Looking for a reason why Kris Humphries is getting $12 million a year? Just look at the cap math from the Brooklyn Nets’ perspective ... and then turn your gaze toward Florida.
If they’re thinking about trading for Dwight Howard after Jan. 15, when Brook Lopez is trade eligible -- and most certainly, they are -- then signing Humphries to a short contract of this size makes all kinds of sense.
The reason is that it allows the Nets to take back much bigger contracts from Orlando in a trade. Paying Humphries $12 million means that the combination of Humphries, Tyshawn Taylor and Reggie Evans can be used to take back $18.6 million in contracts from Orlando -- which conveniently, is exactly enough to swallow the contracts of Orlando veterans Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson and clean the Magic’s books going forward.
Do that, then put Lopez and MarShon Brooks in a deal for Howard (again, just clearing enough salary from the Nets' end to take back his salary from Orlando), throw in all the same draft picks Brooklyn would give in the original deal, and the trade still works. In fact, it works better, since the Nets can swallow a bit more salary in this one than in the deal mooted over the summer.
As for the fine print, Brooks almost certainly would be routed to a third team for another draft pick for Orlando, but the trade would be cap-legal regardless. Routing Humphries to a third team would prove more problematic, but again it would be cap-legal if it happened as long as all the goodies went back to the Magic. After all this, the Magic would have a signed frontcourt of Humphries and Lopez and, if they cut Hedo Turkoglu, have max cap space in 2013.
Are there hang-ups to this strategy? Of course. First and most obviously, Howard may not be with the Magic in January. Second, even if he is, much depends on how well Lopez plays at the start of the season -- the Magic are unlikely to be tempted unless he’s racking up 20-and-10s. And unless he wants to end up on a bad team, it’s not clear to me how much incentive he has to play well.
But it’s worth a shot, and Brooklyn has shown that the money is a secondary concern. They’d have a $90 million payroll after doing a deal like the one above, but they’d be a marketing powerhouse in their first year in Brooklyn -- an investment that would likely pay itself back several times over. In the context of that, overpaying Humphries a few million seems like chump change.