"Fuck." "I can't fucking believe this." "Why is John Salmons included in this trade?" "I fucking hate Geoff Petrie right now." "Fuck You Maloofs." Paraphrase of a few people, but namely dalt:"This trade isn't so bad." "You know what dalt, you're right." "Fuck, Dalt's right. This trade really ISN'T that bad."
Look, it's pretty simple. The Kings aren't perfect, and they didn't have hot commodities (like Tyson Chandler) on the market except Salmons, but really, couldn't they have gotten Nocioni without Salmons? That was my first reaction. (I would have loved a separate deal that included the dumping of Kenny Thomas, and that included John Salmoons somewhere else. And you know what? Oh well. It is what it is.)
If one is to ask me about Nocioni, I would tell you he shoots the 3 decently, can rebound some, swing between the 4 & 3 (not a bad thing), and provided a little edge/toughness to the group. I hope that is still the case.
Looking at 82games.com, and his shot chart, what sticks out to me is the relative similarity of eFG% of Noc's around the floor. If you look at his traditional stats, it supports what Noc does. He shoots about 38% from 3, an 80% FT shooter (helps a team that really needs to get to the line to win games), and averages just over 4 boards. If you look at 3pt%'s for this team, only 3 guys have posted a higher % from 3 than Noc. One of them is Kevin Martin. The other two are John Salmons and Brad Miller, and certainly Miller's percentage was increased by the relative few amount of attempts he made. Salmons was shooting a career high from there. So in a sense, I think the Kings are getting a player that may fit better with their current needs in Noc. (This is my hope. At this point, it's all I have.)
John Salmons vs Andres Nocioni
One should look at this season's stats first. Salmons first: Salmons is scoring 19 pts, just over 4 boards, just under 4 dimes, 38% from 3, and nearly 48% overall, along with a 82% from the FT line.
On one hand all that looks very good when you compare Nocioni to Salmons, in the sense that they're virtually a wash. However, when you look at Salmons career $'s, they're up everywhere across the baord with the notable excetion of the fact that Salmons is grabbings boards at a higher rate the last 2 seasons that he ever has. So in a sense, the Kings are selling high. I'm very much in tune with TZ on this one.
Let's focus on Noc now. If you look at Salmons/Nocioni's stats side by side, you'll notice that Noc has never jumped up to the level that John has. You'll also notice that this could be John just having the ultimate year of "great year on criminally awful team" too. Nocioni is what he is. He's a guy, especially on this team, who could get somewhere between 6 & 7 boards a night for this team, even with JT & Shawes getting a lot of the minutes up front. That would be an improvement over Salmons. Especially when you consider that Salmons has never shot higher than 34% from 3 anywhere in his career. If you notice, Nocioni is playing near his career levels. The problem is mainly with his contract, but we'll get to that part later in this program. Playing wise, Nocioni is what he is, and what he is could be the type of role player the Kings badly needed to move this team in a better direction defensively as well as offensively.
Look I'm not saying that Nocioni is going to overachieve for a couple seasons here, and blow us all away. What I'm suggesting is that the career season John Salmons is not likely to be duplicated without 2 main cogs of the offense not around, and more importantly, his shooting %'s are likely to dip without getting 40 mins a night. Nocioni is the type of player who seems probably better suited to start in the interim, and bring off the bench if you have a player move ahead of him in the rotation (Donte Greene?) at some point. There are advantages to this.
Brad Miller is gone. I'm glad for that. He was no longer producing at the level management expected, and he is probably the biggest reason the franchise tied Salmons into the trade for Chicago. Salmons is producing at a career level for a low contract amount (in this NBA), and that's a commodity. If it continues in Chicago, flipping him may be easier for the Bulls than for the Kings. Personally, the disappointment is in having Kenny Thomas still, but life is such that you can't do much about it. Asta la vista Brad. You had good moments here, and some bad one's. No more ill will toward you. Good luck in Chicago and beyond.
Beyond Noc, did the Kings get anything in this trade?
It's a good question, but the obvious answer in terms of on court talent, is probably not. Every other contract received Diogu (traded for Griffin which is whom the Kings got from the Bulls), Gooden, and Simmons. I don't expect Diogu or Simmons to make much of an impact. I wouldn't even be surprised if the Kings waived Gooden because they could save a little money, and they don't think there is much worth keeping him. (I also wouldn't be surprised if they tried to trade Gooden before the deadline. I doubt they'll succeed, but they can try.)
