We want to thank the Salary Cap guru Larry Coon for writing this article exclusively for GetGarnett.com. Many out there wonder what trades are possible and could we do such trades under the salary cap. This article will help you understand all the elements involved in a Garnett-to-Lakers trade.
The Lakers have long been rumored to be interested in acquiring Kevin Garnett. If such a trade were to be put together, four criteria must be satisfied:
1) Minnesota must decide to put KG on the market, either through altruism (accommodating a trade request from Garnett) or as part of a rebuilding process.
2) They must get enough back in trade that they’re better off trading him than keeping him or at least they wouldn’t lose their shirts by doing KG the favor of trading him.
3) The Lakers would have to provide enough in trade to overcome the same-conference bias (teams prefer sending star players to the opposite conference), and potentially have to beat competing offers from other teams. This would be made somewhat easier if KG specifically requests a trade to the Lakers (and the Timberwolves are willing to accommodate him), but this isn’t guaranteed.
4) Finally, any trade would have to be legal per the rules of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
For the purpose of this analysis, I’m going to assume the first three criteria are satisfied, let’s say Garnett goes to Glen Taylor, asks to be traded to the Lakers, and Taylor agrees to try to get it done. I’m going to concentrate on the fourth criterion, putting together a trade that’s legal.
I’m not going to review all the trade rules here. If you would like to review all the rules surrounding NBA trades, I encourage you to read my FAQ at http://www.cbafaq.com.
I’m going to make several assumptions:
* Any trade will include Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. This is not to say that Minnesota absolutely would not consummate a trade that doesn’t include both Lakers; however it’s a safe bet that they would want both.
* The Lakers would not include Kobe Bryant in any trade. They have the ability to include Luke Walton via sign-and-trade (after July 1), but would prefer not to do so.
* The Timberwolves would not be interested in Vladimir Radmanovic.
* The Lakers will be willing to send one or more draft picks. However, for the purpose of this analysis, I will ignore draft picks, since they count $0 for trading purposes.
* Teams may include up to $3 million cash in any trade. However, cash does not factor into trades for salary matching purposes, so I will ignore cash as well.
* Garnett stands to earn a trade bonus if he is traded (15% of his remaining salary). However, he has the option of waiving a portion of his trade bonus, to the extent necessary to make a trade legal. I’m going to assume he’s willing to do so.
* Kwame Brown stands to earn a trade bonus (7.5% of his remaining salary), and may also waive a portion of it in order to make a trade legal. I’m going to assume Brown is not willing to waive his bonus.
* Three (or more) team trades are possible, but I’m going to concentrate on two-team trades.
* The luxury tax might be a factor for the Lakers as the result of a Garnett trade, but this does not affect the legality of any trade, so I’m ignoring the luxury tax.
* Since Brian Cook was recently extended, his contract is difficult to trade. He’s what’s called a “poison pill player” prior to July 1 and a “base year compensation” player after July 1. This doesn’t preclude him from being included in any deal, but it does mean we need to be careful. As outgoing salary for the Lakers, Cook counts $1,817,141 both before and after July 1. As incoming salary for Minnesota, Cook counts $3,079,285 before July 1 and $3,500,000 after July 1.
* While not a requirement, teams generally prefer acquiring fewer extra bodies. For example, if presented with a three-for-one trade and a four-for-one trade, teams would prefer the three-for-one, assuming the basketball content is roughly equal.
Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s see what trades are legal. Since the salaries have to be close (teams over the cap can acquire no more than 125% plus $100,000 of the salary they trade away), we have to pay attention to what each player makes. Raises take effect on July 1, and this further complicates the analysis. Garnett’s salary is $21,000,000 prior to July 1, and $22,000,000 after July 1. This means (subtracting $100,000 and dividing by 1.25) that the Lakers would need to send away at least $16,720,000 if the trade were completed before July 1, and $17,520,000 if it were completed after July 1.
Bynum and Odom together make $14,378,876 prior to July 1, and $15,420,596 after July 1. This means we have a gap to fill, the Lakers have to send an extra $2,341,124 before July 1, or $2,099,404 after July 1. This can be accomplished by sending extra players.
Teams cannot trade players who will be free agents, or who could possibly become free agents due to an option. If the Lakers were to complete a trade prior to July 1, then the only players they could include would be (with 2006-07 salaries) Kwame Brown ($8,287,500), Brian Cook ($1,817,141), Maurice Evans ($1,620,000), Jordan Farmar ($939,120), Ronny Turiaf ($664,209) and Sasha Vujacic ($973,920). Radmanovic ($5,215,000) is also available, but as I said, I’m avoiding him.
In order to bridge the $2,341,124 gap, Kwame Brown could be included. But for a number of reasons, Minnesota might prefer to pass on Kwame. Instead they would likely ask for Farmar and Evans. The Lakers might counter with Vujacic and Evans, reasoning that if they’re including Bynum, then they’re not including Farmar.
Therefore, the first two legal trades I will propose are the two above:
TRADE #1: Odom, Bynum, Evans and Farmar for Garnett.
TRADE #2: Odom, Bynum, Evans and Vujacic for Garnett.
If the Lakers wait until after July 1, then they need to use 2007-08 salaries, and the gap (after Odom and Bynum) decreases to $2,099,404. The other Lakers also get raises: Brown ($9,075,000), Cook ($1,817,141 base-year), Evans ($1,740,000), Farmar ($1,009,560), Turiaf ($770,610), Vujacic ($1,756,951). So the same trades that were legal before July 1 are also legal after July 1.
In addition, the Lakers have the ability (with the player’s cooperation) to sign their free agents to a new contract for the purpose of including him in a trade. The contract must be for at least three seasons, but only the first season needs to be guaranteed. This therefore becomes a relatively cheap way to add salary ballast in order to make a trade legal. For example Aaron McKie (who is probably about to retire anyway) could be signed for $2,099,404 and included in any deal. This gives rise to my third trade:
TRADE #3: Odom, Bynum, McKie (re-signed for $2,099,404) for Garnett (after July 1).
Minnesota might look at any Garnett trade as an opportunity to unload an extra bad contract. They could tell the Lakers, “if you want KG, then you have to take Marco Jaric with him.” So lets look at trades that bring back Jaric with KG.
Together, Garnett and Jaric make $26,525,000 before July 1, and $28,050,000 after July 1. This means the Lakers need to trade away at least $21,140,000 before July 1, and $22,360,000 after July 1. The gap (after Odom & Bynum) is $6,761,124 before July 1, and $6,939,404 after July 1.
If the Timberwolves are able to unload Jaric’s large, long-term contract, then they might be more willing to take on Kwame Brown, who’s signed for just one more season. This gives rise to my fourth proposed trade, which is legal either before or after July 1:
TRADE #4: Odom, Bynum and Brown for Garnett and Jaric.
Are any of these trades actually feasible? I’ve long since given up on trying to read GM’s minds. At the very least, these trades are legal, and could serve as the baseline for any discussion.