And-Ones: Free Agent Market, Payne, Perkins, Booker

The bull market for free agents has ended and there will be few free-spending teams this summer, according to Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks of ESPN. Many organizations are paying the price for the huge contracts that were handed out in 2016 as cap issues are forcing much of the league to take a more frugal approach.

This season, five teams are on pace to pay the luxury tax, which kicks in with a payroll topping $119MM. Twelve teams are projected to be in tax territory for 2018/19 and several more are in danger of getting there just by re-signing their own free agents. The authors list the Bucks as one team that will cross the line if they hold onto Jabari Parker.

“The luxury tax was not designed for this many teams to pay it,” a league executive told Windhorst and Marks. “Many of those owners probably didn’t think they’d be paying it. Quite a few of those teams are probably going to take steps to get out of the tax or limit new spending.”

When teams were handing out big contracts in the summer of 2016, they were expecting a salary cap in the range of $108MM for next season. That projection has been revised down to $101MM, leaving many in an unexpected dilemma. Only seven teams — the Lakers, Sixers, Bulls, Hawks, Mavericks, Suns and Nets — will have more than $10MM available to chase free agents, and virtually all of those teams are in rebuilding mode.

NBA agent Mark Bartelstein expects the situation to improve in 2019 and 2020 when those 2016 contracts start to expire.

There’s more NBA-related news this morning:

  • Max and “supermax” deals are the reason more stars seem to be on the trade market, writes Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. Clippers consultant Jerry West had been urging owner Steve Ballmer to trade Blake Griffin ever since Chris Paul let the team know he wouldn’t be re-signing. Ballmer was convinced after Griffin’s latest injury, recognizing the risks of paying him $171MM over five years, including nearly $39MM in the 2021/22 season when he will be 32. Teams are taking stock of their future and weighing whether maxing out a star is worth giving up financial flexibility. O’Connor predicts fewer mid-sized deals, like the approximately $17MM the Magic are giving to Bismack Biyombo and Evan Fournier, in favor of more non-taxpayer midlevel exceptions, which are valued at $8.4MM an will rise to about $10MM before the current CBA expires.
  • Adreian Payne, who was waived by the Magic last month in the wake of the Michigan State scandal, had signed to play in Greece, relays the Associated Press. Payne had a two-way contract and played just four games for Orlando.
  • Veteran center Kendrick Perkins has decided to leave the G League Canton Charge, tweets Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Several teams have contacted him about signing after the deadline, and he may consider playing in China or Japan next year, depending how the rest of this season turns out, adds Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Perkins officially “retired” from the G League so the Charge can receive compensation, according to 2 Ways & 10 Days.
  • Sixers forward Trevor Booker has changed agents in advance of his upcoming free agency, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Booker has signed with Jim Tanner’s Tandem Sports + Entertainment.
  • Lavoy Allen, who played 61 games for the Pacers last season, has joined the Northern Arizona Suns of the G League, the team tweeted.

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