BOSTON - MAY 22: Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic looks on dejected from the bench against the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
While Rashard Lewis' contract is an unwieldy trade chip, finding a third party willing to shed an expiring deal or two might not be as difficult as you might think. If the cap savings aren't enough to tempt an extra partner, the Wizards have that sweet 2015 second rounder to induce coy General Managers.
Outside of John Wall, (presumably) Nene Hilario and (likely) Jan Vesely, any player on the roster is available for 'the right price'. Of course, as we've seen around the league in recent history with respect to Rodrigue Beaubois and J.J. Hickson, teams are prone to overvaluing their young talent. For now, we'll examine the obvious route, and see what teams might be able to offer some cap grease in a deal for Rashard Lewis.
76ers: There's an outside chance Andre Iguodala is available for mere cap relief...interested? Of course, after atypically clutch free throw shooting in Game 6 against Chicago with a year less on his deal, Philly can and will get better value. Lou Williams will almost certainly decline to exercise his player option this summer, meaning Philadelphia's only expiring contract will be Elton Brand's megadeal...should we offer to take on both contracts, think Thorn would take back Andray Blatche? Me, neither.
Bobcats: Charlotte has no player valuable to the rebuild in and of themselves, outside of their upcoming draft pick. Which they need like Ben Affleck needs acting school. They have several expiring contracts in 2012/13, making them a potential third party to an unbalanced trade.
Bucks: Milwaukee picked up Monta Ellis along with Kwame Brown's expiring deal, so they'll have space to play with but will probably be looking to retain Ersan Ilyasova and plug a player into the hole Andrew Bogut left. Of course, they've been playing without him so long, I'm not entirely certain they realize it's there. If they need a little more cap space they can pass on Shaun Livingston's option (backup PG, anyone?). No major targets for the Wiz here. A few expiring contracts, including Beno Udrih.
Bulls: The Bulls used their cap space last go-round on Richard Hamilton, Omer Asik is hitting restricted free agency and they are planning whatever it takes to match for his services. This team isn't really looking for cap relief unless trading Carlos Boozer could net them an upgrade...which definitely isn't happening with the Wiz. Not to mention a dearth of salary beyond 2012/13 which conversely makes them an ideal partner if they're looking to clear a little cap to reinvent themselves for next season.
Cavaliers: Cleveland has cap space and its contracts are invested in the right players (excepting Luke Walton, of course). And Dan Gilbert gets to stop paying Baron Davis after next season. Luke Walton's deal is expiring...another potential third party.
Celtics: Danny Ainge has taken this team to the baseboards for the post Big Three transition. Plenty of cap space. Besides Brandon Bass' deal, the only thing that may expire next season is contend-every-year-fans' patience with Danny Ainge.
Grizzlies: Memphis is headed for cap hell, but their money is tied up in Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The team is contending with no appreciable dead weight. Tony Allen expires next season, but the ratio of his contract size to value added means Chris Wallace has no reason to dump him. Outside of that, there's a mess of expiring first-round deals eligible for the qualifying offer...so we'll just wait and see how that plays out.
Hawks: Big round of applause for the only team that handed out a contract worse than Amare Stoudemire's. There's no big matching salaries without including one of their Big 3. We could angle for the oft-injured Zaza Pachulia's expiring deal?
Hornets: The Hornets are going to have to spend to reach the cap floor. If they make a serious effort to retain Eric Gordon, that shouldn't be a problem...if they don't win the lottery, are we willing to acquire Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor to get their Top 2-5 pick? There's also Jarrett Jack's deal...but we don't need that guy. He only lights up the Wizards.
Jazz: Cap-healthy team in need of point guard help. Oodles of expiring contracts, except most of them carry more value than mere cap relief justifies. Show of hands for Raja Bell in red, white and blue. [crickets]
Kings: Sacramento has TONZ of bad salary and any major deal would have to include John Salmons under contract until 2015/16. Yuck. But then again...if their first were available? And who knew somebody was still willing to give Travis Outlaw guaranteed money? And for a team that had to spend to reach the cap floor, would the Kings really want cap relief? Especially with Geoff Petrie handing out contracts with renewed flexibility? Not likely as a third party in a trade, unless...Francisco Garcia?
Knicks: Something about watching New York in cap hell makes me sublimely happy. As long as Ernie Grunfeld doesn't trade for Amare Stoudemire and send me into a transcendent rage, this should be the end of the discussion.
