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Use Of Stretch Provision Continues To Grow

When we last looked at the way NBA teams were using the stretch provision, in early September, four players in a single week had just had their salaries spread as front offices rushed to beat a key deadline. That surpassed the total of three on whom the provision had ever been used since its inception following the 2011 lockout. Since that sudden surge, five more players have joined the list, including two who have the largest-ever stretched contracts.

No team had dared to spread more than $3.25MM when the regular season began. That changed dramatically when the Pistons stunningly decided in December to waive Josh Smith and defray the cost of the $27MM they owed him for 2015/16 and 2016/17 over a five-year period. They’ll pay him $5.4MM each year through 2019/20, since the provision calls for the salary to be spread in equal amounts over a length of time that’s double the number of years left on the deal, plus one. Detroit couldn’t keep the entirety of his $13.5MM for this season from sticking on its books, since the passage of the September 1st deadline prevented that. Still, the Pistons bought themselves some cap flexibility for the next two summers at the expense of the three to follow.

The Bucks followed with an even longer timetable for Larry Sanders, who still had three and a half years left on his contract when he and Milwaukee pulled off a buyout in February. The buyout left Sanders with only about $13.059MM of the $33MM he was supposed to see from 2015/16 through 2017/18, and the Bucks used the stretch provision to further minimize their obligation for those seasons. Milwaukee will have close to $1.866MM for Sanders on the books for a whopping seven years, a period that will carry all the way through 2021/22. Still, the Bucks won’t feel quite as much of a burden as they would have if there had been no buyout, which would have had them shelling out $11MM for the next three seasons, or if there had been a buyout but no stretch, which would have left $4.353MM cap hits each season through 2017/18.

Here’s a look at each use of the stretch provision since it came into being, listed in reverse chronological order. The month in which each use occurred is in parentheses, which helps illustrate just how much more frequently the provision has come into play within the past nine months. All salaries shown are the total amounts the teams stretched, and not the figures they’ll pay out each year. The salaries are rounded to the nearest $1K.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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