I'm going to try and lay out our salary cap/luxury tax situation for this coming off season.
I think this needs to be done because I see a lot of posts like: "if we want cap relief just let the contracts expire" or "we don't need to trade Artest now, we have his Bird rights and will get our return in a sign and trade". While these ideas can be valid, in our current cap/tax situation, I don't think either option is good.
First a couple of assumptions. I assume the Maloofs don't want to pay the luxury tax. I'm assuming an 08-09 Luxury tax threshold of 70 million(based on the trend over the last 3 years.
I'm assuming Kmart's new contract(5 years/55 mil) breaks down: 9,10,11,12,13.
Where we stand at the end of this season, with no moves by the trade deadline:
If Artest opts out: $50,712,440 + 9 mil for Kmart = $59,712,440
9 Players signed: Bibby, Miller, Thomas, Reef, Salmons, Hawes, Martin, Douby, Garcia.
That leaves us about 10 million available to resign Beno, our pick and pick up 2 other players to bring the roster up to the league minimum.
No problem, right? Not if we just let Artest walk for nothing.
If we do a sign and trade, any salary coming back will apply to the cap(expiring contracts will have expired, so the shortest deal will be for 1 more year).
So, assume we sign Artest and trade him for 10 mil in players coming back. That puts us at the Tax threshold with very little money to resign Beno, our pick or fill out the rest of the roster.
If Artest doesn't opt out: $59,162,440 + 9 mil for Kmart = $68,162,440
10 players signed: the above 9 + Artest.
That leaves us 1.8 mil to sign our draft pick and fill out the last 2 spots on the roster. No Beno.
One Caveat about the above numbers. Mikki Moore signed a 3 year 18 mil deal, but HoopsHype doesn't show any salary for him in '08-'09. If the last 2 years were team option, they usually show that in red, but it shows nothing. So, it is possible that ~6mil for Moore needs to be added to the above #s.
My point is this, if we don't make any moves to free up some cap space for THIS summer, we either let Artest walk for nothing, or have no chance to resign Beno. Letting Artest walk, makes no sense to me. We've got to be able to get cap space and either a pick, or a prospect for him. So why not get something for him now, and have some room to maneuver this off season.