NBA teams have about two more weeks to apply the stretch provision to the 2017/18 cap hits for players they waive. After August 31, teams will no longer be eligible to stretch salaries for the coming season, and the stretch provision will only apply to future seasons on a player’s contract.
The stretch provision is a CBA rule that allows teams to stretch a player’s remaining salary across additional seasons. For July and August, the rule dictates that a team can pay out the player’s salary over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one. So a contract with three years left on it could be stretched out over seven years. After August 31, only the future years on the contract can be stretched in that manner.
In practical terms, here’s what that means for a player who is earning $6MM in each of the next two years ($12MM total):
In some cases, it can be advantageous to wait until September to waive a player and use the stretch provision. If a team isn’t close to the tax line and can’t clear additional cap room by stretching a player’s current-year salary, it may make more sense to be patient, since that extra immediate cap room wouldn’t be useful.
However, there are several teams around the NBA who may be motivated to waive and stretch players prior to that August 31 deadline. Here are five stretch provision candidates to keep an eye on during the next couple weeks:
Including Nicholson’s name in this list is perhaps the equivalent of getting the middle square for free in a game of bingo. After all, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last month when the Trail Blazers acquired Nicholson from the Nets in exchange for Allen Crabbe that the veteran forward would be waived and stretched.
It’s somewhat odd that it still hasn’t happened, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, unless Portland finds a way to include Nicholson’s contract in another trade. If and when the Blazers make it official, their total guaranteed team salary will move to within $2MM of the tax line, which is impressive for a team that appeared last month to be on its way to accruing massive taxpayer penalties.
In an era when nearly everyone turns down their player options, the Bucks had two players opt in this offseason. Greg Monroe‘s option is worth nearly three times as much as Hawes’ and Monroe remains a key part of Milwaukee’s rotation, so stretching Monroe isn’t practical. But Hawes is another story.
Hawes, acquired in a February trade, played sparingly for the Bucks down the stretch last season, and is unlikely to have a major role this year either, with Thon Maker poised to take on more responsibility at the center position. Hawes’ deal has one year and about $6.02MM left on it, so stretching it would free up over $4MM on this year’s cap. That $4MM difference could be crucial for the Bucks, who are currently just barely over the tax line.
The trade that sent McRoberts to Dallas was a pure salary dump for the Heat, who needed to clear some cap room to finalize new deals for James Johnson, Dion Waiters, and Kelly Olynyk. As a result, the Mavs received $5.1MM in cash in the swap, more than enough to cover the difference between McRoberts’ salary and A.J. Hammons‘ figure.
Having already essentially been paid enough money to cover McRoberts’ salary, the Mavs are under no pressure to keep the veteran forward on their roster if they don’t expect him to have a real role. Dallas hasn’t shown a willingness to splash around in free agency this summer, but if the team wanted to make a run at a restricted free agent, stretching McRoberts’ $6MM salary would create an extra $4MM in cap room, giving the Mavs the ability to get up to $15MM+ in total cap space, even without renouncing Nerlens Noel‘s cap hold.
The recipient of a five-year, $25MM deal in 2015, Singler has not lived up to that contract for the Thunder so far. After making 37.8% of his three-point attempts in his first three seasons, the former second-round pick has made just 27.6% over the last two years, and averaged a career-low 12.0 MPG last season.
Oklahoma City is currently projected to be a taxpaying team, with about $126MM in guaranteed salary on the club’s books. Waiving and stretching Singler’s multiyear deal wouldn’t get the Thunder out of the tax, but it would trim team salary by more than $3MM and reduce the franchise’s projected year-end tax bill by another $5MM or so.
On paper, Pondexter is exactly the sort of player the Pelicans desperately need. His outside shooting ability would help the team space the floor when Anthony Davis and/or DeMarcus Cousins are on the court, and playing with point guards like Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday could set him up for easy scoring opportunities.
In reality though, Pondexter hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season due to health issues, and it’s not clear if his knee problems will allow him to get back to full strength this coming season — GM Dell Demps said last month that Pondexter’s status remained “a little uncertain.”
With one year and about $3.85MM left on his contract, Pondexter is hardly an albatross, and if there’s a chance he can contribute, he should be retained. But New Orleans is within about $1MM of the tax line, so stretching Pondexter’s salary could help give the team a little more breathing room to acquire additional reinforcements.