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NBA 2016/17 Dead Money: Pacific Division

The concept of “dead money” on a salary cap isn’t as common in the NBA as it is in the NFL, but it essentially functions the same way in both leagues. Dead money refers to the salary remaining on a team’s cap for players that are no longer on the roster.

For NFL teams, taking on a certain amount of dead money is a common practice, since signing bonuses affect cap hits differently, and big-money players are more likely to be released before playing out their entire contracts. That practice is less common in the NBA.

Still, with the NBA’s salary cap on the rise, teams may be a little more willing to part ways with players on guaranteed salaries, since that increased cap gives clubs more flexibility than they used to have. Within the last month, we’ve seen players like Ronnie Price and Greivis Vasquez, who each had $4-5MM in guaranteed money left on their contracts, waived in order to clear room for newcomers.

We’re in the process of examining each of the NBA’s 30 teams, breaking them down by division. We’ll determine which teams are carrying the most dead money on the cap for 2016/17, and what that information might tell us about those teams. We’ve already examined the Central, Atlantic, Southeast, and Southwest divisions. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the Pacific division.

Here are the 2016/17 dead money figures for the Pacific teams:

1. Phoenix Suns
Total dead money: $2,871,866
Full salary cap breakdown

While the Suns have a modest dead-money cap charge for Michael Beasley ($778K), most of the team’s dead money comes from Archie Goodwin‘s contract, which counts for $2.094MM on the 2016/17 books. Goodwin is still just 22 years old and was a surprise cut last month, having become expendable after the Suns added Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley in free agency. With Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Brandon Knight, and Tyler Ulis also in the backcourt mix, Phoenix figured Goodwin wouldn’t have a meaningful role this season.

The Suns remain well below the salary floor, so that decision probably won’t affect them financially. Still, for a team not expected to be contenders this year, it was an interesting decision to spend on Dudley and Barbosa – two veterans in their 30s – rather than exercising a little more patience with the 22-year-old Goodwin.

2. Sacramento Kings
Total dead money: $1,682,829
Full salary cap breakdown

The Kings have a pair of veterans waived via their stretch provision counting against their cap, in Wayne Ellington ($883K) and Caron Butler ($517K). The team also paid $100K apiece to a pair of camp invitees, in Lamar Patterson and second-round pick Isaiah Cousins. However, Sacramento’s most interesting dead-money cap hits might belong to Jordan Farmar, who counts not once but twice on the team’s books, having already been signed and cut multiple times. Farmar’s two cap charges count for about $83K, which isn’t a bad haul for a player who spent six regular-season days on the roster and four on waivers.

3. Los Angeles Clippers
Total dead money: $1,412,964
Full salary cap breakdown

The Clippers, one of eight NBA teams without a D-League affiliate this season, didn’t bother inviting any undrafted rookies to camp, since the team had nowhere to assign them in the D-League, and had its 15-man roster fairly set. Still, while Los Angeles was able to avoid tacking on modest partial guarantees that way, the club is still carrying cap hits for former Clippers like Carlos Delfino ($650K), Jordan Farmar ($511K), and Miroslav Raduljica ($252K). Those dead-money hits total $1.413MM, and the Clippers currently sit $1.453MM over the tax threshold, making those charges even more costly.

4. Golden State Warriors
Total dead money: $1,380,126
Full salary cap breakdown

Despite carrying four All-NBA players on their roster, the Warriors don’t rank among the highest team salaries in the NBA, and their dead-money charges aren’t exorbitant either, a sign of solid cap management. Jason Thompson, waived back in February, is responsible for most of the Warriors’ dead money this year, with a $945K cap hit. Outside of Elliot Williams, who got a $250K guarantee but didn’t make Golden State’s regular season roster, the team’s other dead-money charges belong to players currently playing for their D-League affiliate: Cameron Jones ($50K), Elgin Cook ($50K), Scott Wood ($50K), and Phil Pressey ($35K).

5. Los Angeles Lakers
Total dead money: $1,184,636
Full salary cap breakdown

Anthony Brown and Yi Jianlian were initially viewed as strong bets to earn spots on the Lakers’ 15-man roster this season, but Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace ultimately fit into those openings instead, leaving Brown’s $875K salary and Yi’s $250K guarantee on Los Angeles’ books. Along with Zach Auguste ($60K), those dead money charges cut into L.A.’s small amount of remaining cap room, leaving the team just $530K under the cap. However, adding $1.185MM in extra cap space wouldn’t change much — the Lakers still have their $2.898MM room exception if they want to sign a player for more than the minimum.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

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