Hold up in Pistons-Nets-Nuggets trade involving Carmelo Anthony might be for filling New Jersey’s roster, not matching salaries under cap rules

Al Iannazzone of The Record has the latest on a Pistons-Nets-Nuggets trade involving Carmelo Anthony:

The Nets would send Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, Stephen Graham, Ben Uzoh and at least two first-round picks to Denver and Troy Murphy, Johan Petro and Quinton Ross to Detroit. The Nets also would receive big man Sheldon Williams from Denver and guard Terrico White from Detroit. Additional players would change teams to make the salaries match.

Great reporting from Iannazzone, but he’s missing one detail: the salaries match. The exact trade he outlines works under the NBA’s salary-cap rules. The issue I see is the number of players.

  • The Nets trade eight players and acquire five, dropping their roster to 11.
  • The Pistons trade two players and acquire three, increasing their roster to 16 – one above the limit.
  • The Nuggets trade three players and acquire five, also increasing their roster to 16.

So, the Nuggets will probably trade some combination of their lower-priced reserves – Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter and Melvin Ely – to the Nets, so New Jersey can fill out its roster.

If the Pistons take Petro, they probably wouldn’t want to pay Chris Wilcox, who has a $3 million expiring contract, for the rest of the season. He could go to either team, but I think the Nuggets make more sense. Detroit could always cut DaJuan Summers, but maybe the Nets would want him to fill their roster.

For the the Nets to acquire additional players not on minimum contracts – Summers, Carter and Ely have minimum deals; Balkman doesn’t – New Jersey would have to shed more salary. The Nets could add Kris Humphries or Jordan Farmar to the deal or trade Sasha Vujacic in a technically separate deal (because he was recently traded, New Jersey can’t package him with other players).

Obviously having the incoming and outgoing salaries for each team match – within 125% plus $100,000 – is delicate and could be disrupted by adding any players not on minimum contracts. But as constructed, this deal technically works.

Of course, there’s the small matter of the draft picks…

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Tags: Chris Wilcox DaJuan Summers Richard Hamilton Terrico White

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