Evaluating Last Year’s Buyouts

Another deadline looms over the NBA this week. Players must clear waivers by Friday to be eligible for the playoffs with a new team, and many of them are in the process of negotiating buyouts with their current teams to obtain the freedom to sign elsewhere. With a buyout, a player is essentially paying for his free agency by giving back a portion of his contract. Sometimes it's a relatively small fraction of the contract's worth, and other times, as with Mike Bibby last year, it's a sizable chunk of money. Teams may be motivated to do a buyout for cap relief, as the reduced value of the contract, and not its original value, is what counts on the ledger. For more on buyouts and their affect on the salary cap, check out Larry Coon's CBA FAQ.

As this year's crop of buyouts gets ready for harvest, let's take a look back at what happened to the players who agreed to buyouts last year: 

  • Mike Bibby renounced $6,217,616 of his salary over two seasons when he reached a buyout agreement with the Wizards on February 28. Scheduled to make $5,764,767 in 2010/11 and $6,417,616 in 2011/12, he received $4,438,893 last year and gets $1,125,874 this year from the contract. (The contract also netted Bibby $400K in incentives). He signed with the Heat on March 2, earning $342,022 for the rest of the season. He started all but the final playoff game for Miami, averaging 3.7 points, 1.2 assists and 20.8 minutes in the postseason. He has played a limited role with the Knicks this season on a 1,352,181 minimum-salary deal. The $1.125MM he gets from his bought out contract still counts as a cap hit against the Wizards this year.
  • Troy Murphy gave up $300K of the $11,968,253 remaining on his expiring contract when he and the Warriors reached a buyout agreement February 28. The Celtics picked him up March 2 for $310,929, so Murphy came out ahead by close to $11K. Though he averaged 10.5 MPG off the bench for the Celtics during the regular season, he played a total of just three minutes in the playoffs. He signed with the Lakers for the veteran’s minimum of $1,352,181, and as the first big man off the bench, he’s averaged 3.4 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 18 MPG.
  • Al Thornton was making $2,814,196 in the final year of his rookie contract last year, and gave back $100K in a buyout with the Wizards on March 1. He latched on with the Warriors for $218,677 on March 3 and settled into the rotation, averaging 6.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 14.3 MPG. Nonetheless, the 14th pick in the 2007 draft has not played in the league this season, and signed with a Puerto Rican team last month.
  • Corey Brewer’s was making $3,703,472 in the final year of his rookie contract with the Timberwolves when he was shipped to the Knicks in the three-team Carmelo Anthony deal. On March 1, he agreed to cut his salary to $3.2MM in a buyout. Two days later, the Mavs used their midlevel exception to sign him to a three-year, $7.452MM deal. He played in 13 regular season games for the Mavericks, performing well in just 11.4 MPG, compiling PER (17.6) and points per 36 minutes (16.8) numbers well above his career marks. He was an afterthought in the playoffs though, appearing for just 23 total minutes as the Mavs made their championship run. Seeking to shed salary, Dallas traded Brewer and Rudy Fernandez to the Nuggets for a second-round pick before this season. Seeing 21.8 MPG, Brewer is averaging 9.8 PPG, the best scoring output of his career save for 13.0 PPG in 2009/10.
  • Jared Jeffries forfeited $1MM of his $6,883,800 salary on February 25 to get a buyout from the Rockets. He signed a $316,584 minimum-salary deal on March 1 with the Knicks, who had sent him to Houston in a 2010 trade. A favorite of coach Mike D’Antoni’s, he saw 19.3 MPG in the regular season but was largely ineffective en route to a career-worst 34.9% shooting percentage. He bounced back in the playoffs, averaging 6.3 PPG on 47.8% from the floor. The Knicks brought him back on another minimum deal for $1,229,255 this season, and while he’s averaged 4.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 20.5 MPG this year, his playing time has been cut back somewhat under new coach Mike Woodson.
  • Eddy Curry’s six-year, $56,014,078 contract finally came off the Knicks books last year when they shipped him to the Timberwolves as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. The Wolves absorbed a $504,459 trade kicker, but wasted little time divesting themselves of Curry. He agreed to give back $250K in a buyout March 1, yet still wound up pocketing more than $11.53MM from the final year of his massive deal. The buyout turned out to be a waste for Curry, who didn’t catch on with another team last year. The Heat signed him to a $1,352,181 minimum-salary deal before this season, but has used Curry for a total of just 46 minutes all year.

Storytellers Contracts was used in the creation of this post.


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