It could be a comedy routine.
Imagine an auction going backward.
|It's safe to say that most of the smiles were in L.A., not Denver, after the Marcus Camby deal. (Getty Images)|
"What about $9 million?"
"How about $8 million?"
You get the point. The Los Angeles Clippers won this auction.
"We bid nothing,"
That's how it went down last summer when the Nuggets sought to trade center Marcus Camby.
New Jersey was interested and, for Camby's $10 million salary-cap number, could have thrown in a non-guaranteed $3.3 million Keith Van Horn contract in addition to a package that could have included prospects such as center Josh Boone, guard Marcus Williams or center Nenad Krstic, who would have had to agree to a sign-and-trade.
Alas, Camby's agent, Rick Kaplan, said the Nets didn't "have enough of nothing to give" for the three-time defending NBA blocked-shots leader and 2006-07 Defensive Player of the Year, who instead will replace the departed Elton Brand on the Clippers' front line.
The Nuggets, who were way over the luxury tax and looking to shed salary, didn't want anything for Camby, at least not players with guaranteed salaries. Sure, they would have loved to have gotten a future first-round pick, but the best they could do to dump Camby was to ship him to the Clippers for the right to swap second-round picks in 2010.
The Camby deal topped the list of what some considered head-scratching offseason trades.
|Cavaliers newcomer Mo Williams (right) is somebody LeBron James can lean on. (AP)|
In case you're wondering, the combined scoring averages of Ridnour, Griffin and Jones last season were 14.7, well shy of the 17.2 Williams averaged by himself.
But, guess what, those trades also had much to do with money.
By ridding themselves of Jefferson, who has three years and $42.4 million left on his deal, the Nets cleared salary-cap room for the summer of 2010, when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are expected to headline a star-studded free-agent class. Why does one think Jay-Z, the Nets' part-owner and James' buddy, might have been well briefed on this trade?
But once the Bucks got Jefferson and once they signed Andrew Bogut to a five-year, $60 million extension that begins in 2009-10, they were staring at being in the luxury tax next fall. So they dealt Williams, who has four years and $35 million left on his deal, and Mason, entering the last year of his contract, for Jones and Griffin, also both entering the final year of deals, and Ridnour, who has two years left. (The deal included the Thunder getting forward Joe Smith from Cleveland).
Bucks general manager John Hammond said the "trade wasn't a salary dump" of Williams, but he did acknowledge Milwaukee "gained some reasonable flexibility" for the future.
|Richard Jefferson (right) joins Andrew Bogut in the Milwaukee frontcourt. (AP)|
And there could be advantages to the Nets' dealing of Jefferson other than to clear money. While it's tough to make a case for the acquisition of Simmons, who will make a staggering $10.6 million this season after averaging 7.6 points and shooting 42 percent, Yi certainly could develop into a first-class pro.
As for Denver's dealing of Camby, Kaplan said the Nuggets told him it was a "salary dump." The Nuggets did get a $10 million trade exception that's available until next July -- but if that's not used, Camby indeed will have been dealt for next to nothing.
"We didn't get any players, right?" guard Allen Iverson asked, incredulously, on the eve of training camp, just wanting to make sure at least some late second-round pick acquired for Camby wasn't going to stroll into camp.
Nope. The auction is over, and the Clippers won with a bid of zero.
Chris Tomasson covers the NBA for the Rocky Mountain News.