Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nets' Carter on the trading block (to pay off Gramercy?); Golden's "chance of a lifetime" down the tubes

One of the more overblown pieces of rhetoric during the Atlantic Yards approval process came from State Sen. Marty Golden, an ethically-challenged Bay Ridge Republican.

Upon the legislature's approval of $100 million in subsidies to the project, Golden declared, according to a 4/14/06 Courier-Life article:
“It is the chance of a lifetime to have stars such as Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and all the others have their home court based in Brooklyn. I am proud to have championed these efforts for the future of Kings County,” said Golden.
(Emphasis added)

Trading away the stars

Well, Kidd's gone.

So is Jefferson.

And Carter is on the trading block. This isn't Dodgerland anymore. It's not about continuity; it's about money.

(New York Sun photo of Carter and Kidd at 8/23/06 press conference before the public hearing on the AY Draft Environmental Statement.)

The Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro reports on the contours of a Nets deal with the San Antonio Spurs:
The primary benefit to the deal is financial: The Nets would rid themselves of Carter's $16.1 million salary next year, profoundly shortening their payroll: Mason ($3.8 million) and Hill ($1.1 million) would remain with the team, but Bowen and Oberto -- despite having a year left on their contracts -- have minimal salary protection if they are cut before July 1 and Aug. 1, respectively.

That would reduce the Nets' payroll to roughly $50 million at the end of the current season -- or an estimated $10 million under the salary cap -- which would make the Nets major players in the 2009 free-agent market.


A Gramercy connection?

Beyond the free-agent market, there could be an even shorter-term gain. If the Nets save $10 million+, that would go a long way toward paying off the $15 million that Forest City Ratner owes to Gramercy Capital Corporation. (Parent Forest City Enterprises, while not the majority owner, absorbs most of the team's losses.)

Further losses

Comments NLG's Eric McClure:
NoLandGrab: Oder's Nets equation leaves out one important variable — revenue — while D'Alessandro's doesn't factor in time.

If the Nets blatantly dump salary by moving Vince Carter while getting little talent in return, they'll further alienate their already-dwindling fan base. Sure, Brett Yormark is a genius, but even he will have a tough time selling more than a couple thousand tickets a game when the team won't even be able to pretend it's trying to win. Alas, poor Yormark.

And clearing salary cap now will do the Nets no good in the summer 2010 free agent market. They'll be at least two years short of playing in Brooklyn, so it's highly unlikely that LeBron or Dwayne Wade or anyone else for that matter will want to spend two years playing in a more-than-half-empty tomb with a gutted team far from contending for anything.

Ratner's like a chess player who has nothing left but his king and a couple pawns, playing against a superior opponent. Every time he makes a move, he finds himself in check, and the check-mate is looming.

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