Checking In On 2020’s NBA Buyout Market

The NBA’s 2020 buyout period will come to an unofficial end in less than a week, so before it does, we’re checking in on where things stand and which players may still shake loose. Let’s dive in…

When must a player be released by to retain his playoff eligibility?

Anyone who is waived by the end of the day (11:59pm ET) on March 1 will be postseason-eligible if he subsequently signs with a new team. A player who is waived after March 1 won’t be eligible to play in the postseason, unless he was released from a 10-day – rather than a standard – contract.

Does a player also need to sign by March 1 to be playoff-eligible for his new team?

Nope. A player could sign with a new team on the very last day of the regular season and still be eligible to participate in the postseason, as long as he was waived by his previous team on or before March 1.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Buyouts]

Which players are already off the board?

As our 2020 buyout market recap shows, a handful of intriguing veterans who were bought out or released earlier in February have already found new NBA homes.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist signed with the Mavericks; Marvin Williams joined the Bucks; DeMarre Carroll landed with the Rockets; Reggie Jackson is a Clipper; and Markieff Morris headed to the Lakers. Jeff Green, who was released earlier in the season, is currently on a 10-day contract in Houston.

So who’s still out there?

The list of remaining free agents isn’t as interesting as the group of players who have already signed, but there are some notable names on the market. Isaiah Thomas, Trey Burke, Dion Waiters, or Ryan Anderson might appeal to a team in need of some offensive punch. Tyler Johnson and Iman Shumpert are available for clubs seeking an extra wing.

There are also some wild cards on the free agent list. Nene is out there, but he hasn’t played in a game this season and it’s not clear if he’s healthy enough to contribute. J.R. Smith is available, but hasn’t played an NBA game since November 2018.

In addition to Smith, there are a number of other veterans on the market who haven’t played in the NBA this season but still could be looking to make comebacks. Jamal Crawford, Jonathon Simmons, and Joakim Noah are among the players who fit that bill.

Are there any other appealing targets that could become available in the next week?

Here’s a brief list of players we singled out in our recap as possible buyout candidates:

Most of these guys probably won’t reach the open market, but they’re all on expiring – or pseudo-expiring – contracts and may not have a long-term future with their current teams. As such, they’re worth monitoring. There are players not mentioned here who may also emerge as buyout candidates in the coming days. If the Knicks change their stance on buying out veterans, for instance, at least a couple of their players could be added to this list.

The one player in this group, in my opinion, who could seriously move the needle for a playoff team is Thompson. A team like the Clippers or Celtics could really benefit from having a big, reliable center like him in the rotation. However, there has been no indication that the Cavaliers will pursue a buyout for Thompson or that he’s pushing for one.

Remaining on Cleveland’s roster for the rest of the season would allow Thompson to retain his Bird rights this summer, perhaps opening the door for a sign-and-trade opportunity that would allow him to maximize his free agency opportunities — and earnings.

Our 2020 buyout market recap will continue to be updated through March 1, so be sure to keep an eye on it over the next week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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14 thoughts on “Checking In On 2020’s NBA Buyout Market

  1. Ironmonger835

    The buyout is so stupid. Why would a team just voluntarily help out a playoff team for no reason? I hate this.

    • Luke Adams

      I agree that it’s not an ideal system, but there are plenty of reasons why buyouts make sense for lottery-bound teams. Building goodwill with agents and veteran players, saving a little money, opening up a roster spot for a young prospect who could stick with the team beyond this season, etc.

      • Ironmonger835

        It messes up the trade market actually because all these teams do not make trades because they figure they can get a guy on a buyout. It is smarter if teams don’t do this.

    • joemoes

      Who cares it’s not like they are stars or huge difference makers. Just depth.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        Players who are “just depth” mean a lot to contenders this time of year. It will allow teams like the Rockets and Clippers to rest their regular guys down the stretch.

        • Danieley3

          Rockets and Clippers to “rest their regular guys down the stretch”? You do realize the difference between the #3 Seed (currently Clippers) and the #7 Seed (currently Dallas ) is only 3.5 games? Both the Rockets and Clippers won’t be wise to get cute with Load Management because falling out of the Top 4 means a likely Second Round matchup with that amazing Lakers squad out West… As it stands now, with the Lakers being ahead of the #2 Seed Nuggets by 6 in the Loss Column, they’re the only team in the West that’ll be resting players. The “Diva of The West”, Kawhi Leonard, will get his games off if the Clippers can remain in the Top 4.

  2. Robert G.

    I’d like to see the buyout market disappear or shrink significantly in the next CBA. It distorts the team-building process. Teams have to release guys if they want to keep the goodwill of the agents and other players in the future. It’s kind of a lazy way for teams to operate. I’d like to see a system that charges the acquiring team a more significant cap hit, for example. Or just eliminate playoff eligibility for buyouts after the trade deadline.

  3. phillyballers

    If you want to get rid of the buyout, increase the salary matching gap. Or allow teams to trade cap space. I.e. Player x is owed 8M, if you want to pay the min against your cap, well trade him for a 1st.

  4. Like everything counter-intuitive and moronic that happens in the NBA, it’s a function of the salary cap.

    It’s funny because, at this point, the salary cap rules play no role in keeping salaries down (players are always paid a % of BRI, salaries are negotiated solely to allocate that among them). In addition, apart from the max concept for individual players and the luxury tax, the per team “cap” has almost no effect on salary allocation. The latter exists solely to limit third party FA buying power and arms length basketball trades. Which makes buyouts mutually beneficial at times. The problem comes when players believe it a right in the last year of their deal, as opposed to something that might work for both their team and them.

  5. I do think it has hurt the trade market, and on the surface I don’t like it. That said, generally the players gives the club back the prorated amount he is going to earn from his new team, saving the team releasing him money. It also allows those teams to sign more G-League players to 10 day or minimum salary deals. That’s good for the player, and allows a struggling team to potentially find a diamond in the rough that they can keep for next seas

  6. x%sure

    I presume the players union supports buyouts, giving players more freedom in some situations. It would not be hard to discourage in the CBA, but the owners would have to give up something elsewhere and why bother when no profit loss occurs and team fates have already been sealed.

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