Whatever you may feel about Jeremy Pargo – personally, I’m quite shocked at how poor his rookie season was and firmly believe he could do considerably better given a faster paced team with better spacing – it is only important to know that in today’s trade featuring him, he was merely a salary. So too was D.J. Kennedy. In trading Pargo, his $1 million guaranteed 2012/13 salary and a second-round pick for Kennedy (whose minimum salary of $762,195 is fully unguaranteed), Memphis does a salary dump and nothing else. Even the $1 million TPE they open up in doing so (created as Kennedy’s salary is absorbable via the minimum salary exception) is of little use, being so small.
The Grizzlies are trying to dodge the tax. They did so last year, managing to dip under the threshold upon trading the redundant Sam Young to Philly, and are now threatened by it again. This, to their credit, has not stopped their spending this summer – they paid to re-sign both Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights, giving them a strong frontcourt with good depth, and were similarly unashamed to spend what it took to upgrade their big hole at the backup point guard spot. Dodging the tax again is unlikely to happen, though. The $3,006,217 given to Arthur, $3 million to Jerryd Bayless, $4.2 million to Speights and $1,110,120 to Tony Wroten has put them back above the $70.307 million tax threshold – after today’s trade, Memphis has $73,053,277 committed to 12 players, not including the unguaranteed salary of Kennedy. It is more than likely the case that Memphis will not be able to avoid a small tax penalty this season. But if it only costs a mid-to-late second-round pick to lessen that hit by $2 million, on a player who was being pushed out of the rotation anyway, then the reason for the trade is apparent.
Cleveland, meanwhile, essentially pays $1 million for a second rounder, even less if cash was also involved, and gets a look at a possibly viable backup along the way. There’s no need for the team to keep both Pargo and Donald Sloan, and they may yet opt for neither, but the inclusion of the second-round pick makes it a worthwhile exercise to bring in both and have them fight for the spot.