Musel's Musings: The Brandon Roy Conundrum

Created: 01/09/2013 2:23 PM KSTP.com By: Ben Musel

I believe that Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn and guard Brandon Roy need to have a serious conversation. Kahn should use the term “basketball reasons.” He should also inform Mr. Roy of the fine print in his contract and inform him that they will be using him as a trade chip.

It’s harsh, but it’s the best course of action.  The Wolves will not get the kid they drafted back in 2006. And they won’t get the 2011 Game 4 vs. the Mavs Roy either. Name a player currently on a roster that has a similar knee history— Spur DeJuan Blair is the only one that comes to mind unless somebody signs free agent Michael Redd.

The dream of having a healthy Roy hit the court in time to help lead the team deep into the playoffs is grand, but it’s just that—a dream. In order to even sniff the playoffs this team of walking wounded needs reinforcements that can play now.

It’s tough to tell a great player, especially one who is technically in his prime, that his playing days are over. If only Kahn were more tactful in these types of situations. Kahn needs to understand that Roy’s contract has now become more important as a trade chip than the player is to the team.

The contract has essentially become a $5 million expiring that can be paired with an extra point guard (Luke Ridnour or JJ Barea) or a former #2 pick (Derrick Williams) to retrieve a starting quality player and maybe bench filler. That same contract can be paired with a pick or one of the team’s smaller contracts to help a team facing a cap dilemma in the following year.

At the moment, one-third of the league is going to end up paying a tax at the end of the year. Golden State and Denver aren’t paying this season, but could benefit from taking on a bit of extra money now in order to avoid the tax in the following season. Under a new collective bargaining agreement and a harsher penalty, I wouldn’t  be surprised if two-thirds of the teams actually made money saving trades by year's end.

Yesterday, I saw that Phoenix and Memphis were discussing a trade involving wings Rudy Gay and Jared Dudley that would cut payroll for the Grizzlies dramatically. I am a fan of both players and while I don’t want any part of Gay’s contract, the team would do well to check into whether or not Roy’s contract and a few sweeteners could land Dudley in Minnesota.

This team is not getting healthier, and Roy is becoming dead weight, the ultimate question mark on the roster. The team must realize that someone looking to avoid the repeater tax will salivate over the opportunity to wipe $5 million off of the books for the next year or two.

The team can still absorb contracts larger than those traded away and should look into facilitating a trade to help another club dodge the tax using Roy’s contract.