Jazz to Auction Remaining Cap Space Via Trade?

July 18th, 2013 | by Dan Clayton

Still scanning the list of available free agents and photoshopping them into Jazz jerseys? You can probably stop.

Utah, according to reports, is looking to spend the last $4 million and change of its cap space, but not that way. So informs a tweet by the Tribune’s Bill Oram saying that Utah continues to look for opportunities to garner assets by letting teams stash salary in the Jazz’s last bit of cap room.

Finding potential deals should be easy enough, right? There is a finite number of teams with enough motivation to save that they’ll give up assets in a salary dump, and then those rosters have a finite number of non-franchise players making money that it makes sense to dump. Here is a look at teams that might be interested in paying the dump fee at Dennis Lindsay’s salary landfill.

Teams with expiring contracts

For a team to want to send this year’s salary into the Jazz’s cap space, the financial motivation has to be in the short term: they either want to spend more but are butting up against the cap, or they are a tax team that needs to lower its bill. Plenty of teams fall into this category and have expiring pieces.

Atlanta may be done spending money this summer, but if they’re not, they could send away the virtually expiring Lou Williams (5.2M this year, then a team option). The Jazz can’t absorb Lou outright, but if they include someone making 1.2M or more they can save Atlanta some money. Jeremy Evans for Williams would give Atlanta about 6.5M to spend.

Boston‘s an interesting case because they are just over the tax line. That means they won’t see a huge tax, but they will miss the refund unless they dump a bit of salary. That’s quite a penalty for a team not expected to compete, so I’d guess they’ll try to maneuver below the tax line at some point. Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford are virtual expiring deals that could do it, but they have value so Boston would probably prefer to move the 12M expiring deal of Kris Humphries. The Jazz can’t take the whole thing, obviously, but a Humphies-Andris Biedrins swap works and gets Boston out of the tax. Boston has extra first rounders in four of the next five drafts to offer, although the majority will probably be late picks.

Charlotte probably won’t need to lower salary; they’re right at the minimum for ’13-14 with oodles of space for next year. But if they do decided to go after a remaining free agent and need extra room, they could move Ben Gordon’s expiring 13.2M or Ramon Sessions’ 5M. Again, Utah would have to throw back a player, but Charlotte owns a couple of extra picks to sweeten the deal (although they also owe one of their own).

Detroit has less than 4M remaining to spend and 17M worth of expiring contracts in Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva. The Jazz could take either player back by giving up at least 4.4M in salary, or could take both if they gave up 12M or so. A Richard Jefferson & Evans package could open up 9M in cap space for Motor City. Would that be worth a pick to them? Perhaps, although they already owe their ’14 pick, meaning they can’t trade a ’15 first rounder either.

I don’t know if Indiana is remotely considering moving Danny Granger, a recurring rumor given Paul George’s jump to stardom. But if they do need to skirt the tax (they’re 3M away), he’s probably their only movable expiring at 14M. Not sure Indiana would give up a lot, though, in a package with their best player from two years ago.

The LA Lakers have virtually no money committed next year, but this year they have a messy payroll that has them paying taxes for what looks like a mediocre team. The Jazz could help by taking Steve Blake or Jordan Hill outright. They could also get the Lakers out of tax land by taking Pau Gasol and giving something close to 14.3M back. However, LA already has a ’15 pick committed, meaning they can’t trade away ’14 or ’16 picks.

Phoenix is another team nearing the cap who could dump some salary to increase spending capabilities. Shannon Brown (3.5M) and Kendall Marshall (2M) fit right into Utah’s remaining cap space and both play in a crowded Suns backcourt. The Suns also have expiring deals in Caron Butler (8M), Marcin Gortat (7.7M) and Michael Beasley (6M, then non-guaranteed).

Washington is sneaking up on the tax while they pay a couple of veterans that don’t fit into their youth movement. Emeka Okafor (14.5M) and Trevor Ariza (7.7M) make too much for Utah to wipe those salaries clean, but they could lessen the bill. Ariza for Brandon Rush works, and so would Okafor for Jefferson.

Teams with multi-year commitments

Especially given Utah’s limited cap space, they would probably reap better assets if they were willing to exchange their own expirings for a guy with multiple years left. Teams just won’t pay a high premium – like a 2014 1st – to save 4M in most cases. As such, let’s look at teams with long-term motivation.

Denver gets brought up here a lot because of Andre Miller, but moving him doesn’t help Denver’s cap situation, so I can’t see them doing a trade where Utah would have to send back at least a million. More likely, they’d try to rest by moving multi-year commitments in the eight- or high seven-figure ranges to players who are good but not great: Ty Lawson, Javale McGee, Wilson Chandler, even the wounded Danilo Gallinari. Denver has extra picks, too, including a 2014 Knicks first rounder.

The Jazz could actually absorb Kirk Hinrich outright and save Chicago 8.1M in salary & tax, but I put the bulls down here because they’re more likely to want to get out of their two-year commitment to Carlos Boozer or four-year deal with Taj Gibson. The asking price would be high, though, like the Charlotte pick they own with waning protections.

If Houston finds a way to unload both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, then they’ll have enough cap room in 2014 to add another max free agent to their newly formed duo of superstars. Jazz could trade Biedrins or Marvin Williams straight up for either guy, and Houston has their own picks and plenty of young talent to sweeten the deal. Another two-year option is OKC‘s Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder have their own picks plus a Dallas one that becomes totally unprotected in 2018.

Orlando has three extra picks coming their way in the next four drafts, plus their own picks which are probably going to be valuable. Glen Davis and his 2 years remaining at 12M woudl be doable; the Jazz would just need to give up about 2M in salary.

