Joe Dumars has just reminded us that any contract can be traded, and in so doing, created significant financial flexibility for the Detroit Pistons. At the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season, Corey Maggette, Will Bynum, and Jason Maxiell will come off the books, and possibly so will Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva as well.
That financial flexibility could be used in one of three ways (or in multiple combinations).
1. Trade those expiring contract prior to the 2013 trade deadline for assets;
2. Let those contracts come off the books and absorb salary dumps from other teams in the types of trades only teams under the cap are allowed to do; or,
3. Let those contracts come off the books and use the money to pursue free agents in the summer of 2013.
It is fair to say that the unofficial official position of DBB is that franchise building happens primarily through the draft and through trades and is supplemented by acquiring players via free agency.
Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards (whose staff is quietly putting together a very interesting roster, by the way), appears to agree, and offers what should be words of caution for any NBA executive hoping to build exclusively through cap space in free agency.
In a nutshell, free agency is risky and over valued.
Of all of the tools available, free agency has the most risk, costs the most as you always over pay (because you are in a bidding situation against other teams), and is the most uncertain - just because you have cap space doesn't mean you can use it and get what you want as to a player joining your team. And free agency burns though cap space for a long term in that free agents tend to sign longer term deals. That translates to high risk and no guarantee of high reward. The free agent you do sign had better be the right player, as the player will get paid a lot of money and also get a lot of term.
Right now, I see the draft and trades as the best way to use cap space to rebuild or replenish with certainty. I am hopeful we can use free agency as well - time will tell. But it may be that having cap space is a bit over-valued in free agency. In fact, it may hurt in that some teams may have to use their cap space to chase deals to the detriment of their long term plans. We shall see. Stay tuned.
Head over to tedstake.com to check out the rest of the piece, then leave your reactions in the comments.