With the trade deadline approaching fast, Kerr and the front office have been receiving a lot of calls recently.
It’s that time of the year again. With the trade deadline a mere month away, the rumor mill has officially begun to churn about which teams around the league are looking to make moves or trade away some of their personnel.
Fans, who are attempting their best Steve Kerr impersonation, have e-mailed me or posted comments on my blog stating what the Suns should do to improve their chances for a postseason run. And while I love the feedback and suggestions, there are several mistakes fans routinely make when they propose trades that I think should be addressed.
Let’s call it Trading 101… if you will.
First things first, players’ salaries have to be relatively close to each other in terms of pay if they are to be traded for each other. I mostly wrote this part for all of the fans who wrote in and declared that the Suns should’ve traded Shaquille O’Neal for the No. 1 pick last year.
This is an oversimplification of the rule, but for example, if you were trade a Suns player for a Clippers player, the Suns player couldn’t make more than 25 percent of the other player or 25 percent less than the other player. Or if the Suns player was being traded for two, three, or four players, it would still have to work out where the sum totals of the contracts would have to be within roughly 25 percent of each other. (If math wasn’t your strong point, don’t worry, there’s a handy little device called the ESPN Trade Machine that will let you know how legitimate or illegitimate your trade is financially.)
So, since Shaq is making a cool $21 mill this season and the No. 1 pick (Blake Griffin) is making $4.98 million, that doesn’t quite work out mathematically. However, if the Suns would have traded O’Neal for the No. 1 pick, Baron Davis and Marcus Camby, those numbers would have allowed for the trade to occur.
Now, having seen how a trade works financially, the next key is finding out if the trade would work from a basketball standpoint. Theoretically, if the Suns and Nuggets wanted to (and we have no reason to believe either team wants to), they could trade shooting guard Jason Richardson for Denver’s Chauncey Billups and the trade would work financially.
As unbelievable of a player that Billups is, the Suns are pretty well stocked up at the point guard position. It just doesn’t make basketball sense (before I get any e-mails, this is just an example people).
Finally, there’s the overall economic climate to consider and that’s where the salary cap comes into play. Since the salary cap went down this past offseason and a lot of players’ salaries went up as basketball revenue went down, teams are even more aware of exceeding the luxury tax.
In case you didn’t know, every time a team goes over the salary cap ($69.92 million), they get taxed dollar-for-dollar. That means, if a teams’ payroll amounted to $74.92 million, not only is the team paying an extra $5 million dollars out in salary, but just for the right to do so, it has to pay an additional $5 million to the league.
And as the trade deadline approaches, that should be a major consideration league-wide. So as I caught up with Kerr after practice, I inquired about the state of the team and what’s going on in his office these days.
“It’s busy because this is when teams really start to talk,” he said. “From October until December teams are trying to figure out who they are and where they’re going. By now, everybody knows who they are.”
So where does he think the Suns are?
“I think we are what our record says we are,” Kerr said. “We’re a potential playoff team. We got off to hot start, but we’ve been cold lately and I’m hoping we can develop some consistency and put together a nice stretch this month.”
Kerr noted that this is the point of the season where some teams might be giving up on their seasons and a player that was considered untouchable at the beginning of the season might be someone a team could acquire now. On the flipside, many teams believe that they’re just one piece away from winning it all.
Some teams are even showcasing certain players so other clubs may try to make a play for them.
“We haven’t done that but we’ve seen other teams do that,” Kerr said.
Kerr’s stance on trades has always been that he will make moves if he believes it will make the franchise better in the long run. He also recognizes that gaining a financial leverage is instrumental in making any sort of deal.
But for now, he’s hoping his team re-ignites to the form it displayed earlier this season.
“We need to be tougher mentally to withstand some adversity,” Kerr said. “We’ve had several guys go into shooting slumps at the same time so we need more consistency throughout the roster just in terms of guys being productive and battling through some their struggles.”