makes him an even more attractive asset.

Why Denver Does It

Denver doesn’t have a lot to lose here since their salary cap situation is in rough shape for the next year unless they make some last-ditch efforts to save money. This trade gives Denver Stephenson and allows them to try to capture the upside that seems like a distant memory since he landed in Charlotte. It also gives Denver a SG/SF in Henderson who is a pretty decent backup and has looked good since he started getting more minutes. In his last ten games, Henderson is averaging almost 16/5/4 on 43% shooting. This move doesn’t save Denver any money but it really doesn’t cost them anything either.

They’re also getting a 2015 first round pick from Charlotte[1] which, even if they don’t get this year, makes this trade much better from the Nuggets point of view. Again, taking a look at Trade Deadline Scenarios Pt. 1, Denver’s cap room opens up big time in after next season and Stephenson’s contract has a team option for 2016-17.

Why Charlotte Does It

This trade makes Charlotte better now and immediately puts them into playoff position. Afflalo and Iguodala are pieces that will produce right away and gives Charlotte much more firepower on offense while also making them a better defensive team. Iguodala moves the ball unselfishly and is a good, athletic piece to keep on the wing for both sides of the court. Afflalo gives the Hornets a shooter that they haven’t had, but have desperately needed, the last few seasons.

Charlotte owns all of it’s first round draft picks through 2021 and giving up one for immediate impact and playoff position in the East isn’t a bad front office move by any measure. Protecting it to top 16 or 18 ensures that they keep their pick this year even if they creep up to the 6th spot in the East.

How It’s Constructed

GSW: Completes one simultaneous trade, swapping Iguodala for Wilson Chandler

DEN: Completes two simultaneous trades for salary matching purposes, swapping Afflalo for Stephenson and Chandler for Henderson.

CHA: Completes one simultaneous trade, aggregating Stephenson and Henderson’s salaries to bring in both Afflalo and Iguodala

Trade Scenario #2

This is a three-team trade involving the Lakers, Hornets, and Denver Nuggets.

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LAL gets: Lance Stephenson

CHA gets: Aaron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler

DEN gets: Steve Nash, Gary Neal, 2015 1st Rd Pick (CHA), 2016 2nd Rd Pick (LAL)

Why the Lakers Do It

The Lakers currently have nothing to lose here and this season somehow even less important than it was 2 weeks ago. In this trade they aren’t losing anything by sending away Nash and they get a player in Lance Stephenson who has to eventually capture at least some of his upside that seems to have been misplaced in Charlotte. Sending Nash in a deal that gets any asset back would seem to be a good one since next year he’ll just be off their cap sheet anyway. If the Lakers can send him to a team to help alleviate that team’s cap situation and get an asset in return, they need to do it.

Nine million for Stephenson certainly isn’t cheap, but the Lakers can afford to take that financial risk with almost no real downside. Ignoring cap holds,[2] non-guaranteed contracts,[3] and the two option contracts,[4] the Lakers only have $35M committed to salaries next season, not including Stephenson’s $9M. This number is assuming Kobe comes back and collects on the $25M remaining on his contract next season. That’s still an absurd amount of cap space to work with. And even if Kobe stays next season, LA will likely have no money committed to Kobe in the summer of 2016, creating enough cap space to lure any of the huge free agents that will be up for grabs.

As for rebuilding to attract these FA’s, an improved Stephenson, or at least a Stephenson who has regressed (upwards) toward the median, is a start. But the Lakers also have an intense, young PF in Randle who will hopefully return to health next season and two first round picks this year, one of which will be in the top 5.[5] If LA can can get one of the top three players in next year’s draft (Okafor, Mudiay, or Towns), they’ll have a promising front court to start their rebuild.

Why Charlotte Does It

Basically the same reasons as Trade Scenario #1 or any of the trade scenarios in Part I of this feature. Charlotte gets better now, makes a serious run at the bottom 3 spots in the East, and protects their first round pick accordingly. Although I’m sure Charlotte would want some sort of assurance or indication that Afflalo will pick up his player option next season.

Charlotte is taking on more salary here and since Neal isn’t under contract next year, they’re adding about $5.6M to their cap sheet.[6] But CHA should still be under the tax and can add minimum salary players to fill out their roster.

Why Denver Does It

This is basically just a cap space saver for Denver with the promise of a future first round pick. The Nuggets are basically trading Afflalo and Chandler to save $14.1M dollars on team salary and get a first round pick in return. Denver has $79M committed to player salaries next season, including team and player options. With an estimated luxury tax threshold of $81M in 2015-16 and two roster spots to fill, Denver would be dangerously close becoming a tax payer with a team that I don’t really see making a big impact in the West next year. Making this trade, renouncing Neal at the end of the season, and getting Steve Nash’s salary off your books will save the Nuggets the entirety of Afflalo’s and Chandler’s salaries and bring their team salary to about $65M. Depending on how Denver and a few players handling their options, Denver would even have enough money here to make a run at Draymond Green or Wesley Matthews, without really jeopardizing their future since so many salaries come off the books for 2016-17.

Denver doesn’t really have anything to lose here. Afflalo could decline his player option this summer and become a FA, and DEN would get nothing in return. And I’m not sure a team is going to give up a first round pick just for Wilson Chandler. So if you can package those assets, save cap space, and get a first round pick, I don’t see a lot of downside from Denver’s perspective.

