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Why are we talking trades for Paul, Howard? Money.

Dec 2, 2011, 8:29 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Since about three minutes after David Stern and Billy Hunter sat bleary-eyed in a New York conference room to say they reached a deal, we have been talking trades.

Specifically Chris Paul and Dwight Howard trades. The two superstar, franchise cornerstone guys who can opt out as free agents next summer and may push their way out of their current teams this season.

But why are we talking trades now before teams can even talk directly to players, and why are some people around those players pushing for trades fast? Like before the season if possible.


Those two guys want to be traded early enough so that under the new rules their Bird rights transfer with them. They can’t do what Carmelo Anthony did last year — the new labor rules say if you do an extend-and-trade the new contract can only be for what the team could have signed you for as a free agent. No Bird rights deals.

So how you get those bigger deals is to get traded without an extension then become a free agent and re-sign there. How much money are we talking? The best breakdown I saw (and a great explanation of how everything works) is from Chris Sheridan over at

Here are the options for the two big stars.

• Plays the entire season in Orlando, opts out and ends up elsewhere (either by signing as a free agent or through a sign-and-trade): $80.5 million for 4 years.
• Gets traded in February, opts out, then re-signs with the team that acquired him: $110.8 million for 5 years.

• Plays the entire season in New Orleans, opts out and ends up elsewhere (either by signing as a free agent or through a sign-and-trade): $75.8 million for 4 years.
• Gets traded in February, opts out, then re-signs with the team that acquired him: $100.2 million for 5 years.

We’re talking about a lot of money.

Because of that, you can bet that you are going to keep hearing about trades for these guys because the people around them (cough *agents* cough) will keep pushing it. Because it’s about the money. Always.

  1. dalucks - Dec 2, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    David Stern is a HUGE LIAR. He is still screwing the small market owners and those teams will not be profitable under this labor agreement just like the last one. There will never be competitive basketball nor baseball. I hate being lied to especially from a guy reading a prepared lie (speech).

  2. bparmalee - Dec 2, 2011 at 11:59 PM

    I do think this kills small market teams. One of the few “hammers” they had to wield was that they could offer the player more money than other teams. It didnt work to keep big names in small markets but it end up in a lot of sign and trades. This at least allowed teams to not end up empty handed. Now players are going to force a trade.. wont sign an extension (so theres no security for the team trading for the Star) and that means they will get less value for them. Its a win for the very few teams that every NBA player wants to play for but its going to hurt already hurting teams right out of the gate. I mean we could see Chris Paul traded for 2 back ups and a 2nd rounder.

  3. stoutfiles - Dec 3, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    They will be profitable, they will just never stay competitive. You can land a big fish in the draft but the reality is that they will almost always leave as soon as they can.

    As a small market fan, you have to decide whether continuing to support a fruitless team is worth your time. This model may be good for short term ratings, but when fans stop supporting their loser teams the model will fall apart.

    • 1historian - Dec 3, 2011 at 7:53 AM

      Good comment, but I would change one word in it: “As a small market fan, you have to decide whether continuing to support a fruitless team is worth your time.”

      Substitute the word ‘time’ with the word ‘money’, because that’s what this is all about. And that is ALL this is about.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Dec 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      You can land a big fish in the draft but the reality is that they will almost always leave as soon as they can.

      You mean after 7 years? Players have a right to choose their employer and 7 years is more than enough time to be stuck in Orlando Florida. Hell a weekend a long enough to be stuck there.

      As soon as the players went t 50/50 the small market teams were profitable, but they will never be competitive how you and others like you want them to be. When you have a luxury tax that’s to prohibitive that it essentially acts as a hard cap it makes the money pretty much equal. That said if you remove money from the equation what’s left to determine where a player signs? Location. And In a vacuum where money isn’t an issue Orlando will lose 100 times out of 100 to LA, NY etc.

      If anything there should be no cap like in baseball where teams in less desirable markets can overpay to compensate for this difference. Jason Werth (despite being terrible last year) was one of the top free agents in 2010 and he would have never signed with The Nationals had it not been for their ability to overpay to compensate for the difference between Washington DC and better markets.

  4. djflav303 - Dec 3, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    These players are gonna kill this league. And the owners don’t own anything, the players do. The players tell the owners what gonna happen and nothing has changed. If I wanted to see this kinda of ball I would go see the Harlem globetrotters play the Washington generals. Jordan, magic, bird and that those players will be the last great players to ever play in the nba, these new players are cowards.