The financial ramifications of the expiring contracts are the reason the Kings took back Nocioni in the deal (besides the basketball things). Diogu's coming off the cap at a 2.91 clip, Gooden has a 7.15 expiring contract, and Simmons has a near 1.75 million contract this season. (It's unclear to me whether the Bulls picked up his option, but I think they didn't. So I'm going to assumed his contract is expiring.)
Financial ramifications of this deal
I've said, I don't know how many times, how money matters to every team in the league, and why it's so important that they keep their cap clear of problems. It's hard for teams, and GM's really, to do that as keeping players happy usually centers around compensating them properly.
First, it's important to understand that this is a continuation of yesterday. But to be honest, with Nocioni's contract, the financial situation has changed considerably.
It's pretty much a given the Kings will waive Moore before the end of the season to save the 4 million and change on his contract. That wasn't likely to change (that and the trade kicker making it hard to trade him) regardless of where Miller or Salmons ended up. It's also true this doesn't change Shareef Abdur Rahim's medical status, and the likelihood that insurance will cover 80% of this season, as well as next season. (Although that could go up to 90% as I speculated yesterday, but that will only happen next season.) Note: At 3:35 AM on Thursday, February 20 2009, Amick posted a note that Gooden's sore groin may keep the physical from happening. (I think that's just hot air. Why worry about it?) I'm more worried about Chicago though. I think, ultimately, the trade will go through. I'm hoping it does. I don't like the fact the Kings make a deal, and then it falls through. There is no time to fix that.
Now, let's assume the following. Moore and Rahim are going to count for about 3.3 million next season. (Read yesterday's entry up top for the explanation.) We already know Diogu, Simmons and Gooden are expiring. Nocioni is on the hook for a guaranteed 21 million over the next 3 seasons (although the figure goes down slightly on an annual basis), and the 4th year is a team option. The Kings also no longer have Quincy Douby and Sam Cassell as they waived both to make room for the new players. (Not a surprise there.) Between the 3 expiring contracts, that's nearly 12 million dollars (at about 11.7) coming off the cap this season. You add this to Bobby Jackson's (about 6.9 million at it's highest) expiring contract, Quincy Douby's 1.4 million this season, Shelden Williams nearly 3.4 million, and what you have is roughly 23.4 million of contracts coming off this season. Spread amongst 6 players (or 7 if you want to add Cassell, and I don't), that's about 23.5 million in total contracts that won't be on the books next season. So cutting the cap was successful in some sense. The Kings won't have as much salary next season. This doesn't include the salary owed Moore and Rahim, as the Kings save roughly 4 million on Moore's contract next season too. Cost cutting measure's: aren't they grand?
Onto the gorey details of the financial situation for next season. The main long term effect, as I've noted, Is Nocioni, and his remaining guaranteed 21 million over 3 years. Of course, when you compare this to the fact that Chicago is going to be paying nearly 18.5 million next season (when you add in Miller's contract as well as Salmons contract AND his trade kicker), this is not a bad financial deal for the Kings. Furthemore, if Salmons doesn't decide to exercise his ETO after the 09-10 season, the Kings will end up having a long term net savings of roughly 4 million dollars. In otherwords, spreading the financial burden over several seasons, and cutting a lot of money now, makes a ton of sense for a team rebuilding through the draft and it's current group of players.
For this exercise, I'm going to use DX as they've already updated their info:
- Kevin Martin: Just under 9.7 million dollars
- Kenny Thomas: 8.775 million dollars
- Andres Nocioni: 7.5 million dollars (a decrease from the 8 million he's making this season)
- Beno Udrih: Just under 6.05 million
- Francisco Garcia: 5.585 million
- Spencer Hawes: Just about 2.33 million
- Jason Thompson: Just under 2.05 million
- Donte Greene: 840 K
- Bobby Brown: Just under 740 K
- The Kings First Round Draft pick is likely to be anywhere from 3.7 million to 4.7 million dollars, but I'm going to assume 4.7 million to be safe--rather be too high and wrong, than be too low and wrong
- The Houston 1st rounder is likely to cost anywhere from 1 to 2 million, and read note above
- The 2nd round pick will cost what Bobby Brown has this season: About 440 K, and that pick is looking to be one of the top picks in the 2nd round (not a bad thing)
Now, if you take all 3 of the draft picks, and add them to the roster, you're looking at 13 players for next season. (This also happens to be the minimum amount of players a team can have on it's roster.) That's without re-signing anybody that's currently on the roster, like Shelden Williams or Drew Gooden. (I doubt either will be re-signed, but you never know.) That essentially means that the franchise will not be likely to look at a Free Agent unless that means replacing Kenny Thomas or Bobby Brown being included in the transaction. Call it a hunch.
