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Will Baron Opt Out?

Keeping the discussion on Baron, though switching to on-the-court matters, I just did a quick look of salary cap figures for next season. Based on that, I like the Ws chances of keeping BD, though I think it’s much more feasible than I previously thought.
Just on the surface, you would think there are no teams $15 to $18 million under the cap who can sign BD. The Warriors are the only team that can go over the cap to sign him, so – assuming the cap will be at about $57M next season – a team would have to get down to $39M to sign him to the same amount he makes now.
There are teams who can do it, but most of them don’t seem like teams BD would be interested in.
Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Philly and the L.A. Clippers will all have money under the cap if they decide to sign a free agent before re-signing their own free agents. Atlanta has to re-sign Josh Smith. Ditto for Charlotte with Okafor and Morrison, Chicago with Deng and Gordon, Philly with Iguodala, and the Clippers with Brand and Maggette.
Before they sign these players, if they sign them, each of these teams are in the 30s and have plenty room to sign BD. If they’re willing to flirt with or pay the luxury tax, they can then sign their own free agents.
If any of these teams wanted to go after Baron, they would certainly have an enticing offer.
Imagine Atlanta, in the East, with BD, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford. Of course, I seriously doubt if Baron would want to play in Atlanta.
What about Charlotte with J-Rich, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. The Bobcats would have to trade Felton, which wouldn’t be much of a problem. Baron was the man in Charlotte once upon a time. Still, that would be more like a step backward for him, I think.
Chicago would be interesting. Hinrich, making $10M, would be an expensive back-up. And I can already see Ben Wallace fumbling one of Baron’s dimes. But Ben Gordon would be much better next to a dominant PG, and Deng and Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas, gives BD some nice talent to work with. Plus it’s a major market, and he could have some influence on which coach they bring in. They could actually sign Baron, then trade for Pau Gasol. It’s feasible.
Philadelphia is way under, like $34 million, and they could get even lower by trading Andre Miller for next to nothing or an expiring contract. They could sign Baron, then re-sign Iguodala and Louis Williams and be set on the perimeter. Throw in Samuel Dalembert and youngster Thaddeus Young, and Philly’s back in the playoffs. Baron is the man in a major market and included in the East Coast Bias, too, instead of fighting against it.
The scariest one for Warriors fans would be the Clippers. Both Maggette and Brand are expected to opt out. Even if Brand doesn’t opt out, the Clippers could still get low enough under the cap by trading Tim Thomas ($6M) or Cuttino Mobley ($9M) and getting little in return. Baron would finally be back home in LA and the Clippers would have the PG they desperately need. Imagine BD, Brand, Maggette and Kaman. Plus they’ll have a lottery pick this season.
There are some others who are a few moves away. Miami needs to find away to shake the contracts of Mark Blount and Udonis Haslem, which would be difficult to do.
If Sacramento traded away Mike Bibby and Ron Artest opts out, it would be way under the cap. They could sign BD, then re-sign Artest and would be a formidable team when you consider Kevin Martin and John Salmons. Boom Dizzle in Sac, though? I’m not buying it.
In the end, my guess is Baron will not opt out, walking away from the $17.8M he’s due next season. Instead, the Warriors will add on a few years to the end of his contract, maybe three years for $15 per. He would be set for four years and $63 million, and in a place he likes. That’s hard to top.
If I were Mullin, and Baron has already expressed he would stay with the Warriors, I would get him to opt out and free up cap space. That way, the Warriors can make a run at another big-time player — one of those restricted free agents (Iguodala, Okafor, Deng) or, even better, Brand, if he indeed opts out — and then re-sign Baron. Instead of tacking on three years at $15 per, I’d give him a four-year deal at $16 million per, which is $64 million total. Not only would he have the help he needs, especially if they could get someone like Brand, but he would come out with a little extra money.

Marcus Thompson

  • JustPuked

    Marcus- I’m not sure the cap works like that. This is from Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap Faq:

    29. Can a team sign all the free agents it wants (up to the cap limit) and THEN re-sign its own free agents using the Bird exception?

    Yes, but there’s a restriction. A team’s free agents continue to count as team salary (against the salary cap). This charge is called the “free agent amount.” So there may not be enough money under the cap to sign another team’s free agent, because the team’s own free agents are taking up all their cap room.

    31. Why do free agents continue to count against a team’s cap?

    It closes another loophole. Teams otherwise would be able to sign other teams’ free agents using their cap room, and then turn their attention to their own free agents using the Bird exceptions. This rule restricts their ability to do that. It doesn’t close this loophole completely — for example, in 2005 Michael Redd’s free agent amount was $6 million, even though the Bucks intended to re-sign him for the maximum salary. By waiting to sign Redd last, the Bucks were able to take advantage of the difference by signing Bobby Simmons. Had they signed Redd first, they would have had no cap room to sign Simmons.

