The Difference Between Dumping David Andersen and Dumping Ramon Sessions
As such, with Yao likely to return for the start of the season, this summer the Rockets sought to unload Andersen. They found a taker in Toronto, who added Andersen and reportedly enough cash to cover his salary in exchange for a protected 2015 second-round pick. Andersen will be paid $2.5 million this season; only $185,000 of his 2011-12 salary is guaranteed. Essentially, this was a cap dump for the Rockets, who, after the signings of Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry and Brad Miller, find themselves over the luxury tax threshold. Meanwhile, Toronto gets another frontcourt player for its rotation, albeit one who doesn't at all help the team's common and known deficiencies.
On the surface this trade, from the standpoint of the Rockets, is not dissimilar from what Minnesota did with Ramon Sessions earlier this week. The Wolves believed Sessions to be a good fit a year ago, and signed him to a four-year, $16 million deal. It didn't work out, and Minnesota sent Sessions and a 2013 second-round pick to Cleveland days ago, taking back Sebastian Telfair and the unguaranteed contract of Delonte West. Like the Rockets and Andersen, the Wolves essentially dumped Sessions.
There is a difference, though.
Houston will realize complete cap savings in its Andersen trade: no players came back to the Rockets, so the team really dumped Andersen, totally. The team literally saves $2.5 million in luxury tax; if the trade helps Houston get under the threshold (with another move likely needed), the savings will be much greater. If the team sent $3 million to Toronto, as assumed, the total savings are still around $2 million, due to the tax.
The Wolves save $8 million over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons in the Sessions trade, but the savings for next season are only $800,000, assuming the Cavs didn't send cash back to Minnesota. (It has not been reported that Cleveland sent Minnesota cash in the deal.) Where Houston managed to unload Andersen completely, Minnesota took back $500,000 in guaranteed salary for West (assuming, as is reasonable, he is cut by August 3) and that $2.7 million owed to Telfair. (Incidentally, the Wolves, then chiefed by Kevin McHale, gave Telfair his ridiculous contract in the first place.)
Really, the only incentive to do this deal is to save money in 2011-12 and 2012-13, which is a fine reason, but shines harsh light on the odd strategy the Wolves have employed in terms of both the point guard position and the team's cap space. After all, the team signed veteran (and by "veteran" I mean "29-year-old") Luke Ridnour to a four-year deal earlier this month. That apparently necessitated to dumping of Sessions. Yet the team has Jonny Flynn (2009's No. 6 pick) and tells anyone who will listen that Ricky Rubio is coming over in 2011-12 (although it seems far more likely Rubio will jump the pond in 2012-13, when he is no longer restricted to a rookie scale contract and when there is no pending NBA lockout).
Let's put on our Wolf-colored glasses. If Rubio is a Timberwolf in 2011-12, and so are Flynn and Ridnour, one of these chaps is your third-string point guard. Ditto 2012-13. And ... ditto 2013-14. So, if the Wolves get what they want (Rubio jumping to the NBA next summer), Minnesota will either be paying its third-string point guard (Ridnour) $4 million a year for three years, or will have spent a No. 6 pick (Flynn) on a third-string point guard, or will have spent a No. 5 pick (Rubio) on a third-string point guard. By essentially trading Sessions for Ridnour, the team has basically added a year to its PG Clustermuck. (Also, because Flynn is currently injured, the team will be forced to play Telfair legit minutes behind Ridnour. Two years, myriad draft picks, gobs of cap space ... and the Wolves still have to feature Sebastian Telfair. I believe a "FML" is in order.)
This is why Houston's bad bet on Andersen is relatively ignored why minor misplays by the Wolves are screamed from the tops of mountains. For Rockets GM Daryl Morey, the Andersen episode is a small blunder easily washed away in one simple, cash-saving trade. For Wolves GM David Kahn, the Sessions situation is endemic, telling of a greater lack of strategy and quite possibly a lack of comprehension of the concept of time and space. Every team makes mistakes -- the Rockets with Andersen, the Spurs with Luis Scola, the Mavericks with DeSagana Diop. But smart, well-run teams can overcome mistakes. They have plans, and can mitigate problems on the fly.
Bad teams? They "fix" mistakes with new mistakes. They get into a hole, see only a shovel, and dig deeper. The good teams, like the Spurs, Rockets and Mavericks, fashion that shovel into a climbing apparatus and get out of trouble. The Wolves need to learn a different way to use their shovel, lest they end up digging themselves a hole through the world, playing in front of sparse crowds in Guangdong, wondering when the hell they traded for Stephon Marbury.