There’s just one week remaining until the February 26th NHL Trade Deadline, and our sister site Pro Hockey Rumors is the best place to stay up to date on the latest news. The Chicago Blackhawks started selling off their expiring contracts today—will it continue? Are the Anaheim Ducks a good fit for Thomas Vanek? Which prospects will the New York Rangers be able to acquire?
Gilbert Arenas hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012, but his legacy lives on in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NBA introduced the Gilbert Arenas provision in the 2005 CBA as a way to help teams retain their restricted free agents who aren’t coming off standard rookie scale contracts.
While Arenas isn’t specifically named in the CBA, the rule colloquially known as the Arenas provision stems from his own restricted free agency in 2003. At the time, the Warriors only had Early Bird rights on Arenas, who signed an offer sheet with the Wizards starting at about $8.5MM. Because Golden State didn’t have $8.5MM in cap room and could only offer Arenas a first-year salary of about $4.9MM using the Early Bird exception, the Warriors were unable to match the offer sheet and lost Arenas to Washington.
The Arenas provision limits the first-year salary that rival suitors can offer restricted free agents who have only been in the league for one or two years. The starting salary for an offer sheet can’t exceed the amount of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, which allows the player’s original team to use either the mid-level exception or the Early Bird exception to match it. Otherwise, a team without the necessary cap space would be powerless to keep its player, like the Warriors were with Arenas.
An offer sheet from another team can still have an average annual salary that exceeds the non-taxpayer’s mid-level, however. The annual raises are limited to 5% between years one and two, and 4.5% between years three and four, but a team can include a significant raise between the second and third years of the offer.
As long as the first two years of a team’s offer sheet are for the highest salary possible, the offer is fully guaranteed, and there are no incentives included, the third-year salary of the offer sheet can be worth up to what the player’s third-year maximum salary would have been if not for the Arenas restrictions.
Based on a projected $101MM cap for 2018/19, here’s the maximum offer sheet a first- or second-year RFA could receive this coming summer:
|2017/18||$8,567,770||Value of non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception.|
|2018/19||$8,996,159||5% raise on first-year salary.|
|2019/20||$27,775,000||Maximum third-year salary for a player with 1-2 years in NBA.|
|2020/21||$29,024,875||4.5% raise on third-year salary.|
|Total||$74,363,804||Average annual salary of $18,590,951.|
In order to make the sort of offer outlined above, a team must have enough cap room to accommodate the average annual value of the contract. So a team with $19MM in cap space could extend this offer sheet to a first- or second-year RFA. But a team with only $15MM in cap space would have to reduce the third- and fourth-year salaries in its offer sheet to get the overall average salary of the offer down to $15MM per year.
The application of the Arenas provision is infrequent, since first- and second-year players who reach free agency rarely warrant such lucrative contract offers. First-round picks sign four-year rookie deals when they enter the NBA, so the Arenas provision generally applies to second-round picks or undrafted free agents whose first NBA contracts were only for one or two years.
One notable recent example of the Arenas provision at work was Tyler Johnson‘s restricted free agency in 2016. The Heat had Early Bird rights on Johnson, who had only been in the NBA for two seasons. The Nets attempted to pry him away with an aggressive offer sheet that featured salaries of $5,628,000, $5,881,260, $19,245,370, and $19,245,370. It wasn’t the maximum that Brooklyn could have offered Johnson, but the massive third-year raise was a tough pill for Miami to swallow.
Overall, the deal was worth $50MM for four years. If the Heat had declined to match it, the Nets would have flattened out those annual cap hits to $12.5MM per year, the average annual value of the deal. However, due to the Arenas provision, Miami was able to match Brooklyn’s offer sheet with the Early Bird exception, even though the Heat wouldn’t have been able to offer Johnson a four-year, $50MM contract using the Early Bird exception outright.
When a team matches an Arenas-provision offer sheet, it also has the option of flattening those cap charges. However, that option is only available if the team has the cap room necessary to accommodate the average annual value of the deal. Otherwise, the club has to keep the unbalanced cap charges on its books. That’s why Johnson’s cap hit for the Heat will jump from $5,881,260 this season to an eye-popping $19,245,370 in 2018/19.
