While breaking down the Hawks’ options concerning J.J. and free agency, I mentioned in passing that the Hawks could gain a trade exception and perhaps a draft pick in a sign-and-trade with a team under the salary cap. Aaron, a moderator at Hawksquawk.net, emailed to say he thinks the exception (acquired in what’s known as a “non-simultaneous trade”) could be more beneficial than initially meets the eye:
“The traded player exception (TPE) the Hawks would get by trading him to a team under the cap would be extremely useful in future trades. It’s very possible that the Hawks could move Joe to somewhere like Chicago for a TPE and then turn around and use the TPE to acquire a replacement wing. Just off the top of my head, someone like Corey Maggette would definitely fit the mold of an available scoring wing. (Not sure how he’d feel about Crawford, but it’s just a thought). Joe wouldn’t mind because it wouldn’t affect his bottom line in a negative way, and the team receiving him would definitely be interested because it lowers his initial salary, thereby increasing the salary space they have to pursue complimentary players.”
(What he means by the lower initial salary is that because of the larger future raises available to a Bird Rules free agent, J.J.’s first-year salary would be lower in a sign-and-trade than in a straightforward signing.)
Good point by Aaron, and one that’s actually illustrated by the example I used in the post: Seattle’s sign-and-trade of Rashard Lewis to Orlando in 2008 for a $9 million trade exception and a second-round pick. In a non-simultaneous, a team can acquire up to 100 percent of the salary sent out plus $100,00 with any difference built up as a sort of credit known as a trade exception. Since draft picks have $0 value in trades until the player signs a rookie contract, the Hawks could get a pick and also get the full value of J.J.’s new contract as an exception and acquire a player(s) in a future trade (the limit is a year) without the requirement of matching salaries.
Typically, teams willing to trade a player without receiving a player in return tend to be teams looking to trim payroll and/or get out from under a contract (Maggette, to use Aaron’s example, has 3 years and $30.8 million left on his deal). And that’s pretty much what happened to the Sonics: they used the $9 million exception to acquire Kurt Thomas from the Suns, who were looking to shed payroll and gained an $8 million trade exception.
But the Sonics also got two first-round draft picks in that deal and later dealt Thomas to the Spurs for another first-round pick and a couple of expiring contracts. (That sequence of deals is one of the many examples of why Michael Gearon Jr.’s disdain for “bad contracts” can be a tad overstated: in the NBA, there’s almost always a way to move players for something of value even if it requires some short-term pain.)
So Aaron is right that a trade exception could be no small thing. The Hawks likely wouldn’t be able to get a comparable player to J.J., or might have to take on an burdensome contract do so, but it would provide more possibilities than simply using the mid-level, bi-annual and minimum-salary exceptions to plug the hole.
– The latest on the Hawks coaching search: Dwane Casey is set for another interview, Avery Johnson’s desire for personnel power has been overstated, Larry Drew is being considered and Mark Jackson appears to be a long shot. Rick Sund apparently hasn’t even narrowed down his initial list of candidates to a leading group.