FanPost

My salary cap thoughts (and analysis on the trade itself)


Hey yall. I'm going to set this to music to make this a bit more palatable. (That, and I heard a song I really like just a min ago on my IPod.)

Just listen to this while reading. It will make the time fly by.

(It's just music I swear.)

Anyway, after talking to ATS (and I can't believe I even considered writing this as a comment), it's clear there is some questions about why this deal went down today. So, in essence, I thought I'd lecture for a moment (or 10) about the salary cap, and then give you all my thoughts on the deal in one fell swoop. It's all after the jump.

The beginning of this nonsense

First, one must accept what limitations you have. As far as salary is concerned, I usually use the following sites: ShamSports, Draft Express, Storytellers, Wyn from Canis Hoopus has a great spreadsheet as well (although I can't find the one he uses for all 30 teams right now), and I'll use newspapers info as well.

For pure fan simplicity, and less confusion, I like Sham Sports the best because it's simple and easy for anyone to understand. If you know more about the cap. Wyn's spreadsheet is great. But, if you don't know what all the terms mean, or how Wyn has formatted it, it can be confusing.

I can't stress this enough: Don't ever use hoopshype for any reason. It's filled with so many factual and dumb errors, I don't even know where to began. I just know it's not helpful in judging where a team's salary is most likely. ESPN has accurate information as well, but their trade checker doesn't forecast salary other than how many years are left on a contract. So, in a way, it's limited. Plus, at this time of year with player options, and what not, you can't make a deal on June 23rd that you can on July 9th. It's just one of the nature's of this beast. Anyway, back on track here. (Sorry, I do get sidetracked from time to time.)

The first issue I see with ATS' column is that the Spurs will be paying luxury tax this season with Jefferson. After all, he makes more money than the 3 guys the Spurs gave up to do this deal. But, the Spurs weren't likely to field a roster without paying luxury tax. A closer look at Sham's salary site reveals that the Spurs already had 66 million in guaranteed salary to begin with. So, in a way, all this does from a salary perspective (forget basketball for a moment) is that the Spurs are pushing their limited chips in now to get a player who fits in with them basketball wise. (I'll talk about this at the bottom.)

Anyway, the point I'm trying to get at is that the Spurs were likely paying tax, but with Jefferson that just means they're paying more. And, as ATS said, the Spurs probably should thinking about rolling the dice on a player like Sheed. If you're going to go all in for a season, you might as well go all the way right?

The most common belief is that the salary cap is going to go down for the upcoming season. I've heard figures ranging from 57 to 57.5 million, and I believe the Spurs have a very good idea what it will be already. I'll explain why below.

The technical part of this whole thing

First, the best thing for anyone learning the salary cap is reading Larry Coon's FAQ. I know he's a Laker fan, but in my several years of reading this FAQ, I've never found any team bias let alone a Laker one. Ignore that, and you'll be fine. (I kid, I kid. He's a Lakers fan, but if he didn't have that free FAQ without bias, it wouldn't be considered such a resource.)

As far as what ATS said regarding the Bucks, you don't need much knowledge of the cap to really understand why the Bucks wanted to move Jefferson. He cost a lot of money, and saving even 6 million of that money is worth it to them. That's why they did this. Simple.

But, why now?

Well, it really depends I suppose on when Bowen's and Oberto's contract become fully guaranteed. That I don't know. I imagine the Express-News or some Milwaukee paper will be able to speculate on that. (They usually do.) That's why, though, I think the deal was done now as opposed to July because Milwaukee could waive them (there's a date set to the contract that a team has to waive a player before a certain day or their money does become guaranteed--I'm willing to bet for Oberto/Bowen it's after July, but I don't think it makes a difference to the Bucks as the best time to make a non-draft day trade is whenever you can make it).

However, there is one caveat to this. You can't trade a player with an option on his contract--like an ETO or Player Opt out-- (unless it's a team option or a partially guaranteed contract like Bowen/Oberto have) before July at the earliest. You also can't trade a Free Agent unless it's in a Sign & Trade. (That only makes things more complicated because a player becomes BYC. I ain't explaining that. If you want to know how those types of things goes, just read the 2 links I put in here. It will fully explain them. Coon's FAQ is not in legalese--thank god.)

I just found something on StoryTellers that could explain why the trade was done now, and as opposed to later. The first is 2 contract notes in StoryTellers that you should take stock of: 

2009-10 is partially guaranteed for $2,000,000 if waived before 8/1/09, fully guaranteed after that (Bowen)

and

2009-10 is partially guaranteed for $1,900,000 if waived before 7/1/09 (Oberto)

The other note is Bowen's trade kicker, but rather than explaining that, I don't know how the trade kicker would be included here given that Bowen was not traded until the end of his contract. So, I don't know if that trade kicker is applicable or not. (Until I see something otherwise, I'm going to assume that it is not applicable at this time. The truth is that i think that's included in the contract language when it was written originally written up, and, for several reasons, I'm not a contract lawyer, Bowen, or his agent, I have no idea what that language is. Usually trade kickers can go up to 15% of the contract, and they are figured into the contract at the time of the trade. Still, at the amount Bowen is making, it's not likely to be a disincentive of Milwaukee to do this anyway. I just want you all to know that these deals aren't as simple as some franchises would love to tell you that they are.)