This coming summer, there aren’t many restricted free agents who will be candidates for an Arenas-provision offer sheet. Top RFAs like Aaron Gordon and Clint Capela have four years of experience, so the rule won’t apply to them. Patrick McCaw looked like a potential Arenas-provision candidate coming into the season, but he has struggled and his value has declined. The best candidate for an Arenas-provision offer sheet may be Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who has played a key role for Toronto’s excellent second unit. Still, I’d be pretty surprised if VanVleet gets an offer worth more than the standard non-taxpayer’s MLE.
Finally, just because a club is given the opportunity to use the Arenas provision to keep its restricted free agent doesn’t mean it will necessarily have the means. Here are a few situations in which the Arenas provision wouldn’t help a team keep its restricted free agent:
- If the team only had the taxpayer mid-level exception or room exception available, it would be unable to match an offer sheet for a Non-Bird free agent if the starting salary exceeded the taxpayer mid-level or room exception amount.
- A team would be unable to match an offer sheet for a Non-Bird free agent if it used its mid-level exception on another player, including another one of its own Non-Bird free agents. A team could use Early Bird rights to match if those rights are available, however.
- If the player is a Non-Bird or Early Bird free agent with three years of NBA experience, the Arenas provision would not apply — only players with one or two years in the league are eligible.
Note: This is a Hoops Rumors Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to trades, free agency, or other aspects of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.
Earlier versions of this post were published in 2012 and 2015 by Luke Adams and Chuck Myron.
We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com.
Who will the Cavaliers go after on the buyout market? — MrNutt34
With Kevin Love injured and Channing Frye traded to the Lakers, Cleveland could use a big man who can shoot from the outside. Among the rumored buyout candidates, the one who best fits that profile is Ersan Ilyasova of the Hawks. The 30-year-old is averaging 10.9 points per game and shooting .359 from 3-point range this season. He has previous playoff experience with Milwaukee and Atlanta and would help the Cavaliers spread the floor. Marreese Speights could be another candidate with a similar skill set if the Magic decide to part with him. Cleveland still has two roster spots open, so expect the Cavs to be among the league’s most active teams when the buyouts resume.
What the heck are the Magic trying to do because it doesn’t look like they are trying to win or get better? Let me be GM. — Donald Raby, via Twitter
It may be hard to accept after so many years of losing, but the Magic are in another transition phase. New GM John Hammond and team president Jeff Weltman took this season to evaluate a roster they inherited from the previous regime. Trading Elfrid Payton to Phoenix last week was the first major move, but more are sure to follow. Aaron Gordon‘s free agency is the next step, with Orlando likely to match any offer. The Magic have a lot of contracts that expire after next season and may have another high lottery pick in June, so don’t be surprised to see them attempt an extreme roster makeover this summer.
The early returns were promising as Detroit won its first four games with Griffin in the lineup, but the team has cooled off, dropping three of four. A good parallel for the Griffin-Drummond partnership would be the Pelicans after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins a year ago to team with Anthony Davis. Expectations were that New Orleans would turn into a playoff team, but it takes time for two big men to figure out how to co-exist. The Pelicans’ duo was much better after working together through the offseason, and that should be true in Detroit as well. The Pistons have too many other needs to be an immediate title contender, but if they both avoid injury, Griffin and Drummond provide a strong foundation to build around.
The NBA All-Star Game has always been more about scoring and showmanship than defense and fundamentals. But after watching last year’s 192-182 contest in New Orleans, which resembled a glorified layup line, there was a feeling in the league that things had swung too far in the wrong direction.
Among those unhappy with what they saw on TV was Chris Paul, who wasn’t chosen for the game last season. He called commissioner Adam Silver the next morning and discussed the need to make changes.
Particularly egregious, according to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, was a play where Giannis Antetokounmpo had a fast-break dunk and Stephen Curry fell to the ground and covered his ears rather than try to play defense. Paul decided the game had turned into too much of a show, with not enough competition.
