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Grading The Deal: Warriors Unload Expirings For Cap Space

While the trade between the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz has already lead to some major ripples, it can also be evaluated as a deal on its own merits.

The Warriors dealt Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush and first round picks in 2014 and 2017 to the Jazz for Kevin Murphy

The deal does two major things for the Jazz: take them out of the 2013 free agent pool (including Paul Millsap who they renounced) and provide assets in the form of Golden State’s 2014 and 2017 first round picks.

In terms of the cap space, one big question is whether the Jazz could have procured the No. 13 pick in this draft from Dallas in exchange for taking on Shawn Marion’s contract because even the package of two firsts and some seconds may not add up to that haul considering the difference in expenditure between the two deals. If that one was less solid than we were led to believe, the trade here makes more sense. Neither Jefferson nor Biedrins will be on the Jazz for the 14-15 season and thus makes their contracts truly expiring deals. Utah could retain Brandon Rush if things work out nicely for both parties though they would only have early Bird rights on him and Rush could head wherever he likes as an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2014.

The bigger challenge for Utah comes from the fact that now it will be much harder to evaluate Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, both of whom stand to be Restricted Free Agents next summer unless they get extended before Halloween 2013. Without most of the flexibility to make the team substantially better for the coming season, much of the heavy lifting will come from seeing how Favors, Hayward and Enes Kanter can develop along with new additions like Trey Burke. The team may not have a clear idea of how those guys fit in on a strong team since it will be a few pieces away from happening. On top of that, Utah will have to handle larger cap holds for Favors and Hayward that they cannot shed as long as they intend on keeping both since they likely will sign bigger deals than those holds.

Getting two first round picks and some seconds along with making this season a firmer rebuild can be seen as a necessary evil for Utah outside of the uncertainty with the RFA’s. Teams in less desirable free agent markets need to use their space to accrue assets and draft picks build on that.

Utah grade: B- 

For the Warriors, the question is whether they can use the cap space generated by this trade ($12 million or so) this summer in a way that proves more effective than the picks and Brandon Rush. By securing the commitment of Andre Iguodala, they immediately did so.

The costs of this deal do generate some frustration because the reason they acquired Jefferson in the first place was to get the last pick in the first round in 2012 (now Festus Ezeli) and could have used the amnesty provision on Andris Biedrins had they not squandered it on Charlie Bell in 2011. The necessity of giving up multiple future assets and a nice rotation player in Rush shows the importance of consistently excellent management, but fortunately the Warriors were able to get out of that hole without substantial cost.

One interesting possibility for the Warriors would be to use the salary cap to their advantage rather than using this move to go under it. A trade like this one generates a big trade exception, which can be used to acquire other players even if a team is over the salary cap. Since a team cannot use trade exceptions over cap space, they must decide whether or not to renounce them in order to sign a player.

In this case, if Denver eventually is willing (and they should be), the Warriors could use a portion of the massive trade exception generated in this deal to acquire Andre Iguodala via a sign-and-trade. That transaction would take the apron ($4 million over the luxury tax line) and make it a hard cap for the season but it appears unlikely the Warriors would hit it anyway. Doing the transaction in that way would actually allow Golden State to retain their minimum salary players and potentially even bring back Jarrett Jack with Bird Rights if they have not yet officially renounced him.

Additionally, the team should be able to purchase late first and early second round picks in the future as they did this season. The 2014 Draft may be strong enough to limit these opportunities but some can always be had. Since the team can reasonably hope to be good next season, they might not be losing out on that much.

Grade for Warriors: A

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