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NBA PM: Rockets Have Flexibility for Howard
Posted By Eric Pincus On July 26, 2012 @ 7:42 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Dwight Howard still wants a trade. This part isn’t news.
One team that has significant interest is the Houston Rockets. Currently sources close to Howard indicate that he does not want to be dealt to Houston, with the threat of walking to the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent next season a warning to the Rockets.
Whatever the case, Houston may be willing to risk everything on the chance they can convince Howard to stay long term.
Now that the Rockets have landed both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik through the restricted free agency process, do they have enough flexibility to take on Howard along with a variety of unwanted contracts from the Orlando Magic?
The simple answer is “yes.”
This exercise isn’t about what the Rockets will do but what they legally can accomplish if so motivated.
The presumption is that for the Magic to move Dwight, they want a combination of picks, prospects and salary relief. The players Orlando is looking to “dump” include Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon, Jason Richardson and Glen Davis.
Turkoglu is set to make $11.8 million and $12.0 million over the next two years but the second season is only $6 million guaranteed.
Duhon is at $3.5 million and $3.75 million with the second year approximately $1.5 million guaranteed.
Richardson and Davis both have three seasons at $18.6 million and $19.4 million in total, respectively. Richardson does have a player option on his final year.
Additionally, the rules have changed when matching salaries in trade for non-tax teams. When receiving up to $9.8 million in salary, the incoming team can take in up to 150 percent of the salary going out plus $100k.
From $9.8 million to $19.6 million, the padding on salary going out is a flat $5 million.
Once the numbers hit $19.6 million or greater, the tax-payer rate of 125 percent of outgoing salary (plus $100k) is used.
A single trade between the Rockets and Magic might not work at the 125-percent rate, but a larger deal can be broken down into smaller components to take care of the complex rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Also noteworthy, the Rockets are still a cap team so they are capable of packaging recently-acquired players together in outgoing deals.
Timing can be difficult as first-round picks recently signed cannot be deal for 30 days. Donatas Motiejunas can be dealt around August 4th. Terrence Jones on August 9th. Royce White just inked and won’t be available until August 25th. Jeremy Lamb is expected to sign as well (he may already have by publication) which would start the 30 day clock for him as well.
So what can the Magic and Rockets do directly, noting the contracts of Lin and Asik aren’t in the discussion?
Kevin Martin and Patrick Patterson combine to make $14,536,435. Howard, at $19,536,360 is slightly below the $19.6 barrier and fits within the $5,000 padding by just $75.
The combination of Donatas Motiejunas, Shaun Livingston, Diamon Simpson, Courtney Fortson and Josh Harrellson totals $7.1 million which, with the $5,000 padding, is enough to take on Turkoglu. Other than Motiejunas, each of the four players can be cut with non-guaranteed salary (although Livingston does have $1 million of his $3.5 million guaranteed).
Marcus Morris, Jon Brockman and Sean Williams combine to make $3.8 million which is enough to acquire Jason Richardson. Williams’ $916k is non-guaranteed.
Chandler Parson, Gary Forbes, JaJuan Johnson and Greg Smith (guaranteed $381k) work for Glen Davis.
Terrence Jones and Toney Douglas can be dealt for Chris Duhon.
The resulting combination, spread across five separate trades? Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Donatas Motiejunas, Shaun Livingston, Courtney Fortson, Josh Harrelson, Diamon Simpson, Marcus Morris, Jon Brockman, Sean Williams, Gary Forbes, JaJuan Johnson, Greg Smith, Chandler Parsons, Toney Douglas and Terrence Jones for Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Hedo Turkoglu.
It’s not pretty. It’s not realistic, but is it possible for the Rockets to send 16 players to Orlando to take on Howard and four unwanted players, at least mathematically? Yes.
The question isn’t, “Can the Rockets put together a package?” They can.
Instead, the Rockets need to decide how much Howard is really worth. What is the right number of young assets to give up and high-salaried players to take on given the risk Howard walks next summer?
At what point, given the price, does it make sense to go after Andrew Bynum as Plan B, helping the Los Angeles Lakers to get Howard?
The Magic may not trade Howard at all. They make look for other deals or multi-team trades that include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakers, Rockets or some other yet-to-be-named teams.
If the path to be walked only includes the Rockets, Houston has the flexibility to do some crazy, crazy things. It won’t necessarily look like the monstrosity above, but technically it could.
Antawn Jamison Excited for Opportunity
Forward Antawn Jamison recently chose to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers for the veteran’s minimum instead of choosing a larger offer from the Charlotte Bobcats.
“I’ve never been this excited for the season to get started,” said Jamison at his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “Win a championship, that’s all I want to do.”
Jamison has played 14 seasons to date for four different teams. His Golden State Warriors never made the playoffs. While he won Sixth Man of the Year with the Dallas Mavericks, that group couldn’t get past the Sacramento Kings in the first round (2004).
His run with the Washington Wizards was fruitful, but only once in four appearances did Jamison emerge from the first round.
“I just wanted a chance,” said Jamison. “I never had the opportunity to really compete for championship.”
The closest he ever came was the partial year (after a midseason trade) he had with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, but once again Jamison was stopped in the second round. The following summer, James would depart for the Miami HEAT and Jamison found himself once again in a rebuilding effort.
Jamison has a career average of 19.5 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting with 7.9 rebounds. In recent years, he hasn’t shot as well but the drop off after his year with James (48.5 percent to 42.7 and 40.3) may have had more to do with surrounding players than Jamison’s ability.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had open looks,” said Jamison.
Coming to the Lakers won’t guarantee him anything but with Steve Nash joining Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum – along with Jamison – LA on paper has a chance to be a top team in the Western Conference.
Jamison will return to the bench behind Gasol and possibly at small forward backing up Metta World Peace.
“I’ve started a lot of games and lost a lot of games,” said Jamison.
The lure of going back to North Carolina, where he was a Tar Heel from 1995 to 1998, had its appeal and may be a destination for Jamison before he retires. Until then, he was willing to turn away a bigger salary and welcome homecoming for what may be his last chance at a title.
“I’ve done a lot of things, but the one thing that drives me is to have my name associated with being a champion,” said Jamison.
Trey Thompkins Staying Patient and Ready
With the 37th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers were thrilled to get forward Trey Thompkins, a player the team had not expected to drop to the second round.
Thompkins didn’t get much of a chance to play in his rookie year but the 6’10″ forward spent much of the season learning from his veteran teammates and All-Star Blake Griffin.
“Learning from a guy like Blake is a blessing,” said Thompkins in an exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD.
Trey hopes his ability to shoot the ball, especially in the pick and pop with Chris Paul, will help the Clippers this coming season.
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