The Philadelphia 76ers have acquired JaVale McGee and a 1st-round pick from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Cenk Akyol, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It’s an incredible trade for Philly.
Cenk Akyol is a 27-year-old Turkish player who was drafted in 2005 and will likely never play in the NBA. He’s only involved in the trade because NBA rules specify that each team must include something of value (a current player, a pick, a prospect playing in a foreign league, or cash) in every trade.
Denver, which is now in rebuilding mode, made the trade to get rid of the $US12 million McGee is owed in 2015-16. In order to get rid of McGee, they also had to include a 1st-round pick (which comes via Oklahoma City and is top-18 protected).
The trade was basically: We’ll give you a 1st-round pick to take JaVale McGee off our hands.
The Sixers are one of the few teams in the league that could pull this off.
One of the central tenets of GM Sam Hinkie’s radical tanking strategy is to spend as little money as possible. Philly refuses to sign free agents. Before the trade they were $US22 million under the salary cap.
While McGee’s contract was a disaster for Denver’s salary cap situation, it doesn’t hurt Philly’s. The Sixers are so far below the salary cap that they’re actually below the salary floor (the minimum amount of money a team has to spend on player salaries) by $US15 million. The collective bargaining agreement stipulates that teams have to reach the salary floor no matter what. If Philly wouldn’t have made the McGee trade, they would have taken the difference between their total payroll and the salary floor and paid it to their current players as a bonus.
So the money the Sixers are giving McGee 1) was going to be spent no matter what, and 2) had no other use.
Including McGee’s deal, Philly only has $US26 million on the books for the 2015-16 season — which could put them around $US40 million below the salary cap. They can keep McGee. They can cut McGee. They can try to trade him next year. It doesn’t really matter. They weren’t using that money for anything else anyway.
Taking JaVale McGee really cost Philly nothing, and they got a 1st-round pick out of it.
The Sixers could now potentially have three 1st-round picks in 2015: their own, Miami’s (which is top-10 protected), and Oklahoma City’s (which is top-18 protected).
This is the perfect example of why Hinkie doesn’t spend money at this point in his rebuilding process. There’s always going to be a team that desperately needs to get rid a JaVale McGee, and the Sixers have set themselves up so they pay that type of player, grab a draft pick as a tax, and continue to hoard assets.
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