Nets have a $1.26 million trade exception that came along with the Marcus Williams trade. Since Williams was traded for pick(s), the Nets received a TE equal to his full salary this season. It can be used to secure a player, in a variety of ways, through the first anniversary of the trade, July 22, 2009. It can also be used to pick up a player off waivers if that player makes less than $1.36 million this season...the value of the TE plus $100,000.
TE's can't be combined with players in deals, but multi-player deals can be broken into pieces and a TE used in one part of it. And TE's can be broken apart...although the one acquired in the Marcus Williams deal is so small it's hard to imagine how that would make sense.
In the Rod Thorn era, the Nets have a history of using most if not all their TE's. Historically, the bottom line is they have been willing to use a TE if it doesn't put them in luxury tax territory.
--In 2004, they picked up $15.6 million in TE's from the Kenyon Martin ($5.2 million) and Kerry Kittles ($10.4 million) trades. In both cases, they were the result of big salary players being traded away solely for draft picks. Ulimately, they used half of the Kittles TE to acquire Cliff Robinson in a trade with the Warriors for two second round picks; used the Martin TE to claim Eldon Campbell off waivers and used the remainder of the Kittles TE to acquire Marc Jackson in a swap of second round picks with the Sixers. They had planned on using that to make the Shareef Abdur Rahim trade work but once it died, they moved quickly to get some use out of it. They left very little on the table after those deals...less than $1 million out of $15.6 million. (The Campbell deal always mystified but it may have been a way for the Nets to get the Pistons to agree to something else. Campbell was released and rejoined the Pistons.)
--In 2006, they received two TE's worth more than $2.7 million ($2.05 million and $719,000) from the Marc Jackson/Linton Johnson for Boki Nachbar trade. They let both lapse because they were close to the luxury tax and using the TE's would have put them over.
--In 2007, they received a $2.6 million TE from the Jeff McInnis for Bernard Robinson trade which they also let lapse because they were too close to the tax.
--In 2008, they picked up a $3.3 million TE in the Jason Kidd for Devin Harris etc. trade which they then used to acquire Keyon Dooling for cash. The Nets used the entire TE, according to reports. The Kidd deal was constructed in such a way that the Nets wound up with one large TE rather than a couple of smaller ones.
A team doesn't have to give up a pick when using a TE. There are lots of ways a team can use them.
The Nets can 1) trade the TE with a pick, as they did with Robinson and had planned to do with Abdur-Rahim; 2) agree to swap picks--first or second rounders--and the TE, as they did with Jackson; 3) trade the TE with cash, as they did with Dooling; 4) use the TE to pick up a player off waivers as long as the player's salary is less than the TE--as they did with Campbell; or 5) trade the TE with the draft rights to Christian Drejer, which the Nets still retain despite his retirement from international play. If they were able to do any of those things, it would provide the team with an additional benefit from the Marcus Williams trade. And with the Nets $8.5 million under the luxury tax, they have flexibility they didn't have in the past.
The other advantage of using a TE in a trade is that the other team takes over the TE for a year. Orlando for example has the $3.3 million TE from the Dooling trade available for use until next July 20.