The Wizards used the stretch provision to spread out the cap hit associated with the $2.5MM partial guarantee on Martell Webster‘s salary for next season, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Webster, who cleared waivers after the team released him last week, will see the $2.5MM in three equal parts of $833,333 each season from 2016/17 through 2018/19 instead of receiving the $2.5MM all in 2016/17. That gives the Wizards about $1.667MM in added cap flexibility this summer, when they’re poised to chase soon-to-be free agent Kevin Durant and reportedly plan to re-sign Bradley Beal to a max contract in free agency.
The stretch doesn’t apply to this season’s salary of almost $5.614MM. The full amount of Webster’s salary for next season was to have been more than $5.845MM, but Washington is only on the hook for the partially guaranteed value.
The league allows teams until the end of the first full day after a player clears waivers to decide whether they want to use the stretch provision to spread out his cap hit, so that accounts for some of the delay in reporting. The Wizards could have taken until the end of this past Thursday to declare whether they were stretching Webster’s salary.
The move leaves Washington with $37,691,855 in guaranteed salary for next season, when the cap is projected to hit $89MM. Beal’s cap hold is worth $14,734,954, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Wizards would incur roster charges worth $3,804,297, a number equal to seven times the rookie minimum salary, if they were to strip down merely to Beal and the four players on their roster with fully guaranteed salary for next season. The maximum salary for Durant, who’ll have nine years of experience by next summer, is projected to be $24.9MM. That means the Wizards would have at least $81,131,106 tied up if they sign Durant, so they could spend between that amount and the cap to supplement their roster before circling back to re-sign Beal. Washington could use Beal’s Bird rights to exceed the cap, a privilege the team wouldn’t have with outside free agents.
Still, those numbers are merely based on projections and the idea that Washington would waive Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden and DeJuan Blair, all of whom also have partially guaranteed salary for next season. It would also require the team to get rid of its obligation to pay its 2016 first-round pick, which the Wizards could achieve by trading the pick or using it on a draft-and-stash player. The Wizards could pry open additional flexibility if they use the stretch provision on other players they might waive. In any case, the decision to stretch Webster’s salary will help the team supplement its roster for next season, even as it places slightly more burden on the team’s payroll for 2017/18 and 2018/19.