Ten players relinquished part of their salaries in buyout deals between the trade deadline and Tuesday’s de facto buyout deadline, and none of them have benefited financially as much as David Lee has. The 11th-year veteran gave up just $458,575 of the $15,493,680 he originally had coming to him from the Celtics and scored a deal worth the $2,085,671 that the Mavericks had left on their room exception, a profit of $1,627,096. Add to that the tax advantage of working in Texas, a state with no income tax, instead of Massachusetts, and it’s easy to see how the Mark Bartelstein client has every reason to be glad about his new team.
The others on this year’s buyout list didn’t fare nearly as well. Steve Novak, another Bartelstein client, gained $8,017 between his Nuggets buyout and Bucks contract, but he’s the only player other than Lee known to have come out ahead. Kris Humphries pulled off an even exchange, while everyone else so far appears to have lost money. The enchantment of the Heat loomed large, as Beno Udrih relinquished $90K to help the Heat avoid the tax, and with an injury that’s expected to keep him out until at least May, his prospects are bleak for finding a contract to offset that loss. Joe Johnson signed a deal that gives him $2,585,519 less than what he gave up from his Nets contract to play in Miami. That’s the largest loss in terms of raw dollars among those recently doing buyouts, though Florida is another state without an income tax, so that’s a mitigating factor.
It’s possible that other players will arrange buyouts between now and the end of the season, but less motivation exists to do so, since Tuesday was the final day for players to hit waivers and retain eligibility to participate in the playoffs with another team.
Here’s a look at the known financials of the buyouts from the past two weeks. The figures reflect pretax amounts.
- David Lee, Celtics (forfeited $458,575) — Signed with Mavericks (contract worth $2,085,671)
- Steve Novak, Nuggets (forfeited $416,886) — Signed with Bucks (contract worth $424,903)
- Kris Humphries, Suns (forfeited $1MM) — Signed with Hawks (contract worth $1MM)
- J.J. Hickson, Nuggets (forfeited $396,242) — Signed with Wizards (contract worth $366,337)
- Beno Udrih, Heat (forfeited $90K) — Free agent
- Andrea Bargnani, Nets (forfeited $1,551,659 combined for this season and next) — Free agent
- Joe Johnson, Nets (forfeited $3MM) — Signed with Heat (contract worth $414,481)
- Andre Miller, Timberwolves (forfeited unknown amount*) — Signed with Spurs (contract worth $396,844)
- Ty Lawson, Rockets (forfeited unreported amount) — On waivers (scheduled to clear today at 4pm Central)
- Kevin Martin, Timberwolves (forfeited unreported amount) — On waivers (scheduled to clear today at 4pm Central)
* — The amount of Minnesota’s obligation to Miller went down by $256,333 as part of the buyout deal, but that doesn’t account for any reduction in the amount the league pays Miller. The 17th-year veteran was on a one-year contract for the minimum salary, so the Wolves were only responsible for the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum salary, worth $947,276 for the full season. The NBA was to pick up the tab for the difference between that and Miller’s full $1,499,187 salary for veterans of 10 or more years, but it’s unclear how much the league avoids paying as a result of the buyout.
The Basketball Insiders Salary Pages were used in the creation of this post.