Examining the Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince trades that didn’t happen


Today was the wildest, busiest, nuttiest trade deadline in some time – maybe ever. In all the madness, the Pistons didn’t make a trade, but they had a couple reported possibilities.

The Pistons agreed to send Richard Hamilton and a protected draft pick to the Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports! But the deal fell apart when the Cavaliers and Hamilton couldn’t agree to a buyout. I presume the protected pick was a first rounder.

Detroit also turned down a trade of Tayshaun Prince for Caron Butler and the Mavericks’ first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski.

Let’s look a little deeper at what each trade would have meant and what Detroit not making them means.

Richard Hamilton trade ramifications

There are two reasons the Pistons wanted to make this trade rather than buy out Hamilton themselves:

  1. Karen Davidson didn’t want to pay the buyout.
  2. The buyout would count against the cap of the team that pays it.

The first reason was obviously more important, but let’s pretend the Pistons had a committed owner who was willing to pay Hamilton’s buyout. The trade still might have been worthwhile for Detroit. (It’s impossible to evaluate the merits more specifically without knowing the protections on the pick.)

A buyout counts evenly against the cap for each remaining season on a player’s contract. So, if Hamilton had taken a $15 million buyout, $5 million would have counted against his team’s cap each of the next two seasons.

That cap charge can’t be traded. It’s just in the way.

So, from a purely on-court perspective, the trade could have helped the Pistons.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

Tayshaun Prince trade ramifications

I’ve seen so much misinformation about this trade, I barely know where to begin. I’ve seen reasons to make the trade and reasons not to make the trade, valid and invalid explanations behind each. So let’s split it up.

Valid reasons to make the trade

Who knows what will happen with Prince this summer? The Pistons don’t need Prince right now, and this trade would have ensured they got something in return.

  • The Pistons could have signed-and-traded Caron Butler this summer.

The odds of that happening may have been low (and zero if the Pistons bought out Butler), but the possibility was at least a small bonus.

Valid reason not to make the trade

  • Prince is a good player.

He’s worth more than a low first-round pick, but most teams would get fair value for a player like Prince by trading him for the long-term contract of a more valuable player. The Pistons, because Davidson doesn’t want to add salary commitments, couldn’t make a trade like that today.

So, Detroit might get more value from Prince later.

Let’s put numbers behind it on an imaginary scale. I’m not necessarily advocating these numbers and odds. I’m just saying they’re reasonable.

I’m going set Prince’s value at a 10. Dallas’ first-round pick is about a 2. What the Pistons could get in a sign-and-trade is a 4. Prince’s value if the Pistons re-sign him is a six. His value to Detroit if he walks this summer is a 0.

Let’s say there’s a 25 percent chance the Pistons sign-and-trade him, a 20 percent chance they re-sign him and a 55 percent chance he just walks away.

The value of keeping him would be 2.2 (.25*4 + .2*6 + .55*0). The value of trading of trading him would have been 2.

2.2 (keeping Prince) >2 (trading Prince)

Invalid reasons to make the trade

  • The Pistons would gain cap room.

Prince and Butler both have expiring contracts. Detroit’s cap space this summer would have been unaffected.

Daye will be better off spending another 23 games getting the value of defense hammered into his head. If the Pistons just gave him minutes, who knows if that lesson would stick?

Invalid reasons not to make the trade

They wouldn’t lose it by gaining Dallas’ first-round pick.

Draft picks are never bad to have. Maybe the pick won’t become a good player, but if there’s your reasoning, teams shouldn’t acquire players.

Barely, if at all. Low first-round picks don’t make much money, and the Pistons probably won’t have cap room the next two years, anyway.

If their cap situation changes, the Pistons could always dump the player they drafted. There’s not a single former first-round pick on the first two years of his rookie contract (the only guaranteed years) who a team couldn’t give away.

I’ve seen no indication rookie contracts will change much, but if they do, it will probably mean the player the Pistons would have chosen with Dallas’ pick will make less money. I’ll be completely shocked if rookie-scale contracts increase in the next CBA.

Butler and Prince both have expiring contracts. Besides the small amount paid to the first-round pick from Dallas, the Pistons’ salary commitment for next year won’t change. If the money owed to that pick becomes an issue, the Pistons could always trade the player for a future pick.

They would. (Although it probably wouldn’t matter. I doubt he or the Pistons would want him to re-sign.)

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Tags: Richard Hamilton Tayshaun Prince

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