The NBA’s trade deadline came and went last Thursday, and while February 23 was the date many NBA fans had circled on their calendars, teams around the league will face a couple more notable deadlines this week.
Here’s a breakdown of what to look for this week:
February 28: Deadline to renegotiate contracts
Under the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will be officially replaced in July, the rules for when veteran players can sign contract extensions are very restrictive. As we noted near the start of the 2016/17 league year, there were only about two dozen veteran players eligible for extensions this season.
Those players can still sign contract extensions right up until the end of June, but a standard extension only allows for a small raise on a player’s current salary. For someone like Derrick Rose, who is already earning $21MM+, that might work. But for a player like George Hill, who is making just $8MM in 2016/17, a standard extension makes little sense — he’d only be able to land a starting salary of $8.6MM in such a deal.
However, for teams with cap room available – like Hill’s Jazz – another option is available. A team is allowed to renegotiate a player’s contract as part of an extension using its leftover cap room. So Utah, holding a league-high $13.6MM+ in available cap space, could theoretically give Hill a huge raise and then tack on extra years from there, allowing for larger future earnings.
Today is the last day teams are eligible to renegotiate contracts during the 2016/17 league year, and at this point, it doesn’t look as if there will be any action on this front. Hill and teammate Derrick Favors are the most viable candidates for such a deal, but a Monday report suggested the Jazz probably wouldn’t get something done with Favors, and there have been no indications that the team is seriously engaged in negotiations with Hill either.
Among other teams with room below the cap, the Thunder are perhaps the only club to watch, and even then it’s an extreme long shot that they’ll do anything with extension-eligible big man Taj Gibson. With about $3.05MM in cap room, Oklahoma City could theoretically renegotiate Gibson’s deal up to about $12MM and extend him. However, Gibson has been a member of the Thunder for five days, so I doubt the two sides are ready for a long-term commitment.
March 1: Deadline for waived players to retain playoff eligibility
Following the trade deadline, teams have completed a flurry of roster moves, many of which involve waiving players. Because those players are being cut prior to March 1, they’ll retain their eligibility for the postseason if they join a new team. They don’t even necessarily have to sign with that new team prior to March 1, as long as their old team had let them go by that deadline.
Conversely, if a team hangs onto a player beyond the end of the business day on Wednesday, then waives him later, he won’t be playoff-eligible if he catches on with a new team.
For players like Caron Butler or Larry Sanders, who haven’t been on an NBA roster all season but would still like to catch on with a team, the March 1 deadline doesn’t mean much. They’ll still have playoff eligibility if they sign with a club in March.
Similarly, players on 10-day contracts generally don’t have to worry about the March 1 deadline, since they’re not being waived by their teams — their contracts simply expire. So someone like Briante Weber, who is currently on a 10-day deal in Charlotte, could sign with any team after that contract expires and be eligible to appear in the postseason. However, he’d lose that playoff eligibility if he signed a rest-of-season contract with a team and then was waived by that club after March 1.
For the most part, notable veterans who need to be waived by March 1 to retain postseason eligibility have already been granted their release. Deron Williams has a new team, while Matt Barnes and Terrence Jones are among the new free agents, and Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, and Jose Calderon are on track to clear waivers on Wednesday. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye out today and tomorrow to see who else might hit the waiver wire.