LAS VEGAS -- DeJuan Blair's deal has a team option for the third year. Kris Humphries' deal has a team option for the third year. Paul Pierce's deal has a player option for the second year.
See a common thread? This week's flurry of transactions to restock the Wizards' roster serves two purposes: Fortifying a bench that had been inconsistent most of last season when they won 44 games; and keeping maximum salary-cap space available for 2016 when they make the inevitable push for D.C. native Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It has been chronicled here, and as a result talked about quite frequently nationally, that the Wizards went into free agency that began July 1 with the intent on retaining center Marcin Gortat but allowing Trevor Ariza to leave if necessary to have salary cap room.
The Wizards responded with Pierce, allowed Trevor Booker to leave and replaced him with Humphries -- he'll make $700,000 less per year than Booker received in the open market from the Utah Jazz -- and Blair likely steps in for Kevin Seraphin. Blair gets $2.1 million for the two years guaranteed, but his deal was made possible by a trade exception acquired by the Wizards in a trade that sent Eric Maynor to the Philadelphia 76ers last season.
Half of the trade exception received from the Houston Rockets for $8.6 million is being used on Humphries who is making $4.3 million for 2014-15. The rest can be applied to any player of the team's choosing. This is why acquiring trade exceptions, even though at the time it can appear insignificant because it doesn't provide instant results, shouldn't be dismissed. It's NBA Salary Cap 101.
Trade exceptions allow a team to acquire a player through sign-and-trades by giving up nothing more than a protected second-round pick, in some cases which never will come to fruition, without giving up any real assets. The Wizards sent the Boston Celtics a "deep" protected pick and the draft year hadn't even been determined at the time of the deal, CSNwashington.com confirmed Tuesday. Just to make the deal for Blair work, the Wizards sent the Dallas Mavericks the rights to 2009 second-round draft pick Emir Preldzic. To make the Ariza deal work in a three-team trade, Melvin Ely, who won't occupy a spot on Washington's roster with his non-guaranteed salary of $1.3 million, was acquired.
Making NBA deals aren't easy. If you think otherwise, see the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that governs these transactions if you have a year or two to kill. There are caveats with almost every deal that may never pay off. But the one constant in this entire process for the Wizards is maintaining this balancing act to upgrade while keeping that flexibility for Durant -- be it fantasy or one day a reality.