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How Teams on the Brink Fared at the Trade Deadline

February 19th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Earlier this month, I reviewed the teams that were attempting to position themselves to be able to make one or more maximum free agent offers. The trade deadline has now passed.

Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh remain the prized free agents for the summer of 2010.

Wade will surely stay in Miami if he can recruit one of the other two.

Bosh is leaving Toronto.

James is the mystery. Many argue that he needs to be in a major market (namely New York or Los Angeles) from an endorsement standpoint. They often argue that a sponsor like Nike may be pulling strings to land James in a market where they can make more money. But does a superstar really need to be in a major market? Wade seems to be doing just fine in Miami.

Can you imagine James getting significantly more media attention if he’s in New York or Los Angeles? Probably not. If you’re a star you need to be in a big market. If you’re a superstar, they come to you.

So will James decide it’s time to leave the Cavs? The decision may come down to where he thinks he has the best chance to win. In Cleveland he will continue to have Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson and J.J. Hickson alongside him.

Shaquille O’Neal and Delonte West will be free agents, and may return. The Cavs will also have the midlevel exception to add additional talent. But is that enough? If the Cavs lose in the playoffs again this year, how long will it take James to decide that they may never win a title as constructed?

Rumors persist that James was disappointed that the team acquired Jamison at the trade deadline rather than Amare Stoudemire. The biggest transaction for Miami therefore, ironically, is one that didn’t happen for Cleveland.

The Heat, in their own right, took no action at the trade deadline. They turned down suitors for Dorell Wright, even though future first round picks were being offered. They weren’t able to unload James Jones or Daequan Cook.

Miami’s team salary remains as it has been. Its pursuit of three maximum contract free agents remains the same.

Here’s a look at how everyone else fared (assuming a $54 million cap): 

The Nets stood firm at the trade deadline as expected. They had, and still have, about $28.4 million in projected cap room for next summer. That won’t be enough to land two maximum free agents. They could still get there by moving Devin Harris, which would be far more likely if they land John Wall in the lottery.

A Wall-Brook Lopez core, the wealthiest man in Russia as an owner, and an impending move to Brooklyn might give LeBron James and Chris Bosh something to think about. If they don’t get Wall though, the whole thing unravels rather quickly. They’d still have boatloads of money to spend but, coming off one of the worst seasons in N.B.A. history, nobody to attract with it.

The Knicks were set to have $23.8 million in cap room available, and were looking for more to attract a second maximum free agent or hang onto David Lee. They were active at the trade deadline, searching for a way to remove either Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries from their books. They found a deal for Jeffries, sending him out along with Jordan Hill and Larry Hughes, receiving Houston’s Tracy McGrady and Sacramento’s Sergio Rodriguez in the exchange. Both McGrady and Rodriquez will come off the Knicks’ books this summer. The Knicks lost a 2012 first round pick in the trade, and gave up a swap right to Houston on the 2011 pick.

The Knicks will enter this summer’s free agent market with only Curry, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Toney Douglas under guaranteed contracts. That’ll give them around $32.4 million of cap space. That’s a $236K rounding error away from being able to offer two full max contracts. They’re definitively targeting James. Perhaps they’ll try to pair him with Bosh.

The Bulls were set to have $14.0 million available, and needed about $3 million more to attract a maximum free agent. They were looking to unload either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons, and found a taker for Salmons -– sending him along with draft picks to Milwaukee for Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick. In a separate transaction, they sent Tyrus Thomas (whose contract was ending, and therefore didn’t affect their 2010 cap room) for Flip Murray, Acie Law and a future draft pick. The contracts of all these players end this summer, so they have effectively added $5.8 million additional cap room this summer.

They should have about $19.3 million available to spend on free agents. That’s more than enough for one max contract free agent. But if they’re able to move Luol Deng in the summer, it’ll leave them just $2.5 million shy in their attempt to free up the necessary room for not one but two max contract free agents. Of course, if it takes assets to do that, what’s left over becomes less compelling. If it’s one, they’ll target Wade. If it’s two, it could be James and Wade or Bosh. To be paired with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Either way, a formidable threat this summer.

The Clippers were set to have $13.0 million to spend, and also needed to clear more room to attract a maximum free agent. They first traded Marcus Camby to Portland in exchange for Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake. Similar to the Tyrus Thomas situation in Chicago, the Clippers already had an expiring contract in Camby, so they did not gain any additional salary cap space in this transaction. The Clippers later participated in a three-team deal with Cleveland and Washington, exchanging Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair for Dew Gooden. This transaction cleared an additional $5.5 million for this summer, bringing their total to about $17.5 million. They hope to attract LeBron James to L.A. to lead their core of Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin.

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It is also possible for teams to further reduce their salary commitments before the free agent market opens. Teams can start making trades once their season ends, and may continue to do so through June 30.

 

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