  5. gpatrick15 - Dec 3, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    Small market teams cannot be competitive? R.C. Buford and Sam Presti seem to disagree with that. It’s not that they cannot stay competitive. It’s up to the owner and the GM’s to field a good, competitive team. This can be done through the draft, free agency, and trades. Put a good team together and your stars won’t bolt at the first opportunity. Tim Duncan never left, Durant (and Westbrook) will be in OKC for a very long time. Why? Because despite their market disadvantages, their GM’s still made smart, wise decisions when it came to spending their money. Chris Paul is the only All-Star in New Orleans. He cannot win with the pieces his GM and owners (and former owners) have put around them. They haven’t drafted that well, and no one wants to come through free agency because of their reluctance to pay top dollar.

    In Orlando, they go out and TRY to put players around Dwight Howard, but, just like the case in Cleveland, the pieces don’t fit and as a result the team’s hands are tied up in the bad contracts. Picking up Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas, among the various other bad pick ups they’ve taken part in, were all bad moves and extremely short sighted. I don’t blame Dwight and Chris Paul one bit for going to a team that makes smart acquisitions and wants to compete, regardless of the market size.

  6. therealhtj - Dec 3, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    You can blame Stern and the owners all you want here, but the players and especially their agents are the real culprits here.

    The players, all 450 or so of them, refused to sign a deal that did not allow for Sign and Trades or Extend and Trades to teams over the cap. About the most ludicrous stance for them to take, since there are generally less than 10 guys total in the league at any time that will use that as leverage.

    Actually though, as a fan of a big market team, I was hoping they would go to a hard cap/largely non-guaranteed salary system. I’ve never seen my team’s problem being too much spent on their stars (although it’s getting there), it’s the money spent on the under-producing, mid-level guys that should be cut, but can’t. The players big “Blood Issue” was the guaranteed contract, and it’s the single biggest problem the league has. Get rid of all the dead weight contracts out there and it’ll be a better product, guaranteed.

    I’m still not sure how the league calculates it’s “soft-cap” but if all 30 teams spent just under the tax threshold, they’d miss their GUARANTEED BRI SPLIT. The entire system in predicated on teams BEING OVER THE TAX THRESHOLD. And with the tax becoming so punitive in 2 years, I just don’t see how they’re going to get there.

    As a large market fan, I don’t worry about my team wooing the top free agents, I worry more about having the cap space to sign them. By removing guarantees, giving teams the ability to renegotiate with their own players (even if a player were willing to take a pay cut, he can’t under this and the previous CBA), they’ll create a more balanced system. The idea of revenue sharing sickens me.

    Does this help small markets? No more than it helps the larger markets. No more than the current CBA. If you’re in OKC, your only chance is to draft a generational talent like Durant, but it’ll all fall apart once you have to overpay to keep Westbrook and your other key pieces. That’s the small market dilemma – overpaying borderline All-Stars. Some of the worst deals out there right now are smaller markets overpaying to keep a sometime All-Star. And they’ll do it over and over because they won’t get butts in the seats without doing so.

    I guess we’ll just have to wait another 6 years and for another lockout to really right the ship. Hopefully the respective leaders of the NBA and the players association will be better suited to the task.

  7. jolink653 - Dec 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    It’s not impossible to have a great team in a small market just look at Oklahoma city…problem these other teams face is mainly due to their terrible draft histories…if you’re in a small market you have to be able to build through the draft and turn your team into a winner so your players will want to stay and free agents will want to go there…you think okc is in a position to potentially win the west because of their market? Chris paul and Dwight Howard want to leave because their teams couldn’t draft at all and couldnt entice any free agents to go and the teams should blame themselves for not bringing in enough good draft picks…if I was anplayer and my team was unable to put any decent talent around me I’d leave for a bigger market too

  8. ctw3786 - Dec 3, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    I said it before and I’ll continue to say it. The owners don’t care about being competitive. All they cared about was the money and not being profitable. They’d rather lose and make a lot of money, than try to “really” change the system so they can win, and maybe not make as much money. If they change the draft, they will be competitive. Until they do that, small market teams will continue to suck. Bad GM’s are allowed to make bad decisions with the draft and free agents, and are able to keep their jobs

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