“For the first time, he actually just sat at home and watched it like a fan would watch it,” someone close to Paul told Berger. “I got the sense that he thought what everybody else thought; there’s very little competition. He’s an ultra-competitive guy. … I think he viewed it from a different perspective and was like, ‘We’ve got to do something.'”
Silver was glad to see the players adopt that position, and was even happier when Hornets owner Michael Jordan and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts added their support.
The first steps were to scrap the traditional East vs. West matchup in favor of two captains picking players from a pre-selected roster. Also, the prize money for each member of the winning team has been increased from $50K to $100K to provide more incentive.
We’ll find out tomorrow if these changes made a difference or if more needs to be done. But tonight we want your input. What should the NBA do to make its All-Star Game a better product? Jump into the comments section below and give us your opinion.
Every week, the Hoops Rumors’ writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are the original segments and features from the past seven days:
- In an exclusive interview for Hoops Rumors, Mark Suleymanov talked with Pacers’ big man Al Jefferson about his expectations for the rest of the season.
- As part of our Community Shootaround series, we asked:
- Who is the most valuable free agent on the market between now and the end of the season?
- Do the Cavaliers’ new additions of Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr. make Cleveland the favorites to win the East?
- What does the future hold in store for former MVP and current free agent Derrick Rose?
- Is Jeff Hornacek the right man for the job in New York moving forward?
- We asked you to vote on four different polls this week:
- In his Weekly Mailbag, Arthur Hill answered some readers’ questions on the value of DeMarcus Cousins, a potential landing spot for Andrew Bogut, and the Thunder’s buyout targets.
- As part of his Fantasy Hoops coverage, Chris Crouse analyzed the fantasy impact on players who were traded before the trade deadline.
- Luke Adams reminded our readers of the 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings, a new feature of ours that allows fans to keep an eye on what the 2018 draft order might look like.
- With the dust settled from this year’s NBA trade deadline, we took a look at teams with open roster positions.
- As part of our Hoops Rumors Glossary series, Luke Adams gave an in-depth analysis of buyouts.
- Who are some available free agents who haven’t played in the NBA this season? Luke Adams takes a look at five of them.
- Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, we reminded our readers of some other important dates and deadlines for the remainder of this season.
- We took a look at each team’s availability for free agent acquisitions for the remainder of this season.
- Our 2018 Free Agent Stock Watch focused on the Bucks.
For the first time in over a decade, the Bucks have an enviable core with an ambitious ceiling. That they’re on track for a second consecutive playoff berth with one of the game’s hottest young stars is a testament to the principles put in place under the franchise’s new regime.
Of course the Bucks didn’t win the lottery over night. The club that they’ve assembled – a merry band of overachievers who have overachieved so much they may actually just be regular achievers we’ve been underestimating all along – is deep and talented.
The small-market Bucks have committed to guys who work for them and necessarily so, but while that’s all fun and games when your team has Khris Middleton and John Henson locked into team-friendly contracts because they saw value, it stings a little when there’s $20.1MM tied up between Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic, with the luxury tax looming large.
Don’t get it twisted, the Bucks have tactfully leveraged their organization’s strength while minimizing environmental challenges outside of their control. The only downside? Now that the Bucks have a core worth hanging onto – players that they’re committed to and reliant upon – managing finances becomes that much more important.
Sean Kilpatrick, SG, 28 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $0.8MM contract in 2018
Kilpatrick showed that he could put points on the board in an extended stay with the Nets between 2015 and 2017. While he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to showcase his scoring skills so far in Milwaukee, you can bet the organization knows what he’s capable of when given a chance to fill reserve minutes out of the backcourt. Given the team’s financial constraints, it would be wise to lock in an affordable depth piece like Kilpatrick when given the opportunity.
