Is Paul Millsap's Portland Deal Out of Utah's Reach?
The question now is whether Portland's offer sheet (signed by Millsap Friday) is big enough to keep Utah from matching. I don't think it is.
The ploy (which some have called "brilliant") by the cap experts in Portland was to not only front-load the Millsap offer, but to make a substantial portion of it a "signing bonus," a tool infrequently used in the NBA. John Hollinger of ESPN.com has done the math for us, and reports that the offer sheet is four years for $28 million, plus a $6 million signing bonus.
But signing bonuses don't count against a team's salary cap in total in the year paid. The cap hit is spread over the life of the contract. So, depending on how front-loaded the deal is, the cap figure is only likely to be $8.3 million in 2009-10. (Hollinger indicates the cap hit for '09-10 is $7.7 million, which would indicate the deal is not front-loaded.)
Whatever the case, that $6 million signing bonus is not an extra $6 million luxury tax hit to the Jazz, though it may look as such. It might be rough for the Jazz to pay out a lump sum like that because the signing bonus, in real terms, is actual money that needs to be paid. But as a successful NBA franchise, they can handle it.
If Utah is able to trade Boozer -- and it appears they are trying exceedingly hard to do so -- they'll have a fairly paid power forward reaching his projected peak for the next four years. (In fact, by keeping the offer at four years, Portland might be doing Utah a favor on this tip. If Millsap had negotiated directly with the Jazz, you assume he would have held out for five or six years.)
One more win for Utah here: Portland is screwed for seven days. It behooves the Jazz to wait until the last possible minute to match or decline the offer sheet, since the Blazers' cap space will be spoken for until then. You can bet the Jazz will be hoping David Lee signs on somewhere over the next six days, just to ensure one of the teams ahead of them in the Western Conference doesn't improve.