Cap & Trade: The Luther Head/AJ Price Edition

With the addition of Luther Head today and the signing of rookie second rounder AJ Price earlier this month, the Pacers have filled their allotted 15-man roster — at least for the moment.

Luther Head

Head, a 6’3″ Illinois product, comes to the Pacers after spending the bulk of his four-year career as a Houston Rocket. The combo guard (code for short shooting guard) is a career 39% shooter from beyond the arc, something that should be put to good use under Jim O’Brien. He’s not a big scorer, but he could provide a little quick offense…particularly during the wasteland of the third.

Mike Wells tweeted that he’s signed a one-year contract at the minimum salary, only partially guaranteed. As a four-year veteran, he would be paid about $885,000 for a full season.

AJ Price

Drafted 52nd out of Connecticut, AJ Price showed some promise in the Orlando Summer League, averaging 8 points and 3 assists and generally looking like a nice pairing with 2nd year Center, Roy Hibbert. Jim O’Brien has said he could be the “steal of the draft,” but judging from the contract, the Pacers are hedging their bets.

Price was signed to a three-year contract totaling about $458,000 this season, and $2.1 million over its length.  However, there are very few guarantees. As usual, Sham at has the most complete and accurate salary info and tidbits.

A.J. Price: Signed a three year minimum salary contract in September 2009. First year is $175,000 guaranteed, becoming $300,000 guaranteed if Price is not waived on or before December 1st, and becoming fully guaranteed if not waived on or before January 1st 2010. Second year is fully unguaranteed, becoming $175,000 guaranteed if not waived before August 1st 2010, becoming $380,000 guaranteed if not waived on or before 2010 opening night, becoming $531,000 guaranteed if not waived or on before 1st December 2010, and becoming fully guaranteed if ntow aived on or before January 5th 2011. Last year is also fully unguaranteed, becoming $200,000 guaranteed if not waived on or before July 29th 2011, and becoming fully guaranteed if not waived on or before opening night 2011. Phewph.

Translation: Rent, AJ, don’t buy.

Cap Ramifications

Both of these deals are very small and easy to exit for the Pacers. Should both stay with the team for the full season, they will be paid a little over $1.3 million, or about what Troy Murphy makes every 10 games. The cap hit would be about $50,000 less than their total salaries, because the league actually reimburses the team for part of his salary – any amount above the minimum salary level for a two-year veteran.

The Pacers’ cap figure after these two signings is approximately $66.7 million, leaving them with about $3.2 million below the luxury tax threshold. They have effectively used up both their Mid-Level and Bi-Annual Exceptions, so the only contracts they could offer free agents at this point are Minimum Level contract.

Nudge, Nudge.  Wink, Wink.

It’s at this point that I suggest you go ahead and get all of the jokes and bad puns out of your system, because they’re going to get very tired by the time the season starts. For variety, I suggest you work in some of the fine Mike Meyers work from So I Married an Axe Murderer.

With any luck, it will distract you from the realization that we are almost certain to see a lineup of TJ Ford, Luther Head, Dahntay Jones, Danny Granger and Troy Murphy at some point this season.

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