Robin Lopez trade scenarios that fit CBA rules

Editor’s Note: I have since learned that I misunderstood a CBA rule. Please consult this post for the end result of this trade’s hold up.

By now you know that the Suns’ three-way trade involving Robin Lopez has been delayed because the iteration widely reported did not fit CBA rules.

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported Thursday evening that the odds of the teams finding common ground “improved Thursday, but its completion remained tenuous with resolution expected Friday.” Coro also believes Lopez would sign his $4 mil qualifying offer if this deal falls apart, which would not be a terrible situation in its own right.

For those who read last night’s trade story early in the day, I would recommend taking a second look since I added some potential trade scenarios with analysis at the bottom of the post. For those who prefer the simplified version I will present below a few scenarios that I believe would push the trade through below.

As always, please let me know if you have any other ideas or spot an error in any of these scenarios. I’m still working on my graduate degree in capology. Some of these ideas have come in conjunction with a long email string with Hornets247’s Jason Calmes.

  • A four-way deal cooked up by Calmes in which a fourth team trades a player making between $2,600,000-$2,856,708 and takes back Warrick. As Calmes put it, “The former is the smallest amount that can be sent by a team using the TPE and still take in Warrick. The larger is the amount that a team can send to the Hornets and still give Lopez the amount in the `first trade’ if it was legal, $4,899,293, in the first year. This avoids the aggregation scenario.” By doing this kind of trade, the Hornets would only be sending out Miller and thus would not need to aggregate salary. The only team/player we found that could potentially make sense is Reggie Williams from the Bobcats ($2,612,500). The deal would look something like this: Suns get Miller, Johnson, first; Hornets get Robin, Williams; Minny gets a second; and Charlotte gets Warrick and how ever many seconds and cash it takes for them to facilitate. The problem to me is why would Charlotte (or anybody else) be willing to take on Warrick for seconds or without dumping a long-term deal.
  • NO trades Xavier Henry to a fourth team with cap space or a trade exception for a second-rounder. Lopez and Brad Miller are traded for each other in a separate trade, and then there’s a four-way deal in which the Suns get Johnson and the pick, New Orleans gets Warrick and a second, Minny gets Jerome Dyson and two second-rounders and the fourth team gets Henry. This could also be a three-way deal in which the Suns get Henry and his $2.3 mil salary with a 2013-14 team option for a second on top of the rest of the particulars.
  • If Lopez signs his qualifying offer first, the Suns and Wolves could execute their portion of the trade in which Phoenix would get Johnson and a first for a second. This would largely wipe out the rest of the Suns’ 2012 cap room, but they would have a nice backup center on an affordable expiring contract that they could potentially get an asset for once he’s eligible to be traded on Dec. 15 and Channing Frye returns from his injury.
  • Same original deal except Minnesota gets Al-Farouq Aminu instead of Dyson. It’s completed as two transactions (with Lopez being swapped for Miller separately) to satisfy cap rules. This one is extremely unlikely since it only saves the Wolves $1.3 million rather than $3.5 million. They might be willing to deal a first for the latter total but not the former.
  • The Suns could send out Telfair instead of Warrick in the original trade. This would work because the Hornets would no longer need to send out Dyson, so they would not be aggregating a salary with that of Miller. Then again, not sure why the Suns would be willing to swap Warrick’s $4 mil salary for Telfair’s puny one to make this work.
  • The Suns could waive P.J. Tucker and do the original trade without Warrick or Dyson, so no aggregation. Again, this would eat up the rest of the 2012 cap space (giving the Suns no room to pick up more assets during the season as a facilitator for teams desperately needing to shed money), so this wouldn’t really make much sense for them.
  • The three teams could also always just wait until Sept. 13 when Brad Miller will have been with New Orleans for two months and thus could be aggregated in a trade with other players coming from New Orleans. However, I don’t think anybody wants to wait that long, particularly with free agents like Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko in play that could always change their minds and muck everything up if they are given a better offer in the meantime. If the non-guaranteed part of Miller’s contract becomes fully guaranteed before then (only $848K is guaranteed), then obviously this idea is moot as well. This could also prevent the teams from making other moves, yet if all the Suns want after this is a minimum center they wouldn’t be affected.

That’s all I have for now, and as you see as you get further down the list the trades seem to make less and less sense for the Phoenix Suns.

The key issue is that New Orleans can’t take back more than $7,756,000 in a non-aggregated deal involving only Miller ($5.104 mil x 150 percent + $100K). Unfortunately they can’t take back both Lopez and Warrick for that amount (unless Robin really cuts his demands, which isn’t likely).

Furthermore, they could do a Lopez/Miller swap and then find a way for New Orleans to send out enough money to be able to take back Warrick. Or they could find a team willing to trade New Orleans a player of requisite salary in return for Warrick, seconds and cash.

That’s why Calmes has been looking for that sweet spot between $2.6 mil (the minimum needed for a team to take back Warrick, assuming nobody could be enticed enough to take him into cap space) and $2.86 mil (the most New Orleans can take back while still giving Lopez his agreed-upon salary and trading out just Miller). By Friday night we may very well know if that sweet spot is attainable.

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