Andrew Bogut will earn a contract bonus worth $425K if he lands a spot on either of the league’s two All-Defensive Teams this season, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports, noting that it would be just enough to push the Warriors over the $71.748MM luxury tax threshold. The Bulls have a similar arrangement with Taj Gibson that would put them into tax territory, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports previously reported, but Lowe reveals that bonuses for Joakim Noah could also knock the Bulls over the line. A bonus that Lowe reports is a part of Serge Ibaka‘s deal wouldn’t force the Thunder to pay the tax, but it might have if the team had used a significant portion of its room under the tax at the trade deadline, as it appeared Oklahoma City attempted to do.
Bogut and a few of his teammates would also receive bonuses worth enough money to force the Warriors to pay the luxury tax if they make the Finals. Golden State has never paid the tax, as Deeks has noted, though co-owner Joe Lacob has said multiple times this season that he would be willing to do so under the proper circumstances.
A Finals berth would probably qualify under Lacob’s criteria, but an All-Defensive Team nod for Bogut during a season in which the team languishes near the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture seems a paltry return on a tax investment. Bogut is third in the league in defensive rating and ninth in defensive win shares, according to Basketball-Reference.com, so there’s a realistic chance he receives the bonus and triggers the tax penalty. The team likely took that into account when it acquired Steve Blake and his $4MM salary at the trade deadline, Lowe observes, figuring that the Warriors sought a cheaper alternative but came up empty.
Noah will make $500K if he earns a first-team All-NBA selection, and with a case to be made that the Bulls center has been as valuable as anyone not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant this season, Noah stands a reasonable shot at receiving the bonus. The money would be more than enough to push the Bulls into the tax regardless of what happens with Gibson. Their recent signing of Jimmer Fredette for the season was an indication the team is betting that Gibson and Noah won’t trigger the bonuses this season, and there’s much at stake. The Bulls paid the tax last season, meaning the team would be in line for backbreaking repeat-offender tax rates if it pays the tax again this year and in 2014/15. Noah would also receive $250K if the Bulls win the title, according to Lowe, though that seems quite a long shot, and that bonus alone wouldn’t be enough to force Chicago to pay the tax.
Ibaka receives $250K if he wins Defensive Player of the Year honors, and while he’s not the favorite to do so, Lowe deems him a candidate, which is no stretch, considering he finished second in voting for the award in 2011/12 and third last season. The Knicks reportedly rejected a deadline offer that would have sent Iman Shumpert to the Thunder in exchange for Oklahoma City’s 2014 first-rounder. The exact proposal is unclear, Lowe writes, but if it was a straight exchange of Shumpert for a pick, it would have left the Thunder a few hundred thousand dollars under the tax even if Ibaka had received his bonus, by my calculations. Ibaka also gets a $100K bonus if he makes the All-Defensive First Team, but the league lists that as a likely bonus, meaning it’s already applied to team salary.