Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cap space 2009: Reporters spending already

One of Kevin Pritchard's primary goals since he took over as general manager has been to achieve salary cap flexibility. And if everything shakes out just so, KP will get his wish in the summer of 2009. The contracts of Raef LaFrentz and Steve Francis come off the books, giving the Blazers around $20 million in cap space (Dave's concerns notwithstanding). For the first time in some time, the Blazers could be players in the free agent market (though dreams of Chris Paul or Deron Williams, though always unrealistic, are now completely dashed).

Salary cap flexibility in '09 (which, by the way, would make a great presidential campaign promise) is no secret, which is why some reporters in Chicago, given the unresolved nature of Luol Deng's contract status, are already starting to spend Paul Allen's future cash. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Times writes ...
If no extension is reached, Deng's camp could offer the Bulls a window to execute a sign-and-trade so as not to lose their former lottery acquisition for nothing. The Charlotte Observer reported Monday that talks broke off between restricted free agent Emeka Okafor and the Bobcats, who could pursue sign-and-trade options.

In lieu of that, Deng would sign a one-year tender offer for $4.45 million, become an unrestricted free agent in 2009 and not negotiate with the Bulls.

Portland is one of several teams projected to have ample salary-cap space in 2009 where Deng would fit. This fact, along with a feeling the Bulls have had two summers to negotiate with Deng, is creating this urgency.
Mike McGraw of the Arlington Daily Herald gets even more specific (inasmuch as blind speculation can be "specific").
Deng will have some quality options if he decides to sign the one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. How does joining a Portland starting lineup of Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Jerryd Bayless sound?

The Blazers are a dangerous opponent for the Bulls right now, because they have an opening for Deng on the floor and will have cap room next year when Raef LaFrentz and Steve Francis come off the books.

Portland is one of several teams expected to have significant cap room in 2009. If Deng or fellow restricted free agent Ben Gordon take the qualifying offer, they are probably as good as gone after one more awkward, lame-duck season in Chicago.


There figures to be an avid trade market for Deng if it comes to that. Portland would probably be willing to give back Channing Frye and Travis Outlaw, which isn't a great option. It's conceivable Dallas would offer Josh Howard for Deng or Detroit might swap Tayshaun Prince.
It's an interesting notion, but I find it hard to think about bringing new players in until we get to see how the players we already have fit together. Sure, Deng is a nice piece, but if Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster continue to improve is it really necessary to add another small forward? And even if it's decided that neither Outlaw or Webster are the answer at SF, do you go out and get an offensive-minded 3 when you already have Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden eating up touches? Is Deng so good that you take him simply if he'll accept an offer? Is management in Chicago really considering what Portland might do in free agency a year from now when planning out their strategy of how to deal with Deng today? The answer to any or all of these questions might be "yes," but again, I find it hard to look that far ahead, especially with the current team.


Anonymous said...

It would be great to get Deng. If we can swing it, I say go for it. I'm not concerned about having this team play for a year first. The most likely scenario is he signs the one year deal and we would get him after next season anyway. Let's put together the best team possible and make our run ASAP. Plus Deng is only 23.

Either way I see KP using the 2009 cap space on a small forward. If Deng is not available, Hedo Turkoglu is an unrestricted free agent that year. He has a higher scoring average than Deng, and won the Most Improved Player award last year with the Magic.

Casey, if you don't want to add a small forward, what position do you want to add?

Forget about that "traditional point guard" we've been desperately seeking. We have a plethora of skilled ball-handling guards (ie Roy, Bayless, Rudy, Blake). Let's grab our starting small forward and make a run at some championships. In KP we trust, Go Blazers!

Casey Holdahl said...

I guess I don't think there's any one position that we should be adding at this point. When considering cost, skill set, so on and so forth, I'd much rather have Hedo. That's a nice suggestion.

millertime said...

who cares about deng he not all that good. we don't want gordon either. webster would be rookie this year if he would have stayed 4 years of collage. outlaw came out way early and has not even come close to developed. we don't need anybody else. u think of stupid trades. not well thought out

TT said...

no doubt, i'll marty AND travis over overrated luol deng anyday.

oregondude said...

Outlaw was better than deng last year so why would the Blazers do that? Outlaw is a better outside shooter, better creating his own shot an equal defender but a little less on the boards.
I would save some of that $ to resign ROY, LA, Oden in the coming years and not strap yourself down to contracts just cause u have the $ at the time

JohnVM said...

