Winderman: The “Take my Turkoglu, please” trade deadline

12 Comments

The shame of the NBA trading deadline is that it does not follow the post-Christmas “Boxing Day” tradition of Canada and other countries, where you spend the day after sorting out the junk from the actual gifts.

In the NBA, it remains an all-in-one process, which is why, in this space over the past few days, you’ve read entries of, essentially, two(or more)-for-one packages that have been floated by potential deadline sellers.

Basically, the process has become a joke, a Henny Youngman-type joke, as in, “Take my Turkoglu, please.” (Kids, if you don’t get it, ask your parents or anyone who has vacationed in the Catskills.)

This is where the NBA, with its impending more-punitive luxury tax, has delivered us.

It is why some of the Dwight Howard speculation regarding deals that match up for Howard’s $18 million salary is wrong. The starting price in matching salaries is closer to $29 million, because you had better be prepared to take on Hedo Turkoglu’s salary, as well.

Ditto for Andrew Bogut reportedly coming on the market, but only if Stephen Jackson rides out of town on a sidecar.

Or the Wizards’ current plus-one offer of JaVale McGee with Andray Blatche along for that ride.

Until now, the term “trade kicker” when it came to a move was the added salary percentage a player would get if dealt. Now it actually embodies, well, an actual body.

For a team like Orlando, it’s almost mandatory, because even if you remove Howard’s $19.5 million 2012-13 salary from their payroll, the Magic only would drop to $48 million against the cap, hardly room for a replacement. Take away Turkoglu’s $12 million for 2012-13 as well, and at least there is wiggle room for some type of post-Dwight replacement part.

The two (or more)-for-one sales are not unique only to the Magic, Bucks and Wizards. Virtually every team that lived large under the less-punitive tax of the previous collective-bargaining agreement now is left with at least one salary skeleton in its closet, in each case a player underperforming a contract that extends beyond this season.

Among the plus-ones who could find themselves along for the ride at Thursday’s NBA trading deadline (with their 2012-13 salaries):

Atlanta’s Marvin Williams ($8.3 million).
Charlotte’s DeSagana Diop ($7.3 million).
Denver’s Chris Andersen ($4.5 million).
Los Angeles Clippers’ Ryan Gomes ($4 million).
Los Angeles Lakers’ Luke Walton ($5.8 million).
Minnesota’s Darko Milicic ($5.2 million).
New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar ($4.3 million).
New Orleans’ Jarrett Jack ($5.4 million).
Phoenix’s Hakim Warrick ($4 million).
Sacramento’s Francisco Garcia ($6.1 million).
Utah’s Raja Bell ($3.5 million).

Remember, though, a player acquired in a trade cannot later be subjected to the “amnesty” provision. So a team acquiring such a player, provided it has not already utilized the one-time provision, could not then simply discard the “plus-one” player via amnesty.

No, he (or at least his salary-cap burden) becomes theirs to keep.

Much like “Boxing Day,” there could be plenty left curbside this coming Friday.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Watch Lonzo Ball dodge relentless stream of LeBron James questions (video)

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shortly before the draft, Lonzo Ball was asked in a televised interview to pitch LeBron James on joining the Lakers – and did.

A couple months and a tampering investigation into the Lakers later, Ball learned his lesson.

Sports Illustrated:

Rohan Nadkarni’s questions were all in good fun, and he couldn’t trick Ball into tampering, anyway. The NBA has essentially decided it won’t punish players for tampering with each other.

Ask Ball an honest LeBron question, and he’ll give an honest answer.

Report: People close to LeBron James ‘fairly confident’ Dwyane Wade will join Cavaliers

Jason Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Will the Bulls and Dwyane Wade reach a buyout?

Apparently, not only do people close to LeBron James believe it’ll happen, they have a read on Wade’s destination.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

As of right now, people close to James are fairly confident that, at some point this year, Dwyane Wade is going to end up on the Cavs.

Earlier in the podcast, Vardon even listed the only five people he believes reports should source as close to LeBron:

  • LeBron
  • Rich Paul
  • Maverick Carter
  • Savanah James
  • Adam Mendelsohn

So, that something about the proximity of this information to LeBron. Given Wade’s friendship with LeBron, Vardon’s sources could have inside information on Wade’s plan.

But hold your horses on Wade to Cleveland.

Though they could buy him out sooner, the Bulls are incentivized to keep Wade past the trade deadline. His $23.8 million expiring contract could prove useful in a trade. If no trade comes up and Chicago is out of the playoff race, as expected, a buyout would make far more sense. Now, eliminating that trade chip and sticking a large amount of dead salary on the books would be problematic for the Bulls – unless Wade cuts them a big discount. He doesn’t sound inclined to do that.

