Francis, the cap, trades, and small forwards

First, let me say I'm absolutely shocked by the hostile reactions of the Zach trade. Despite all the good things that he's done for the franchise so far, it's clear people have little faith in Pritchard's abilities, judging by the knee-jerk reactions. Today I can honestly say I was embarrassed to be a Blazer fan.

Coming down off my soapbox, it is clear that Pritchard was determined to trade Randolph this summer for 1) a small forward and 2) payroll reduction. Tom Penn's abilities as a cap lawyer not only got him the assistant GM job, but he was tasked with figuring out the payroll reduction aspect of Zach's trade. Years from now this may be known as the "Tom Penn Draft".

When a team over the cap performs a trade, they must use an exception, even if they reduce payroll. To have the salaries match, Portland receives an exception equal to the difference in salaries. This becomes important later. Why did the deal have to be done draft day? It's because of the moratorium between July 1 - 11. Since July 1 is Sunday, it was imperative the deal be done to facilitate other trades, as you will see below.

New York had agreed to a buyout with Francis. The buyout has Francis giving up his player option and taking about 10-15 million. Francis keeps the money, becomes a free agent, and may sign with another team. The buyout is transferable to Portland, meaning that if Francis signs with another team for the mid-level exception (5 million), the Blazers would only have 7.5 - 12.5 million count against the cap for this year, and nothing for next year. Letting Freddie and Dan expire this year would only have saved us 6.1 million. This way we eat the buyout and dump Zach's ridiculous contract. Francis will never wear a Blazer uni.

There are two schools of thought as to why we must wait until the New York trade is finalized, and both involve Phoenix. The first option concerns the reports that the Blazers are getting James Jones. In this case, the trade exception from the New York deal is used, along with the 3 million in cash, to get Jones and Fernandez. Phoenix gains some small cap relief (Jones), the trade exception (they can use later), and frees a roster spot and a guarenteed contract (the 24th pick).

The second is that the Blazers are targeting Shawn Marion. In this case, Francis is traded, with the exception, cash, and probably another cheap piece such as Webster or Jack, for Marion. By gaining the Francis buyout and dumping Marion, the Suns gain a ton of cap space, and Francis is a Blazer for about 10 days.

Even after the New York trade is approved, nothing further can happen until after the moratorium, which corresponds to Pritchard's and Penn's comments in the news conference.

This is all speculation on my part, but it seems to make sense. Would Francis give up that much money? I think he would to get out of New York and STILL would get to collect 2 paychecks. Maybe the buyout figure is a little higher, like his full 20 million this year...we'll know more later.

And if I'm wrong and Francis is wearing a Blazer uni next year?

Just shoot me.