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Answering a Simple Question

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The Hedo Turkoglu thing has such momentum right now that I'm not even going to try to fight it.  We said what we had to say on the subject a couple days ago.  I'll let the sidebar posts and the approximately one billion media references speak for themselves.  Enjoy the whirlwind!

However I did want to get in a couple simple posts.  The Rasheed Wallace one is right below this.  This one covers a question that's been asked multiple times over the last couple of weeks:  Is it possible for the Blazers to trade or release players (say Steve Blake, for instance), have them cut from the team they're traded to, and then pick them up again?  Is it possible to re-sign Channing Frye now that he's released?

The answer to either question is "probably not".  The basis of that answer is the assumption that the Blazers will make moves while under the salary cap this summer.  Most trades featuring Blake are assumed to transpire under the cap or at least in conjuction (or in the wake of) moves that transpire under the cap...signing Turkoglu for instance.  In like fashion Channing Frye was released specifically so the Blazers could get under the cap.

Here's the deal, though.  The Blazers aren't actually under the cap until they make a couple extra moves.  Technically speaking Portland's potential free agents are still registered as cap holds.  The hold of Raef LaFrentz alone is over $19 million.  Portland will have to renounce the rights to LaFrentz, Michael Ruffin, and Shavlik Randolph in order to make full use of their potential cap space.  But even then the Blazers aren't out of the woods.  Portland still has exceptions--the mid-level exception at around $5 million, the bi-annual veteran's exception around $1.2 million, and a trade exception around $3 million (plus another possible small trade exception from the Sergio-to-Sacramento deal)--which all count as cap holds as well.  [Edit:  We now have that small trade exception in the Sergio deal confirmed by a team source.]  That's close to $10 million in cap holds, which puts the Blazers over the cap.  In order to make a trade as a team beneath the cap threshold or to sign free agents using cap space Portland will also have to renounce those exceptions for the year.

In other words, if you trade Blake for Hinrich using Portland's extra cap space to make the deal work you first have to renounce those exceptions.  If you want $8 million to offer Hedo Turkoglu you first have to renounce those exceptions.  And no, you do not get those exceptions back after you've signed Hedo and are now at the cap limit.  You have renounce them for the entire season before you can use your cap space to sign Turkoglu.

In this light it becomes obvious why you can't trade or release a player and then get him back.  You trade Blake for Hinrich and use your available cap space to make that deal.  With Hinrich coming in you are now at the cap limit.  What money can you give to Blake?  You have no mid-level exception this year, nor the bi-annual.  You have no way to offer him a contract.

Similarly you renounced Channing Frye to get cap space.  The only way you could sign him again would be to use that same cap space to get him back.  As with Blake, once you've used the cap space Channing's departure created you don't have any room to sign him again.

The only way this scenario would work would be if the Blazers never went under the cap.  They'd then be able to make use of their exceptions just like any over-the-cap team.  They'd have to trade Blake to Chicago in the usual over-the-cap fashion (matching salaries within 125%+$100,000), wait for the Bulls to release him, and then use one of their cap exceptions to re-sign him.  But in this case there are no free-agent signings beyond what you can get with those exceptions.  (Hint:  That ain't Turkoglu.)  There are no moves requiring extra cap space to facilitate.  You never get any cap space to work with.  It's highly unlikely that the Blazers will choose to do business this way.

For all intents and purposes when one of the current Blazers is traded or released he's gone...at least until 2010-11 when Portland's cap exceptions will reset.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)