So the next stage of the Tony Parker trade rumor includes Richard Jefferson, as in, to get Tony Parker from the San Antonio Spurs, the Sacramento Kings would have to give up the No. 7 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and Omri Casspi and take Richard Jefferson.
Jefferson is due $30 million over the next three seasons. He is ... not great. In San Antonio, he went from high-scoring wing to roleplaying shooter. He's overpaid -- no two ways about it. There remains a lot of shock that the Spurs signed him to the deal they did last summer, but the calculus is easy: he had a really expensive player option that the Spurs couldn't stomach given the Parker and Manu Ginobili extensions, so the Spurs worked out a deal in which he'd opt out and re-sign for a longer-term deal that significantly lessened the cap hit for 2010-11. Now, to get rid of that longer-term deal that is quickly becoming a burden.
That's both where the Kings come in, and where many fans of the Parker-for-7 rumor leave. But not me.
As Aykis16 has noted in the comments to the two previous Parker-for-7 threads, Jefferson instantly becomes the best small forward on the roster. He shoots more efficiently inside and outside the arc than Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene or Omri. He's no longer a great rebounder and was never a great passer, but he'd be replacing Garcia, Greene and Omri. He's the best shooter and scorer of the three, and would be comparable on defense. He's got experience both playing a large offensive role (with the Nets, Bucks) and a small one (Spurs). I think you could be comfortable if he was your No. 2 scorer on the floor for stretches, and you could be comfortable if he was on the court with three of your four big scorers (Parker, Tyreke Evans or Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins).
You'd like a better defender there, and someone who can help rebound to bolster that team strength. But at the same time, you're looking a gift horse in the mouth. The Spurs are selling on TONY PARKER. The team isn't "sold" on any of the picks reasonably expected to be available. If Jefferson is the tonic you have to take to get that gin, drink it. It's not that bad. It's not perfect, no no no. But it's not that bad.
As for the finances:
* The Kings have $29 million tied up for 2011-12.
* A Parker-Casspi+7 swap would leave the Kings' payroll around $40 million.
* Add in Jefferson and you're at about $49 million.
* Add in Thornton at $5-6 million starting salary and you're at $54-55 million.
* This assumes you can't include Francisco Garcia ($5.8 million) or Beno Udrih ($6.9 million) in this deal or unload one of them on another team. If you can, the cap situation looks even better.
* The cap last season was $58 million. The proposed (by the NBA, not the union) new "flex cap" is $62 million.
Depending how the labor issue shakes out, you could actually keep Samuel Dalembert at about $8 million in starting salary -- Thornton's cap hold is a ridiculously low $1 million (his qualifying offer), so you can handle Dalembert first and lock in Thornton at his $5-6 million. That puts the Kings' payroll above $60 million, depending on where Thornton and Dalembert land. But a) the Maloofs are adamant about spending and b) that leaves you with a legit playoff depth chart:
Parker / Udrih / Jeter
Evans / Thornton
Jefferson / Garcia / Greene
Cousins / Jackson / Whiteside
Dalembert / Thompson
Add in the No. 35 pick and maybe even the Spurs' No. 29 pick, if that's in the deal. You can replace Jeter with one of those, or Jackson. That's a playoff contender, at the very least, assuming reasonable health for the key players (Parker, Evans, Cousins). If Evans gets back to his ROY standard or Cousins improves his shot selection and turnovers, that's a legit playoff team.
That's the goal, right ... a better team without mortgaging the future? Unless you think the future of the franchise is sitting there at No. 7 and in this year's free agent class ...