Sixers Rumors

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.

Free Agent Rumors: LaVine, Harden, Gallinari, Haslem

Just before free agency officially began on Thursday evening, Shams Charania said on Stadium’s free agency show (video link) that he expects Zach LaVine to take a little time to finalize his decision as an unrestricted free agent.

“He’s going to speak with the Bulls tonight and they’re going to make an offer,” Charania said. “Both sides will talk in the lead-up to free agency, later tonight, tomorrow. I do not expect Zach LaVine’s decision to be a night-one decision. He’s going to take some time to deliberate. He’s going to have max offers potentially in the marketplace as well.”

A report earlier today indicated that LaVine is expected to return to the Bulls on a five-year contract expected to be worth the maximum. However, it seems the 27-year-old wants to at least gauge his options before officially committing to Chicago.

Here are a few more free agency rumors:

  • James Harden and the Sixers intend to meet this weekend to negotiate his new deal, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Harden declined his $47MM+ player option for 2022/23 this week and reportedly intends to sign a new contract at a lower starting salary to help accommodate the team’s reported deals with P.J. Tucker and Danuel House.
  • Danilo Gallinari‘s free agent decision could come down to the Bulls and Celtics as he considers his next team, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Fischer suggests Chicago is willing to offer most of its non-taxpayer mid-level exception (about $8MM) while Boston will likely be limited to the taxpayer MLE ($6.5MM), but Gallinari still may prefer the C’s. The veteran forward is reportedly being waived by San Antonio.
  • The Heat sent a delegation of employees to Udonis Haslem‘s vacation home in Orlando to pitch him on returning to the team for a 20th season, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press and Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter links). Obviously, the Heat don’t expect to face significant competition for Haslem, but they want to show his “continued importance and value” to the organization, says Reynolds. Haslem is reportedly still mulling whether or not to continue his playing career.

Sixers To Sign P.J. Tucker, Danuel House, Trevelin Queen

It’s fair to say Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has a type. Philadelphia has reportedly agreed to terms with three players who used to play for Morey’s former team in Houston.

Free agent forward P.J. Tucker is finalizing a three-year, $33.2MM fully guaranteed deal with the 76ers, agent Andre Buck tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). That long-rumored agreement will use the team’s full non-taxpayer mid-level exception.

The Sixers have also agreed to sign free agent forward Danuel House, tweets Charania. House is getting a two-year, $8.5MM deal, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

House’s deal, which will be completed using the bi-annual exception, has a second-year player option, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Finally, Philadelphia has reached a deal with G League MVP Trevelin Queen, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The guard will sign a two-year, minimum-salary contract with a partial guarantee ($300K) in year one, tweets Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

As a result of using their full MLE and BAE, the Sixers will be hard-capped for the coming season.

The 76ers were able to use those exceptions in full due to James Harden opting out of his contract and planning to accept a lower first-year salary on a new deal with the team. If Harden’s $47MM+ option had been on Philadelphia’s books, the club would’ve been hard-pressed to remain under a hard cap.

The Sixers have been mentioned as Tucker’s most likely landing spot for much of the last week. Star center Joel Embiid singled out Tucker in his comments to the media after the team lost to Miami in the playoffs, stating that Philadelphia needed a tough, versatile player like that in its frontcourt. Needless to say, Embiid will be happy that the Sixers went out and got the 37-year-old.

House, 29, helped shore up the Jazz’s perimeter defense and hit 41.5% of his three-pointers in a 25-game stint with the club this past season. He’ll give the Sixers another three-and-D rotation player.

P.J. Tucker Unlikely To Return To Heat

There will be significant interest in P.J. Tucker when free agency begins later today, and the veteran forward is considered unlikely to re-sign with the Heat, according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Schiffer mentions the Hawks, Timberwolves, Nets, Bulls and Sixers among the teams that plan to target Tucker, adding that they will offer either the non-taxpayers’ mid-level exception of $10.49MM, or in the case of the Nets and Hawks, the taxpayers’ MLE of $6.48MM. Atlanta could also make a trade to shed salary and get below the tax line, opening up the use of the full MLE.

A report earlier this week suggested that Miami is willing to give Tucker a guaranteed three-year deal, but at less than the full MLE. It appears several teams are ready to outbid the Heat for his services.

Philadelphia has been rumored as a prime suitor for Tucker, as president of basketball operations Daryl Morey also signed him in Houston. Atlanta and Brooklyn have been mentioned as well, but Minnesota and Chicago are new to the list.

The 37-year-old Tucker is an elite defender who was part of the Bucks’ title-winning roster in 2021 and helped the Heat become the No. 1 seed in the East this season. He averaged 7.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for Miami and shot 41.5% from three-point range.

Atlantic Rumors: Knicks, Barrett, Harris, DiVincenzo

With the Knicks expecting to re-sign Mitchell Robinson, the next focus will be on finding a back-up center, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. There’s an opening with Nerlens Noel headed to the Pistons in a salary dump trade.

New York has expressed interest in several free agent centers, sources tell Begley. He adds that the team plans to convert two-way player Jericho Sims to a standard contract and may re-sign Taj Gibson if he’s needed for depth.

