I bet you’ve learned more about Johan Petro in the last 48 hours than you ever thought you would. For me, that meant learning he’s not Francisco Elson.
The 7-foot European center who has scored exactly 88 points this season – oops, sorry, that doesn’t really clarify, but I mean Petro – became a hangup for the Pistons yesterday in a potential trade with the Nets and Nuggets.
The Pistons reportedly were reluctant to acquiring Petro, who signed a thee-year, $10 million contract with the Nets this summer. The Pistons and Nets have worked out their end of the deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. But with the Nuggets not yet agreeing, the Pistons have more time to revert to their previous stance on Petro – refusing to take him.
Petro’s contract would obviously affect the Pistons’ ability to make moves, but I don’t think that’s the driving force here. I think this is about the bottom line for Pistons owner Karen Davidson.
We’ll get to how the potential trade affects Joe Dumars ability to build a contender later in the day. For now, I’m just focusing on the bottom line for Davidson – obviously a key aspect of the trade.
The NBA season is 170 days, and this is the 78th day of the season, meaning players must be paid for 93 more days – or about 54.7 percent of their salaries.*
*Huge thanks to Mark from ShamSports.com for explaining how this this works. He’s a helpful guy who runs a great site. If you ever want to check a player’s salary, ShamSports.com has the most accurate information available.
The latest version of the trade has the Pistons swapping Richard Hamilton and DaJuan Summers for Troy Murphy and Petro, according to Al Iannazzone of The Record.
Here’s what each player is owed:
*The final year of Hamilton’s contract is guaranteed for just $9 million until July 1, 2012, according to ShamSports.com. But his expiring contract will almost surely be worth more than the $3.5 million a team would save by buying him out. So, I’m going to treat Hamilton’s 2012-13 salary as $12.5 million from here.
If the teams agree to the deal Iannazzone is reporting, the Pistons would be trading $38,262,195 worth of contracts for $20,496,194 worth of contracts. Obviously,Detroit would be cutting a significant amount of payroll.
But it isn’t quite that simple. If the Pistons let Murphy walk this summer, they’ll still have to fill that roster spot somehow. So, what’s the minimum they could spend for that slot the next two years?
The minimum salary next year is $490,180, according to Larry Coon’s FAQ. The minimum salary for the following season hasn’t been established because the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires, but I’m going to use an estimate of $507,336.* That’s a total of $997,516.
*Under the current CBA, the minimum salary rises by 3.5 percent each season, and I simply continued that pattern for an extra year.
A key questions is whether Summers would be involved in the trade if Petro isn’t. I’m guessing he would be, because the Nets will need bodies to fill their roster. So, I’m counting Summers’ salary as outgoing in any scenario.
All that considered, I project the Pistons will save $16,768,485 in this trade.
By contrast, that number would jump to $24,298,910 if the Nets are successful in find another team to take Petro (accounting for the Pistons having to fill Petro’s slot the next two years).
Karen Davidson’s considerations
Of my projected $16,768,485 the Pistons would save as a result of this deal, $17,252,484 will come after this season. That means the trade will actually cost the Pistons $483,999 this season.
Trading Hamilton for Murphy is a major win for the Pistons under usual circumstances. Even forced to take Petro, too, the long-term savings would be considerable. But that’s not necessarily the most relevant point.
If the Nets want to play hardball, they could tell the Pistons to accept Petro or walk away from the deal. In the name of building a quality team, I don’t see how Detroit could walk away.
But in the name of protecting Davidson from loss, I don’t see how Detroit could accept Petro.
There is, however, a solution in the rule that allows teams to send up to $3 million cash in trades.
If the Nets sent the Pistons $483,999, Davidson would be protected. She’d break even during this regular season, and she might even make money if this trade launches the Pistons into the playoffs.
If she somehow still owns the team next season, she’d begin realizing the savings Murphy’s expiring contract would provide next summer.
I hope whatever compromise the Pistons and Nets made yesterday – reportedly the Nets sending the Pistons a pick in exchange for taking Petro – doesn’t fall apart today.
But if it does unravel, the Nets giving the Pistons $483,999 could get this deal approved – at least by Karen Davidson.