A half-baked trade idea that could totally come to fruition.
Alright, bear with me here.
So, by all accounts, the Raptors want to keep building this offseason. As Ryan Wolstat of the Sun noted, the Raptors want to bring the whole band back. That includes Lowry, Vasquez and Patterson. We know this much.
In looking at the balance sheet, if all three are signed for a combined $20 million, it would leave the Raptors with little-to-no cap space left to upgrade. There’s also the cap figures for draft picks to consider. In theory, they could still build using the full mid-level exception, but a cursory glance at the free-agents this season doesn’t present any immediately obvious fits, especially at around $5 million. It could always be split between multiple players, but there aren’t that many holes in the lineup.
So the question remains — how can the Raptors upgrade? Here’s how: with John Salmons.
Most of you are counting the days until June 30, which is the deadline for Salmons to be bought out. I’m not going to beat around the bush — Salmons was pretty bad. He had his moments, and was once a productive player, but at the age of 34, he’s washed up.
Salmons’ contract has him slated for $7 million next season, but only $1 million is guaranteed. Tyler Hansbrough also fits in the same boat, where only $1 million of his $3 million is guaranteed. The deadline to buy them out is June 30.
Their contracts provide for interesting ballast. It’s essentially free cap space for any team who wants to carve some out. By extension, it allows the Raptors pick up dead salary, and perhaps an asset along the way. So which team is desperately trying to shed money?
None other than the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets, if you can believe it, are looking to add another superstar this offseason, and they can’t really get one via trade. They can, however, shed the burdensome salaries of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, who are both owed $8.37 million apiece next season. If they manage to clear out their detritus, the Rockets could carve out as much as $19 million to attract a star.
The issue with Asik and Lin’s deals is this: they’re actually owed $15 million next season. They were famously signed to poison-pill contracts to pry them from their original teams. That, of course, makes it very expensive to take on either player. That likely prices him out for teams without playoff aspirations, which, coincidentally, are also the same teams who have cap room, for the most part.
But, if MLSE is willing, the Raptors could offer them, say, John Salmons and a second rounder for Omer Asik’s salary (disregard the salary figures in the image below. Houston’s real salary info can be found here)
This trade works for both teams. It gives Houston the cap space they so desperately crave. Buying out Salmons gives them an easy out. For the Raptors, it gives them a quality upgrade at back-up center, of which they cannot reasonably attain in free-agency. Adding in Asik would still allow for the Raptors to re-sign their three free-agents, yet still remain under the luxury tax.
Of course, there are a few snags, mainly on Houston’s end. Shedding Asik for nothing is taking a loss, as he certainly does still have value. Also, shedding Asik’s deal alone isn’t worth anything because Lin would need to go too. Fortunately, if the reports are true, Morey already has deals in place to scrap both. And, not to be discounted, paying $15 million for a backup center is also quite a hurdle.
So, there’s that?
Nevermind. It’s not happening. The Pelicans went crazy and offered salary relief and a first-rounder for Asik. Welp, it was an idea, but you can never plan on stupidity.