Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trade Day is Almost Here!

NBA Trade News

It was announced today that a trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets happened today. The trade sends Tyson Chandler to the Thunder and the expiring contracts of Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox to the Hornets along with the rights to the Thunder’s 2nd round pick from 2008 Devon Hardin.

This move immediately makes OKC better, and they are really starting to look like an up and coming contender in the west. With a foundation of Durant, Westbrook, Green and Chandler they are poised to make some noise sooner then later. Not to mention the fact that they will still have about 8 million in cap room this summer to sign a free agent, and they have 5 first round picks in the next two years. You think the Blazers have assets…The thing that makes this sad though is the fact that they were just ripped from the city of Seattle and robbed us of some very promising I-5 battles in the near future.

The other side of the coin is what this does to the Hornets. Now many people think that this is going take them out of playoff contention, but I want to caution those people. Wilcox and Smith are no scrubs. Wilcox is a legitimate 14-7 guy and as any Blazer fan knows, Joe Smith has a deadly mid-range game to compliment his veteran savvy. While I agree that this takes them out of championship contention, I don’t think we can count them out of the playoffs quite yet.

Could this be the move that gets everyone else moving?

Raef’s Contract

I have been getting more then a few questions on what is so special about Raef’s contract and why it is such a topic of interest when it comes to making potential trades. Basically the idea behind trading Raef (or any expiring contract for that matter) is to give a team financial flexibility for a player of better talent. In Reaf's case, there is a huge push to trade him before the deadline because if we don't then we won't realize the full value of his expiring contract ($12.8 mil). The reason we wouldn’t realize the full value is because you cannot go over the salary cap to sign a free agent, but you can trade players that are within 125% + $100,000 of the same salary. So in our case we could trade for a player that makes $16.1 Million for Raef strait up. What makes Reaf’s contract even more valuable is that since he is hurt and out all season, insurance is paying 80% of his contract. Pile that on top of the fact that it is expiring and that is why everyone sweats it.

If we just let the contract expire, it comes off of our books, and right now as we are slated, we will be an estimated $7-$8 mil under the salary cap (the salary cap number is based off revenues and ticket sales throughout the league in the previous season, so it is expected to go down for the first time since there has been a salary cap in the NBA. The salary cap number is announced after the draft and before free agency (July 1st)). And that $7-$8 mil in space is based on the assumption that we renounce our rights (basically let them walk for nothing) to Frye and Diogu, and pick up the team options on Blake ($4 mil) and Outlaw ($3.7).

The reason so many teams want expiring contracts right now is because they are over what is called the luxury tax cap. There is a salary cap (Approx $59 mil) and a luxury tax line (Approx $71 mil). When a team exceeds the luxury tax line they have to pay dollar for dollar for every dollar they are over. This money is split 30 ways (for 30 teams) and each team under the luxury line is given 1/30th of league wide luxury tax paid. So when a team is over the luxury line, they not only have to pay an extra tax, but they miss out on getting paid their share of the luxury tax bonus.

So as you can see many fans think we should make a move right now and obtain full value for Reaf’s contract. However I am definitely not in the camp of we HAVE to make a trade to maximize Raef's contract. I think it is people over-reacting and assuming that just because Paul Allen is a billionaire, he likes losing money. We are in a postion of power. This is a buyer’s market and we have one of the, if not the most, coveted asset on the market right now. So I think unless the deal is perfect for us we should just stand pat, and see what we can swing in the summer.

Blazer Trade News

Chad Ford had some good stuff today on potential trades, and other information. Here is what he had to say about the Blazers:

Here's a look at what we're hearing:

The hottest name at the trade deadline? A guy who hasn't played a game this season: Raef LaFrentz of the Portland Trail Blazers.

"If you asked owners in the league who they'd rather have right now, LaFrentz or Stoudemire, I think more than half of them would prefer LaFrentz," one executive told me. "That's how screwed up this thing has been. I guarantee you [Blazers GM] Kevin Pritchard has gotten better offers for LaFrentz than the Suns have gotten for Stoudemire."

That might have been confirmed Monday when the Suns' interest in trading Stoudemire cooled dramatically. Some of that has to do with the hope that new coach Alvin Gentry will inject some life into the listless Suns. But much of it has to do with the fact that the Suns haven't gotten a great offer for Stoudemire.

