Since Hennigan took over as GM, everything I've seen and heard with regards to trading Dwight seems to suggest that Hennigan's goal is to unload bad contracts and rebuild through the draft. Just about every trade rumor mentions the Magic's desire to offload the contracts of J-Rich, Hedo, Davis, and Duhon, while simultaneously stockpiling draft picks. It seems clear that Hennigan wants to follow the Thunder/Spurs model and build through the draft. The Thunder did so by getting high lottery picks and drafting 3 stars, while the Spurs did so by consistently getting great value in the mid to late first round and amassing a ton of quality depth.
The way I see it, there are two ways to rebuild a franchise, both of which were on full display in this year's Finals. The Heat model is to clear up a ton of cap space and go out in free agency and sign a couple of stars. The Thunder model is to tank, get high draft picks, and draft a couple of stars. Thus, when trading a disgruntled superstar and starting over, shouldn't the objective be to either acquire draft picks and young assets, or clear cap space, and not both?
I think many of us agree that the best way to go about rebuilding this franchise is to follow the Thunder model by tanking for a couple of years and drafting a couple of stars. Now here's the thing that I don't seem to understand: in what capacity does this plan for rebuilding require cap space? Hedo and Duhon are under contract for two years, one guaranteed and one partially guaranteed. J-Rich and Davis are signed for three more years, but are eligible for the stretch provision. If our plan is to suck for the next two years and get high lottery picks, why is it imperative that we dump their contracts? By attaching one or more bad contracts to Dwight, we're diminishing our return. If we really wanted to rebuild through the draft, wouldn't it be smarter to get the maximum value for Dwight in the form of draft picks and young assets? Keeping the vets would not significantly diminish our chances at a high draft pick. If we're rebuilding through the draft, we presumably aren't going to be chasing any free agents next year, and we thus don't really need the cap space. The cap flexibility wouldn't really be useful until at least two years down the line, when we have a solid core of young players already in place, at which point Hedo and Duhon would be off the books and J-Rich and Davis could be stretched for a combined cap hit of only 4.5M.
This is something I've been thinking about for a while, and I'd be very interested to hear people's opinions on this, both as it pertains to the Magic specifically, and from a more general philosophical standpoint. As far as the Dwight situation goes, do you consider unloading salary a priority in any Dwight trade, and if you do, why, and what would you do with the cap space? The only real advantage I've been able to come up with so far is purely financial. From an ownership standpoint, it makes sense to get rid of high priced veterans if you're going to suck anyways. But from a pure basketball operations standpoint, what is the benefit? Is the whole "clear cap space" thing mandated by ownership? Or does Hennigan truly believe that clearing cap space will ultimately improve the team? Are GM's always acting in the best interest of building a winning team, or are they ultimately concerned with the bottom line? Lots of questions, I hope this can be an interesting discussion.