Even if Wade gets bought out, he has been rumored to follow LeBron to Cleveland for years. It obviously hasn’t happened yet. Wade’s friendship with LeBron is the primary lure – but it also might push Wade to signal a desire to team up while he can’t commit then go a different direction when push comes to shove. It can be hard to tell friends no.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade ends up with the Cavaliers. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is just wishful thinking by people close to LeBron.

Clippers’ Jerry West: ‘I did not want to leave’ Warriors

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
1 Comment

A report emerged last spring that Jerry West was nearing a deal to stay with the Warriors as a consultant. Instead, he took the same job with the Clippers.

West, via Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, via NBC Sports Bay Area:

“Frankly it was very sad, OK? It really was. A place where I thought that if I was going to work another year or if somebody wanted me to work another year, I thought I could contribute; I did not want to leave. I did not want to leave. I was very happy there.

But those things happen sometimes. Obviously to be around a bunch of players that were as together as any I’ve seen and I think more importantly the talent that was on that team and to see the joy. There’s a lot of joy there. I think those are the kind of environments where people really prosper.”

“It was time for me to leave. I’m in Los Angeles again. For me, I’ll have a chance to go in the office a little bit and watch some of the people that have been hired, to watch our coaches coach. I’ve often said I’ve done some crazy things in my life because of the timing and maybe the timing was right.”

The Clippers’ appeal appeared to be their salary offer – reportedly $4 million-$5 million annually. And maybe that factored.

But it sure sounds as if there’s more to the story.

With Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum, Celtics continue ascent – just not as steeply as hoped

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
1 Comment

NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Celtics landed the No. 1 pick and signed the top free agent to change teams.

Given that, it feels like their offseason should have gone better.

Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward are nice, and I won’t lose sight of that here. But…

Boston traded down from the top pick to No. 3 to draft Tatum. Count me among those who believed there was a significant drop from Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball to the next tier – and the tier after that.

The extra first-rounder the Celtics acquired has also only lost value since the trade.

It’d convey from the Lakers if they pick 2-5 next year. But they added two players, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, better than they were expected to get. Los Angeles looks less likely to stumble into a top-five pick – especially without incentive to tank.

If not the Lakers’ pick this season, Boston will get the higher of Sacramento’s and Philadelphia’s 2019 first-rounders (or lower if one is No. 1). The Kings signed a couple veterans, George Hill and Zach Randolph, to help them in 2018-19. Sacramento’s young players will be more developed by then, and mirroring the Lakers this year, there’s no incentive to tank. (Philadelphia is also on the rise, but the Celtics probably already knew that.)

There’s still a chance Boston winds up with a high pick – or even wins the trade with a middling additional selection. Tatum, as the Celtics have claimed, might be a better prospect than Fultz outright.

I originally thought the trade was about fair. Developments swing the pendulum away from Boston, though perhaps I’m overly colored by my relatively dim evaluation of Tatum. (I expected the Celtics to draft Josh Jackson when the trade was made.)

Boston’s next big move, signing Hayward, also comes with a major caveat. To get Hayward, the Celtics had to downgrade from Avery Bradley to Marcus Morris.

The reasons are clear: Bradley is earning $8,808,989 in the final season of his contract. Morris is locked up for two more seasons at $5 million and $5,375,000.

Not only was that salary difference essential for clearing max cap space now, Bradley will enter unrestricted free agency with Isaiah Thomas next summer. The raises necessary to re-sign both likely would’ve pushed the Celtics higher into the luxury tax than they’re willing to go. Thomas and Morris should be affordable.

Morris is a fine player, but it looks like he’s caught between better combo forwards (Hayward and Jae Crowder) and higher-upside/younger combo forwards (Jaylen Brown and Tatum). How much will Morris matter in Boston?

Bradley certainly did plenty, defending the better opposing guard so the undersized Thomas didn’t have to. Marcus Smart can handle some of that responsibility, but that cuts into the time he can play in relief of Thomas at point guard and the time he can defend forwards.

Getting Aron Baynes for the room exception was solid. He might even start for the Celtics, eating up minutes against big starting centers. I suspect Al Horford will play center in most pivotal minutes, though.

Signing Baynes was one of Boston’s several respectable moves – drafting Semi Ojeleye in the second round, signing 2016 first-rounders Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic and paying to take a flier on Shane Larkin.

But the real needle-movers were signing Hayward, a 27-year-old versatile star, and adding a highly touted talent in Tatum. Even in the less-flattering greater context, those are huge additions.

Offseason grade: A-