A Tale of Two Trades

Christian Petersen

Comparing two specific, plausible trades for starting centers. Which do you prefer and why?

We're going to turn discussion towards draft prospects this week but before we leave trade prospects behind...

This weekend I had some serious discussions about trades with several folks around the league I trust. Understand, no given trade is likely under normal circumstances. Every once in a while you'll see a trade coming around the bend from miles away but that's rare. Multiple streams--need, value, cap considerations, timing, initiative and inclination--have to come together at once to make any trade possible. Lose one of those factors and you lose the deal. Therefore potential trades can't be described in certain terms or given definitive odds. "Could happen" and "not impossible" are as close as you can get unless you're one of the GM's involved.

That said, most of the folks I talked to felt that both of the following trades qualified for "could happen" and "not impossible". Some even made arguments for "might be desirable". Therefore I wanted to run them by you and see which, if either, you preferred. Unlike last week's trade post, we're leaving nothing to chance. Here are the deals and the exact benefits to the Blazers.

Deal #1: Portland's 2013 #10 draft pick, Joel Freeland, and cash to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat

This is a variation of a trade that's been talked about for weeks. Portland gets a starting center in Gortat, obviously. (Complete stats HERE if you need them.) The real beauty of the exchange from Portland's view is that they don't disrupt their current core while doing so plus the don't eat up much cap space. Gortat makes $7.7 million next year. Freeland and the #10 pick combined will make $4.8 million. That's a difference of $2.9 million...the amount of cap space the Blazers would be spending on their starting center. Whether you like Gortat or not, filling that hole while eating less than $3 million of the cap budget would be a major accomplishment. The Blazers would have around $8.5 million remaining to offer one or more free agents before hitting the cap limit.

This is why including Joel Freeland is key for Portland in this deal. Otherwise the remaining budget sinks to $6 million...not horrible but not the same kind of offer. The cash going to Phoenix covers the first year of Freeland's contract. It doesn't absolve Phoenix of the cap obligation but it pays off Joel's salary for one year. They'd owe him $3 million the season after. Phoenix is in longer-range rebuild mode than the Blazers are, wants lottery picks, and would be able to preserve cap space this year and next if desired even with Freeland on board. His salary affects their plans far less than it affects the Blazers. Although nobody can know for sure, most folks I talked to believed that removing Freeland would be more of a deal-breaker for Portland than including him would be for Phoenix.

Deal #2: Phoenix gets Portland's 2013 #10 draft pick, Joel Freeland, and cash; Denver gets Marcin Gortat and Wesley Matthews; Portland gets JaVale McGee

Both Denver guys I talked to agreed that the recent change in regime probably bodes ill for JaVale McGee's tenure with the Nuggets. (Complete stats HERE.) Both also raised an eyebrow and went, "Hmmm..." at the package of Matthews and Gortat. (As in, "Hmmm...I could see being interested in that.")

From the Phoenix point of view this deal is the same as Deal #1.

Unlike the first deal, which would have to wait until Portland cleared cap space in July, this deal could be consummated any time.

The differences for Portland are two. First, the Blazers give up Wesley Matthews. Second, the Blazers would have approximately $11.8 million in cap space in July. That's $2.9 million more than the first deal but the Blazers are also one starter down.

This deal would also work after July without Freeland included. That would take Portland's cap space down to $9.9 million, again without a starting shooting guard on board.

Quick Comparison

Deal #1 gives the Blazers Gortat without touching the core and leaves them $8.5 million to spend on the bench.

Deal #2 gives the Blazers McGee while losing Matthews and leaves them $11.8 million to spend on a starting shooting guard and the bench.

Which, if either, of these deals would you prefer and why? Weigh in below.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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