After blogging earlier that he does not comment on trade rumors, Ted Leonsis has changed his tune. The Washington Wizards' owner put out a firm denial of Tuesday's Washington Post story that suggested he turned down a potential trade for James Harden because of finances.
I would like to debunk though a statement and notion that originated in The Washington Post that a potential trade would have put our team in the luxury tax and thus we "turned down" a deal because we were "unwilling to commit" financially. That is simply not true. First, we would not have gone into the luxury tax - that is simple math. Second, economics were not a factor.
Leonsis went on to cite the Capitals' increasing payroll, as well as all the moves made to increase the Wizards' payroll this summer, as evidence in his favor.
Regarding Leonsis' first point: as we wrote at the time of the trade rumor, it is true that the Wizards would not have gone over the luxury tax in the next two seasons simply by trading Bradley Beal and Chris Singleton for Harden. However, the deal would have put the team's 2013-14 salary at around $67 million for nine players, including a presumed five-year maximum contract for Harden, so it would have been a tight squeeze to stay under the tax, which would have come in at slightly above $70 million. Therefore, while it's technically correct to say that the Wizards would not have gone into the luxury tax with that move specifically, it would have required a lot of creativity to fill out the roster while staying below the line.
UPDATE: To finish the thought expressed in that previous paragraph: it seems clear that a) there was a trade offer, and b) it didn't materialize because of a number of reasons, not just because of one reason.