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Trading Chris Kaman: San Antonio Spurs Edition

Today, we look at the third team that has been linked with the Hornets' Chris Kaman - the San Antonio Spurs. If you missed the earlier breakdowns of the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers, those are here and here.

Kaman missed his third straight game last night, again not traveling with the team to Miami. As noted over the weekend, the Hornets cannot include Kaman in multiplayer deals until February 14th. Keep in mind, though, that this refers to the Hornets aggregating salaries on their end; Kaman cannot be traded in conjunction with other Hornets players before that date, but he can bring back any combination of players in an otherwise legal transaction. From a broader perspective, we're two weeks from the February 14th deadline, and waiting until then would give the Hornets a month to arrange a deal before the March 15th NBA trade deadline.

So hit the jump for some Spurs talk.

I won't rehash all the regulations again; the full versions of those are available in the two articles from above. Here is the quick summary though:

- Kaman can't be in multiplayer deals till February 14th, without trade exceptions
- Kaman's salary for trade purposes is $12.2M
- Hornets must take back between $8.13M and $18.3M in any trade to a team over the cap but under the tax.

The Houston Rockets were over the cap and under the tax so that specific range did indeed apply to them. The Pacers, on the other hand, were well beneath the cap, meaning they could theoretically take back the entirety of Kaman's contract for no return players.

It's unclear where the Spurs actually fall; one source has them above the luxury limit, but weirdly includes Antonio McDyess, who is no longer with the team, but may or may not be due money this year. Another source has them under the tax. In any case, parsing the specifics of a Spurs deal is far more complicated than any trade involving Houston or San Antonio. If the Spurs send back less salary in a Kaman deal than they receive, they appear likely to cross over the luxury threshold, regardless of where they stand right now.

For teams that are over the luxury tax, a different range of salary values applies, dictated by the old 125% matching rule. Under this scenario, the new range $9.76M to $15.25M. But clearly, only the lower limit would apply here; if the Spurs sent out more for Kaman than Kaman's contract value itself, the new 150% rule would come into play. So essentially, the lower limit should be governed by the 125% rule (as this would send San Antonio over the tax) and the upper limit by the 150% rule (as they'd be below the tax). Keeping in mind that this is all still variable since we don't know the Spurs' exact payroll, this results in a new range of $9.76M to $18.3M.*

*One last point - keep in mind that the Hornets can't actually legally get too close to the upper limit here because they themselves are only $4M below the tax threshold. If they surpass it, the 125% rule comes into play all over again, and the trade must be started from scratch.

And with that, we finally get to the Spurs roster.

San Antonio Spurs

Players, Salaries, Trade Exceptions, and Draft Pick (protection in parentheses) Statuses

Player 2011/2012 1sts Owed 2nds Owed 1sts Owned 2nds Owned
Tim Duncan $21,164,619 None None None '14 LAC
Manu Ginobili $12,981,038 '16 CHA
Tony Parker $12,500,000
Richard Jefferson $9,282,000 Exceptions
Tiago Splitter $3,672,000 $0.85M (Hill)
Matt Bonner $3,315,000
Antonio McDyess * $2,640,000
Kawhi Leonard $1,731,960
James Anderson $1,463,520
DeJuan Blair $986,000
Cory Joseph $942,700
T.J. Ford $854,389
Danny Green $854,389
Gary Neal $762,195
Malcolm Thomas -
Ike Diogu * $69,204

In a sense, San Antonio provides all the same problems as Indiana (limited pick options, limited exceptions) without possessing the Pacers' magic elixir (ridiculous amounts of cap space). Their own first round pick appears to be in the same range as Indiana's.

Additionally, only two contracts on their entire roster are expiring - those of Tim Duncan and Gary Neal. The Hornets' apparent search for "cap relief" as one of their trade criteria probably won't be answered here. In terms of talent, there might be some that's available. Richard Jefferson, for example, could be a possible inclusion in trades. The problem there, of course, is that he's due over $30M in salary through 2014; there's no possible way David Stern sanctions such a deal. And of course, a player like Jefferson would make little sense for a rebuilding team.

There's minimal young talent available otherwise. It's unlikely that San Antonio would trade Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair, or even Danny Green. That leaves the 27 year old Gary Neal, the 22 year old (and forgettable) James Anderson, and... Matt Bonner? And none of those players make enough money to create a legal trade anyway. If we're crossing out Ginobili, Parker, Splitter, Leonard, and Blair, I actually can't even come up with a legal trade that doesn't involve Richard Jefferson. Try your hand here, but it seems almost impossible.

Plus Assets San Antonio Might Give Up:

1. 2012 1st Round Pick

Random Pieces That Make Trades Work

1. ???

It's entirely possible I'm missing something huge here. I've been known to do that. But right now, the Spurs look easily the worst trading partner among the three reported suitors. Unless they can get a third team involved somehow, it appears Houston should be the target.