New NBA Model: Trade Your Assets for Cap Space, Then Waste Cap Space

Walker DanielsCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2009

Quick—tell me what the Memphis Grizzlies ended up with in return for trading Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers? What exactly did the Sacramento Kings receive for Ron Artest? Even further back, what did the Toronto Raptors get back for Vince Carter?

It has become a trend in the NBA to trade quality assets for cap space (aka nothing), and quite frankly, it's starting to disturb me.

It has affected the NBA betting landscape completely since the good teams are taking from the poor without sacrificing any of their corps.

But leaving the NBA betting aspect aside for a second, how can these trades possibly continue?

Marcus Camby, a former Defensive Player of the Year, was dealt for a second round pick. Tyson Chandler, a quality center who averages nearly a double-double nightly and is only 26-years-old, was dealt for the expiring contracts of Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox.

Now as the NBA trade deadline approaches, there are rumors of the Cleveland Cavaliers sending Wally Szczerbiak for Antawn Jamison. Or the Phoenix Suns potentially selling Amar'e Stoudemire for peanuts. Yikes.

What happened to the days where one team trades an All-Star for a young up-and-coming prospect AND cap space? Now cap space is the hot commodity.

How did that cap space work out for the Philadelphia 76ers, when they signed Elton Brand? Or for the Los Angeles Clippers, when they signed Baron Davis? Or for the Golden State Warriors, who signed Corey Maggette?

When the Minnesota Timberwolves traded away Kevin Garnett, at least they got Al Jefferson, cap space and other parts. The Grizzlies, Raptors, and Kings all traded superstar-caliber players and ended up with nothing.

The Grizzlies received Kwame Brown (who is no longer with the team), Javaris Crittenden (who is no longer with the team), and two first-round picks, which will be late first-rounders now that the Lakers are the premier team in the West. Enjoy.

The Nuggets and Hornets received cap space for their centers, but both teams were simply trimming salary, which means they won't be replacing either player with anyone of value.

The Raptors received Eric Williams, Erin Williams, and two first-round picks for Carter, which all amounted to virtually nothing.

The Kings received Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and a first-round pick for Artest, which for now looks like a bunch of nothing.

If I was an NBA general manager and I was rebuilding, here is what I would do: sign a bunch of losers to expensive, two-year contracts. Just absolute nobodies.

Then in the second year, when their contracts are about to expire, trade them off for assets.

Think about it: you don't even need to start with a superstar, but you'll have a couple of high draft picks so there is a good chance you will anyways.

Spend about $40 signing losers in staggered two-year contracts (so you have players who are signed for $5 million, $7 million, $10 million) so it's easier to get the contracts to match later.

Then in their contracts years, you could give up a second round pick to get Camby, give up trash and a first-round pick for Gasol, and another expiring contracts for Jamison. That's a pretty solid front court, now you just need to find a point guard and a shooting guard, and use the remaining cap space to fill out the bench.

Sounds crazy, but rebuilding this way might work a lot sooner than it does trying to hit the bullseye in the draft to find a LeBron or Wade.

Alright, so I'm being sarcastic, but I'm saddened to say that this could actually work. In the NBA—and in the NHL now—expiring contracts are a valuable commodity but it really drags the sport down when superstars get traded for nothing (aka cap space).