So, what can be done?

The Changing of the Guards is hot and heavy, and rightfully so. If there is one area the Clippers can stand to improve, well we all know what that is. So what can the Clippers do about it, precisely? The basic, presumably moveable parts are of course Corey Maggette either packaged or with the pick or seperately. The Clippers would then have the mid-level to spend. Obviously anyone could be traded, but a betting man probably has to assume those are the most likely candidates to be moved. The point of this diary, er FanPost, is to point out what those things can get you.

The easiest case is the mid-level exemption. The mid-level exemption allows a team operating over the salary cap to sign a player or players for up to its value for up to five years. This exemption can be used every year if the team chooses. Last season it was valued at $5.4M to start and seems to go up about $100k per year. Most recently the Clippers used the full exemption to sign Tim Thomas. Here are some players playing for about this amount in the NBA. This isn't a list of free agents making this amount, more an example of the level of talent you expect to find at this level of pay. I'm excluding guys on their rookie contracts since those are artificially fixed.

Speedy Claxton, James Posey, Anderson Varajao, Damon Jones, Chucky Atkins, Bobby Jackson, Rafer Alston, Jeff Foster, Vlade Radmanovich, Brian Cardinal, Marcus Banks, etc.

So that's not all inclusive and I haven't checked if these were all actually mid-level signings, but that's what you get for about $3M to about $6M. You get a piece. Someone you can count on to be in the rotation, generally, but not someone who will save your franchise. There may be an opportunity to upgrade the guard rotation, but this almost certainly isn't where your new starter is coming from.

The other opportunity is through trade. I said in CotG that the Clippers lottery odds are their own. What I mean is that, although it is generally fair play for teams to make trades once they have been eliminated from the playoffs, it generally doesn't happen. The problem is that you can't trade a player after the season ends in the last year of the contract. So for now I'm pretty sure Maggette can't be traded. And even if he is, why would you trade for him when he could turn around and opt out on you the next day. So the Clippers probably can't move the pick until at least draft day.

If the Clippers were to sign and trade Maggette on draft day, he could be signed for up to $9.4M for the first season without getting into poison pill rules. A contract of that size could be traded straight up for a player making $11.9M. Some examples of players in that lofty class.

Kirk Hinrich, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Josh Howard, Erick Dampier, Jason Terry, Marcus Camby, Nene, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, etc.

So now we are into some real talent. NBA starters for sure. So you just pick the player you want and find a willing partner and boom you can trade. Easy?

The Clippers can also trade their draft pick. If they trade it before the draft it has a cap value of $0. This is another indicator, along with the other issues of offseason trades, that the Clippers would wait until draft day to make the trade. By waiting until draft night, the pick will become a player signed in the neighborhood of $3-$4M dollars. Combined with Corey Maggette's salary the Clippers could have a total outgoing salary of (average) $16.3M. So you're golden, right? Boop boop boop. Wait a second. $16.3M still isnt a max contract. So to get a guy like McGrady, the Clippers would need to include still MORE outgoing contract value. There is another hitch too. The Clippers can sign and trade Maggette instantly, no problem. But they can't do that with their draft pick. They have to wait 30 days. So a trade like the BD example couldn't be finalized until near the end of July. The Clippers draft who the Warriors want. BD and Maggette sit tight. Then on July 30th, or so, BD and Maggette both do their sign-and-trade deals. The downside here is that would have Davis and Maggette out there on the market for 3 weeks. I mean you wouldn't do a deal like this unless everyone had agreed by draft night, but you just don't want to end up Boozer'ed.

So hopefully that puts the framework for the most likely deals in one place. If I made any mistakes in the CotG thread that I have contradicted here, my bad.

Main points: Clippers need to include more than Maggette and the pick to match the salary of a veteran max contract guy. You would need to convince the other team to probably take on Mobley or Thomas too. Picking 6th is probably worth what it is worth, but picking 1st and possibly 2nd is worth much much more. Don't hold out too much hope for a savior with the mid-level.

Here is what might be the final kicker. If Maggette gets a raise to more than $9.4M, he will become a BYC player. Significantly oversimplified: He becomes untradeable. So think about that. If Maggette wants to make that $10M per, he probably either needs to stay a Clipper, or walk away and get it outright from another team. He can't get it from the Clippers in a simple sign-and-trade. It would require some fancy 3 or 4 team footwork. And as already noted, it doesn't help the Clippers cap wise if he just walks.

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