How Bayless’ Inclusion In Butler Deal Impacts Sixers’ Trade Options

The majority of this week’s analysis on the trade package the Sixers sent the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade has focused on Dario Saric and Robert Covington, and rightly so. Those are the two players expected to contribute to the Wolves right away and to become potential long-term building blocks for the franchise.

However, a third player, Jerryd Bayless, was also sent to Minnesota in the deal, and the impact his inclusion in the deal will have on the Sixers shouldn’t be overlooked.

As we detailed in our financial breakdown of the Butler trade, the deal couldn’t have been completed without the inclusion of Bayless. Saric’s and Covington’s salaries weren’t enough to match Butler’s $20MM+ cap hit on their own, and salary-matching became even trickier once Justin Patton was attached to Butler. In order to make the trade work financially, the 76ers had to include Bayless and his $8.58MM cap charge.

The loss of Bayless is hardly a debilitating one for the Sixers from an on-court perspective. The veteran guard has only played in 42 games over the last three seasons, with a knee injury currently keeping him on the shelf. Even when healthy, Bayless was unlikely to play much of a role for a 76ers team that already had three point guards in its rotation, in Ben Simmons, T.J. McConnell, and Markelle Fultz. If including him in the Butler deal was the final piece to acquire an All-NBA player, it was, of course, a no-brainer for Philadelphia.

Still, Bayless’ lack of a rotation role, his expiring contract, and his mid-level salary made him an ideal trade chip for a Sixers team that still needs to add shooting depth. Because he wasn’t part of Philadelphia’s rotation, the team could afford to give him up, and because he had no guaranteed money on his deal beyond this season, he would appeal to potential trade partners who didn’t want to compromise their future flexibility.

For instance, the Sixers reportedly remain interested in Cavaliers sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Without Bayless, who was a part of the Korver trade discussions between the two teams in July, the path to acquiring Korver and his $7.56MM salary becomes trickier. In order to meet the league’s salary-matching rules, the Sixers would have to send out at least $4.26MM+.

The 76ers have seven players earning more than that amount. Of those seven, Butler, Simmons, Joel Embiid, and J.J. Redick aren’t going anywhere; dealing Mike Muscala or Wilson Chandler wouldn’t improve the team’s depth, since the team is already relying on those players to be key rotation pieces; and Fultz’s stock hasn’t fallen so far that Philadelphia would move him for Korver.

That means in order to match Korver’s salary, the Sixers would have to package at least a couple lesser-paid players. The expiring contracts for Patton ($2.67MM) and Furkan Korkmaz ($1.74MM) would work, and would probably be the most likely package – along with a draft pick or two – if Philadelphia makes a play for Korver or another shooter in his salary range, such as Jeremy Lamb or Wayne Ellington.

The Sixers’ salary-matching options would become more complicated if they wanted to go after a player with a higher salary though. For instance, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggested in a podcast that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one player on the team’s radar, as Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype relays. Caldwell-Pope has a $12MM cap hit, which would be virtually impossible for the Sixers to match without using a rotation player like Chandler or a prospect like Fultz, now that Bayless is no longer on their books.

There are plenty of ways the Sixers could get creative on the trade market, and it’s worth noting that the team may not even need to make any deals — after all, last season’s impact in-season additions, Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, were both signed on the buyout market.

Still, the Sixers can’t count on striking gold with players like Ilyasova and Belinelli again, and not having Bayless on the roster will limit their flexibility to some extent. Sending Bayless to the Timberwolves was necessary to land Butler, and the Sixers would do it over again every day of the week, but it will be interesting to see whether a player who was an afterthought in that deal will hamstring the franchise’s trade options later in the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

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9 thoughts on “How Bayless’ Inclusion In Butler Deal Impacts Sixers’ Trade Options

  1. acarneglia

    I was thinking about this the other day when the trade was made. Greatly complicated things for Philly and now they have to rely on the buyout market, the bargain bin FA’s, and the cheap salary guys currently in the league. Troy Daniels from Phoenix would be a good pick up for Philly, shoots the 3 well and is only making, I think, 3 million dollars on an expiring deal.

  2. imindless

    Kcp for fultz, sounds like a decent swap. A change of scenery would be good for fultz and seeing as they have jimmy butler seems like a no brainer. Kcp for wilson would be good too.

  3. rxbrgr

    I think the approach to this is in error. It makes it seem like Butler was a given and that Bayless’ inclusion hampers them adding additional pieces. However, it’s more accurate to probably say: The Sixers had to choose between Jimmy Butler and a more inexpensive, complementary piece like Korver Ellington or Lamb. Obviously, no one would argue with the choice they went with compared to the alternatives. How else would they have acquired a star than to forgo the trades for minor pieces??

    • Luke Adams

      Hmm, I hear you — obviously this was the best use of Bayless, and a necessary one, as I mentioned a couple times in the article.

      My premise here was more a reaction to the idea that has been floated in the last few days that now that the Sixers made their big move, they can go after a Korver/Courtney Lee/KCP type to complete their roster and fortify their depth. Just wanted to make it clear that that will be trickier with Bayless gone.

      As you say, they sort of had to choose between trading for the star and trading for the minor pieces, rather than doing both (though I do think a Patton/Korkmaz/draft-pick package could work for Korver).

      • rxbrgr

        You’re right about that. Your example of KCP was spot on, since they’re SOOO close to being able to acquire him with Muscala + Korkmaz (at least in terms of matching salary). But they’d still be a couple thousand $$ short, and would have to jump up to include Smith (a much more valuable, albeit unknown, trade piece than and) in place of Korkmaz.

        • Luke Adams

          Yep, and trying to package more than just a couple of those lower-salary guys to get to the necessary salary-matching total would also be problematic, since generally a trade partner won’t want to have to waive 2-3 players to clear roster space for a relatively minor deal.

  4. Z-A

    This really doesn’t hurt them at all. This was the best use of that junk contract.

    You have Chandler, Muscala, McConnell, Amir (12/15), and Korkmaz’s contract plus a trade exception. You also have all of your picks left plus 2s plus the Miami pick.

    Sub-500 Teams and the multi-year contract guys they may be looking to move: John Wall/Beal/Porter, Kevin Love/Korver, TJ Warren.

    There are get-able guys, always takes less than you thought. Butler for Saric, RoCo, Bayless, and a 2nd? That was a gift. Dumping Bayless alone should have cost them 2 2nds.

  5. Bayless had to go to get Butler, that is that, nothing for it… but the advantage that Philly has gotten now is that FA’s in the buyout market will wanna go to Philly as their first option, as a team Finals bound that attract players, so they have to sit tight & wait, things will always work out well for the sixers. #TrustTheProcess#

  6. Z-A

    There’s also the international market:
    Shabazz, MO-Buckets, Larkin, Sessions, Singler, Sullinger, Montejunas. There’s options, avenues, back alleys.

    ZBO, Carroll, Melo

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