June 25, 2009
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Orlando Magic have options. Options!
The Nets, Carter's team from 2004-09, wasted no time in dealing VC as soon as GM Rod Thorn was presented with anything more than a cost-cutting alternative. Make no mistake, this is a cost-cutting move for the Nets, but Lee's presence trumps the other proposals that have been sent New Jersey's way since last winter, proposals that offered nothing more than salary relief.
For Orlando, they get a hometown product who is still a formidable contributor (nearly at an All-Star level) even at the age of 32. Sure, nobody has liked Vince Carter since 2002 or so, but that's not the point. The point is that Orlando made a huge upgrade without giving much up. Lee is a fine player, but he'll never be a star, and Carter's all-around offensive game is exactly what the league's 11th-best offense needed.
Best, it gives the team a little leeway in negotiations with free agent Hedo Turkoglu(notes). Though Carter is one of the better passing wing players in the game, he isn't a point forward, but he isn't bad either. And the Magic might not need to keep Turkoglu if he gets a ridiculous offer from a team like the Portland Trail Blazers. Just slide Mickael Pietrus(notes) into the small forward slot, start Carter, and continue apace. Hell, Anderson will be a starting-quality forward in two years.
The move puts Orlando a little under the luxury tax level with Carter's salary added, and without Turkoglu or restricted free agent Marcin Gortat(notes) on board. Signing either to a reasonable deal would put the Magic into the tax bracket, but the team has already patted itself on the back by announcing that it would pay the tax, so you have to figure one or both players will be back.
If they both return, and we estimate that they'll combine to make about 14 million a year in 2009-10 and 2010-11, then the Magic will be well into the tax in 2010-11 as well. Carter's $18.9 million for 2011-12 isn't guaranteed, though, so the Magic could squeeze under the tax threshold (albeit with a limited roster) after declining the final year of his deal. Not unlike what we saw with Sasha Pavlovic(notes) this summer, they'll likely deal Vince. The point being ... this team is going to be shelling out some dough for a long time.
New Jersey? Not so much. ShamSports has Alston's 2009-10 deal as unguaranteed, but I'm not seeing it listed as such anywhere else. Either way, it expires next summer along with Battie's, and even with Lee's contract on the books the Nets are only due to shell out about $17 million in salaries for 2010-11 if they decline the options on Keyon Dooling(notes), Eduardo Najera(notes), Sean Williams(notes), Yi Jianlian(notes), while passing on re-signing Josh Boone(notes). All, save for the last option, are very likely.
Even a conservative estimate would then have the Nets
looking at about $45 million in cap space, with Lee, Devin Harris(notes), Brook Lopez(notes),
Ryan Anderson(notes), Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes), and whoever they select with the 11th pick in tonight's Draft on the roster. That's a fantastic core that could
suddenly fit two or three max deals into its coffers. Yikes.
Great deal, for both sides.