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Luxury tax likely to determine any Spurs deal

The names Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and now J.J. Redick are some big names that have popped up on the rumor mill involving the Spurs.  Typically these big names don't pop up in the same sentence around trade deadline with the San Antonio Spurs, but this year is different due to the trade friendly contracts of Stephen Jackson, Danny Green, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter (not that Green, Diaw and Bonner's names have been mentioned).  Splitter also coming along as a legit starting center in this league gives him some real trade value too. 

Still a deal just feels unlikely, doesn't it?

This is the team with the best record in the league so why mess up that chemistry, right?  Well that's not the reason I think a deal is unlikely.  If a deal doesn't go down I think it will be as much about economics as it will on the floor performance.

MySA's Jeff McDonald touched on it from a Spurs centric view today and Tom Ziller of SB Nation had a broader write up on it, but the message is the same.

The Spurs went over the luxury tax last season and need to avoid this season.

The repeater tax is not one to be messed with.  While it doesn't kick in for a couple of years, being repeater tax offender (going over in at least three out of four seasons) can result in a much larger penalty.  Small market teams are going to avoid this like the plague.

The luxury tax line is tentatively set at $70.3 million.  According to McDonald, the Spurs payroll currently sits at $70.1 million.  So even though the Spurs could technically take on more money in a trade, they likely won't because it would put them over the luxury tax line.  So when you're playing with the trade machine, remember to look for deals that have equal money or more going out than coming in.  For example, Smith for Jackson and Splitter would work just fine because the Spurs would be sending out more money than bringing in.  However, Smith for Jackson, Nando De Colo and DeJuan Blair wouldn't because the Spurs would be taking on about $700,000 more in salary than sending out (not to mention it kind of sucks for Atlanta).

Stay tuned to Project Spurs throughout the day, we'll be updating any trade, rumor or half-assed thing we see on Twitter up through the 2 p.m. CT deadline.

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