The 2021/22 NBA season will be a record-setting one for luxury tax payments.
This season, the Warriors‘ tax penalties alone will nearly match that league-wide record. And they’ll be joined by six other projected taxpayers whose combined end-of-season bills would eclipse the previous record even without Golden State’s help.
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In the space below, we’ve done our best to ballpark the current tax bill for each of this season’s seven projected taxpayers. These numbers may end up looking slightly different after the season, since it can be tricky to pin down the precise amount of a tax bill during the season.
Earned and unearned incentives in certain players’ contracts can affect eventual tax payments, and not all of the criteria for those incentives are public. Even the incentives that are known may not have been decided yet — for instance, Nets guard Kyrie Irving will earn a $137,500 bonus if he makes at least 88.5% of his free throws this season. He’s currently at 91.9%, but has only had 62 attempts, so it remains possible his free throw rate will dip below 88.5%, costing him that bonus and reducing Brooklyn’s tax bill.
Additionally, even after the trade deadline, a team’s tax bill remains fluid due to possible forthcoming roster moves, suspensions, and a handful of other factors. The Sixers‘ projected tax bill just increased last night when they officially signed DeAndre Jordan to a rest-of-season contract.
- Golden State Warriors: $170.3MM
- Brooklyn Nets: $97.0MM
- Los Angeles Clippers: $82.5MM
- Milwaukee Bucks: $56.5MM
- Los Angeles Lakers: $45.0MM
- Utah Jazz: $18.8MM
- Philadelphia 76ers: $13.9MM
In total, these seven teams project to owe a staggering $484MM in luxury tax payments.
Half of that total will be dispersed to the league’s non-taxpayers, which means that 23 teams should be in line to split a pot of about $242MM. That would work out to a payment of approximately $10.5MM for each of those 23 non-taxpayers.
These numbers make it more obvious why a team like the Celtics made a concerted effort to get out of luxury tax territory at the trade deadline. A tax bill of $2MM or so wouldn’t break the bank for Boston’s ownership group, but the C’s generated more than just $2MM in savings by ducking below the tax line — they’re now in line to be one of those 23 teams that receives a $10MM+ windfall.
It’s worth noting too that the Warriors are the only one of these seven projected taxpayers who will be subjected to “repeater” penalties this season, so it’s not as if those more punitive repeater penalties are fueling this year’s record-setting totals. Even without the repeater penalties, the Dubs would still owe approximately $131.1MM in taxes.