The last part of this is the salary cap itself. Don't let the media push you into believing the 57 million (or whatever figure they cite) is a hard fast rule on how the salary cap is calculated.

It's simple how the Salary Cap and Luxury Tax figures are calculated: The salary cap is set at 57% of BRI, and the Luxury Tax 61% of BRI.

For the explanation of BRI, just read the link.

What happens is simple. If revenues go up, the salary cap goes up. If it goes down, the salary cap goes down. The luxury tax won't ever be much different of a gap than it is in any other year. As long as the luxury tax is set at 61%, and the Salary Cap 57%, it just probably means for the Spurs, or any other NBA team, that the keeping of revenues is the most important deal here.

Essentially, with Jefferson making 14.2 million dollars, you have a certain level of savings for the Bucks. If you add in the 2 million Oberto will get, and the 1.9 million Bowen will get (plus if he gets any of that trade kicker, and the 3.8 million Thomas would most likely get (assuming he doesn't take a buyout), the Bucks are roughly looking at 7.7 million for next season as opposed to that 14.2 million. With the draft, and having to re-sign Villaneuva or Sessions (I would guess it's Villaneuva but that's me), I think the Bucks can pull it off.

Saving 6.5 million dollars is why they did this. It also means they can play Joe Alexander now too.

To answer this question:

The buyout money, all $3.9 million, would count against the Bucks salary cap for next year, but it still would give them extra room for resigning some of their players.  I don't think they could buy them out now and have it count against their '09 numbers.  That would be interesting, wouldn't it?

First, that 3.9 million would likely have some set off depending on what contract Bowen and Oberto get elsewhere besides their buyout's with the Bucks. How the setoff is done is complicated, but TZ awhile back explained this with regards to Mikki Moore, and it certainly applies here to Oberto/Bowen as well. But, as TZ pointed out, it's not likely to be much for the Kings in whatever contract Moore signs (if he signs). That's true of the Bucks as well. But, saving 200K where and how you can is better than not. I suppose.

Now, to the when contracts count towards what year. Via Mr Coon:

When determining the amount of tax a team owes, the league uses its team salary (see question number 14) on the date of their last regular season game (i.e., if a player is traded away before the end of the season, then none of his salary is taxed)

There are also adjustments to all this, but click the link to find out what they are. I don't want to explain them, and I've tortured you all enough already.

I think that pretty much does it. I probably over-explained everything, but some of this stuff is tricky, and I didn't want any confusion.

*****

Now to my basketball analysis. Do I think it's a good deal? Yeah, I think it's a pretty good deal for both sides. Bill Simmons made a point in his February trade column that Tim Duncan was still playing at a high level. I think it somewhat was an underrated high point of Duncan's career, and equal part curse. Unfortunately.

That being said unless the Spurs could have A) find another player who can score consistently taking that pressure off Duncan and Ginobili (nevertheless to play either high minutes consistently) and B) find a player who could handle the pressure of big time basketball, none of what Simmons said would have mattered. At some point Duncan would have worn down.

Over a 8 year career, Jefferson has averaged 71 games a season. The Spurs desperately need that for several reasons.

  1. The Lakers ain't going nowhere
  2. Duncan and Ginobili aren't likely to have another shot as strong as the upcoming season
  3. There isn't a clear favorite in the West, other than LA unless Denver Houston or Portland replicate their seasons completely (and without Yao going down), to get to the WCF next year

But, the best part of Jefferson is that you can play him a lot of minutes, and he won't be worse off for it. He does well with more minutes even.

I also think this will make the strain of Tony Parker to create shots for the Spurs ease somewhat with Jefferson constantly being a threat to score in transistion, inside, and outside. The Spurs desperately need that.

And, the cost of it all? Bruce Bowen? Fabricio Oberto? Kurt Thomas? Uh, yeah, you do that every time. The only reason you hesitate is when money is involved.

Frankly, and unless there is a major franchise altering superstar going to another team, I doubt we'll see a better trade of a potential impact player on a contender in the West or the East. The Spurs, in many ways, seem to be pushing their chips completely into the middle where in previous years they played it safe and made the simple, reasonable bet every time. And, that worked.

But with Duncan at 31 years of age, and with Ginobili maybe having a season or two left at this point due to his own physical issue's, the Spurs have little time left. Any trade that makes you more versatile, dangerous, and viable is always one you do. Even if it costs money. My hats off to RC Buford for doing this.

This is fan-created content on PoundingtheRock.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at Pounding the Rock.

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