Financial Impact Of Deadline, Buyouts: Pacific

The effects of the trade deadline are still being felt around the NBA as teams work buyout deals, negotiate with new free agents and fill open roster spots. Hoops Rumors will be taking a team-by-team look at the financial ramifications not just of the deadline itself but of the post-deadline moves. After beginning earlier with a look at the Southwest Division, we’ll continue with the Pacific Division:


The trade of Lance Stephenson for Jeff Green was fairly even in terms of raw salary, but the Clippers absorbed a projected tax hit that magnifies the $450K difference between Green’s salary and Stephenson’s. L.A. is more than $10MM over the $84.74MM tax threshold, so that $450K will cost two and a half times that amount in additional taxes, unless the Clips find some altogether unlikely means of trimming salary by the final day of the regular season. Thus, the trade represents an investment of an additional $1.575MM in combined payroll and taxes. Rookie Alex Stepheson‘s 10-day contract also costs, at the rate of $30,888 in salary and $139,305 in tax penalties on top of it, but even though the tax penalty would be the same for anyone else on a 10-day deal, his salary is $24,834 less than if the team had signed a long-tenured veteran, as it did earlier with Jeff Ayres.


The Suns earned some well-deserved praise for snagging a first-round pick in the trade that sent Markieff Morris to the Wizards, but they also reaped some financial flexibility that allowed them to pick up an intriguing asset after the trade. Phoenix created a $1.56MM trade exception for the difference between the $8MM salary of Morris and the combined $6.44MM that Kris Humphries ($4.44MM) and DeJuan Blair ($2MM) make. The Suns used that exception to claim John Jenkins off waivers from the Mavericks, thus snagging a former No. 23 pick who has a favorable contract and averaged 19.7 points per game in the preseason this past fall. Jenkins has two years left on his contract after this season, and both call for non-guaranteed minimum salaries, meaning he has no long-term cost if he doesn’t pan out and a low cost if he does. Phoenix also signed Phil Pressey to a 10-day contract worth $55,722, but the Suns still have a lower payroll for this season than they did before the deadline. They also erased $7.4MM from next year’s guaranteed salary commitments and a combined $16.6MM for the two seasons after that, since Humphries and Blair are on de facto expiring contracts. That made it palatable for the Suns to eat the rest of Blair’s salary for this season when they waived him.


Golden State dared to tinker with a roster that’s in the midst of the most successful season in NBA history so far, waiving little-used Jason Thompson to make room for a prorated minimum-salary contract for Anderson Varejao. That Varejao deal costs $289,755 in salary and $724,388 in projected tax penalties, so it represents an investment of more than $1MM. The Warriors nonetheless minimized the effects on next year’s payroll with the use of the stretch provision. It was much too late to stretch any of Thompson’s nearly $6.909MM salary for this season, but Golden State turned the $2.65MM partial guarantee on his 2016/17 pay into equal $883,333 installments for each of the next three seasons. That drops Golden State’s guaranteed salary commitments for the summer ahead from close to $74.752MM to about $72.985MM, an incremental difference that could nonetheless be meaningful to the team’s pursuit of Kevin Durant.


Sacramento, despite no shortage of rumors, didn’t make any roster moves in February, though Caron Butler is reportedly a buyout candidate.


Like the Kings, the Lakers have stood pat so far through the deadline and buyout season.

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