All the way back in 2016, Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey traded a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic in a four-team trade that returned a first-round pick and Brazilian and Cleveland Cavaliers veteran Anderson Varejao.
Because they were significantly under the NBA’s salary floor at the time, the Blazers needed to increase their payroll at the trade deadline; otherwise, they would have incurred a salary penalty that they would have to have split amongst the current members of the team.
The key component in the trade was receiving a first-round pick for just taking on the deal of Varejao. Though the first round-pick was wasted as the Blazers used it to trade for the rights to select Caleb Swanigan, who is now out of the league, it was still a nice piece of business by the team.
They did have to stretch Varejao at the time over five years at the rate of $1.9 million per year, which was a pain in terms of long-term flexibility and cap space, but it was still the right deal at the time. This money – $1.91 million, is now off the books as soon as the new NBA rolls over.
Unfortunately, the Blazers still have the stretched deal of Andrew Nicholson on the books for two more years from the 2022 season at $2.8 million. Still, the extra flexibility they get from not having the $1.9 million anymore is great.
With a tough off-season on the way, they will need all the flexibility they can get payroll-wise to re-tool this team into one that can contend for a title.