For a few reasons, what the Wolves do with Ryan Gomes's contract may be an interesting bellwether for both the Wolves' intentions and the movement of big free agents to other franchises.
It's been obvious since the Timberwolves picked up their team option on Corey Brewer last offseason that they'd need to waive Gomes to make their cap space. The two players headed in opposite directions as of that moment.
It doesn't look as if Wile E Coyote's excellent TWCentral find about the Gomes contract has been reflected on CH. Here's Larry Coon, everyone's favorite cap guru, responding to two questions specifically about Gomes and his (contract's) tradeability:
Hi Larry. Can you explain Ryan Gomes contract? Wolves fans are wondering whether he can be traded and then cut (if desired) by the receiving team. If so, the Wolves would have more options this summer.
Yes -- his contract is non-guaranteed as long as he's waived by this June 30.
Gomes' contract must be terminated by June 30. Since that is still in 09/10 fiscal year, and the trade deadline has passed, does that make it impossible to trade him without a guaranteed contract for 10/11 (e.g. cannot trade 09/10 expiring)?
No, it doesn't.
....He's what some call a "super expiring." Rather than his contract being over in another year, it ends immediately.... if he's waived by June 30.
So he can be included in a draft day deal, for example, and waived by his new team.
The most likely outcome will be the Wolves simply waiving Gomes. Kahn has consistently used a cap space figure that assumes his guaranteed number is off the Wolves' cap, after all. So there's your bellwether #1 on Gomes: If the Wolves waive him themselves, that signals that they're intending to play more aggressively on the FA (and sign-and-trade) market than they otherwise might.
Gomes could also be involved in a complex, multi-team trade. I'm not sure any fan can predict those from our remove. If the Magic are suddenly after LBJ and assets fly around to reflect that, we'll all be flat-footed at that point. (I'd sure enjoy the confusion. Really, I expect at least one situation like this come July.)
However, as we keep seeing with the suggestions about Michael Beasley, there are some teams out there that may value a bit of extra "super expiring" cap space quite highly, and that may be motivated to make a direct, simpler exchange before the FA period opens. Maybe they'll make an offer that can't (or anyway shouldn't) be refused. We might be able to see a deal like that coming, right?
Who are those teams?Basically the profile for teams that would give up real value to take Gomes directly in trade looks like:
- They're in a position to be big FA players this summer; but
- They feel the need to bump up their cap space – in order to reach some next tier, where they can offer a second "max" deal, for example.
Those might seem incredibly basic, but they narrow things considerably. The list of big cap space teams (other than the Wolves) looks like: the Knicks, Nets, HEAT, Bulls, Kings, Clippers, Thunder and Wizards.
|Lowest Committed 2010-11 Payrolls|
|New York Knicks||$18.64 m|
|New Jersey Nets||$26.63 m|
|Miami Heat||$30.67 m|
|Chicago Bulls||$31.85 m|
|Los Angeles Clippers||$33.53 m|
|Sacramento Kings||$34.0 m|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||$35.17 m|
|Washington Wizards||$41.02 m|
|Source: ESPN.com via How to Watch Sports.com|
Can't we eliminate the Kings, Clippers, and Wizards from the list of suitors? For example: The Clippers have enough money for one deal at the max level, won't approach a second huge contract's worth of space, and are unlikely to become a desired destination for LeBron James and company anyway. We can safely bet that they're not going to offer Eric Gordon for Gomes in order to clear money. (Not that Kahn or Rambis would be that keen on a 6-3 SG, anyway, apparently.) Similarly, it's not easy to anticipate the Wizards or Kings making a play for Dwyane Wade just yet.
The others, though: Knicks, Nets, HEAT, Bulls, Thunder. If we see a deal of Gomes to one of those franchises, might that not tip off the league about that team's FA prospects? The league might freak out a little if the Nets did it; that would signal aggression at the top tier of free agency from their new owner. (Did we need any more signals from him? Probably not.)
What would it take for Minnesota to accept such a deal? It has to happen before 6/30, so they can't take back any sign-and-trade finds of their own. There are a couple types of assets that make immediate sense:
- A future first. Specifically, I would suggest they might look to paper over the Jaric pick to the Clippers in two years' time. (And gosh, yes, it is too bad that Donald Sterling isn't absolutely desperate for that extra few million in space right now.) The rub here is that any team making this deal directly for Gomes would likely intend to be a contender for the foreseeable future. We'd want to look for a team with someone else's pick. Of particular note:
- Chicago owns Charlotte's 2012 first round pick, which is top-14 protected but has lowering protection over the next few years: top-12, top-10, top-8, unprotected.
- The HEAT own Toronto's first round pick next year. The protection's top-14 until 2015, when the pick becomes unprotected.
- The Nets own Golden State's 2012 pick. Protection goes: Top-7, Top-7, Top-6, and then it turns into a couple of second-rounders. Hrm. I hate it when they fall off a cliff that way.
- Wing talent. We're talking about a trade that would have to happen before June 30th. Presumably it would occur sometime from draft night to the 30th, so that teams would know how their rosters sat, but unless multiple dominos fell (Cousins drafted, a separate Big Al trade, etc.) it's hard to see the Wolves excited to add a power forward. Their "What I Accomplished this Summer" essay for Mr. Taylor's English course will lack at least some of the "added respectable wing talent" paragraphs, still, at that point.
A combo package of both for Gomes – moderate future pick with a not-so-very-old "Sam Mitchell, Terry Porter"- type veteran wing player – would seem to make some sense. However, in the act of clearing their cap room, the teams involved have essentially let most of their Sam Mitchells expire.
On balance, I don't know.... There are a number of ways in which deals with Chicago line up, for me. The Bulls are just that nudge behind Miami in terms of cap space, and may need that extra couple of million. They have the pick from Charlotte, of mid-first value, that could work in a package. There's the potential for larger exchanges, starting from any assumptions about them dealing for Gomes. Their roster conspicuously lacks post scoring, so if the Wolves are trading Jefferson they may value him highly. (They've already thought long and hard about Carlos Boozer last offseason, and Boozer's defense is also not so good. Noah can bang next to either of them.) Deng is a good player; if the Bulls sign LeBron they can't keep Deng around. We've all talked around that, but Luol's a solid three with length who plays perimeter defense, and his deal is for less money than Al's. They have James Johnson, whom Kahn talked up at least once and who's a 3/4, if the Wolves are needing to plug a backup hole after losing one of their frontcourt parts.... I can imagine deals with the other suitors, but the Bulls' assets, and any potential extra-few-millions intentions they have to dream large in free agency, seem to align with where the Wolves are sitting.
If that happened – if Chicago was willing to sacrifice significant assets in part for Gomes's money – I think we'd be seeing a dramatic opening fusillade from them when it came to free agency. That's true of any of the major FA contenders.
In short, the timing with which Gomes would need to be waived means he's going to be an interesting case to watch in late June. If another team is aggressive enough to make a move on his contract, that'll help shape the Wolves. It would also be one of our leading-edge signals about "big" free agents to come.