Honestly, Deng is a good player, but I'm not super impressed by him. He really didn't have that great of a year. I'd rather stick with what we have, knowing it works well and fits in our "culture". At some point you just have to say "here is my hand, let's stick with it, and not take a chance on a new card". We don't want to keep rotating players, it breaks up the team camaraderie, and that new card can be unpredictable. If you can get a guy who is twice as good as what you have, then maybe. Deng is not twice as good as what we have...

Joel_for_Pryz said...

Maybe this is just a pipe dream, but what if Pritchard holds out just one more year and signs one or two year contracts set to expire summer 2010, wouldn't Portland be a strong contender for the LeBron James free agency sweepstakes? I'd much prefer that, even despite a longer wait and more money involved. I'm not positive that is when LeBron can opt out, but even if it is summer 2011 instead, LeBron would be the final piece for many championships to come, and he'd fit better on the team than would Deng: with LeBron, he and BRoy could run point just by themselves, and Oden, LA and Bayless could be 3 serious scoring threats, as no team could afford to double team ANY of those 5...

felix said...

I can't see the point in bringing Deng to the Blazers. Deng is not a pure 3, he can't shoot three pointers and can't play the four as well as Aldridge or Frye. He is not an upgrade over Outlaw in this Blazers team, methinks. The Blazers will pursue another big man after getting a pure 3, a shooter and defensive stopper. Someone like an upgrade of Udoka. That's what I see as more likely.

kanaka said...

It seems that Outlaw will report to camp in better shape than he did last year, and both Travis and Martell will have matured over the summer. Why waste money on a max deal for Deng when you wanna have cap space to resign Oden, Roy, Aldridge, Fernandez, Bayless etc in a few years time. You get both Outlaw & Webster (combined) for less than Deng would be demanding.

Pritchard is definitely smarter than that.

If Deng wanted to play for the Blazers, let him ink a 3 year deal for $12 million. He's not worth more that than. Let me see... the last three big contracts that the Blazers handed out are, Randolph, Miles & Ratliff (extension), and we all know how those worked out.

Coach A said...

Do any of you slap-sticks even follow Deng?

His '07 season he played 82 games, averaged almost 19pts, over 7 boards, shot better than 50%fg and 78%ft.

Last season wasn't much less while factoring in less games and a few minor injuries.

I like Fry, Outlaw and Webster - but on a consistent basis, their best game is Deng's average.

Casey Holdahl said...

millertime: Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reporting the deals that others are working up.

tt: I don't know if I'd consider Deng overrated, but I do think that he's not worth more than the contract he already turned down.

oregondude: It's certainly within the realm of debatability, but I would argue that Deng is better than Outlaw. Maybe not last year due to Deng's injuries, over the long term, I think Luol is the better of the two, at least for now.

Having said that, Outlaw is a much, much better deal.

johnvm: I agree with everything you wrote. My thoughts exactly.

joel for pryz: You're right, that is a pipe dream. LeBron is going to have the choice of signing with any team he likes, and due to his desire to be a "global icon", I doubt he'd pick Portland.

felix: Agreed. Defense and shooting are what the Blazers need at the three. Deng is just o.k. at both of those things.

kanaka: I'd pay more than 3 years, $12 mill for Deng, but not what he's asking for now.

coach a: Deng is probably better than some are giving him credit for.

As far as Deng average being the best of Outlaw, Webster and Frye, you're almost correct. Webster's and Frye's numbers don't match up to Deng, but Outlaw's do.

07-08 Stats Adjusted per 36 minutes:

Deng: 18.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists. 48% from field, 36% from three.

Outlaw: 18.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 43% from field, 39% from three.

Those are about as close as you can get. Deng's '06-'07 numbers (considered by most his best season) are almost exactly the same as his numbers last year, with the exception of a higher field goal percentage (52%) and a much lower 3-point percentage (14%, though he did only shoot 7 all year).

Ron & Connie Rilee said...

Casey you are almost right on Travis and his stats. If you factor in the knuckleheaded conditioning issue (lesson learned) that he came to camp with his stats would be better than Deng's. Look what he did after the first couple of months once he got into NBA shape. That will not happen again.

Caleb said...

I'm just a Knicks fan slumming, but you guys are smoking crack if you think Outlaw can even wash Deng's laundry. Rebounding and scoring is about even, but Deng is way more efficient -- TS%was three points better even in his off-year; seven points better the year before. He gets 50% more assists than Outlaw, he's a better defender AND he's a year younger. Geez.

Now, you might be right that it's better to wait and give $12 million to someone else...

Anyway, we Knicks fans are all insanely jealous of you but not because of Travis Outlaw.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you and JohnVM. People want KP to build a "team," at the same time, they want him to trade and stack the roster as if he was Bob Whitsett.

Everyone needs to go bake a cake (from scratch) and see how much work actually goes into baking a cake right.