Is a Howard to Knicks Trade Even Possible?

ESPN New York’s Stephen A Smith reported yesterday on his show that the Orlando Magic inquired, the key word there, the New York Knicks about a potential Dwight Howard for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler trade. Given the contracts of Stoudemire and Chandler, the Knicks would have to also take back a sizable contract from Orlando. The 2011 figures in this rumored trade look like this:

Amar’e Stoudemire $18,217,705 million

Tyson Chandler $13,107,838 million

Total: $31,325,543 million

Dwight Howard: $17,885,400

The new NBA collective bargaining agreement contains new rules pertaining to trades. Taxpaying teams can take back 125% of their outgoing salary plus $100,000. Non-taxpaying teams (based on team salary after the trade) have two options as to how much salary they can take back. Non-taxpaying teams can acquire up to the lesser of 150% plus $100,000 OR  100% plus $5 million. Teams can trade up to $3 million in a trade but the Knicks used up that $3 million in the Tyson Chandler sign and trade.

The Knicks sit at $62,487,871 in salary. The Orlando Magic currently sit at $69,066,010 million dollars in salary. This figure puts them slightly under the $70 million luxury tax threshold. Here are the 2011 salaries for their players, significant to this trade, minus Dwight Howard:

Hedo Turkoglu: $10,600,000 million

Jameer Nelson $7,305,555 million

JJ Redick $6,500,000 million

Glen Davis $6,300,000 million

Jason Richardson $5,395,000 million

Chris Duhon $3,460,000 million

Quentin Richardson $2,446,200 million

Ryan Anderson $2,244,600 million

Earl Clark $1,200,000 million

Excluded: Von Wafer, Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Justin Harper, Larry Hughes

Because of the cap standings of both teams, both teams being under the luxury tax threshold, the Knicks and Magic have more flexibility with a potential trade. However, the Knicks swapping $31.3 million in salary with Orlando and taking in Howards $17.8 million in salary is not possible. Under the new CBA trade guidelines, the Knicks would have to take back another salary because swapping STAT and Chandler for Howard would not work. Here are some trade scenarios as pertained to each CBA rule:

  1. The Knicks take back 100% of Orlando’s salaries plus 5 million. The Magic would have to give up $26,325,543 million or more in salary to make this scenario work. That means in addition to Howard’s salary, the Magic would have to shed an additional $8,440,143 million in salary. Any trade of Howard likely will include the long term contract (3 years remaining, $34.2 mil) of Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu makes 10.6 million this season thus bring Orlando’s salary price up to $28,485,400 mil. This trade will work under the new CBA rules. However, the Magic would be taking back an additional $2,840,143 million in salary. Under the 100% + 5 mil rule, the Magic would have to remain under the tax. Therfore they would have to give up another contract resulting in an excess of $1,906,153 million. In my opinion, ex-Knicks Chris Duhon (3 years remaining, approx $11 mil in salary) and Quentin Richardson (2 years remaining with an additional players option for 2013, approx 5 mil in salary, $7.8 mil with option) would be the most likely candidates to be included in a trade. I believe that the basic framework of a Turkoglu/Howard/additional contract for Stoudemire/Chandler trade is the most likely trade if one is to come to fruition.
  2. The Knicks take back 150% of Orlando’s salaries plus $100k. The Magic would have to give up a little bit more than $20.8 million in salary to make this trade work. Given the long term contracts the Magic have on their roster along with the minor rebuilding they will need to do losing their star player, I believe the Magic would want to give up more than $20.8 million in a trade. In order to use this 100% + 100k clause, the Magic would have to give up between $20.8 million and $26.325 million (from the scenario above). However, if they were to give up Turkoglu, which they should and which they want to, they would eliminate this clause from being used in the CBA. This scenario would be plausible if the Knicks were going to take back any other Orlando player not named Hedo Turkoglu in a trade. This scenario is unlikely because I truly believe the Magic are going to part ways with Turkoglu as well as Howard in any trade they make.
  3. The Knicks and Magic never have serious discussions. Per the new CBA, Tyson Chandler, a newly acquired free agent, cannot be dealt until March 1st. If Orlando is swept off its feet by the Lakers, Clippers, Mavs, Nets or a mystery team, which I do not believe it will be, then they could move Howard before the Knicks can even discuss this trade seriously.
  4. The Knicks and Magic find a 3rd team. Conceivably, just like the trades that brought Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler to New York, the Knicks could find a 3rd team to deal with. Any trade scenario involving 3 teams would have to include more parts than just Turkoglu/Howard and Stoudemire/Chandler. At this point it is impossible to predict what 3rd team could be involved because no serious talks have gone on between Orlando and New York.

In conclusion, the main idea of this long and potentially head-ache enabling blog post is that financially the Knicks could pull off a trade for Dwight Howard. The new CBA allows it and both teams have contracts to make it work. The factors that would hold up a trade go beyond the financials. Whether the Magic are fully committed to trading Howard is up in the air. It is unknown whether the Knicks would part ways with newly acquired Chandler. As well as whether to give up Chandler, there have been no indications from the organization that Dolan is ready to break his loyalty with Stoudemire. It also remains unknown as to whether Orlando would even take this kind of deal. They would be locked into two long term big contracts and two decaying Amar’e Stoudemire knees. In my opinion, I do not believe this is a trade that will ever come to fruition. I think it makes obvious sense for the Knicks but I think the financials of the situation would far outweigh the on-court benefits for the Magic. I believe Amar’e and Tyson Chandler could fit nicely with that already strong Orlando team but I do not think the two players would launch the Magic into championship contention. Either way, Chandler cannot be dealt until March 1st so the Knicks will have their current center for at least 6 more weeks before they go chasing after another team’s star center. A lot can change in six weeks but if I had to bet a hypothetical house (seeming that I don’t own a house) on whether this trade would happen, I would bet against it.

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