The season, mercifully, is almost over, and we head into the most vital of Kahn's "windows" to change the fortunes of this woebegone franchise. Kahn has stated that he expects to have roughly $12-14 million in cap space; my sense of things is that $11-12 million is more realistic. At any rate, there is some room. We know that quality free agents are going to have lots of options, and that Minnesota is not going to be at the top of the list, meaning that the most likely use of the cap space is through a trade in which the Wolves take on more in salary than they send out. This could take the form of taking on a talented but overpaid player, taking on a salary to also get a cheaper young talent, or taking on a salary to get a draft pick.
In order to get a better sense of the possibilities, after the jump I'll take a look at the teams that are most likely going to be looking to shed salary given their circumstances. A couple of notes:
1. This is pretty long, so get a snack
2. PoorDick: your objection is stipulated.
Atlanta Hawks: Committed to $47.6 million for 8 players and need to resign Joe Johnson. Doing so would put them close to the luxury tax line with roster spots to fill. Nothing much on their roster of particular interest to the Wolves, unless they consider trading Al Horford, which seems unlikely. If they cannot resign Joe Johnson, it will be interesting to see what they do.
Boston Celtics: Committed to $63 million for 6 players assuming Pierce exercises his option. That's not including Ray Allen. But there's really nothing of interest there. Expensive and aging is the price you sometimes pay for a title.
Charlotte Bobcats: Committed to $59.5 million for 9 players assuming Chandler exercises his PO. This doesn't include making a QO to Ty Thomas and resigning him, nor does it include Ray Felton, who they might or might not want to bring back. Either of these moves would put them over the LTL. We've expressed interest in Gerald Wallace, but it's unlikely they would give away their best player. He's terrific, though.
Dallas Mavericks Committed to $84 million assuming Dirk exercises his PO; at any rate he isn't going anywhere. This is before they resign Brendan Haywood. Cuban is obviously willing to spend, god bless him, but even he might like to move some salary. Unfortunately, there isn't much there. Would anyone take on Dampier's final year to get Beaubois?
Denver Nuggets: Committed to $73 million for 9 players, assuming K-Mart exercises his option. Couple of guys I wouldn't mind having, like JR Smith, Chris Andersen, Aaron Afflalo. Unfortunately, I don't see them moving any of those guys, as they have a window now. They could try to package Martin's $16 million with Afflalo to get near or under the LTL, but I think they view Martin as vital to their hopes. They could move JR Smith since Afflalo has emerged; that's something I would look at. He's only under contract for 1 more year at around $6 million.
Detroit Pistons: Commited to $51 million, $55 assuming the pick up options for Stuckey and Jerekbo. With Jerekbo's emergence, there's no doubt they wouldn't mind moving one of their bigger salaries; someone here has suggested moving Al for Prince and their pick, which is looking to be in the 5-7 range right now. I'm sure they would prefer to move Hamilton's brutal deal. There might be something here; Brewer and the Charlotte pick for Prince and their pick? Save them some money?
Golden State Warriors Committed to $53 million for 10 guys, might be looking to make changes after another terrible season. Have several intriguing players we've discussed; I wouldn't mind taking on Corey Magette's salary (he's better than you think he is) to get a hold of one of their young players or their pick. It seems that Nellie has tired of Biedrins, but that's a long deal. Lot's of injury problems for their guys as well. There might be something here, but I'm not sure what it is.
Houston Rockets: Committed to $58 million assuming Yao exercises his PO. This does not include Hayes' team option or resigning Luis Scola, which I assume they want to do. I'm sure they would love to get rid of Jared Jeffries PO, and try to stay under the LTL, but there's nothing I want that would encourage me to take that on. Anyone interested in a year of Shane Battier to help teach our guys to defend?
Indiana Pacers: Committed to $64.6 million. Assuming they aren't moving Granger, there isn't much I want there. I'm sure they would love to move salary, but what are you willing to take on to get their pick (5-7 range)? Most of their contracts will be expiring next year (Murphy, Dunleavy, Foster, TJ Ford), so the pain would be short lived. Because of that, who knows if they would be willing to do it, though that TJ Ford PO is pretty gruesome. Or maybe instead of their pick, they would want to move Hibbert. And they have no real PG. Flynn or Sessions for Hibbert and TJ Ford's contract? For their pick and Ford? Anyone?
Memphis Grizzlies Committed to $47.3 million but that's before resigning Gay and Ronnie Brewer. (It;s also including Jaric's $7 million, but I'm not sure what's happening with that since he signed in Europe. Anyone?) Sign and trade for one of those guys? We've discussed Gay a lot, Heisley recently said he plans to bring him back.
Milwaukee Bucks Committed to $55 million for 9 guys, assuming Redd exercises his (brutal) PO. Not including resigning Luke Ridnour. Good young team, really playing well. I'm sure they would love to move the last season of Dan Gadzuric's deal ($7+ million), but yikes. Would you take on a couple of years of Charlie Bell's deal to get Ilyasova?
New Orleans Hornets: Committed to $73 million for 10 players. Yikes. Would you take on James Posey (2 years left) to get their late lottery pick (around #11)? I don't think I would, but maybe Posey brings some professionalism and defense that helps.
Oklahoma City: Not a potential trade partner, probably, (Al for Jeff Green?), just wanted to point out that Sam Presti is good at his job. 5th seed this year, everyone important coming back next year for $40 million, and you know how much they are committed to for 2011-12? At this moment, $3 million dollars.
Orlando Magic: $79 million committed to 10 guys. Man that Lewis contract...anyway, they seem to be willing to pay the tax to win, and there really isn't much in terms of what they would give up that I would want. Would they give away Mikael Pietrus to save some money? Eh.
Philadelphia 76ers: Committed to $66 million for 10 guys. Seems like there are salaries they would be wanting to move, but they hesitated at the deadline. Final season of Dalembert's deal? Seem to want to keep Iggy. What else? This is a bad team with a Luxury Tax payroll and a lottery pick (5-7 range). What can be done?
Portland Trailblazers: Committed to roughly $55 million for 9 guys, assuming Pryz exercises his PO. That's before resigning Camby, which I"m sure they would like to do given the health problems of their centers. Paul Allen doesn't mind spending money, though the Vulcans can get prickly. I'm sure they would love to move Pryz's PO, since it seems unlikely he'll be able to play next year with the repeated ruptures of the achilles. In order to get Fernandez? I might take it. Webster? Probably not.
San Antonio: Not really a trade partner, just wanted to point out that they are committed to $54 million for 6 players next year, not including Manu who is an FA. I'd love to get him, though I assume he'll prioritize winning. Nothing on that roster is interesting.
Toronto Raptors: Committed to roughly $47 million for 8 guys assuming Bosh opts out. If they resign him, they will be forced over the LTL, if they don't...they still lack cap space and are even worse. Not much here of interest to me.
Utah Jazz: Committed to $56 million for 6 guys, and news coming out of SLC is that they actually would like to resign Boozer. To do that, they have to move salary. The obvious one is AK 47's last season at almost $18 million. Hollins and Flynn/Sessions and their pick for AK and the Knicks pick?
Any and all trade ideas welcome in the comments thread. I hope this is useful.