According to Marc Stein of ESPN, our fan favorite Louis Amundson will soon chose a new home.
Apparently, the choices on his plate are non-playoff teams who still need a big man, have open roster spots and still have a little room under the luxury tax threshold.
I am happy for Lou and a little sad for us. We've talked ad nauseum about Lou this summer (see this recent article and voting), with most of us wanting him back but understanding how there's no room on the roster or in the daily rotation.
Sure, the Suns are still looking for a big man, and seem to be willing to spend up to a couple million a year for the guy (Sarver mentioned last month on the radio that he expected the Suns salaries to be at $65 million this season, and right now they are at $62.8 million). But that player will likely only be an injury insurance on Robin Lopez, meaning no playing time unless Robin gets hurt. Lou doesn't fit that description.
So why am I writing yet another article on it?
Because there's a chance here for a sign-and-trade to get an asset back.
The Suns have Lou's "early Bird rights", meaning they can sign him for any money up to the MLE (nearly $6 million a year). This also means they can sign-and-trade him for anything up to that level.
Lou has been holding out for $3 million guaranteed per year, for multiple years, according to this report (here). That's a lot of cheese this late in the summer.
It's possible (if not probable) that the team who wants Lou will include the Suns in a sign-and-trade deal.
I'm not talking a big asset here. Maybe a future second-round draft pick and a TPE. A great number of free agent signings this summer turned out to be sign-and-trades from the original team.
Golden State, in particular, has lost 2 free agents (CJ Watson to Cleveland and Morrow to NJ) but turned them into sign-and-trades to get back a futrue draft pick and a traded-player-exception (TPE). They have also used the sign-n-trade to pick up free agent David Lee, rather than do a straight signing. In that deal, GS gave up some nice assets to offset the extra money Lee would cost.
Amare, LeBron and Bosh all could have been straight signings, but they turned out to be sign-n-trades returning future draft picks and a sizable TPE to the "losing" team.
But why would these teams make it a sign-and-trade?
All three reported teams - Indiana, Golden State and New Orleans - are bad teams needing a LOT of help, yet are already over the salary cap.
Current sal: 65.047 (@ $5 million short of lux tax)
Available: $5.0 mil of MLE, 1.9 mil of bi-annual, $3.4 mil Troy Murphy exception
Current sal: 64.679 (@ $5.5 short of lux tax)
Available: $2.2 mil of MLE, 1.9 mil of bi-annual, several trade exceptions
Current Sal: 66.526 (about $3.5 short of lux tax)
Available: full MLE and bi-annual, lots of trade exceptions
New Orleans and Indiana can fit Lou's $3 million a year into their MLE slot, while GS is maxed at $2.2 million.
But they might not want to use their MLE money on Lou. They might want to save it for later.
By acquiring Lou via sign-and-trade, they can absorb him into one of their existing TPE's. Each has one at least as big as Lou's asking price.
In that transaction, the amount of Lou's year 1 contract would be effectively "transferred" to the Suns as a TPE, leaving Lou's new team with the difference.
Acquiring Lou via sign-and-trade also preserves the salary cap exceptions (MLE and bi-annual), still leaving them wiggle room to sign other players at more than minimum. There are still a lot of usable free agents out there.
Why would the Suns want another TPE?
Simple reason: in case of injury. Suppose the Suns get a rash of injuries this season. It would be nice to pick up someone else's player without giving up a player of our own in trade, and a TPE gives you that option.
Simpler reason: it's better than nothing.
Plus, they'd net a future second-round pick out of it. The Suns got Lawal and Dragic that way, and Carlos Boozer was once a second-rounder as were Paul Millsap, Michael Redd, Gibert Arenas and DeJuan Blair to name a few.