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.}

Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
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.

  • 33dgriffin

    There are some real flaws to this post. First, I’m one of the people who thinks this Hinrich trade is a bad deal. You sort gloss over a few details why people think it’s such a bad deal. First, they used to 17th pick to draft a project who most likely would have been there at 23 or 30. He took on $17 million in salary for someone who is going to be a back-up point guard when there were some many other options open to the Wizards at point guard this summer (S. Livingston, etc…). Lastly, the trade effectively end R. Foye career here and the throwing away of the 5 pick in last’s year lottery. Lastly, he is too old and doesn’t really fit in with what the Wizard said they wanted to do “build with young player through the draft.”

  • Flaws or disagreements?

    1) There were rumors that some teams were trying to trade up in the draft to get Seraphin … including a rumor of Cleveland trying to trade into the top 20 of the draft to make the selection. If Seraphin was really “the” guy of Grunfeld & Co. then you can’t blame them too much for going after what they wanted — but I hear ya, deep draft and all that.

    2) I think Randy Foye ended his career in D.C. via crappy play, not necessarily because of a move the Wizards made. And as far as throwing away the 5th pick … yea, that hurts … again, I hear ya. But what can you do other than dealing with what appears to be ‘excellent’ hindsight on your part?

    3) I’m not sure if 29-years on this earth and seven years in the NBA qualifies someone as “too old” — I don’t think so — But regardless, you can’t field a team full of tweens and roll the ball out there and tell them to develop.

    Sure, the coaching staff is there to help and develop, but you also need to surround some of the youth with veteran players … to lead by, you know, playing examples, since the coaches can’t do that.

    I’m sorry that Hinrich’s salary is $17 million … because you’re right, that’s a lot to pay for a contributor and a leader … but the point is, this is not as big of a set back for the future, if at all, that some, including yourself, are claiming it to be.

    Things are going to be alright.

    (Also, many feel that Livingston was going to be gone regardless … he wants more playing time than the leftovers of Arenas & Wall would provide and he wants to win.)

  • Meraj

    So I was watching old games the other day and something really intrigued me: late 90s Suns team. They had Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd and Rex Chapman as a 3 guard offense. They were both competitive and exciting to watch. If we can resign Livingston, we could effectively run a 3 guard offense. However, I know the flaws to this idea: i.e. this analogy> Jamison:Interior Defense::Gil:Perimeter Defense….But I digress…

    Speaking of which, who do you see as our starting 3 next year? I was hoping for outlaw…but that is a mute point now.

  • szr

    You’re far too kind of Grunfeld. He’s assembled a team almost entirely of below-average performers at their positions. Saying things like “upside” and “intangibles” and “developing” are easy, but history has proven again and again that usually those are just rationalizations for hanging on to bad players.

    Think of it this way: Al Thorton was one of the worst players in the league last year. He shoots inefficiently. He rebounds less than the average power forward. He turns the call over more than the average PF, and he fouls more than the average PF. And he’s likely to be a starter.

    Or consider that Nick Young was also one of the worst players in the league. This was driven more by the fact that he shoots at a very low percentage, and yet takes a lot of shots.

    Foye is far below average. I mean, the list goes on and on.

    In fact, the ONLY two players on the roster right now who produced above average for their positions were Hinrich and Arenas. Even assuming Wall has a massive rookie season (something I’m very skeptical about since he didn’t actually have a very good college career – he was a turnover machine), we’re still talking about a trio of above average players with a crap roster after that.

    Using WP48, this team is projected to win 12 games next season.

    I guess the “upside” and “intangibles” are that ticket prices will be cheap.

  • Nice post, Kyle. Not sure why more folks can’t see this. It makes perfect sense.

  • Tom Mandel

    szr — some of your facts are correct, but you don’t really draw the right conclusions from them.

    Yes, Thornton and Young are bad players. We have the former, because of our need to unmake our roster last February. We have the latter because we had the 16th pick in the ’07 draft — how often do players taken at that position turn out well? Not very often. It’s easy to say “well I would have taken Carl Landry” but you wouldn’t have.

    As to Wall, you can’t use wp48 to evaluate an individual player aged 19-20. That’s not how one uses a statistical fact. Wall was chosen for his “upside” — a very risky thing to do, obviously. But there were risks associated w/ the obvious pick (Cousins) as well. And if you really think Evan Turner was the right pick, well… did you watch any Orlando Summer League?

    If you want to critique Grunfield — and I agree with the need for that — you have to do it based on the team he actually assembled, not the one he was able to get via February’s disassembly.

    As to the trade for Foye (“far below average”), it was actually for Miller — one of the best wing players in the league (and so rated using WP48).

    The real questions are different: should we have picked Kevin Seraphin at #17? Whom would you have picked? Should we have traded 30 and 35 for 23 and 56? Should we have taken Booker at 23 (instead of James), or whom should we have taken at 30 and 35, had we not made the trade, that would likely be more productive?

    Anybody can see that we have an extremely bad team right now. Not much insight in your comment, alas.

  • Tom Mandel

    Sorry, one more note. Somehow Sam Presti manages to pick everyone’s pocket repeatedly. Measured against his moves, Grunfield’s moves look fairly clumsy.

    But pretty much every other NBA GM also looks that way compared to Presti! I’d rather Presti were our GM than Grunfield, but I don’t think he can be used as the principle by which we condemn Ernie.

  • Justin

    Young is a backup, Thorton will be as well, and Henrich is going to make a fantastic three guard rotation. Wall will turn the ball over, he is 21, but will pair with Arenas to make the cornerstone of something that could legitmately challenge Miami’s trio should Blantche keep progressing toward being a premiere big man. I think Seraphin is a waste of space, hope I’m wrong, and I would have used that pick in one of trades to get better return. I love Yi coming off the bench, or maybe realizing his potential, I said it. I would start Yi-C Blatche-PF McGee-SF Arenas-SG Wall-PG and see what happens, certainly could go very bad, but could also be sick.

    Question, why is the $6M sent from CHI not factored into the above figures, or is it? We still have a good chunk of change to make this team get more polished. The reality is, you are either the Celtics/Lakers/Suns or you are a team of huge upside, to be in the middle would make me MUCH more disappointed than this team.

  • Justin

    The weakness portion of this article is exactly what I am talking about:

    How is 6’9″ going to play center!? Shaq is 7′ 300, anyhow, I think he will be a good force in the paint. His free throws and lack of great IQ is worrisome, but he seems to be powerful and capable of using both hands.