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NBA 2016/17 Dead Money: Southeast 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.

Over the next few days, we’ll examine each of the NBA’s 30 teams, breaking them down by division, to figure out 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 and Atlantic divisions. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the Southeast.

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

1. Atlanta Hawks
Total dead money: $2,030,431
Full salary cap breakdown

The Hawks have a D-League franchise lined up to begin play in 2019/2020, but for now, the team can’t assign affiliate players to a D-League squad before the season, limiting the need for partial guarantees — Matt Costello‘s $50K guarantee was the only one handed out by the team. Still, Atlanta has been willing to waive a couple players on fully guaranteed salaries so far, after determining those guys weren’t in the plans. Edy Tavares ($1MM) and Jarrett Jack ($980K) both received their walking papers from the Hawks.

2. Washington Wizards
Total dead money: $1,008,334
Full salary cap breakdown

Interestingly, a handful of Wizards signees appeared to be merely camp invitees based on their contracts — Danuel House, Daniel Ochefu, and Sheldon McClellan all got guaranteed worth between $50-100K. However, all three players remain on the team. Instead, the Wizards’ dead-money total is made up of cap charges for one player who was waived last year – Martell Webster ($833K) – and one who wasn’t able to hang onto his roster spot in camp this year (Jarell Eddie — $175K).

Eddie’s deal originally didn’t feature any guaranteed money for the 2016/17 season, but the Wizards agreed to guarantee a portion of it in order to push his guarantee deadline back, allowing the team to get a look at him in camp. That move wasn’t particularly costly, but ultimately proved unnecessary.

3. Miami Heat
Total dead money: $602,989
Full salary cap breakdown

Most of the Heat’s modest dead-money charges are for camp invitees, including Stefan Jankovic ($100K), Okaro White ($100K), and Keith Benson ($75K). The team’s most interesting dead-money cap hit belongs to Briante Weber, who left a $328K charge on Miami’s books. Weber showed promise last year, and recorded a triple-double in his first game for the Heat’s D-League affiliate this season. If he rejoins the NBA team at some point, Miami would have to pay him a new salary on top of the dead money from his previous contract.

4. Charlotte Hornets
Total dead money: $75,000
Full salary cap breakdown

The Hornets have been careful to avoid taking on much dead money over the last couple seasons, and that trend has continued so far this year. With the exception of Mike Tobey ($75K), most of the club’s camp invitees who have since been assigned to Greensboro didn’t even receive a partial guarantee, and none of Charlotte’s veterans look like release candidates, so the team should be able to keep its books fairly clean for the rest of the season.

5. Orlando Magic
Total dead money: $0
Full salary cap breakdown

The Magic’s books are even cleaner than Charlotte’s, with no dead money tainting the team’s cap so far. While Orlando has done a good job to avoid waiving unwieldy veteran contracts, it might have might some sense for the team to invest a little money on its camp invitees. The Magic avoided undrafted rookies, instead focusing on guys who already had some professional experience, and may have sacrificed a little upside in the process.

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

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