I found this news very interesting, and not because it involved former Wizard Calvin Booth:
Philadelphia 76ers forwards Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth and a future No. 1 pick have been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves to free as much as $2 million in additional salary cap space for the Sixers to offer Elton Brand or Josh Smith, multiple league sources said.
Minnesota sends Philadelphia its $2.8 million trade exception from a 2007 deal of Mark Blount to the Miami Heat.
I'll admit that my first thought was that the Sixers were taking an awfully big risk dealing a future No. 1 draft pick just for the slight chance that they could secure Elton Brand or Josh Smith.
But after thinking about it more, the Sixers' situation is pretty similar to ours. They don't know exactly how much room they'll have under the salary cap until tonight, but they do know that it probably wouldn't have been quite enough to get Brand or Smith. Therefore, they found a team that could take some of their spare parts for nothing, providing them a little extra cap room to achieve their goal. Better yet, in trading Carney and Booth, they remove guys they don't need. Carney is blocked on the wing by Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Willie Greene and Louis Williams, while Booth is clearly behind Young, Samuel Dalembert, Reggie Evans and Jason Smith. If they put protection on the pick, that devalues its significance as well.
We, of course, aren't looking for room under the salary cap, but we are looking for room under the luxury tax. If we save two million dollars, it might be enough to use the full mid-level exception on a guy who could fill more of a need.
What fits the bill? Well, we have three young prospects up front in Andray Blatche, Oleksiy Pecherov and JaVale McGee, but they're all competing for backup minutes with Darius Songaila and Etan Thomas. Surely we don't need all of those guys going forward.
Ideally, the first two guys we'd get rid of would be Thomas and Songaila, but my feeling is their contracts are too large for a team under the cap to take on. Plus, they're veterans. I doubt Minnesota would agree to the above trade if Carney, still a young guy with potential to improve, wasn't in the deal.
So what about Pecherov? We probably don't have enough evidence on him, but with all the bigs on the roster, it seems like he's redundant. He's owed about 1.5 million dollars next season, and with the drafting of McGee, I'm not sure how he's going to be able to play. Why not try to dump his salary on a team under the cap? How about sending him to Memphis along with the Grizzlies' draft pick we took from Navarro? That 1.5 million saved can be used to shore up our backup small forward position, thereby balancing out the roster more effectively.
Ernie should be pursuing trades like those this offseason. Every little bit under the tax counts.