A 3-Team Trade: Titans and Cleveland browns officially engaged in a super stars Swap trade.

Solving the problem that is the Tennessee Titans is no easy task. The franchise was ousted before the playoffs and has vital decisions ahead, including the fate of future Hall of Famers Klay Thompson and Chris Paul.

The team governor typically decides direction, and as Joe Lacob told The TK Show in February, “Our Plan 1 or 1A is that we’d like to be out of the tax.”

“The truth is, we need to be out of the tax two years out of the next four in order to get this repeater thing off our books,” Lacob continued. “That’s the plan: to try to do that, and we think we can keep our team together.”

Keep the Warriors together, but avoid paying roughly the $383 million in payroll and luxury taxes shelled out for 2023-24. Got it.

Lacob may be able to keep Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, but not everyone will be back for Plan 1 or 1A. With a projected luxury tax line of $171.3 million for 2024-25, sacrifice is inevitable. Based on the buzz around the trade deadline, Andrew Wiggins was the player the team shopped unsuccessfully.

That could change in July when the Philadelphia 76ers project to have a massive cache of cap room. While it’s believed to be earmarked for Paul George, multiple NBA sources expect George to re-sign with the LA Clippers. With a weak free-agent market, Wiggins may be the best available wing for Philadelphia.

Another casualty of the Warriors’ finances will probably be Chris Paul, whose $30 million salary for next season is non-guaranteed. Golden State will need a replacement along with interior size.

Enter the Portland Trail Blazers, who have too much payroll for a rebuilding franchise.

The following multi-team trade is the kind of move the Warriors may need to make to try to stay competitive.

Sixers get:

Andrew Wiggins (via Warriors)

$1.1 million (via Trail Blazers)

Blazers get:

Kevon Looney (via Warriors)

No. 16 pick (via 76ers)

$22.5 million trade exception (Wiggins)

$4.4 million trade exception (Robert Williams III)

Warriors get:

Malcolm Brogdon

Robert Williams III

Note: The deal would be agreed to before the draft but executed on July 6, after the 2024-25 moratorium.

The Warriors would have a hard cap at the first apron (projected at $178.7 million) but could avoid triggering it by including Gui Santos to Philadelphia or Portland.

Why the Philadelphia 76ers Do It

The Sixers are in a unique spot. Only Joel Embiid has a guaranteed contract for next season.

Tyrese Maxey, the No. 21 pick in 2020, has outplayed his draft position. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, taking up just $13 million of the team’s cap space before signing what will likely be a maximum contract starting at about $35.3 million.

The Sixers could reach about $65 million in cap space by trimming down to just the pair, more than enough to max out George at about $49.4 million. But if he doesn’t agree to come (Philadelphia will almost undoubtedly know before the draft, as behind-the-scenes negotiations are illegal but par for the course in the NBA), the rest of the free-agent market may not be very appealing.

Taking Wiggins into cap space for just the No. 16 pick is a bargain for Philadelphia. The 29-year-old wing and 2014 No. 1 pick is under contract through 2026-27 for $84.7 million (player option on the final season). That’s a significantly lower price than George (almost 34) will command to stay with the Clippers.

Assuming the 76ers also keep Paul Reed Jr., Philadelphia would still have about $33.3 million to spend elsewhere (before re-signing Maxey) plus the room mid-level exception (about $8 million). Wiggins, Embiid’s Kansas teammate, would presumably replace Tobias Harris on the roster, and the remaining budget would be used to shop in free agency and/or retain players like Kyle Lowry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Nicolas Batum, Buddy Hield and De’Anthony Melton.

The team also has Ricky Council IV at a non-guaranteed $1.9 million and a $2.2 million option on Jeff Dowtin Jr. Other Philadelphia free agents include Robert Covington, Mo Bamba, Cameron Payne, KJ Martin and two-way player Terquavion Smith.

Why the Portland Trail Blazers Do It

After trading Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Trail Blazers are rebuilding. Complicating matters, the team has a hefty projected payroll next season above the luxury tax line.

Portland already has the Warriors’ No. 14 pick in the draft (assuming Golden State doesn’t vault to a top-four selection on lottery night), plus its own lottery pick with almost equal odds to the Charlotte Hornets at Nos. 3 and 4.

Getting another first (No. 16 from Philadelphia) may be the best return it can get for Brogdon and Williams. Brogdon, 31, doesn’t fit the team’s timeline and has a $22.3 million expiring contract. Williams is coming off a knee injury and has two years left on his deal ($25.7-$28.9 million, depending on incentives).

The trade exceptions ($22.5 million and $4.4 million) could help the team make additional moves, but the budget crisis would be solved. After the three-way deal, Portland would drop well below the luxury tax with a projected payroll in the $152 million range.

That assumes Looney is waived with just $3 million guaranteed, though the Blazers could hold onto him to re-trade as an expiring contract. The team would also have the non-taxpayer mid-level (about $12.9 million) and bi-annual ($4.7 million) exceptions available.

The $1.1 million to the Sixers is needed as a “touch” to make the multi-team deal legal and part of the price Portland pays for financial freedom. Alternatively, the Blazers could send the No. 40 pick (via the Atlanta Hawks).

Why the Golden State Warriors Do It

The Warriors may not have a perfect solution, which means taking on some risk. Best case, Williams is a still-young (27 before next season) big who is a noted defender with playoff experience at a reasonable price—a steal if he pans out. If not, his contract is movable as a 2025-26 expiring.

Brogdon would replace Paul (almost 39), whose contract doesn’t fit Lacob’s financial picture. The veteran guard averaged 15.7 points per game while shooting 41.2 percent from three-point range on a terrible Blazers squad. Brogdon shot 44.4 percent from deep for the Boston Celtics the year prior. He has good size at 6’4″ and would fill out a backcourt with Brandin Podziemski, Moses Moody, Gary Payton II (assuming he opts in) and Thompson.

Golden State could also trade Paul, but the return may make keeping Thompson impossible while staying under the tax. More likely, the first step would be cutting Paul, executing the deal, and then turning to Thompson in free agency with an offer of up to almost $20 million in the first season.

Losing Looney, a culture fit, would be a difficult choice, but it is necessary to help duck the tax. Re-signing Dario Šarić would make sense to complement Trayce Jackson-Davis, Green and Williams. Or Payton II could go out instead of Looney (though the Blazers may not want him back). Given the loss of Wiggins, Golden State would probably need Payton’s wing and on-ball defense.

Wiggins’ departure also opens a more significant role for Jonathan Kuminga.

The Warriors keep their long-tenured trio (Curry, Thompson and Green) together, stay under the tax and add a couple of productive veterans in Brogdon and Williams. That could appease Lacob while keeping the team (relatively) competitive just a little bit longer.

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