Monday, May 11, 2009

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Vol. 3

Welcome back, offseason sports fans. Last time we met, we discussed the market value of the Jazz' player optionees. Pasty agreed with me that Korver is overpaid and is actually worth about $3 million, Booner felt that my assessment of Boozer's value ($12 million) was still high, and no one said anything about my valuation of Okur ($11 million).

Today's discussion will be who has money to overpay these guys. And the list is not long. The teams listed in orange below are the only teams with cap space over the midlevel exception (about $5.5 mil). Any team can sign free agents up to the midlevel extension, but only those with cap room can go above that number. The cap numbers listed below assume that the team will rescind its rights to its own free agents, which is unlikely in a lot of cases (like Atlanta).

Basically, you have three teams that could lure away Memo or Boozer: Detroit, Memphis, and Oklahoma City. There are a couple of teams that could make a run at Korver, but I don't think he'd get more than the midlevel exception anyway.

Detroit: The Pistons are the team that everyone thinks will try to lure away Boozer. They've got cash ($17 million under the cap), they have been linked with Boozer before, and they are losing three power forwards to free agency (Rasheed, Maxiell, McDyess). Four if you count the Walter Herrmann, and you know I do.

But, there are some things working against Detroit signing Booze. First, they are located in Detroit. I'm not sure how willing their owners will be to sign a guy that shoots balls into a hoop to a long term deal in the $50 million range when the city is boasting 22% unemployment. Second, when you are one of the only teams with real money to spend, you can play the field. Instead of Boozer, they could go after a true free agent like Marion, Lamar Odom, or Ron Artest (oh, sweet irony) and offer a rock bottom price, hoping that the desperate free agent bites. Or, they could make a run at a retricted guy and hope his cash-strapped club blinks. That list of possibilities includes David Lee, Glen Davis, and our very own Paul Millsap.

Memphis: The Grizzlies have tons of coin to spend ($19 million), but the question with them is always, "will they spend it?" Remember this is the team that traded Pau Gasol for his brother. They aren't about winning, they are about staying afloat. That alone disqualifies them in my mind as a serious suitor for Boozer or Okur. I may well be proven wrong, but I see the Griz treading water for a few more years until they become the Seattle Grizzlies. I don't see Memphis opening up the checkbook for anyone, let alone Boozer.

Oklahoma City: This team is an enigma. They are loaded with young talent in Westbrook, Durant, and Green. They have a high draft pick this year. They have a pretty loyal fan base that spends money. They have a good cap situation -their worst contract is two more years of Nick Collison at $6.5 million. And (chun-chun-chun) I think Okur is a perfect fit for them. They need a shooter to take heat off Westbrook and Durant, they are dying for a real center, and Oklahoma City is renowned for its shawarma.

But, is a team led by two future all-stars who still cannot legally drink willing to risk a long-term deal with a 30-year old center, even one who is relatively injury-free for his career? And is Memo, a guy who reportedly loves Salt Lake willing to move to Oklahoma City?

Prediction: I don't think any of these teams go after Boozer or Okur. It's just too much money to spend for teams that are going with youth. Boozer to Detroit is the one deal that seems to make some sense, but I still think they'd prefer a younger, cheaper, more durable version of Carlos.


Draft Guru said...

Good analysis. I tend to agree with what you're saying. Detroit, Memphis, & OKC will have options to spend. Memphis & OKC may not spend at all. Perhaps they don't look our way for players. Though, to get Millsap, they'll have to over-spend in order to pry him away. Maybe the Jazz take on luxury-tax for one season before they let everyone go next year. Doubtful. For some reason, I feel like Boozer will be the casualty because we need to strip salary (even with Boozer & Okur on board we're in luxury tax land, without mentioning Millsap). I suppose what you're saying is no team will be desirous to give Boozer the money he feels he's worth. In that case, he doesn't opt out. Though, the Jazz could STILL trade him and his expiring contract (expiring contracts are valuable) to one of those teams. I agree with you on Memo. We might need to extend his contract. We shall see...

Pasty Gangsta said...

In some sense the Boozer v. Millsap to Detroit scenario is a red herring though, no? Boozer has to opt in/out before anyone comes after Millsap. If he opts out, great, we don't re-sign him and we keep Paul. If he opts in we basically can't keep Paul under any scenario.

Or am I missing something?

Orlando said...

Pasty, I think you're right. If Boozer opts out and signs with Detroit we keep Millsap, if he doesn't we lose Millsap (unless, like Guru suggests we swallow the lux tax for a year).

Guru, although expiring deals are valuable, we still have to take back around the same amount of salary in any trade (unless we trade with one of the teams under the cap). I think you're right that we might deal Boozer if he sticks around, but it likely wouldn't help our cap situation.

An interesting aspect of all this is that the Jazz can control their destiny somewhat. If they tell Boozer "You are not the future here, I think he might think about leaving." On the other hand, they could sign him to a long term deal that pays less per year (like 5 years at $10 mil/per) in which case we get a little cap relief next year and can at least think about keeping Millsap.

Draft Guru said...

Boozer is definitely the 1st domino that will either fall or stay... everything will proceed from him. The point I made was that Boozer could still be traded to a team with cap space, despite not opting out and not receiving a long-term contract. Perhaps the teams with extra cap space may not want to offer Boozer a long-term contract(forcing Booz to not opt-out), but still accept him in a trade... guaranteeing that whichever team gets him will have cap space for 2010. Booz would then be a stop-gap player until free agency next season. I'm just saying that we're not necessarily stuck with Boozer if we don't want to be. Certainly, everything depends on the wishes/desires of Detroit, Memphis & OKC. I'd think any one of those teams though wouldn't mind having Boozer on the roster for just one season.

Orlando said...

You're right as usual, Guru. Detroit may decide to pick him up mid-year and have a look-see before committing long term. Of course, by that time Millsap may be long gone.