Teams can begin talking to their own players and free agents today. It’s quickly become clear that, as expected, Jamal will find a robust market for his services.
Indiana, New Jersey, Chicago, Orlando, Portland, New Orleans and Phoenix have expressed interest in him. Among those teams, at least Indiana, New Jersey, Chicago and Orlando have inquired about a sign-and-trade with the Hawks.
That suggests that the market for Jamal starts at more than the $5 million mid-level exception on a five-year contract. Indiana and New Jersey could just sign Jamal to a four-year deal using cap space, so if they are looking at a sign-and-trade it can only mean they want to offer him a five-year deal using his Bird rights. Chicago and Orlando are over the $58 million cap and so without a sign-and-trade are limited to offering Jamal the mid-level–in Orlando’s case, the new $3 million “mini” mid-level since the Magic are taxpayers.
The Hawks still want Jamal and he’s still open to a return but the chances of that happening depend on if the Hawks decide to pay the luxury tax. Considering the market, re-signing him would require paying the tax. A sign-and-trade with Chicago or Orlando would mean paying it too since, according to cap expert Larry Coon:
“Taxpaying teams can acquire no more than 125 percent plus $100,000 of the salaries they trade away (same as 2005 CBA). Non-taxpaying teams (based on their post-trade salary level) can acquire up to the lesser of 150 percent plus $100,000, or 100 percent plus $5 million of the salaries they trade away.”
That means if, for example, Chicago acquires Jamal in a sign-and-trade deal contract that starts at, say, $7 million (a figure that wouldn’t push them past the tax threshold) they would have to send Atlanta at least $4.7 million in salary. Orlando, as a taxpaying team, would have to send Atlanta at least $5.7 million in salary in the same scenario (unless they use amnesty to shed salary first).
This is why it makes no sense to speculate on the Hawks doing a sign-and-trade with Jamal involving teams over the camp unless you also know the Hawks are willing to pay the tax. It’s still not clear if they are going to make that leap.
Since Indiana and New Jersey are under the cap, they don’t have to send out any salary in a trade and so could offer the Hawks a draft pick to facilitate a five-year contract for Jamal. Think back to the Josh Childress trade.
Atlanta’s decision on Jamal is complicated by Kirk’s surgery. Finding one reserve shooting guard on the cheap in free agency is one thing; finding two rotation-quality guards is much tougher.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat