Smile, Dexter -- you're the star of the deadline. (Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery)Hey, who says the 2013 NBA trade deadline isn't exciting? What's more exciting than Dexter Pittman being on the move, huh?
Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal first reported that the Memphis Grizzlies were "in serious talks" to acquire Pittman — a 24-year-old center taken out of Texas by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft — and a second-round draft pick from the Heat before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline. Shortly thereafter, Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears tweeted that the two sides had agreed to a deal in which the Grizzlies would pick up Pittman by absorbing the balance of his minimum-salary contract — about $323,000 remaining this year, give or take — using a trade exception created by a previous deal.
This seems, primarily, to be a housekeeping arrangement. The East-leading Heat had a full 15-man roster with Pittman on board and wanted to create a slot to possibly pursue a veteran big man who could contribute to their bid for a championship repeat in a more meaningful way than the little-used third-year center. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, had just 12 players on their roster after their recent deals, had to add a 13th pursuant to NBA rules, and had to flexibility to facilitate Miami's desire for a roster spot. The 2013 second-rounder is the cost of Pittman's freight. (And, considering Pittman's generously listed at 275 pounds, that's some freight.) Miami will also get a traded player exception for sending out Pittman's salary without taking any salary back in return; Pittman's on the books for $854,389 this year. Teams have one year from the time they receive/create their trade exceptions to use them in deal, according to Larry Coon's NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement FAQ.
Memphis received trade exceptions of $2.08 million and $4.2 million in the Grizzlies' Jan. 22 trade that sent shooting guard Wayne Ellington and big man Marreese Speights to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for little-used forward Jon Leuer. According to Tillery, though, the exception in play here came from the Grizzlies' 2012 trade deadline deal that sent swingman Sam Young to the Philadephia 76ers in exchange for a piece of another trade exception (created by a prior Sixers-Grizz deal that sent Speights to Memphis) and the rights to Ricky Sanchez, a 25-year-old Puerto Rican big man drafted in the second round in 2005 who's now playing in Argentina and, according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, is considered unlikely ever to actually come over to the NBA.
The Grizzlies will have the opportunity to retain Pittman next year by extending him a $1.1 million qualifying offer this offseason, if they choose. Maybe they see something in the young big man, who's made just 41 NBA appearances over three NBA seasons (including only four this year), has performed decently this season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League, and is probably best known to NBA fans as The Guy Who Elbowed Lance Stephenson in the Throat during the 2012 NBA playoffs. In all likelihood, though, Pittman will remain a sparingly used end-of-the-roster frontcourt player behind the likes of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Ed Davis, Darrell Arthur and the aforementioned Leuer.