Thoughts on The Hinrich Trade and Salary Cap Implications | Wizards Blog Truth About

Thoughts on The Hinrich Trade and Salary Cap Implications

Updated: July 8, 2010

Soon it will be official. The Wizards will have used up a decent chunk of their cap space by acquiring Yi Jianlian, 17th pick Kevin Seraphin, Kirk Hinrich and $6 million cash in exchange for Quinton Ross and a future second round pick.

If you’re looking at talent alone, Ernie Grunfeld got one over. But that’s not enough for some people. Those future-thinking couch GMs are concerned about the Summer of 2011, as Hinrich is owed $9 million in 2010-11 and $8 million in 2011-12.

Others feel the Wizards did okay, but failed because they didn’t do ‘enough’ — Daequan Cook had a 39.9% effective field-goal percentage last season for crying out loud, but he would’ve been damn special on the Wizards, right? … at a much cheaper price, I get it. I’m sure Mo Peterson would have been splendid as well.

And some are frustrated that cap space has been spent on basketball ne’er do wells instead of trying to get Boozer or Amar’e or Bosh or Johnson or any other unrealistic free-agent. None of those big names are worth paying before the foundation gets stronger (and the Wizards aren’t desperate or lacking players like the Knicks).

You can’t have it all ways. Grunfeld went after low-risk, high-reward talent that still allows for flexibility and perhaps some competitiveness. It’s actually not a terrible plan.

The Hinrich trade happened expeditiously because another draft pick became ‘my precious’ (or a brick in the foundation) for Ted Leonsis, and the 17th was there for the right price. The move kept the Wizards from twice picking out of the Green Room (with red carpet), but with an option out of the stands. I imagine if Patrick Patterson or Luke Babbitt or even Larry Sanders, who wasn’t invited to the Green Room but shot up to the Bucks at pick 15, slipped to 17, Grunfeld & Co. would’ve chomped at the bit and looked like geniuses. Instead, they were left with the only plausible player who was in attendance, a spry French Guianese big man with NBA dreams, unknown talents and a seat in the crowd.

The angle being pushed by the organization is that Hinrich is a stand up veteran mentor who’s not scared of perimeter defense … just check his stats. Wizards fans have been bitching about bad defense for a long time, well here you go. Wall’s 6’9″ wingspan and Hinrich’s moxie will be a defensive combo unseen in Washington for years. Hopefully this will also serve as another wake-up call for Gilbert Arenas, specifically, his defense.  I doubt he wants to become the $111 million 6th man.

Plus, many loved the practicing hardwood fundamentalism of Mike Miller’s game. Now that he’s a goner, there’s another mid-Western white boy to fill his place.

That’s all great, but the Wizards are screwing their cap space while teams like Oklahoma protect theirs. Also, Sam Presti feasts on the blood of GMs like Grunfeld.

Maybe. But not totally likely. You’re being dramatic. And there are always options.

Hinrich could be a piece in a sign-and-trade option in the Summer of 2011 or even part of an in-season, cap clearing/draft pick acquiring move. Just because he is signed for two more years doesn’t mean he’ll be a Wizard for two more years. And honestly, it’s hard to ever be sure if the cards of intra-general manager negotiations are stacked evenly amongst the various players. Maybe some trades were there for Presti which weren’t there for Grunfeld, that’s all I’m saying.

The chart below shows an estimate of total team salary for the nine players set to be on the Wizards’ roster next season, before the Bulls trade and after (which would make 11 players) [*Note: The salary estimate for Hamady Ndiaye is the minimum for a player with zero years experience, according to NBA Salary Cap FAQ. He might get slightly more being a second round pick. **Also note: These numbers come from Sham Sports and I am not a cap-ologist, consider these relatively rough estimates which do not account for the qualifying offers for Cartier Martin and Cedric Jackson, as shown on Sham Sports.].

The total pre-Hinrich trade is around $37.7 million, $5.8 million short of minimum amount the Wizards must have in total salaries for 2010-11 (75% of the $58.044 million cap). The Wizards were around $9.9 million below the minimum before the Yi Jianlian trade.

Sure, getting to the minimum might have been easy regardless. The addition of $10.3 million from Hinrich and Seraphin puts the Wizards around $4.5 million over the minimum and just about $10 million under the cap (but likely closer to $9 million). Now the Wizards can fill the rest of the roster with rookie or veteran free-agents on minimum salary for a year or two, rather than having to pay a more expensive free-agent a longer-term contract just to meet the minimum team salary (and without having the 17th pick, Seraphin). That is, unless they re-sign Josh Howard or make an offer to Josh Childress or another wing player.

The problem you run into with Hinrich that has most people shaking their head is that the Wizards would be only around $4.3 million under the cap heading into the 2011-12 season [using the 2010-11 cap estimate — I imagine that if the cap surprisingly went up this season, it could do the same next season]. But if the Wizards decide not to extend qualifying offers to Al Thornton, Yi Jianlian and Nick Young (as they’ve done with Randy Foye, as reported by the WaPost’s Michael Lee), they free up $13 million in total options, putting the team salary around the $40 million mark. That money would be spread across eight contracted players (Wall, Arenas, Hinrich, Booker, Seraphin, N’diaye, Blatche & McGee) heading into 2011-12 (depending on any yet-to-be signed players for 2010-11 of course). This could still leave some finagle room to sign a max free agent like Carmelo Anthony … depending on a ton of factors (such as Carmelo signing an extension with Denver or an extension for Andray Blatche).

Are the Wizards as cap flexible as they could be? Nope. But Grunfeld had to go out and get players, preferably ones who would make the team better, not the Daequan Cooks of the world.

Hinrich is not an albatross on the roster either. The only blemish on the cap is Gilbert Arenas, clearly. His contract is especially painful viewing in this context when you see that he’s the only player the Wizards currently have money committed to for the 2013-14 season, at the rate of $22 million plus (qualifying offers to this year’s draft class notwithstanding).

What’s a general manager/team president of basketball operations to do?

{Gilbert’s locker is over there, you want to be on the other side.}

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.