The Kings swung a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday afternoon, sending Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Toliver and a pair of second-round draft picks.
It’s an interesting deal that requires an advanced degree in capology to truly understand. Here are the nuts and bolts and why the deal made sense from the perspective of each team:
Why did the Kings make the trade?
At 15-26, not a lot has gone well for Sacramento this season. The team needs something to shake things up and change the composition of the roster. The Kings know Tolliver well from his time in Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. They also know he is unlikely to see time on the court with bigs like Marvin Bagley and Nemanja Bjelica playing minutes at the four.
In taking on Bazemore, the Kings add a younger player than Ariza who brings energy on both ends of the court. Bazemore is in the final year of a massive four-year, $70 million deal he signed in 2016. He’ll be motivated to play well in hopes of landing another contract next season. With Bogdan Bogdanovic returning Saturday night, minutes at the two and the three will be slim, but as a change of pace, Bazemore might be a nice veteran addition for the second half of the season.
The real value the Kings received in this deal is the pair of second-round picks. Sacramento has been hoarding seconds for the last few seasons and it wasn’t a surprise to see more added on the back end. The team now has four second-rounders next season and another three in 2021. The Kings have their own picks in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 and now they have Portland’s picks in 2024 and 2025 as well. That makes 13 second-rounders over a span of six seasons.
They’ll need to be creative in moving these assets around, but second-round selections have value, especially if and when the NBA changes its age requirement back to 18. That move is expected by the 2022 NBA Draft, which will expand the draft pool and potentially increase the value of second-rounders.
In the grand scheme of everything, the Kings lost a young prospect in Gabriel, but they gained future assets and opened up a roster spot.
Why did the Blazers make the trade?
This one is easy. Bazemore and Tolliver were owed a combined $21.9 million. Ariza, Swanigan and Gabriel make a combined $15.6 million. Portland saves a prorated amount of that salary exchange, but the real value for the Blazers is it drops their luxury tax bill from an estimated $19.2 million to just $7 million. Between salary and the luxury tax, the Blazers will clear more than $18 million in savings during a season that is quickly spinning out of control.
The future value of two second picks is worth it for Portland when you consider the upfront savings. The Blazers could even stretch Swanigan’s salary over three years and save more upfront cash in salary and luxury tax owed. They’re on the hook for Ariza's $1.8 million buyout for next season, but that’s a small price to pay.
It’s a good deal for both the Kings and the Blazers, which is rare. In reality, both teams gave up fringe player assets. Sacramento added more bullets for the future, while Portland feels immediate financial relief.
The Kings are actively shopping center Dewayne Dedmon and the extra roster spot could come in handy in that endeavor. Roster spots can also have value in larger deals, which the Kings will explore as they have in past seasons.
This trade cannot be officially completed until Jan. 21 due to contractual issues for Gabriel, but according to league sources, it is a done deal.