Jabari Parker, PF, 23 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $22.2MM contract in 2014
A pair of ACL injuries have cast doubt on Parker’s value as a pending restricted free agent. While once it seemed extremely plausible – if not borderline inevitable – that the forward would draw a max contract out of somebody, that’s no sure thing in 2018. We wrote earlier this month that the Bucks seemed reluctant to offer Parker any more than $18MM per year. If Parker’s play from now until the end of the 2017/18 campaign justifies more than that, the franchise would need to get creative in order to bring him back in a scenario that’s financially palatable for ownership. Expect Parker to land an offer sheet from one of the few teams with cap space this summer, and for the Bucks to shed salary in order to comfortably match it and avoid the tax, even if it costs them an asset to do so. While Parker can’t be credited for much of Milwaukee’s recent success, he’s a big reason why they have such an intriguing ceiling.
Jason Terry, SG, 40 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.3MM contract in 2017
There’s no doubt that having veteran leadership in the locker room is beneficial to young players. Still, while Terry could conceivably present as an affordable option for rounding out the depth chart next summer, his on-court value is minimal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
It’s very rare for a free agent to sign a lucrative contract at this point in the NBA league year. Most players who have been on the free agent market for weeks or months won’t warrant more than a minimum salary contract, and the same can be said for the majority of the veterans who hit the buyout market this month after being waived by other teams — just this week, Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright signed with the Rockets for the minimum.
Still, there are exceptions to that rule. After being bought out by the Suns, Greg Monroe signed a one-year, $5MM deal with the Celtics, an offer that hardly any other team had the cap flexibility to make this late in the season. It remains to be seen whether more veterans as valuable as Monroe will become free agents in the coming weeks, but if they do, some teams are better positioned than others to make aggressive contract offers to those players.
In the space below, we’ve listed the exceptions or cap room available for teams to offer to free agents at this point in the season. This information comes with a few caveats:
- Mid-level, room, and bi-annual exceptions are declining in value every day. Since January 10, each exception has been reduced in value by 1/177th per day. As of today, 38 days have passed since January 10, so the $4.328MM room exception, for instance, is now worth about $3.399MM. We’ve noted the current values of each exception in the space below, but those values will continue to decline each day, so if you’re reading this post after February 16, please take that into account.
- While the figures below represent what teams could technically offer a player, other roadblocks may get in the way of clubs being able to offer that full amount. For instance, the Pelicans and Trail Blazers each have multiple exceptions available, but they wouldn’t be able to use them all — they’d run into a hard cap before doing so. A few other teams are on the verge of reaching the luxury tax line, which would complicate the use of their exceptions.
- This list doesn’t include traded player exceptions, since they can’t be used to sign players. However, TPEs can be used to claim players off waivers. The list of available trade exceptions can be found here.
With those disclaimers in mind, here are the means by which NBA teams can currently sign free agents:
The February 8 trade deadline was the most important in-season date for player movement during the 2017/18 NBA league year. It’s behind us now, but with less than two months left in the regular season, there are still several dates and deadlines worth keeping an eye on. Here are some of them:
- Last day for a player to renegotiate his contract during the 2017/18 league year.
Players who are eligible for veteran contract extensions have until June 30 to work out new deals with their teams. But if they hope to renegotiate a higher current-year salary as part of an extension, they’ll have to do so by February 28. Cap space is necessary for this maneuver, which is one reason why we rarely see it happen. Robert Covington renegotiated his contract with the Sixers earlier this season, but I don’t expect anyone else to do so before this month’s deadline.
- Last day a player can be waived by one team and remain eligible to appear in the postseason for another team.
As we noted in our glossary entry on contract buyouts this week, this deadline can sometimes create some confusion.
Players who change teams don’t have to sign with a new team by March 1 in order to be playoff-eligible — they simply have to be waived on or before March 1. A player released on or before March 1 could wait until the very last day of the regular season to sign with a new club, and he’d still retain his postseason eligibility. Anyone waived after March 1 won’t be playoff-eligible for a new team.
- Last day to use a disabled player exception.
The deadline for teams to use disabled player exceptions generally falls on March 10, but since that’s a Saturday this year, the deadline will be pushed back to Monday, the next business day.
The Celtics, Nets, and Pistons have already used their disabled player exceptions, but the Heat ($5.5MM), Clippers ($2.76MM), Jazz ($2.63MM), and Pelicans ($2.48MM) still have them available. Those DPEs can be used to sign a free agent to a rest-of-season contract, or to place a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract.
