CBA-Legal Trade Scenarios for Robin Lopez

Published: July 27, 2012

In yesterday’s update, we introduced a few possible scenarios that could make the previously exposed 3-team trade legal under the rules of the CBA. With more valuable insight from Jason Calmes, we expand on those scenarios here, and add a few more as well.

The possibilities listed below are in order of most likely to least likely in the minds of both Jason and myself. For one of the two most plausible scenarios, a fourth team would likely be included. The role of this team would be to take on Hakim Warrick, and send a player with a lower salary back to the Hornets. The remaining question is what salary that player must have? The answer is provided by Jason – anywhere between $2,600,000 – $2,856,708. If a team is not using available cap space (which is overwhelmingly likely), a salary of $2.6 million is the lowest amount that must come back to New Orleans for a team to take on the $4 million contract of Warrick. The ~$2.85 million total is most that a team can send to the Hornets and still give Lopez his previously offered 3 years/$15 million contract and not add any other Hornets players to the deal.

Admittedly, this is a very small range to find for an expiring contract, but not an impossible one. After some digging, Jason was able to find a strong candidate in Charlotte:

The Suns send Hakim Warrick to the Charlotte Bobcats, who in turn send Reggie Williams to the Hornets. In this version of the trade, the Suns would receive Wesley Johnson and a protected 1st round pick from Minnesota plus Brad Miller’s contract to be bought out; the T-Wolves would receive one 2nd round pick from the Hornets instead of two (since Minnesota would no longer have to add Dyson’s salary); the Hornets would get Robin Lopez from the Suns and Reggie Williams from Charlotte; and finally, the Bobcats would get Hakim Warrick, one of the two second round picks from the Hornets originally routed to Minnesota, and potentially another second round pick from Phoenix or maybe even New Orleans.

The only thing prohibiting this deal from being an obvious solution is Charlotte’s willingness to participate. Are a couple second round picks enough incentive for the Bobcats to swap Reggie Williams with Warrick? Talent-wise, both players are actually pretty similar, but Warrick is five years older (and obviously about $1.4 million more expensive). We think they’d bite on that offer, especially if the Hornets added in some cash (potentially the difference between the two players’ contracts) to sweeten the deal for MJ and the Bobcats.

The other likely scenario involving a fourth team:

The Hornets send Xavier Henry to a fourth team. This would obviously be subject to both the Hornets agreeing to send him out as well a team being willing to bring him in. Doing so would create enough outgoing salary to bring back Warrick as well as Lopez. In this version of the deal, the Hornets and Suns would have to push Lopez for Miller through as its own trade, but that part won’t be an issue. The movement of Henry is the big concern in order for this scenario to work out. If the Hornets were willing to send him out and get nothing extra in return, this could actually be what happens. If the Hornets decide that they want a second round pick in return for Henry (which is what they traded for him in the first place), however, things could get a bit more difficult.

Two adjustments to the trade that involve slight personnel changes by the Suns:

The Suns send Sebastian Telfair to the Hornets instead of Hakim Warrick, and send one of the two second round picks destined for Minnesota instead to Phoenix. This move would satisfy salary intake and output requirements on both sides, as it would allow the Hornets to keep Dyson out of the trade. The problem with this option is the Suns being unhappy about sending out Telfair’s ~$1.5 million salary instead of Warrick’s $4 million. To help them cope with this change, the Hornets could send them one of the two picks previously heading to Minnesota. The T-Wolves should be okay with this since they no longer have to take on Dyson’s salary in this version of the trade. This scenario would essentially come down to the Suns paying $2.4 million for a second round pick, which is well above market value, so the Hornets would probably have to also send Phoenix some cash to make it a more reasonable option.

The Suns Keep Warrick and waive P.J. Tucker, and the Hornets send one of the two second round picks destined for Minnesota instead to Phoenix. As it stands, the trade cannot be completed by simply dropping Warrick from the deal because the Suns would be taking in too much salary in relation to what they are sending out. However, since the trade would only leave them about half a million dollars over the cap, there is a way around that dilemma. P. J. Tucker is a Suns player with an unguaranteed contract for the league minimum; if Phoenix were to waive him, they would be just barely under the cap even if they were to retain Warrick. As in the prior scenario, the Hornets could keep Dyson in this instance, hopefully enabling them to send one of those two Minnesota-bound second round picks (and also possibly some cash) to Phoenix.

And finally, the least likely scenario – the waiting game:

All teams wait until September 13th to finalize the trade. (The one thing that I am not sure of in regards to this scenario is whether or not there is a final date on which Miller’s $5 million salary can be bought out for the $800K buyout amount.) At that date, Brad Miller can legally be packaged with other Hornets players in a trade, which appears to be the main hurdle in finalizing the deal. The key to that working out, however, may be Minnesota convincing veteran forward Andrei Kirilenko to wait it until then to officially sign his contract. AK can’t be inked by the Timberwolves to their previously agreed upon contract (2 years, $20 million) until the necessary cap space is cleared, which would presumably be done with this trade. If all three teams involved are patient enough, this solution would work, but that is a lot to ask in today’s sports world.

What about you guys – which trade scenario seems most realistic? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Pingback: Trade sending Lopez & Warrick to New Orleans in “Holding Pattern” due to CBA Rules | New Orleans Hornets |

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