The Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors are putting the finishing touches on a trade that will send the salaries of Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins and multiple picks(including a 2014 first rounder) to the Jazz for Kevin Murphy. It’s a fairly unexpected trade even though it was widely known that the Warriors were looking to shed salary to make a run at some of this year’s top free agents. Most people didn’t expect them to find a taker for that much dead weight, especially not while most of the top free agents are still on the market which makes cap space a valuable commodity.
Why The Warriors Did It:
It has been announced that the Warriors have agreed to terms with Andre Iguodala, who turned down a 4 year, $52 million contract from the Denver Nuggets to sign a 4 year, $48 million contract with the Warriors. Iguodala dramatically improves the Warriors defense, and the assets given up in this deal still leave them with enough large contracts and prospects to swing a sign and trade for Dwight Howard if he decides that he would like to play for the Warriors. They can still send out Andrew Bogut or David Lee along with a prospect like Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson and even include a re-signed Jarrett Jack if it’s necessary to make the deal work.
Why The Jazz Did It:
This is a little more complicated. In addition to having a salary cap the NBA has a salary floor, a minimum amount that all teams must spend on player salary which in 2013-14 is 90% of the salary cap. The cap hasn’t been set yet, but if we assume a salary cap close to what we had last year that puts the floor at around $53 million. The Jazz were at $30 million with 10 players under contract, meaning they had to spend another $23 million player salaries no matter what. Being forced to spend money on player salary leaves you with few options, especially when you’re a basketball team in Utah. You can overpay good players who don’t really want to play there, sign players you don’t really want or, even worse, overpay players you don’t really want. With being forced to pay players that aren’t really part of their long-term plans an inevitability for the Jazz it seems they opted to make the best of the bad situation and preserve that cap space with one year deals while acquiring some picks in the process. The Jazz didn’t make this move to position them for success in the upcoming season, they’re thinking big picture and long-term with this deal, keeping playing time open for their young players and maintaining their cap flexibility for a later date while adding a few more picks to their growing collection of young talent and assets.
Overall the trade works really well for both teams when you consider where each team stands in the NBA hierarchy. The Jazz are clearly rebuilding and developing their young talent while the Warriors are trying to build off of their recent success by addressing some of their biggest weaknesses and weakening a strong conference rival.