Lakers: It's time Kobe Bryant comes to the legend retirement home to instruct Jordan Crawford in the Tao Te Chucking. Do you realize Kobe gets mo' money over the next two seasons than Nene Hilario does over the next four? Since I'm going to assume Metta World Peace, the two years left on his deal and his elbow aren't persons of interest to the Wizards' front-office, we'll move on.
Magic: J.J. Redick? Otis Smith really is nuts...Jason Richardson was [adjective] after leaving the Steve Nash +10 to awesomeness zone and then Otis gave him a contract through 2014/15? No major targets for the Wiz and I doubt the Magic want to salary dump their most effective shooting guard.
Mavericks: Another team making preparations for a free agency splash (despite paying Brendan Haywood $10.5 million in 2015/16, ha!) without any meaningful expiring deals for 2012/13. Shawn Marion? We've got a brand-new, top-of-the-line, honest-to-god 2nd round draft pick from the New Orleans Hornets threeyearsfromnow. Take it home today!
Nets: Good news, gang, Johan Petro is available! The Brooklyn Nyets will be spending and probably won't have the time or inclination to play third wheel for another team's deal. Unless they get desperate as time winds down. And they probably will, especially if they make a play for another team's restricted free agent and need just a little more cap space. If the Warriors used the amnesty clause on Charlie Bell...
Pacers: The Wizards were interested in David West once upon a time, and his story in Indiana hadn't unfolded as hoped until, y'know, it mattered. A possible primary target for the Wizards there, but with his improved play and leadership and being on an extremely cap friendly deal himself, probably not available. Definitely not enough expiring, unwanted money to make them palatable as a third team, so the Pacers are most likely out as trade partners in any capacity.
Pistons: I don't even know if Detroit's first rounder would be enough incentive to take on Ben Gordon's or Charlie Villanueva's deal. Top 3 pick...at least. Some expiring money available if we're looking at them as a third option, and this team could definitely use a little extra help for Greg Monrobocop, even in the second round. If that sounds faintly ridiculous (getting help in the second round in the latter scenario while possibly surrendering their first in the former), just remember A.) Joe Dumars and B.) Why do you need any other reason?
Raptors: Jose Calderon's deal is expiring, but teams can get fussy about trading their starting point guards with no compelling replacement. No, I'm not a Jerryd Bayless fan. Toronto's out; their future money is tied up in relatively proven big men (if you like Amir Johnson) and rookie contracts.
Rockets: Daryl Morey was ready to bite the big one for Pau Gasol, and I doubt he offers up Luis Scola('s terrible deal) and Kevin Martin for mere cap relief. With the rest of their cap in rookies, Kyle Lowry, and one season of Samuel Dalembert, don't expect to see Houston-DC trade rumors.
Timberwolves: I bet more than a few Wizards fans could stomach Luke Ridnour as the backup point and there are a few interesting contracts available. Is the former most blog-worthy team in the NBA ready for Darko Milicic? Hopefully, Ernie isn't interested in Michael Beasley (Ted should have put the kibosh on any such notion long ago), but Wesley Johnson may raise an eyebrow or two. Hey, the front-office gave Yi Jianlian another shot, right?
Warriors: Why is two more seasons of Richard Jefferson better than one of Stephen Jackson again? Whatever...this team needs cap relief from Andris Biedrins' radioactive deal, but what could they possibly send back? Their draft pick, if they keep it. David Lee signed through 2015/16? Dorell Wright will be coming off the books next year, but smart money is on the Golden State to DC pipeline staying dry.
I know what you're thinking...outside of Andre Iguodala and the almost certainly unavailable David West, there isn't much. With the Wizards stating their 'plan to be GOOD', we will probably see an institutional reluctance to execute BOYD trades that worsen the roster or add significant salary. The rules go out the window for teams that might be convinced to offer up a premium draft choice (Top 2-5, because who's giving up the chance to select Anthony Davis?), but even then, I have my reservations. If the trade options cupboard looks a little bare, that's because it is. But then again, I didn't see Nene coming. In any case, the big onus this offseason is on player development, seeing the players drafted over the past two seasons taking the next step and putting this team firmly on the road to contender status.
By the trade deadline (I don't see how it's possible the Wizards pay him more than his guaranteed money), the cap impact of Gilbert Arenas' max contract will be exorcised. If a lack of trade options is especially troublesome, remember: aside from Andray Blatche the roster will have gone from fire sale to foundation. Well, at least to what the franchise is building on. The Wizards have exercised their options and now it's time to follow through. Good thing the Wizards' player development stock is at an all-time high.