Exploring the rumored Crawford for Claxton and Law Trade: CBA and salary implications

I have no idea how reliable the sources are, but ESPN seems to be discussing the proposed "Crawford for Law and Claxton like it has real legs. (Perhaps the legs stolen from Speedy, hence his state of perpetual inability to play). The NBA's own website is similarly posting it as a not yet done deal, but one that's in the works.  But as "it's more than a rumor goes", we are all still rather in the dark as to what, when, and, perhaps, why.

 

Big questions abound. Important questions. It isn't quite "what did the president know and when did he know it", but at least as far as our Warriors go, it's "what do we know about the trade and could it possibly be real?"

 

 

As of posting time, it does not appear that anything has happened. Nothing can happen unless Crawford waives his player-opt-out and agrees to honor the last two years of his contract as originally signed. If this does not happen, then the deal is dead for now. For trade purposes, Jamal is a free agent until he signs away his option or the deadline exercise it passes.

 

Technically, Crawford has an "early termination option" (ETO) where he can invalidate the remaining two years of his contract. Jamal has until the 1st of July to exercise his option to opt out. If he does not, he's eligible traded. There's a minimal difference from a "player option year" in that it takes Crawford's people notifying the league if he wants out, while an option year would be something he'd have to say he wants in on. (You'd think this wouldn't happen, but it's amazing how incompetent some "professional" agents can be about this sort of thing.) Until he opts out, or until the first comes and goes and he's done nothing at all, he cannot be included in a deal, either in principle or practice. That is UNLESS* Crawford gives notice that he will not exercise this option. [*The actual CBA and Larry Coon's excellent CBA FAQ do not clearly state if signing a notice waiving the ETO allows him to be traded immediately. Some of these details appear to be covered in "NBA by-laws" separate from the CBA. However, most reports appear to support that such notice will make Crawford eligible to be traded. As the NBA's own website is reporting that Etan Thomas has been traded, a situation that was permissible only after he signed a similar agreement not to opt out, it would appear likely that such a situation is entirely permissible.]

 

If Crawford DOES opt out (though there are no reports yet that suggests that he will), then this trade is dead. The Warriors would not have his salary on the books, but would not be able to trade him, save for an unlikely sign-and-trade agreement after the "July Moratorium" ends on the 8th of July.

 

Presuming the deal does go through in the most basic Claxton and Law for Crawford, the Warriors would receive two potential expiring deals. Claxton is unlikely to ever play again. Some reports suggest that the Warriors would waive him, though I suspect that this would not happen immediately, as once waived, his expiring deal is no longer a piece we'd have to work with. His actual salary of $5,209,454 counts against the tax and the cap, waived or otherwise, though it appears that an insurance policy is covering the bulk of it while he remains injured and unable to play. The only reason to waive him would be to make room for additional players on the roster. Of course, this assumes that Warriors management are rational actors, an assumption that I do not feel safe making myself. Your mileage may vary.

 

Acie Law similarly could be an expiring deal if the Warriors (or whomever he winds up with) do not exercise their 4th year option on his rookie scale deal. He's due $2,216,160 for the upcoming season and the Warriors would have until October to decide if they wanted to exercise the option for the 2010-11 season or allow him to be a free agent, Marcus Williams-style at year's end. Acie hasn't provided terribly much on the court in his two seasons, and may be worth more as an expiring contract than the $2.9 million gamble that he'll be better than terrible would require.

 

Still assuming that this deal goes down, Law and Claxton can be traded on their own immediately, so long as the deal is permissible under the CBA (e.g. another team has cap space or provides appropriate "matching" salaries of no more than 125% +$100 of their respective deals back to us). So long as we do not send out another player, they can be swapped with or without picks for any combination of picks and players coming back our way provided the numbers work.  Picks themselves do not count for salary matching in trades until the player is actually signed (though they do count against the cap immediately upon being drafted.)

 

One has to think that they're not particularly valuable as individual components though, but as part of a package, they may make salaries match or provide expiring deals that would make some other bigger trade including other players more attractive. For this though, they'd have to wait two months following the official completion of the deal. Hence, it's unlikely that, should this trade be completed before draft time, that there would be more *official* dealings with either player before the draft.  We're likely going to have to wait and see.

 

Before anyone gets terribly excited about the insurance policy on Claxton's contract, this has absolutely no effect on how his salary counts towards the salary cap. While it matters to the bottom line of the Hawks or Warriors (or whichever team he winds up playing for when all is said and done), his full salary based on the contract he signed counts against the cap and lux tax for whatever team winds up owning his contract. That AIG or some other recently or soon-to-be bailed out financial giant is footing the bill does not change this in the slightest. Sure, Cohan would have a bit more money in his pocket, but it isn't money that can be applied for a free agent or extra space below the luxury tax to spend elsewhere. I have ever bit of confidence that he'd repay the fans and use the roughly $4mil to help keep the price of beer and nachos at the Oracle down.

 

 

Also see: BREAKING NEWS: Warriors and Hawks closing in on Jamal Crawford for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton swap

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