In what might be considered the biggest surprise of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Golden State Warriors are reportedly looking to trade their three large expiring contracts as a means to clear cap room to be able to sign the mercurial big man on their own.
With reports mixed about whether the Los Angeles Lakers would facilitate Howard's move to the Warriors by agreeing to a sign-and-trade deal or how much it would take for them to agree to it, having the cap room to sign Howard on their own would even the playing field financially with the other four teams in the mix.
However, pulling this off would be difficult, as Marcus Thompson has already described.
The projected salary cap is $58.5 million, which means the Warriors would need to cut their salary down to $38 million or less to have the space needed to pay Howard the max contract he commands.
Cutting that much money would require the Warriors moving their three major expiring contracts: Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). Dumping all three without taking any money back would chop $34 million off the Warriors' cap figure, getting them down to about $35 million.
It would be a monumental feat if they could pull that off, in part due to a complete lack of leverage with every other general manager in the league knowing what they're trying to do and in part due to a short time frame.
With Howard rumored to be announcing his decision tomorrow, having possible trades in place before he announces could be to their advantage in terms of greasing the wheels of his decision-making process. But there's still the matter of leverage, as articulated by Matt Moore of CBS Sports.
They clearly think they made an impact with their pitch and that Howard could lean toward them. Then it becomes a matter of clearing space.
The problem is, any deal they try to make will have to involve at least Bogut and either Thompson or Barnes. There's no way around that. Any team they negotiate with to take Jefferson and/or Biedrins will know the Warriors' leverage position and exploit it.
It's unreasonable to assume that general managers around the league are going to look at this situation and just happily take on these expiring contracts for nothing in return.
As Thompson described, trading Bogut isn't impossible to imagine but convincing a team to take on the contracts of Biedrins or Jefferson might require the addition of cash or maybe the inclusion of David Lee. Yet even moving Lee might be a problem as Tim Kawakami reported the other day that not one team has shown interest in taking on Lee's contract.
And if they make this happen, we'll have to credit Peter Vescey for reporting that they had teams willing to take on their big contracts.
In terms of the fall out if Howard chooses not to come to the Warriors, there isn't a whole lot of risk involved in this situation even if they actually manage to agree to trades before the final decision is made - no trades can be executed until July 10, as described at Larry Coon's CBA FAQ. Yet there's always the risk of sending the wrong message to the increasing number of players involved in trying to acquire a player who is considered immature and has been struggling with a bad back for two seasons now.
And of course, the difficulty of these deals only pours salt on a few old wounds.
Can't forget OLD Dubs took on Jefferson deal to get pick that became Ezeli. AND amnestied Charlie Bell, not Biedrins. $20 mil right there— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 5, 2013