How It’s Constructed

LAL: Add Stephenson in a simultaneous trade, salary matching from Nash’s outgoing contract.

CHA: Completes one, simultaneous trade with salary matching from Stephenson and Neal to add Chandler and Afflalo.

DEN: Adds Gary Neal under their Mozgov exception ($4.65M), completing a non-simultaneous trade, and adds Steve Nash under a simultaneous trade with salary matching from Chandler’s outgoing salary. Denver gets a $7.5M trade exception from Afflalo’s salary.

Trade Scenario #3

This is a two-team trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.

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LAL gets: Deron Williams

BKN gets: Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin

Why Los Angeles Does It

Deron Williams contract is huge and he’s overpaid, but he still has value as a PG and with the right pieces around him and consistent health, he could be worth the money for some team. Why can’t that team be the Lakers? I came up with this trade scenario before Kobe was out for the season and with the assumption that he’s more likely to come back next year than not.[7] But regardless of whether Kobe stays, there’s still value to the Lakers in picking up Williams.

Let’s assume Kobe retires after this season and his $25M cap hit is wiped off the books. Even with Williams, the Lakers only have $41M committed to player salaries (ignoring cap holds). If the cap goes up to $66M, the Lakers could have $20M to sign FAs, not including their first round draft picks, depending on how they handle their own FAs. That’s a lot of money that could be useless if the Lakers don’t have any big pieces to attract FAs now. And with the cap going up, good teams now with more money to spend in two years are much more attractive than a bad team from now until 2016-17 with crazy money.[8] $20M is enough to take a run at one bigger name like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, or DeAndre Jordan. It’s enough to get a slightly smaller name like Wes Matthews or Aaron Afflalo with room to sign other effective players.

For cap purposes alone, the Lakers don’t have a lot of incentive to complete this trade. Both Nash and Lin will be off their books if Nash retires and the Lakers renounce Lin. But getting something for those contracts could be very meaningful given how much cap flexibility they really have.

Why Brooklyn Does It

Brooklyn is in a tough spot here and will be in one for the next few years. They don’t really have any incentive to be good. Although I suppose that’s not entirely true. The reality is that they don’t have the ability to be good. They were ($90.5M) taxpayers last year and with no major changes, they’re going to be taxpayers this year too (~$17.5M) without major changes. With a current payroll of $90M for a team that’s barely holding onto the 8th seed in the East, they really don’t have a cap situation to get any better – either because they just can’t afford to add more pieces or because they can’t get cheaper, more effective pieces because their best assets have massively large salaries.

Brooklyn’s pick situation is just as grim, if not grimmer, than their cap sheet. And for that reason they don’t really have an incentive to tank. Their 2015 first round pick is subject to a pick swap by the Hawks. Their 2016 first round pick is owned by Boston. Boston can swap their 2017 first round pick with Brooklyn. And Boston owns Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick. So the next first round pick the Nets have control over is in 2019. Their second round picks are equally as unavailable.

So Brooklyn, if they are able to get rid of the salaries of Johnson, Williams, and Lopez, will likely want to gather some first round picks in the process. This trade doesn’t accomplish that but it does save Brooklyn money on its longest-term contract. It saves them a few dollars on their tax bill this year, but with Nash’s retirement and the renouncing of Lin,[9] Brooklyn will save the entirety of Williams’ $21M contract next year. If they can move one of Johnson’s ($24.8M) or Lopez’s ($16.7M) expiring contract (hopefully in exchange for some draft picks) they can start their complete overhaul. This would definitely bring them under the tax next year, which they are at risk of paying as things currently stand, and they’ll be doing so at the higher repeater rate.

Brooklyn could try to squeeze a first round pick out of the Lakers here but I think they’d be hard-pressed to get one. The Lakers don’t need to do this and will open up cap space to sign free agents regardless of whether they have a player like Williams. Second round picks would be more likely if they could get anything.

How It’s Constructed

LAL: Simultaneous trade matching Williams incoming salary with Nash and Lin’s outgoing salary.

BKN: Simultaneous trading matching Lin and Nash’s incoming salary with Williams outgoing salary.

[1] Top 16 protected this year, or whatever protection CHA wants

[2] An amount upwards of $50M, most of which is applied to Boozer’s approx. $20.6M hold.

[3] About $2.6M

[4] The Lakers have a team option on Jordan Hill next season ($9M) and Ed Davis has a player option ($1.1M)

[5] Lakers pick is currently slated to be in the top 5. If it falls out of the top 5, the Suns own it and the Lakers only 2015 first round pick will be the one it owns from Houston (Top 14 protected).

[6] CHA has $71M committed to salaries next year but Jefferson ($13.5M) and Henderson ($6M) have player options for 2015-16.

[7] I also came up with it before Kobe’s statements about pushing hard for Rajon Rondo.

[8] But, hey, it’s still the Lakers and while it’s not everything, that certainly means something.

[9] Brooklyn could also just sign Lin to a contract more in line with his value and less than his current $8.3M yearly salary.


One comment

  1. Dan Ferrara · · Reply

    Very interesting trades. I’m not sure the Lakers would want Stephenson because pairing him with Nick Young could be a nightmare.

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