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Getting under the Tax?

From the Washington Times Wizards Outlet by Mike Jones:

But I had been hearing that the Wizards weren't concerned about being able to afford signing, say Blake Griffin or some other top-5 pick, while also remaining under the luxury tax limit, even if the figure drops to $69 million, which reportedly is definitely possible. Part of it is because they believe the expiring deals of Etan Thomas and Mike James will be attractive to teams this summer. I double-checked with Ernie Grunfeld and he verified that those concerns over this summer are false because even in the worst-case scenario, such as nobody wanting to touch James or Thomas during the summer, Washington still has until the February 2010 trade deadline to get under the cap. The NBA doesn't assess the luxury tax figures until after the season, that's why you saw so many teams making garbage trades today. The pieces didn't really help them on the court, but it was getting them under the Cap for this year.

Well maybe I'm not as intelligent as an NBA GM, but I can see holes shot all through his argument. Grunfeld thinks he can get under the tax either this Summer or by the trade deadline next year (Feb 2010) because of the expiring deals of Etan Thomas and Mike James? Someone better explain to me how this can happen.

Unless Ernie Grunfeld can trade a player for a draft pick then he needs to take back salary in any trade he makes. Taking back salary does not help the Wizards 2009-2010 Luxury Tax situation at all.

The only way to "dump salary" without taking back salary is to deal with a team that is under the Salary Cap. Then you can trade a player for a draft pick, or "cash considerations", etc.... So far, the only teams that are even marginally under the Salary Cap next year are Portland, Detroit, Memphis, OKC, Atlanta, Sacramento, Minnesota and Toronto. I cannot see ANY of those teams willing to give up a draft pick for Mike James or Etan Thomas. And teams that are already under the Salary Cap are not exactly scrambling for expiring contracts.

Ernie Grunfeld's assertion that our concerns about paying the tax is false because he still has until the February 2010 trade deadline to get under the tax - assumes that he will be able to find a trading partner that is under the Salary Cap. Again, he cannot trade with another team that is over the Salary Cap without taking back salary. Sure, there will be teams under the Salary Cap willing to give up a draft pick for Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, or one of the Wizards other important players (like the Denver Nuggets did when they traded Marcus Camby to the Clippers for a swap of 2nd Round draft picks)..... but not for Etan Thomas or Mike James.

Hey, don't get me wrong. I like the fact that the Wizards stood pat during this season's trade deadline. I want to see this core group together next year and see what they can do; and if that means paying the tax for a year, then I say Bravo to Ernie and Abe for the fortitude to stick it out. I would feel much better if Ernie just came right out and said "We're going to be a Tax payer next year".

I don't understand why Ernie Grunfeld insists on saying he can get under the Luxury Tax, when all the rules and logic says that he can't; and I don't know why Mike Jones didn't ask that one additional question..... How exactly will you do that Ernie?

The Wizards will be somewhere around $6.5 Million over the Tax threshold in 2009-10; and that is BEFORE taking the 1st Round draft pick's salary into consideration ($2.7 Million to $4.1 Million). We've got some pretty smart people here on BF - perhaps some of you can come up with a few scenarios that will allow the Wizards to dump more than $9 Million in salary for 2009-10?