The Sacramento Kings may be closing in a trade, but it does not look like it's the long-rumored Brad Miller deal that's going to get done first. The Kings are rumored to have had some conversations that would send John Salmons to Portland in a deal that will likely return Raef LaFrentz and a future draft pick, according to sources close to the discussions. It's possible the Kings could send Mikki Moore in the deal, although the Kings would surely want to include Kenny Thomas. The additional players needed for the deal to work under the cap could not be confirmed by either side.
Amick quotes Geoff Petrie saying nothing is imminent (either here or on the Miami side of things). In the previous discussion thread, I guessed that Portland would want Salmons, but it'd be a small swap for a couple of the Blazers' extraneous pieces (like Channing Frye and Sergio Rodriguez). But apparently we're thinking bigger.
Here are some options:
LAFRENTZ FOR SALMONS + MOORE. This would get the Kings roughly $10 million under the cap, not including the salaries of the two first-round draft picks.
LAFRENTZ + RODRIGUEZ FOR SALMONS + MOORE. Rodriguez makes $1.6 million next season, so this decreases the cap space to roughly $8 million before including draft picks.
LAFRENTZ FOR SALMONS + THOMAS. This is basically the LaFrentz version of MILLER + THOMAS FOR MARION, except that 1) Marion can actually help the team win some games this year, and b) the Kings save real dollars (not cap space) this season with LaFrentz as insurance will be paying his salary the rest of 2008-09. With just this deal, the Kings would walk into this summer with roughly $18 million in cap space, assuming a Moore waiver. (Rodriguez could also be added to this deal, if Pritchard is feeling generous.) Note that this gets you huge, Boozer-level cap space without moving Miller, which means that theoretically you could pull something like MILLER + MOORE FOR MARION and end up $32 million under the cap this summer. Which is a really, really hot scenario.
Things are about to get REALLY sexy in here ...
LAFRENTZ, RODRIGUEZ AND A PORTLAND FUTURE FIRST TO SACRAMENTO, MILLER + SHAVLIK RANDOLPH TO MIAMI, MARION TO PORTLAND. Portland gets a potential lockdown defender who can shoot at small forward (a significant upgrade over Batum), on a half-year rental with the Bird rights to sign over the cap if things turn out sexy in March, April and May. Miami gets its center with no extra cap obligations. Sacramento gets a free $12 million (LaFrentz), a disappointing but cheap and potential-ridden point guard, and a pair of picks down the line. This gets the Kings $15 million under the cap this summer, not including the 2009 draft picks' salaries and assuming a Moore waiver.
From a straight business standpoint, it makes the most sense for Sacramento. It's hard to ship out Salmons for straight cap space given the difficulties the Kings have had competing. Most savvy fans understand the need for cap space; no one rioted when Mike Bibby got flipped for Atlanta's AARP unit plus Shelden Williams. But this team wasn't 10-35 last year.
Salmons is the team's best on-the-table chip right now. I mean, we were talking about Mike F. Conley a week ago. With a cheap contract, great production and a defensive mindset, Salmons should be a HUGE target for contending teams the next few weeks. It's hard to name a team that wouldn't take Salmons right now. So in giving up Salmons, you should be getting something real good -- a pick from a mediocre team, a good prospect, cap relief in the form of K-9. That's the macro, Kings fan view.
The Maloofs are losing amazing amounts of money this season. Attendance is far, far worse than last season, when it was far, far worse than any time in Sacramento history. As we've heard a hundred times: attendance suffers, and concessions suffer, and parking suffers and merch suffers. The franchise will still gain in value possibly, but the capital loss (given we're near the tax line) is going to be bad.
Swapping for LaFrentz actually saves the Maloofs about $6 million this season in real, actual dollars you can hold. All these other cap space deals we discuss -- that's just giving Petrie some flexibility. None of the deals that have been rumored actually save the franchise more than a few bucks this season. Even Salmons to Memphis for a draft pick would only save $2 million or so. But because of the insurance clauses in LaFrentz's contract, the franchise would actually save $6 million. In real cash. (Have I emphasized that enough?)
It's hard to overlook that. I'm sure Petrie and friends aren't using that as a major basis for a trade -- the health of the basketball team is more important in terms of his interests than the health of the business side -- but it's there. The Maloofs, we aren't going to cry if they take a hit in the walley. They won't either. But it's still back there, in the back of everyone's mind. Petrie's a loyal dude, and he doesn't need to be told that the Maloofs might prefer $6 million in cash to a few months of Marion, all while keeping Salmons.
It's a tough thing to judge. Ideally, you'd send away Salmons, Miller, Thomas and Moore for LaFrentz and Marion (and maybe a couple cheap pieces -- Rodriguez, Frye, Diogu, Magloire ... whatever). I don't think Portland would take one of the Kings bigs if the Kings were getting the best SF in the deal. Maybe they would and it's all one big fell swoop of cap space. I doubt it, but who knows? Maybe you relax your "No Marcus Banks" stance since losing Miller, Salmons, Thomas and Moore will put you almost $30 million under the cap this summer anyways, and because you'll actually be gaining a $1 million in 2010 cap space because you're losing Salmons. Maybe the planets align and my heart erupts. Who knows?