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Get Creative To Get CJ Watson

Tom Moore has the scoop on the Sixers' pursuit of CJ Watson. In a nutshell, his sources tell him the Sixers are still interested, but only want to offer a one-year deal. Watson wants two years. After the jump, I've got a solution that may help solve more than one problem.

First of all, I think someone's wires have gotten crossed because I don't believe the Sixers can sign CJ to a one-year deal. Here's the relevant blurb from the CBA FAQ:

When another team wants to sign a restricted free agent, it signs the player to an offer sheet, the principal terms of which the original team is given seven days to match. The offer sheet must be for at least two seasons (not including option years).

The 1-year, $2.3M offer from the Sixers has been widely reported, but if I'm reading this correctly, they can't sign him for one season unless he's renounced by Golden State and becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Let's table that part of the discussion for a moment, though, and talk about how the Sixers could structure an offer sheet to make it (a) desirable for Watson, and (b) poisonous for Golden State to match.

First of all, I'm not sold on the idea that Golden State is eager to match an offer sheet for Watson. They have 15 guys under contract, the max number for a roster. Of those 15, you could reasonably expect four to see time at the point: Monta Ellis, Acie Law, Stephen Curry and Speedy Claxton (assuming Speedy doesn't miss another season due to injury.) Let's assume, for argument's sake, that they really do want Watson back to make it five PGs on the roster (maybe they buy Speedy's contract out to make room for him.) Then the question becomes how do you structure an offer sheet to make it poisonous to the Warriors, but somehow favorable to the Sixers?

We need to first identify the reasoning behind the Sixers one-year offers only mandate. It seems clear to me that they're scared to death of where the luxury tax number will fall next season. They seem willing to spend their available money this upcoming season (they have somewhere around $8M before the lux tax kicks in, when you factor in the mandatory minimums to fill out the roster), but next season they could be butting right up against the luxury tax, or over it.

There's a simple solution here: Sign Watson to a two-year deal, but front load it drastically. Overpay for his services in 2009-2010, then make the second year for the league-minimum. The deal would look something like this: Year 1 - $3.8M, Year 2 - $885,120. Watson winds up with $4.6M guaranteed over two seasons, but the Sixers don't add any additional payroll for next Summer (they'd have to fill the roster spot with a minimum contract anyway). Golden State then has to decide if it's worth $3.8M for their fifth point guard.

I scoured the CBA and I can't find any reason why this type of offer would be against the rules.
by Brian on Jul 24 2009
Tags: Basketball | CJ Watson | Free Agents | Offseason | Sixers |