Current Salary, in the 2009-10 season, for your Sacramento Kings: 54,207,110 dollars. In otherwords, the Kings cut salary, but not enough to actually garner cap room. Considering where this team is at, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Go into the season with your 13 players, and get another high quality player in the 2010 draft as well. Cut some money off your cap (The Kings, with all their picks in hand, and had they not made trades, would have more than likely been paying luxury tax. They were around 66 million before the draft picks were even included.)
Here's the problem with assuming the Kings will have cap room. Even if they renounce every player on their roster whose a Free Agent, the likelihood of the cap going down will end up that the Franchise's possibility of using the MId Level Exception will the only way they can acquire a player through Free Agency. (And for whatever it's worth, the Mid Level does count against your cap room if you're not below the cap at a certain level. Example: Salary Cap is at 55 Million dollars (which it may be for next season), and you're salary is at 51.5 million dollars. The Mid Level Exception, which would likely start at 5.5 million dollars (it's rougly 10% of the Salary Cap figure). You would still be considered to have the MLE as part of your cap total, and therefore, as far as the NBA, per the CBA, would consider your franchise to be over the salary cap.)
Now, I want to make this clear. I don't really think the Kings should be in play for a star. Partly this is because I don't think any real upgrade will be available at a reasonable cost. If you look at these moves, this is a team that is building through the draft (Martin, Garcia, Hawes, Thompson, Greene--might as well have been even though he was drafted by the Grizzlies, traded to Houston in a draft day trade, and then traded to Sacramento a month later in the Artest deal), and the likelihood of 3 additional players through the draft who can contribute to this team next year. That's 8 players whom you drafted, or traded for before their rookie season. If there isn't a better way to build a team in a struggling market, and cheaply for that matter, I don't know what it is.
Last, but not least, you have to also consider that Thomas is an expiring contract, nearly 8.8 million dollars of an expiring contract, and Bobby Brown could be a throw in for a big trade. If the cap doesn't go down (which it might not), then the Kings still won't have cap room. But when you factor the potential to trade for a guy making 10 million dollars (if you combine Kenny Thomas and Bobby Brown), then the Kings certainly have achieved an objective of becoming financially flexible. Without spending money on the Free Agent market, or trades, most of the core of this team is homegrown. That is one way you can build allegiances with this fanbase, and with this team. One of the appeals of the Kings of yesteryear, in my opinion, was the camaraderie that the Divac/Webber Kings had. There's a chance this group builds that. Let's all hope so. Because it's very clear the Kings believe that Hawes and Thompson is more than a competent tandem. It's clear that Kevin Martin is still a damn good player (you don't drop 34 on Joe Johnson unless you're damn good). It's also equally clear that Nocioni's value could become such that a team like Philly could always decide they're tired of Sammy Dalembert, and trade him for a Nocioni. (It happens.) The flexibility this team now has, that it hasn't had since 2005 when they signed Reef, is now in tow, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Big Up's to Geoff Petrie for having balls. Cuz it takes a pair or brass cojones to pull off a deal like this one.
UPDATE 9:06AM: The Kings just traded Brown/Williams, for McCants and Booth, and the net savings is roughly 740K. This decreases the Kings salary by that amount, making it 53,470,690 (assuming the draft pick comes out anywhere near the level that I projected it). It won't help the Kings greatly, as far as I can see, but it does mean they didn't think Bobby Brown was worth keeping long term. Good luck to both, Shelden, as well as Bobby, in their future endeavors.
UPDATE 8:43 PM: NBRANS just pointed out i was wrong about Shareef not coming off the cap at 80%. His entire salary will be taken off the cap. That miscalculation subtracts 1.3 million dollars from my calculation. As such the actual figure that should be considered as a reasonable figure heading into free agency is this: 52,170,690. Sorry for the error's folks. For whatever it is worth, if the Salary Cap is around 57 million, or even slightly above that, then I don't believe the Kings will have cap room because the Mid Level exception will not allow them to have cap room. (You can't renounce it if you're within distance of using it. This would fall in that range.) However, until the picks are known, this is only a projection, and not a final estimate. I would like to stress that.