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There's been a fair amount of mail lately and I'm trying to get back to everyone.  But Marc writes an interesting set of questions applicable to all.  I'm going to try to answer to the best of my knowledge and maybe you folks can help out where I miss something.

I, and I believe many other fans, would welcome a discussion of what type of trades would be consistent with the Blazers' salary cap. For this purpose, I would like to understand the effect on trade possibilities of

(1) allowing Magloire to go elsewhere,
(2) persuading Miles to retire,
(3) having our obligation to Derek Anderson expire
(4) withholding an offer to Outlaw until a trade has been completed, and
(5) offering or accepting a draft choice as partial trade consideration.

  1.  Jamaal's salary last year was $8.3 million dollars.  We are under no obligation to re-sign him and if we do not that amount will come off of our salary cap.
  2.  Darius was a little cheaper than Jamaal...$7.75 million.  (That buys a lot of Krispy Kremes.)  The league's collective bargaining agreement includes a provision that if a player is declared medically unfit to play at least one year after sustaining an injury he may retire and although the team still pays his salary it does not count against the cap.  This would be a huge boon to the Blazers.
  3.  Our obligation to Derek WILL expire and knock $9.75 million off of the cap.
That's all the good news.  The bad news is that last year we paid $73.7 million in salaries which is WAY over the cap.  The salaries we know are coming off the books (including Jamaal and DA but not Darius) leave us at $57.6 million.

The salary cap gets recalculated every summer (it's a percentage of league revenue).  Sometimes it jumps, sometimes it falls.  It's somewhat reasonable to expect it to be in the ballpark of the season before.  And this year's salary cap was $53.1 million.  Optimists will say, "If Darius retires that knocks us down to $50 million or so...we're under!"  Pessimists will point out that the $50 million figure does not include retaining Travis, re-signing Ime, or paying our draft pick (which we might want to do).  Long story short, we'll be a lot closer to the cap but even if Darius' salary gets wiped we won't be under.

  1.  If I recall correctly this doesn't matter.  You can't really cheat the cap like that because players you might retain have something like a ghost salary on the cap until you either sign them or renounce them.  In any case since Outlaw is a restricted free agent there is a strict time limit on matching any salary he's offered.  We can't wait until the summer's over to decide.
  2.  For the most part (there's a little arcana in there) draft picks do not count against the cap until they are selected, then they count at their salary.
Marc continues:
These issues would shed light on, among other things,

(1) our ability to sign Rashard Lewis without cooperation from Seattle,
(2) our possible trading partners for Zach and
(3) the options available to Kevin P with respect to utilizing our four second round picks or packaging them with players to acquire a second, high pick. [Yes, sending Zach and Martell, and Jarrett and four second round picks to Seattle for its pick would be pure day dreaming, but fantasizing about acquiring both Oden and Durant can be quite pleasant] With a notable lack of success, I have read the collective bargaining agreement on this subject and tried to figure out the answers for myself by applying  published team salary information.

  1.  Can't happen.  There's no way we could get that far under the cap. If Rashard were willing to sign for the mid-level exception (around $5 million a year plus raises) we could do that but I don't think he loves us that much. (Though as we get better more and more people will again.)
  2.  See the post below this one.  Basically we'll be making all trades as an over-the-cap team.  Even if Darius retires that won't be until the end of the summer.  By then we'll have made a decision on Travis and probably on Ime also.
  3.  Second round picks have value, but only in limited ways.  They are all but useless when stacked up against living, breathing talent.  If you went and offered all four picks as a package for a player already in the NBA you wouldn't even get a Wal-Mart level guy.  It'd be more like garage sale pickings.  However they do have some value on draft day.  One obvious scenario is if a player a team covets is still left on the board but they fear he'll be snapped up before their pick comes up.  Second rounders can also occasionally be used to trade up into the late first round.  First round picks have guaranteed salaries attached.  Second round picks do not.  Sometimes a team will not see anybody left that they're willing to spend a guaranteed $5-6 million on over the next four years.  But they can't just skip their pick.  (I suppose they could just let the time expire but that would be bad form.)  So they will trade their first rounder for some second rounders.  That way they can still get a couple prospects but they aren't locked into paying them if they don't pan out.  Obviously this never happens with high first round picks because there are always desirable players left on the board at 10 or 13.  Maybe you could trade into the low 20's if you're lucky.  Lastly, second round picks can often be parlayed into future second round picks.  This never happens with first rounders because they're more crucial (and could even end up lottery selections).  But GMs often play fast and loose with their second round picks because, frankly, they just don't matter as much.  Thus KP describes them as far more "liquid", meaning moveable.

    In short, adding four second rounders to that trade package of Zach, Martell, and Jarrett is like going into the card shop to trade for a Michael Jordan rookie card and saying, "I have this Shaq card, a Kobe rookie, a Kevin Garnett...ooooh...and four mint condition Shecky Grubermans!"  Unless the card shop owner is a big Shecky fan you're unlikely to get much traction.

Hope this helped!

--Dave (