We're seven games into the season and I'm already looking at salaries, the CBA and potential trade partners. Probably not a great sign. After the jump, let's see if we can work something hypothetical out for Tracy McGrady.
Let's start with the premise that no one is going to trade for Sam Dalembert alone. I just don't see it happening. So the only way the Sixers will be able to move Sammy is by packing him with an asset that teams actually think is valuable. In this case, it's going to be Thad Young.
McGrady and the Rockets are at odds over when he's going to return from microfracture surgery. He says he'll be back soon, and I'm sure he wants to come back today. He'll be a free agent at the end of the year and if he can't get back to prove he is what he once was, he's looking at a hefty pay cut in his next contract (he may not realize it yet, but he's getting a hefty pay cut no matter what).
Houston could stand pat and happily await McGrady's $22M number dropping off their cap space this summer, but the money really won't make a difference. They aren't going to be far enough under the cap to do anything drastic and they have to worry about locking down Luis Scola. The Rockets won't have significant cap space until the following summer, when basically their entire roster comes off the books (Ariza is the only contract they're locked into beyond 2011).
That lines up nicely with the Sixers payroll. A deal built around Dalembert (the albatross) and Thad (the prize), with Willie Green and Rodney Carney thrown in, for McGrady wouldn't do anything to harm the Rockets in the long-term, assuming they're looking to the 2011 summer to make a big splash, and it would give them a talented wing to add to their stable, still on a rookie contract. They could simply cut Green and Carney and eat their salaries.
The trade would be about nothing but money for the Sixers. If McGrady does come back, he's going to be out for himself, looking to put up 25+ points and prove he's still a max-contract guy. That would probably submarine the team, but it's short-term. More importantly, if the Sixers acquired his expiring deal, they'd shave almost $20M off their cap number next summer. Meaning they could make a legitimate run at a player like Joe Johnson for a deal somewhere in the $10-$11M range, depending on where the cap comes in. They'd also have Kapono as a $6M expiring deal to work with.
Too early to pull the plug on this season? Definitely. Too early to pull the plug on Thad? Ridiculously so. If Houston called offering this deal would I consider it? You'd be crazy not to.
Thoughts in the comments.