Milwaukee could create some 2014 room by getting rid of Ersan Ilyasova’s 32M over 4 years (the last year isn’t guaranteed). The Jazz could swing this by trading Rush, Williams, or Biedrins.

Minnesota, New Orleans, New York and the LA Clippers have multi-year deals they’d probably love to dump, but already owe 2014/15 picks. The Stepien rule means the Jazz can’t deal with them and get a pick sooner than 2016 from these teams. Seems unlikely they’d take on someone like DeAndre Jordan (2 years/22M) or Ryan Anderson (3/25M) for a delayed payoff like that.

Teams unlikely to dump

There are a few teams who have no apparent motivation to dump right now. We’ll go rapid-fire here:

  • Sacramento, Golden State, Memphis and Portland will all be exception teams this year and next, but are safely non-tax teams as well. No real possibility of cap space and no serious threat of tax means little motivation for these four teams to bribe the Jazz to eat salary. Toronto also got into this category by exercising amnesty on Linas Kleiza.
  • Brooklyn and Miami are so deep into the tax (without really seeming to care) that I doubt they dissemble their teams to save what would feel like pennies. Furthermore, the Heat don’t need help in 2014, when almost their entire roster is on some sort of option year.
  • Philadelphia and Dallas share a boat with the Jazz, as both have cap room (although I suppose the Mavs could dump Shawn Marion if they wanted to spend a bit more this summer).
  • Both San Antonio and Cleveland have almost no one expiring this year, and their long-term commitments are all either core players or guys with option years.

So there you have it: 29 teams accounted for with some sense of their motivation (or not) to pay the Jazz in exchange for financial flexibility, the players they might need to move and the assets they might give up to do so.

Which deals would you do? Leave a comment with your favorites or with any options I might have missed.

Dan Clayton

Dan Clayton

Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City, but contributes regularly to Salt City Hoops, FanRag and BBALLBreakdown.
Dan Clayton


  1. Clint Johnson says:

    Great breakdown. The only option that seems viable for a 2014 pick might be with Denver. Den gets: Marvin Williams, Jazz 2016 first round pick; Utah gets Wilson Chandler, 2014 first round pick.

    The Magic will get the least desirable of Denver’s two 2014 picks, which leaves the most desirable for trade. It would cost a lot. But if Denver wants to be a player next summer, they just might consider this. Not only would it swap Chandler’s $14 million owed in 2014 and 2015 for Williams’s expiring contract, it would swap a likely late teens 2014 first for their second first round pick in 2016, a year in which they can swap their pick with NY if they like. I’d at least work the phones to see.

  2. Dallan Forsyth says:

    I personally feel like they should be done this year. When you get the best assets is when someone is desperate. Just chill. If it happens at the trade deadline or next year that is not a problem. That is how we got the GS deal done. They were desperate to move money. They needed to clear space. So they gave up unprotected picks which never happens really. So to me you chill. We have basically no money committed for next year. Obviously we assume that Favors and Hayward will take some of that. But even then we will have a lot of space next year as well to take the same kind of deal we just did maybe pick up 3-4 more picks. I think we have seen DL is very calculated with what he has been doing so I have trust in him. Something I can not say for the last guy in charge. This is exactly the game OKC played. Some people can say it is the Kevin Durant system but that is just plain not true. They acquired asset upon asset and then dealt them when necessary. I know Durant is great but if they did not have him and had not traded away Jeff Green a Westbrook, Harden, Green, Ibaka team is still pretty dang good and you can sign all those 4 without losing one.

    • Dallan Forsyth says:

      Oh and the Heat want to get rid of Joel Anthony. Get that Philly pick that is owed to them and we will take Joel :)

  3. Nate Applegate says:

    Great article. I like the idea with the Suns where we could get Kendall Marshall as a third string point if Neto can’t come over or possibly as the backup if the John Lucas expiriment doesn’t work out. It has also reported that the Suns are trying to shop him with the logjam they’ve got at point with Dragic and now Bledsoe.

  4. Casey Greer says:

    I feel like the kings might be willing to make a deal with us if we take on more salary next season.
    This is Hayes+Salmons (could be thornton too) for Marvin Williams. It’s a lot for just a pick (slightly more than what we paid for dubs picks), but if they were willing to give up a 2014 pick, I’d do it. They’d open up cap space this year to sign more players if needed (could get Asik for nothing in a salary dump), and save them lots of money next year too. I know that rebuilding teams usually wouldn’t do deals like this, but I think the kings new ownership feels a lot of pressure to win now (hence going after Iggy and signing Landry).

  5. Mysteryskittles says:

    Awesome post. Check out this take at hoopshabit.com. Utah Jazz: Trading For Another Point Guard http://t.co/7dIfchWUGz

  6. todd3773 says:

    I think it would be sweet if we could somehow flip Biedrins or Jefferson with Phoenix and get Gortat. My second choice would be to get Lou Williams from ATL. I’m a fan of both of those players and think they would be a good fit.

  7. Danny says:

    Jazz may get the best returns (at least two good picks) if they take Perkins off the Thunder’s hands and send back Kanter. This gets OKC below the tax line and improves their team. Is OKC’s 2014 pick (25-30) and the unprotected 2018 pick via Dallas worth the second year of Perkins’ contract? I think so because they could probably move it as an expiring next year.

    • Nate Applegate says:

      I have to disagree with that for a couple of reasons. First Kanter has the potential to be as good if a defender as Perkins, but a far better offensive player. Second those two picks you suggested would likely have little value because the OKC pick would be like you said 25-30 and the Dallas pick will probably be low too because Dallas has the money to get back to a top team by 2018. Finally it isn’t the best idea to help a division rival be great for years to come.

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