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The Carmelo Trade

February 22, 2011

Carmelo Anthony was FINALLY traded yesterday, in a mega 3-team deal. How did the teams make out?

There are several good trade analyses around, but none of them are really focusing on the financial aspect. Kevin Pelton’s article is a good primer on the trade as a starting point, and Joe Treutlein at Hoopdata has a good analysis as well.

I’ll look at this trade from an ASPM perspective. Like always, ASPM numbers can be pulled from my spreadsheet at Google Docs. There are other metrics that have different views of Carmelo, who is one of the most difficult players to quantify in the NBA. His game is so 1-dimensional…

Well, here is what my numbers show for the players traded, along with an average career trajectory for a player of that age:

Carmelo Trade ASPM Chart

Carmelo Trade ASPM Aging Chart

Carmelo is currently estimated as a +3.13 player, good for 20th in the NBA, similar in caliber to players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Tim Duncan. Excellent, but maybe not “Great”. Basically Kevin Durant-lite at this point, only already at his peak.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are sending 3 players that are near league average, and all of them are still young. Felton may already have peaked, but Wilson Chandler and particularly Gallo have not.

Billups is also interesting. He’s strongly on the downslide at this point. He’s a tremendous shooter, but not a very good point guard. His 5 most similar players, though:

  • Ty Lawson
  • Luke Ridnour
  • Beno Udrih
  • Ramon Sessions
  • Stephen Curry

(Calculated using Z-scores on all advanced stats)

Yeah. Not exactly Chris Paul territory, with Chauncey’s 25% assist rate. He’s an excellent offensive player by my measures (+3), but mediocre on defense (-0.3) and really bad at rebounding (-2). Coming out to about a +1 player, when everything is accounted for. And he’s 34.

Other players of note: Balkman and Brewer are decent pieces. Anthony Randolph is really, really young and mercurial. He could be something, someday.

I don’t get why Mozgov was considered an important part of this trade. What does he do?

So what are these players worth? Here is their expected value, assuming 5% inflation of salaries (who knows if that’s right!):

Renaldo Balkman$3,000,000$2,903,000$2,456,000$1,849,000$1,215,000
Carmelo Anthony$18,400,000$19,479,000$19,789,000$19,791,000$19,496,000
Shelden Williams$400,000$255,000$120,000$17,000$0
Anthony Carter$0$0$0$0$0
Chauncey Billups$13,100,000$10,756,000$7,351,000$4,361,000$2,153,000
Corey Brewer$1,600,000$2,089,000$2,264,000$2,122,000$1,742,000
Danilo Gallinari$7,000,000$11,080,000$13,802,000$15,703,000$16,589,000
Wilson Chandler$6,200,000$8,841,000$10,580,000$11,267,000$11,094,000
Raymond Felton$11,200,000$11,484,000$10,916,000$9,423,000$7,488,000
Anthony Randolph$400,000$1,445,000$2,942,000$4,413,000$5,464,000
Timofey Mozgov$0$0$0$0$0
Eddy Curry$0$0$0$0$0

So, we know who the players are. What about the contracts?
Here’s a table of the players involved:
Renaldo Balkman26$1,675,000$1,675,000$1,675,000----
Carmelo Anthony26$17,149,243$18,518,574$19,450,000$21,490,000$23,530,000
Shelden Williams27$854,389--------
Anthony Carter35$854,389--------
Chauncey Billups34$13,150,000$14,200,000------
Corey Brewer24$3,703,472--*------
Danilo Gallinari22$3,304,560$4,190,182--*----
Wilson Chandler23$2,130,482--*------
Raymond Felton26$7,000,000$7,560,000------
Anthony Randolph21$1,965,720$2,911,231--*----
Timofey Mozgov24$3,567,096$3,343,896$3,140,429~--*--
Eddy Curry28$11,276,863--------

(Data from Hoopdata)
* Indicates restricted free agent
~ Indicates partially guaranteed (indications are that Billups will be kept on next year).

In addition, the Knicks gave up $3 million cash to both the Nuggets and the T-Wolves, 2 2nd round draft picks to the Nuggets (these are Golden State picks), and their 2014 1st-round pick.

If we subtract the two tables above, we get the marginal value of each player’s contract, by year (VALUES IN THOUSANDS):

New TmMarginal Value20112012201320142015Sum
NYKRenaldo Balkman$460$1,170$740$2,370
NYKCarmelo Anthony$440$910$320-$1,620-$3,840-$3,790
NYKShelden Williams-$160-$160
NYKAnthony Carter-$300-$300
NYKChauncey Billups-$20-$3,280-$3,300
NYKCorey Brewer-$740-$740
DENDanilo Gallinari$1,290$6,560$7,850
DENWilson Chandler$1,420$1,420
DENRaymond Felton$1,470$3,740$5,210
DENTimofey Mozgov-$1,250-$3,180-$2,990-$7,420
MINAnthony Randolph-$550-$1,400-$1,950
MINEddy Curry-$3,950-$3,950

So, tabulating the totals:
The Knicks end up with -$6 million in marginal contract value, the Nuggets with +$7 million in marginal value, and Minnesota with -$6 million. It started out with the Knicks with +$1 million, the Nuggets with -$5 million, and the T-Wolves with -$1 million. So the Nuggets, for overall marginal contract value, gained about $12 million, while the Knicks lost something like $7 million and the T-Wolves lost $5 million.

The late-1st round pick (presuming the Knicks do well!) is worth maybe $5 million in marginal contract value. The second rounders are worth maybe $1 million. And the cash is worth, well, $3 million for each team. However, the Knicks can afford cash and the second rounders can easily be purchased, and perhaps even the 1st rounder as well.

So: from a financial point of view, comparing contribution to cap-space using a replacement-level-based ASPM framework, the Nuggets did quite well, “winning the trade” to the tune of about $20 million. The Knicks paid dearly, losing around $7 million in marginal contract value and spending $13 million in cash equivalents (which they don’t really care about). The T-Wolves lost a million or two, but they feel that Randolph is worth the risk (it appears). He might be, and they need risk given their current status.

Nuggets: A
Knicks: C-
T-Wolves: C+

I think the Knicks could have done better. The Nuggets did amazingly well, considering the hand they were dealt.

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9 Responses to The Carmelo Trade

  1. EvanZ on February 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Mozgov gets posterized, duh.

    • DanielM on February 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      Gets some pub for the team!

  2. Ben on February 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Great stuff as always. Have you published somewhere your study on the expected value of draft picks, pick by pick?

    • DanielM on February 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Just on the APBR post.

  3. ElGee on February 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    One of your best posts Daniel. I agree the Nuggets ended up doing quite well. Really like the ASPM graph at the top. Is there an explanation for those aging projections somewhere?

    • DanielM on February 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      I generated a generic aging curve for ASPM, as outlined here: http://sonicscentral.com/apbrmetrics/viewtopic.php?t=2652

      I think it works quite well, though eventually I’d like to try my hand at modeling components (i.e. block%, steal%, etc.). Components are tough, though, because things are interrelated.

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  1. Salary and contract value discussions and charts
  2. Multi-year APM/RAPM with aging incorporated
  3. Revise ASPM based on multi-year RAPM with aging
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  5. Historical ASPM Tableau visualizations
  6. Create Excel VBA recursive web scraping tutorial
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  15. Revise ASPM with latest RAPM data
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