Warriors, Nets, Clippers Top Taxpaying Teams For 2021/22

The 2021/22 NBA season was a record-setting one for luxury tax payments.

According to data from Albert Nahmad of HeatHoops.com and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype, the league’s previous single-year record for total luxury tax payments was $173.3MM, back in 2002/03.

This season, the Warriors‘ tax penalties alone nearly matched that league-wide record. And they were joined by six other taxpayers whose combined end-of-season bills shattered the previous record even without Golden State’s help.

Here’s the complete breakdown of the seven taxpaying teams, courtesy of Eric Pincus of SportsBusinessClassroom.com:

  1. Golden State Warriors: $170,331,194
  2. Brooklyn Nets: $97,711,261
  3. Los Angeles Clippers: $83,114,692
  4. Milwaukee Bucks: $52,037,160
  5. Los Angeles Lakers: $45,117,195
  6. Utah Jazz: $18,833,260
  7. Philadelphia 76ers: $13,876,624

All told, the seven teams paid a staggering combined total of $481,021,386.

Half of that total will be dispersed to the league’s non-taxpayers, which means that 23 teams will receive $10,456,987 each. The league will get the remaining $240,510,693 to help fund its revenue sharing program, says Pincus.

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 one of the 23 teams that will receive a $10MM+ windfall.

Having said that, the Celtics gladly would have paid the tax penalty had they won the championship — Jaylen Brown would have received a bonus in that scenario, which would have pushed them over the line.

It’s worth noting that the Warriors are the only one of these seven taxpayers who were subject to “repeater” penalties this season, so it’s not as if those more punitive repeater penalties fueled this year’s record-setting totals. Even without the repeater penalties, the Dubs would have owed approximately $131MM in taxes.

The majority of these teams project to be taxpayers again in 2022/23.

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