Many of the top free-agent starting point guards are off the market after the first day of free agency. Fortunately for the Wizards, the one they have targeted from the onset remains. Yet, signing Spencer Dinwiddie is more complicated than the two sides simply coming to an agreement.
Washington — which met with Dinwiddie at the start of free agency, our colleague Shams Charania reported, and which is in serious negotiations to bring him in — is above the cap, meaning it can acquire Dinwiddie only via sign-and-trade. And that’s just the start of the difficulties.
There are various ways Dinwiddie could end up with the Wizards, and in the NBA, when two sides want something to happen, things have a way of working themselves out, but there are obstacles in the way. It could take a wild finish.
First, teams have to match salaries in sign-and-trades, which means if the Nets and Wizards try to execute a Dinwiddie sign-and-trade as a two-team deal, Brooklyn would have to take back a significant portion of the money, which is almost certainly not happening. The Nets are so deep into the luxury tax that they have to pay more than $3 in tax for every dollar spent on payroll. Taking in Kyle Kuzma’s $13 million, for example, without giving any money up of their own would mean doling out more than $45 million for Kuzma not even counting his actual salary.
That’s not happening.
There are a few options to remedy this problem. In all of them, the Wizards and Nets need a third team.
Possibly the easiest way to do this is to include Dinwiddie in the yet-to-become-official Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers, which is already a three-teamer, since it includes the Pacers sending Aaron Holiday to D.C., too. Westbrook’s salary is so massive that the Wizards could loop Dinwiddie in with up to a $19.5 million 2021-22 salary and the money would still work.
But what is the Lakers’ incentive to help the Nets, a team they could meet in the Finals next year, when they have already agreed to a deal with Washington and Indiana? Could they ask for something in addition to what they are already receiving to get this done?
In this scenario, Brooklyn does not take back a player but creates an $11.5 million trade exception with the move. (Note: the Nets’ trade exception would be $11.5 million rather than Dinwiddie’s full salary due to Base Year Compensation rules, which Danny previously explained in depth.)
Of course, the Nets hold all the leverage right now since Washington cannot sign Dinwiddie outright for his desired salary, and sources say they are asking for a significant asset on top of the possible trade exception.