Coming into the season the general consensus was that the Sixers are building for the future. Nothing 15 games in has changed any of this, so it is time to look at the assets that the Sixers have. The Sixers have four realistic assets this trade season: Turner, Hawes, Thad, and cap space. Though I think the value of the first three have been discussed heavily in this blog and other news outlets, I will discuss the value of the Sixers cap space (and one possible trade) that can really improve the Sixers' long-term outlook.
The current salary cap is 58.7M with the luxury tax threshold set at 71.7M. What this means is that you can sign any free agent, take back as much money as you want in trades, basically do anything you wish as long as your salary is below 58.7M. Above 58.7M you are more restricted in what you can do, for example you can't take a large contract without giving up at least 66% of the salary back to the team you are trading with and you can't sign free agents. Above 71.7M you are in the luxury tax meaning you pay a lot of money to the rest of the league and pay even more if you stay in the tax multiple times (repeater tax).
So heading into the middle of the year the Sixers salary currently stands around 45.4M. To put this in perspective the next lowest team is Phoenix at 53.2M. This means the Sixers are able to take back 13M in salary without giving anyone back!. Why this matters is that there are a number of teams above the tax but could have incentive to go below the tax. The teams over are:
Brooklyn - 29.5M over
New York - 15.1M over
Miami - 12.3M over
Chicago - 10.2M over
Lakers - 7.9 over
Clippers/Toronto - 2M or less over
Looking at this list there are two teams with the most to gain with a sizable salary dump. Obviously Brooklyn and New York are way over the cap, and with their teams having no assets to speak of there really is no trade that makes sense with those teams. Miami has all their salary tied up in three players you may have heard of, so no value in trading with them. The Clippers and Toronto are barely over the cap and thus they can trade with anyone so the Sixers have minimal leverage. Only Chicago and the Lakers seem like really good trade partners (only we have the full cap space to bring them under the cap), and though each could be a fit I will focus on Chicago (though depending on medical reasons trading Steve Nash to the Sixers could be a very good fit and is probably Hinkie's backup plan).
Chicago is currently 10.2M over the cap. What this means is that they will pay 16.75M in luxury tax this year if nothing changes. The rules governing the repeater penalty are complex, but basically for each dollar they go over the cap the second year they pay the equivalent amount extra. So if they go 10M over the cap again next year, they will pay 10M more for having gone over the cap this year. Lastly they will not get the payout this year that goes with going under the cap (about half of the money that goes into cap divided by teams not in it). Given the ridiculous amount that the Nets will pay into the cap the total each team will get shared is around 3M dollars. So if Chicago sent 10M in salary to the Sixers they would save - (16.75M luxury tax + 10M they are sending + 3M they get from being under luxury + 10M they don't pay in repeater next year assuming they go into luxury tax to the same amount to sign good free agents) or around 40M dollars.
When we look at Chicago's team it could make even more sense to work out a trade. A lot of talk has been around how Chicago should trade Deng this year since he has an expiring contract. Well since Deng makes 14.3M no team can trade with Chicago (other than the Sixers) without having to give back about 9M in salary. Now granted Chicago can work out a number of different trades to try and get under the tax (retrade that 9M for 6M, retrade the 6M for 3M), but unless they execute a cost cutting strategy with many separate trades they really cannot get under the luxury tax without trading with the Sixers.
What makes the situation even more appealing for a trade is that Carlos Boozer is a likely amnesty candidate next year for Chicago. He stands to make 16.8M dollars and is probably worth around half of that, and given the fact that the Bulls have a stud waiting in Europe that is a power forward Boozer is almost certainly going to be amnestied (paid by the Bulls not to play for them).
The bottom line here is that the Sixers (and really only the Sixers) could save the Bulls a whole lot of money. If the Sixers executed a simple trade - Turner for Boozer - and the Bulls do a few smaller moves to bring them under the cap it would save the Bulls the 40M above as well as 17M in Boozer's salary next year in that the Bulls would no longer have to amnesty him. In other words, a Turner for Boozer trade would save the Bulls around 57M dollars between this year and next. 57 fucking million dollars. And it would give the Bulls a guy that can actual handle the ball and make shots instead of forcing their fans to watch the dreadful offense that we've seen from them up to this point with Rose out (plus Turner is a Chicago native). They also have another PF (Taj Gibson) that could take more minutes this year and help replace some of Boozer's production.
To be clear from the Sixers side we would need a lot of assets to trade for Turner for Boozer. With the cap space for draft picks market being set by the Utah Jazz/Golden State trade I would state that it would probably take roughly the equivalent of three first rounders to make this trade reasonable for the Sixers given that we are giving up two assets (Turner and cap space) and taking a salary dump (Boozer). Since I can't see Chicago giving up three future first rounders to make this trade work, I'll go with a different approach that drops another million or so from Chicago in place of a pick to get them right in line with the cap.
Chicago trades -
Rights to Charlotte first round pick (top 10 protected)
Tony Snell (20th pick past draft - (equal of a draft pick)
Chicago 2014 or 2015 first round pick
Philadelphia trades -
This leaves Chicago right at the cap and thus saving 57M dollars. From the Sixers side they get three first rounders (Tony Snell, the Bulls 2014 and Charlotte's) but give up Turner and take on the contract that is Boozer's for two years. The only problem is that Boozer has value and would hurt the tanking but tough to argue with that haul even if it does kill the cap room for next year (where we wouldn't sign anyone of value anyway... think 2015 for when cap space might matter for a free agent). I think a win-win. Thoughts?