- Last day players can sign contracts for 2017/18.
- Last day two-way contracts can be converted to standard NBA contracts.
- Luxury tax penalties calculated based on payroll as of this day.
The last day of the regular season is an eventful one for both playoff and non-playoff teams. Players on two-way contracts aren’t eligible for the postseason, so if a playoff-bound club wants to get a two-way player on its 15-man postseason roster, this is the last day to do so.
For playoff and non-playoff teams alike, it’s not uncommon to sign a player to a non-guaranteed multiyear contract at season’s end. If a player were to sign a two-year contract on April 11 without any guaranteed money beyond this season, he’d receive a very modest prorated salary for 2017/18. Then his new team would have the option of waiving him at some point in the offseason before his 2018/19 salary becomes guaranteed.
As noted above, April 11 is also the cutoff for determining luxury tax penalties, so teams like the Cavaliers, Warriors, Thunder, and Wizards will have their bills calculated at this point.
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A number of veteran NBA players have hit the free agent market within the last week, with players like Tony Allen, Derrick Rose, and Josh McRoberts being cut by their respective teams. More players currently on NBA rosters could be released before March 1, resulting in a number of options for playoff teams looking for late-season and playoff reinforcements.
In addition to those recently-waived players, there’s also another group of veterans worth keeping an eye on as NBA teams consider their free agent options. These players haven’t played for an NBA team yet this season due to injuries or overseas commitments, but could become factors down the stretch.
- Ty Lawson, PG: Lawson had a four-year run for the Nuggets from 2011 to 2015 during which he averaged 16.4 PPG and 8.0 APG, looking like one of the league’s most underrated point guards. However, injuries and off-court issues derailed his career in 2015/16, when he split time between the Rockets and Pacers. After looking a little better last season in Sacramento, Lawson headed to China for the 2017/18 season, where he has averaged 25.8 PPG and 6.6 APG for the Shandong Golden Stars. Now, the 30-year-old is reportedly receiving serious consideration from the Wizards with John Wall and Tim Frazier sidelined. Lawson will require FIBA clearance before he can sign a new NBA contract.
- Brandon Jennings, PG: Like Lawson, Jennings played in China this year after putting up subpar numbers for his last couple NBA seasons. In Jennings’ case, the lingering effects of an Achilles injury contributed significantly to his struggles, though he says that injury is now behind him. The 28-year-old, who averaged 27.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 5.1 RPG this season for the Shanxi Brave Dragons, also says he’s open to a 10-day contract, and has signed a G League contract as he seeks out an NBA opportunity.
- Gerald Henderson, SG: The last real update we heard on Henderson came back in August, when a report indicated that he may miss the entire 2017/18 season due to hip surgery. Henderson is now six months removed from that procedure, and ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes that the veteran shooting guard has been cleared to play. While receiving medical clearance is obviously a huge step, it remains to be seen whether Henderson is back to 100%. If teams aren’t fully confident in his health, he may have to wait until the summer to sign his next contract. But if he’s good to go now, his .353 3PT% over the last two seasons should make him appealing to NBA teams.
- Boris Diaw, PF: An hour after last Thursday’s trade deadline passed, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweeted that Diaw’s camp had “touched base” with multiple playoff teams expressing interest. Diaw has been playing with French team Paris-Levallois this season, but his deal includes an NBA out that would allow him to return stateside for the right opportunity. Diaw has never put up huge numbers, particularly in recent years, but he’s the kind of savvy, playoff-tested veteran that would draw interest from postseason-bound NBA teams. For now though, the latest reports out of France suggest the 35-year-old will likely play out the 2017/18 season overseas.
- Derrick Williams, PF: A former second overall pick, Williams never lived up to his pre-draft hype, but it’s not as if he had zero value as an NBA player — he was a member of the Cavaliers team that went to the NBA Finals just over eight months ago, seeing his most recent NBA action in Game 4 of those Finals. Williams, who is still just 26 years old, played for China’s Tianjin Gold Lions this season, averaging 20.0 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 15 games. According to Marks, he’s expected to return to the U.S. in March once his CBA season ends.