Meanwhile, sources confirm that the Blazers have been getting a steady flow of offers for LaFrentz, including two significant new ones Monday.

The focus for the Blazers right now appears to be at the small forward position. It appears that three players -- Gerald Wallace, Caron Butler and Richard Jefferson -- are on Pritchard's radar screen. A fourth one, Mike Miller, is also a favorite of the Blazers, but the Wolves have been reluctant to include him in a deal.

Sources say the Blazers have intensified their focus on Wallace. He's young, athletic and physical, and he doesn't need to score to be an impact player. He has four years and $38 million left on his contract, which is a lot, but given his age and production the past few years, it's not unreasonable. The problem for the Blazers is that the Bobcats want Portland to take back Nazr Mohammed as part of the deal. That could be a deal-breaker for Pritchard.

Butler might be the best player of the group when he's healthy. He was an All-Star last year and is excellent in the mid-range game. He too has a reasonable contract, with just two years and $21 million left on his deal. But it's unclear what the Wizards would want in return and whether they'll ultimately opt to keep Butler and reevaluate the team when Gilbert Arenas returns. If the Wizards are to make such a deal, certainly they'll want the Blazers to take back Etan Thomas' contract, and they'll likely also demand one or two young players from the Blazers. That price might be too high for Portland.

Jefferson is the most available. The Bucks need to clear his salary from their cap if they're going to re-sign their two restricted free agents this summer: Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions. Sources say there have been conversations that have included both Jefferson and Milwaukee point guard Luke Ridnour, though the talk has quieted down. As a proven scorer and defender who's played in the NBA Finals, Jefferson has some appeal for the Blazers.

One wild card for the Blazers is Vince Carter. His contract is the most expensive of the group, but Carter has been fantastic this season and would give the Blazers the biggest bang of anyone out there. It appears unlikely the Blazers will go that direction, but New Jersey would certainly listen if Portland wanted to do a deal.

Chad goes on in another article to propose what he thinks the Blazers should do:

Trail Blazers send Raef LaFrentz, Sergio Rodriguez and Nicolas Batum to the Bobcats for Gerald Wallace and Sean May

View this deal in the ESPN Trade Machine

Why should the Blazers do it?
This is the perfect market for a team like Portland to pick up an excellent player without giving up much in return. Rodriguez and Batum have promise, but Wallace is the real deal. He would add the kind of toughness and versatility that could put the Blazers over the top.

Why should the Bobcats do it?
They are rebuilding this team in Larry Brown's image. This deal gives them some young talent, but more importantly some cap space. Given their recent moves, they could use it.

Will it happen?
The Blazers are in an enviable position. They have what might be the best asset in the NBA right now in LaFrentz's contract.

Sources say that they have their choice of Wallace, Richard Jefferson or Caron Butler if they're willing to send a few young players and LaFrentz's contract. Wallace, Jefferson and Butler all have their strengths, but for the Blazers' needs, I think Wallace is the best fit.

To be honest, not a big fan of that trade. Not a big fan of Wallace, the guy is constantly hurt. He gets hurt every year. And while he is very good while he plays, he sits out about 1/3 of every season.

Wallace games played by year:

08-09 = 41 (of 52) And counting.....he is still recovering from a broken rib and slightly collapsed lung

07-08 = 62 (of 82)

06-07 = 72

05-06 = 55

Not to mention the fact that Wallace has had 3 concussions and there is a very realistic possibility that if he gets another one he could be forced to retire. Plus not to mention the fact that Sean May hasn't played at all this year because he is too out of shape to stay on the court.

I just think Raef's contract is worth way too much to take a flyer on Wallace. We are in an extreme buyer's market and sit in a position of power, we should not have to compromise, we should just be able to pick which deal we want the most.

In my opinion the only player worth making a move for here is Caron Butler. But as Chad Ford points out in his chat, he will not come cheap.

Ralphie Bristol CT: Who do you expect Portland to end up with at SF? It seems like its gonna be Wallace, Butler, Jefferson or Carter going by what your article says.

