The teams projected to be over the $70,307,000 luxury tax threshold in 2010 include Boston ($77.8 million, assuming Sheed got nothing), Dallas ($84.5 million), Denver $83.8 million), Houston ($73.6 million after the Trevor Ariza/Courtney Lee trade), the L.A. Lakers ($91.9 million before Shannon Brown), Orlando ($92.6 million), Portland ($72.8 million) and Utah ($75.3 million). Some of those teams will never get under the tax threshold, and some of them won't try. But some will, and even those that don't make it will probably pawn off excess salary onto the teams with cap space they're otherwise struggling to use. Here are some such dumps that I'm officially predicting, apart from the ones that I'm not.
- In spite of it all, Utah are still over the tax. Trying to get under it has cost them Ronnie Brewer, Eric Maynor and Wesley Matthews, and yet they're still $5 million over it. To get under it this year, they could dump the above two, yet Miles is a good two-way player on a decidedly reasonable contract. They don't want to just have to dump him. Doing so would leave only Othyus Jeffers and Raja Bell at the two guard spot, which isn't really sufficient, and it'd mean losing a young contributor. Even if they get a first round pick for him, it'll smart. But if there's another way to get under the tax, I don't see it. As much as it might be preferable to trade Andrei Kirilenko somewhere - especially since he's bolting for New Jersey next offseason - it won't be easy. $17.8 million contracts are not easy to deal. This, then, puts Miles on the hot seat.
The only question is how much of a priority Utah puts on dodging the luxury tax. Based on last year, it's quite a lot.
That leaves Utah and Houston as pre-deadline projected tax payers. And as of today, both still are. Utah saved a little bit of 2010/11 tax when they made the Deron Williams deal, but they were still $4,907,732 over it in the aftermath, and never made another deal. Rumours of Raja Bell to Minnesota went nowhere - the Timberwolves presumably realising just in time that they don't need 34 year old veterans for the stretch run when they have only 13 wins - and players like C.J. Miles and Andrei Kirilenko were not moved to cut costs. Strangely, neither was Ronnie Price; his $1,321,250 salary was not enough to get the Jazz under the tax, but a simple trade him and cash to a team with cap space, as predicted way back when, would have saved them that much again in luxury tax. Alas, it did not happen. And I'm not sure why.
Kevin Anderson - Anderson compares to Ronnie Price. Ronnie Price has had a multi-year NBA career, in spite of his fringe talent, so such a comparison is meant favourably. Yet a key condition to the comparison is to note that Ronnie is slightly better at everything. Both are point guard sized without being point guards, although both have improved in this regard, particularly Ronnie. Both are athletic, but only Ronnie can do this:
Both put forth good defensive effort and have decent hands, but Ronnie is bigger and faster. Both are making the adjustment to the point guard spot from being undersized scorers, but Ronnie has made it better. Both put forth good defensive effort and have good hands, but Ronnie is more disruptive. Both are sub-par jumpshooters, but Ronnie has slightly more consistent range (which, considering his 31% career NBA three point shooting, is no great endorsement). And both are small, but Ronnie is slightly bigger. Anderson had a good senior campaign, aided (and aiding) a good season for the entire Spiders program. He has skills, effort and hustle. Yet he still comes up a little short.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.