Yesterday we reported that Sacramento's pursuit of Omri Casspi would likely mean the Kings waiving popular big man Quincy Acy. Reaction from fans was overwhelmingly negative, particularly after Acy had come off of a strong summer league. The fact of the matter is, Acy might be waived no matter what, regardless if the Kings win the Casspi "sweepstakes" or not (we should know whether the Kings submitted a successful waiver claim after 2 pm Pacific on Friday).
The way Quincy Acy's contract is structured is that his salary will only be guaranteed if he is not waived on or before July 25th. According to ShamSports (on an aside, check out Grantland's excellent profile on Mark Deeks who runs the site) Acy's contract is set to be $915,243 if he is not waived. Casspi's is at $1,063,384. Acquiring Casspi and keeping Acy would put the Kings roster at 14 players and their total salary cap at $76,916,089 or about $87,089 over the luxury tax.
$87,089 is a pittance in NBA terms, and the Kings almost certainly would be able to make a trade or use a stretch provision on a guy like Terry or Outlaw to get back under the luxury tax. Waiving Acy and getting Casspi however allows the Kings a little bit more breathing room under the tax by about $828,154. This gives the Kings just a little bit more flexibility instead of having to keep an irremovable cap hold on the books for 3 years (as a stretch would do) or losing a pick to get rid of a player might.
We've talked a bit recently about the Kings not being able to go over the hard cap because they used the non-taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to sign Darren Collison. That's true, but the hard cap is pretty irrelevant to a team like the Kings. For Sacramento's purpose, you can assume the luxury tax as a kind of hard cap; Make no mistake, the Kings absolutely do not want to end up in a situation where they have to pay luxury tax for a non-playoff team. Paying the luxury tax doesn't just mean that the Kings would be paying double for any salary over the tax, it also means they would miss out on any potential tax revenue from other taxpaying teams which last year was about $3.033 million per Larry Coon's CBAFaq.
There's also another salary wrinkle that may come into play. When Deeks updated the Sacramento Kings salary page, I was surprised to see that Darren Collison had not received the full MLE which is set at $5.305 million for this year. Instead his starting salary was set at $4,797,664, exactly $507,336 less (because I was asked this on Twitter a lot, the hard cap is still in effect. Using any part of the non-taxpayer MLE triggers it). That $507,336 just so happens to be what the rookie minimum contract is set at this year. That means the Kings could waive Acy, sign Casspi, and still be able to sign an undrafted rookie (Eric Moreland perhaps?) to a multi-year deal (regular minimum deals can only be for 1 and 2 years, but fitting it in the MLE you can stretch it to 3 or 4) and remain under the tax.
There's also basketball reasons the Kings could go this way. Acy, for all his hustle and energy, is still stuck behind several players in the rotation. Reggie Evans is a minimum contract veteran who even ended up starting by the end of the season. Jason Thompson is always going to have a role as long as he's on this team, and despite how much the Kings would like to trade him (and how much he wants to be traded if we're being honest), the fact that there have been no takers yet after almost a year of them trying to move him is not a great sign. Landry is in a similar situation to Thompson as far as contracts go, and should he remain healthy this season, he'll very likely be ahead of Acy in the rotation himself. This is also not counting when the Kings decide to play small ball with Rudy Gay or Derrick Williams (or maybe Casspi?) at the 4.
Of course, there is some debate as to whether Casspi or Acy is more valuable to this Kings team. One thing that Casspi does bring is perimeter shooting with a career 3P% of 35.2%. That's not great, but it would have been second best on last year's Kings roster behind Ray McCallum's 37.3%. Casspi's also a capable rebounder for his position. One thing he is not however, is a defender, something that Acy has real potential to be even if he wasn't particularly effective there last season (mainly due to inexperience rather than lack of effort). Michael Malone has spoken a lot about the Kings improving their defense and yet the vast majority of moves that the Sacramento front office has made have been to improve the offense. These seem to be clashing philosophies, but this offseason is far from over and I gather that we're still looking at an unfinished product. That being said, a lot has been put on the line this offseason, and improvement will have to be noticeable this year. 28 wins isn't going to cut it anymore. Casspi for Acy isn't an earth-shattering move either way, but that's the point. Many Kings fans rightfully feel underwhelmed by what's happened so far this offseason, especially after all the talk and rumors of Sacramento making a big move. It's hard to look at this team as it's currently constructed and see it as drastically better than the one that finished last season.
Wait and see I guess, but Pete D'Alessandro and co. are on the clock.