  • Rick

    Marcus,

    While I agree with much of what you’ve written, it appears to me you’ve forgotten about the “cap holds” that remains on the cap with each team’s own free agent (Brand, Maggette, even Baron). If Baron opts out his cap hold is 150% of his previous salary in order to retain his Bird Rights and allow The W’s to go over the cap to sign him. Biedrins and Ellis will also have cap holds.

    Read about it at Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ at
    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#28. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure this applies.

  • Marcus

    JustPuked & Rick,

    Darn it! Thwarted by the CBA again! I forgot all about the cap holds!!!!! There goes that grand plan.
    I was thinking of the Michael Redd situation, because they waited until their roster was set before signing him. But his cap hold figure was much lower than Baron’s will be.

  • EJ

    so by opting out, baron would be making a bit less next year but would have a multi-year deal?

    i read somewhere on espn that nellie has been out to dinner with c-webb the past couple of nights and now there are rumors of a reunion.

  • frenemy

    I like to think of my self as a well-educated basketball fan who understands the game itself. However when it comes to salary caps, Bird-rights, etc. I am a complete idjit (thus I am always proposing theoretical trades that could never, ever happen based on the economics and NBA rules). Is Larry Coon’s the best resource on this? Any other simple pieces people could recommend?

  • Valr

    Marcus,

    I really believe Baron feels at home here in the Bay Area and I would be shocked if he opts out. He’s the Big Fish in this little pond and all the other little guppies around him have been handpicked to suit him. He can threaten to leave as a negotiating ploy, but as The Logo (JWest) himself told BD, he is in the best situation possible.
    The team made sure they have enough financial flexibility this summer to resign all the players they feel like keeping and BD is right on top of that list along with AB and ME.
    I think Baron will stay and I hope he stays healthy for a few more years while waiting for his supporting cast (BW, ME,AB, MB,AZ) to develop.

  • petaluman

    Marcus,

    A noble effort, thwarted once again by the villainous CBA! After doing battle with such a mighty foe, hopefully you have the energy to help me with a much smaller issue.

    I believe CJ signed his second 10 day contract last Friday, which means it should run out about Monday. He’s mostly been given minutes at the off guard spot, used more as Monta-lite than Baron’s stand-in. This makes some sense to get him into the offense without having to run it, while also getting a chance to D up an NBA PG.

    To stick here, though, I would think he’ll need to show he can manage the offense. We’ve got 2 games before his contract expires. Do you have any feeling for what his chances of staying are? Does it pretty much hinge on these games?

    If we let him go, what is the exact rule on these 10 day signings? Can we wait a few days and call him back up, or is it 2 call-ups per year?

  • JustPuked

    frenemy-

    I cannot recommend Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ enough. It is by far the best guide to understanding the salary cap. Even better, it’s written in layman’s terms not legalese.
    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm

    As for all those wacky theoretical trades that could never, ever happen based on the economics and NBA rules, I always run them through the Real GM trade checker.
    http://www.realgm.com/src_tradechecker/1/

    Of course, just because Troy Hudson for David Lee works in theory, I highly doubt even Isaiah would go for that trade. So far there’s no trade checker for common sense.

  • Andrew Rosenblum

    Blog question:

    Since we’re not getting Kevin Garnett, and Zach Randolph’s contract is too absurd to take on, I’m trying to be practical about who we could get to give us some muscle, rebounding, and experience.

    What about Kurt Thomas? If we offer the #1 pick for this year, Pietrus, O’Bryant, and Perovic, the money works. It could be a great add. What do you think Marcus?

  • Vince

    I do not know if Baron will opt out, but I am pretty sure that he is not going anywhere. The logic is, like Marcus have said, the Warriors are probably willing to offer him an extension of 3-4 years for $15 million per. If so, then another team needs to put out an attractive enough contract to lure him away, say, 6 years at $16-17M per, which is a $100M contract. I do not think any team in the NBA will commit $100M on a player who has only averaged 56 games per season in the last 5 years and with his level of commitment (re: Sundance festival incident).

    In reality, in the open market, I do not think Baron can get much more than something like $60M for 6 years like Nash did. And if Mullin is smart, he should leverage this position and save some money in order to get a few more pieces for this team. What is the point of commiting $70-80 million to Baron and don’t even have a sure-in playoff team?