Chad Ford: (1:05 PM ET ) Sounds like their primary target is Gerald Wallace. The problem is that Charlotte wants them to take back Nazr Mohammed in any deal. Richard Jefferson is an easier get, but he's got a bigger salary, is older and isn't as good of a defender. I think Caron Butler is the best fit, but I'm not convinced Washington will let him go. Vince Carter is intriguing, but you have to worry about chemistry a bit with him. Bottom line, I think the Blazers will do a deal and I think it will be something that lands them Wallace or Jefferson.

I think we will have to give up a lot to get Butler, like Bayless a lot. But then again I could be underestimating Washington's desire to get under the luxury tax and free up some money. To me, I like Butler, but I am not sure he is worth giving Bayless up for, that's tough for me. Because I like Batum a lot too, and in time I think he could be the answer at SF. Not to mention Martell when he comes back.

I have a feeling as the deadline nears, teams will get more and more desperate to make a trade to get under the tax line, and better offers will come across Portland’s plate. KP knows this and so if the Blazer’s do make a trade, don’t expect to be any earlier then Thursday at 10:30 AM Pacific time.


  1. I see where you are coming from with the thoughts on Wallace. I think he would be a great fit if he can stay healthy. Thats always a huge question though, and you dont want someone like that out at playoff time. Im not a big fan of any of the other trades at the moment either. Butler would be nice, but I dont know enough about him to voice a true opinion if he would be good to go after.

    I think I am finally starting to get the Raef thing. So basically teams want him because his contract is up at the end of the year and they dont have to pay him that 12 mil? They can do a trade w/o salary and have that extra cap space (basically drop him) to sign a free agent. Makes sense. Thanks Kyle.

  2. Hey man that's what I am here for!

    To be nit picky, which ever team does get Raef in a trade will have to pay a pro rated 20% of $12.8 mil(divided by 95 games including preseason) Then yes, they can just let him walk and come off of their books this summer. But most teams don't want to free up money to sign a free agent, they just don't want to have to pay their team more money.

    For example, if we traded Raef to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony, next year their payroll would be reduced by whatever he was owed next season. So it's basically swapping a shorter contract for a longer one.

  3. I'm stunned that NO let Chandler go. They were considered a possible title contender at the beginning of the season and now they send away their athletic 7-1 center for the expiring contracts of Wilcox and Joe Smith? Those guys aren't bad but they are not taking them closer to a championship? What are Chris Paul and David West thinking right now? The Thunder are going to be serious playoff contenders soon. I think they make a legitimate push to the playoffs next year and make it by '10-'11.

  4. Yea, I think this move just signifies how important it is to teams to get under that luxury tax line for next year. New Orleans just forfeited their opportunity to make a run at the championship to do it.

    This leads me to believe that the Blazers will make a move by the deadline and I have a hunch it will be out of left field and something that we did not expect.....Just a guess tho...

  5. I feel like New Orleans loss of Chandler is not as big as some may expect. To say they are out of playoff contention is rediculous to me. I feel they may slip a seed or two, but nothing further.

  6. I'm just curious at this point why they signed James Posey in the offseason though. The owner had to know what was going to happen with the luxury tax when they signed him in the offseason. Why sign Posey if you aren't going to keep the nucleus together long enough to give them a chance at the playoffs?

  7. Yea that's a really good question. But I think part of it lies in the fact that next year is the first year that the tax line is going to go down. Every year the tax cap and salary cap has risen, but because of the current economy it's shrinking.

    So they probably made the move with the thinking that 1. The cap would go up, and 2. That their ticket sales wouldn't dwindle down to nothing.

    But I agree, it kind of seems like they didn't plan that one out very well.

  8. Geez Kyle, too bad they didn't have a GM class in High school or college. Possibly a 4.0 GPA if that is the case. Just Dad talk!
    Good points though on the possible trade canidates. This is why everyone gets excited about trade possibilities. What if and how would they fit.
    I'm going to go away from this talk and say the Blazers don't trade away Raef's contract and wait for either the off season or draft to change things. How about picking up Terry Porter to be the defensive coordinator and teach the pick and roll to the guards?

  9. New rumor of Outlaw, Raef, and Serg for Vince Carter. I dont want to get rid of outlaw.