NBA 2016/17 Dead Money: Atlantic 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 got things underway on Friday by examining the Central division. Today, we’ll move on to the Atlantic.

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

1. Philadelphia 76ers
Total dead money: $12,098,851
Full salary cap breakdown

The Sixers’ dead money list is essentially a means to end. Veterans like Carl Landry ($6.5MM), Tibor Pleiss ($3MM), and Sasha Kaun ($1.333MM) weren’t exactly players Philadelphia went out and targeted for their on-court contributions. They were players with burdensome contracts, which the Sixers agreed to take on if they got something out of the deal — usually a second-round pick or two.

Since they’re still in rebuilding mode, the 76ers haven’t needed all their cap room to go out and sign immediate contributors, which means they can afford to use some of that room to essentially buy draft picks. In that sense, their $12MM in dead money isn’t a problem at all.

Of course, not all of the Sixers’ dead-money charges were beneficial. The club is paying Elton Brand‘s full $980K salary for this season after he decided to retire, and the $155K guarantee Brandon Paul received from Philadelphia seems unnecessary, now that he’s neither on the roster nor on the Sixers’ D-League squad.

2. Brooklyn Nets
Total dead money: $10,891,212
Full salary cap breakdown

A handful of point guards are responsible for the majority of the Nets’ dead money, with Deron Williams ($5.475MM) and Greivis Vasquez ($4.348MM) leading the way. Brooklyn is also carrying dead money for point guards Jarrett Jack ($500K) and Yogi Ferrell ($100K). In nearly all of those cases, the Nets’ desire to move on from veteran players and get younger resulted in those veterans leaving some dead money on the cap. The only exception is Ferrell, who got a partial guarantee from the club as a camp invitee, was waived, and is now back on a new contract.

Egidijus Mockevicius ($100K) and Beau Beech ($45K) also got partial guarantees as camp invitees, and Andrea Bargnani ($324K) represents another veteran player who the team is paying not to play for them. But even once you add all that dead money up, it’s not having a huge impact on the Nets’ 2016/17 cap — the team remains well below the salary floor, and could be willing to take on even more dead money by the end of the season.

3. Boston Celtics
Total dead money: $1,550,240
Full salary cap breakdown

The Celtics continue to be patient when it comes to stockpiling assets and seeking out an ideal trade partner, but that patience may have cost them a little last month. With so many candidates for the 15-man roster, Boston had to waive R.J. Hunter and eat his guaranteed salary ($1.2MM). Additionally, the C’s gave second-round pick Ben Bentil a $250K bonus in the hopes of convincing him to play for their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. But Bentil ultimately signed a second deal with the Pacers, giving Indiana his D-League rights.

While the Celtics’ dead money charges for Hunter and Bentil represent a couple youngsters who got away, the team’s other partial guarantees – $50K for Damion Lee and $25K apiece for Marcus Georges-Hunt and Jalen Jones – were worthwhile investments. All three camp invitees landed in Maine to start the season.

4. New York Knicks
Total dead money: $1,180,431
Full salary cap breakdown

The Knicks gave partial guarantees worth $100K apiece to Chasson Randle and J.P. Tokoto, who are now members of the D-League’s Westchester Knicks. The team’s other dead-money cap charge belongs to Lou Amundson, who got a fully guaranteed minimum salary contract from the club during the offseason. New York isn’t close to the tax line, and probably won’t get anywhere close this season, barring a major trade, so that Amundson deal won’t hurt them. Still, it was an odd decision to give a fully guaranteed salary to a borderline NBA player at a time in the offseason when most remaining free agents weren’t getting guaranteed deals.

5. Toronto Raptors
Total dead money: $206,500
Full salary cap breakdown

With no veteran cuts taking up room on their cap, the Raptors’ $206.5K in dead-money charges belong to four of the club’s camp invitees: Brady Heslip ($56.6K), Yanick Moreira ($50K), E.J. Singler ($50K), and Jarrod Uthoff ($50K). Toronto was ultimately able to add all four players to Raptors 905, the club’s D-League affiliate, so those modest cap hits paid off.

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

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