Isaiah Hartenstein could be under consideration, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, although several teams have interest in the Clippers center. The Knicks will aggressively pursue Hartenstein, Begley adds in a separate story, and may have interest in Andre Drummond as well.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Fischer cites “mutual interest” in an extension agreement between the Knicks and RJ Barrett (Twitter link from Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School). The 22-year-old swingman was the team’s second-leading scorer this season at 20.0 points per game.
  • The Sixers haven’t given up efforts to trade Tobias Harris, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link from Talkin’ NBA). Windhorst expects the team to shake up its roster to find players who fit better alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden.
  • The Raptors could have interest in Donte DiVincenzo, who is unrestricted after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Kings, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Grange says Toronto would have pursued Pat Connaughton if he hadn’t decided to exercise his player option with Milwaukee, adding that DiVincenzo is younger and better suited for a playmaking role.

Heat Rumors: Tucker, Portis, Lowry, Crowder

Heat players are reportedly lobbying free agent forward P.J. Tucker to remain with the team, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, who says All-Star wing Jimmy Butler, in particular, is “very much hoping” Tucker returns to Miami.

However, James Harden‘s decision to opt out of a $47MM+ salary for next season and likely sign a new deal starting at a lower number is the latest indication that the Sixers are a serious threat to lure Tucker to Philadelphia. Harden’s move clears a path for Philadelphia to offer its full mid-level exception to Tucker.

If Tucker does leave, the Heat will be in the market for a power forward, and T.J. Warren, Kyle Anderson, Thaddeus Young, and Nicolas Batum will be among the free agents on their radar, Jackson writes. A Wednesday report indicated the club would likely also have interest in Danilo Gallinari if he’s waived after being traded by San Antonio.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Jackson hears from a source that Miami would be a team that appeals to Bobby Portis if he decides to leave Milwaukee. But Portis is considered likely to stick with the Bucks, while the Heat are reluctant to hard-cap themselves for the season by giving their full mid-level exception to a free agent, so it’s an unlikely match.
  • Jackson also hears that Kyle Lowry wasn’t upset by Pat Riley‘s end-of-season comments about how his conditioning must improve. The Heat have assured Lowry they have no intention of trading him in a deal for Kyrie Irving, Jackson adds.
  • After saying that the Heat had emerged as the frontrunners to trade for Suns forward Jae Crowder, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter links) walked back that report. As Gambadoro explains, he can’t see Phoenix taking on Duncan Robinson‘s contract, and the Heat don’t have any other obvious salary-matching pieces they’d include in an offer for Crowder.

James Harden Declines Option, Plans To Remain With Sixers

Sixers guard James Harden is declining his $47,366,760 player option for the 2022/23 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. However, Harden intends to re-sign with Philadelphia on a new contract that gives the team some added cap flexibility to improve its roster in free agency, Charania adds.

Multiple reports leading up to Harden’s free agency indicated that he would likely pick up his player option and then sign a short-term extension (possibly two years) with the Sixers.

However, in recent days, there has been increasing chatter about Philadelphia using its full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which would create a hard cap. That would have been difficult with Harden on the books for $47MM+.

If Harden returns on a new multiyear deal that starts no higher than $38MM or so, it would give the 76ers the flexibility to use both their full mid-level and the bi-annual exception, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

That would clear a path for Philadelphia to make its rumored three-year, $30MM offer to P.J. Tucker using the mid-level exception. Brian Windhorst of ESPN said during an appearance on NBA Today (video link) that the Sixers have been telling agents they’ll have the bi-annual exception available to use.

While Harden’s willingness to negotiate a new deal with a lower starting salary will benefit the Sixers in the short term, we’ll see what it means for the long term. The former MVP and the team may have reached an agreement to tack on an extra year or additional guaranteed money to his new deal in exchange for him turning down his option.

Harden, who was traded from Brooklyn to Philadelphia midway through the 2021/22 season, had a down year by his standards and was hampered by a hamstring injury. However, multiple sources tell Charania that the star guard has resumed his workout and on-court program much earlier than usual this offseason and has communicated to Sixers officials that he’s focused on winning a title next year.

Sixers Receive Summer League Commitment From Grant Riller

The Sixers have received a summer league commitment from guard Grant Riller, his agent Scott Nichols of Rize Management told Hoops Rumors. The 25-year-old spent time on a two-way contract with the team this past season.

Riller was waived in December after undergoing shoulder surgery, which came with a four-to-six-month timetable. Riller has fully recovered and worked out for multiple teams before committing to the Sixers, who open summer league play against the Raptors on July 9.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

It will take a cultural “reset” for Kyrie Irving to succeed with the Nets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski said in an appearance on “Get Up” Wednesday morning (video link).

Irving has opted in to his $36.9MM salary for next season, ending speculation that he might consider free agency, but his decision doesn’t seem to have settled anything in Brooklyn. Wojnarowski stated that rival teams will continue to monitor the Nets’ situation to see if they will consider trading Irving, either during the summer or once the season starts.

Woj also said the organization needs Irving and Kevin Durant to become team leaders heading into free agency and to help develop a plan for next season. Brooklyn has important decisions to make on a number of free agents, most notably Nic Claxton and possibly Patty Mills.

Appearing on the same show, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed that Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks won’t accept a continuation of the atmosphere that surrounded the team this season. He adds that the permissive approach the Nets have taken with Irving over the past three years factored into extension talks.

“It wasn’t just about how Kyrie treated the vaccine mandate, it was about how he treated his teammates and how Kyrie Irving treated his coaches,” Windhorst said. “So part of this renegotiation wasn’t just gonna be about a contract extension. It was gonna be about a renegotiation of the way the team operated. And, by the way, this wasn’t a Kyrie Irving issue. The team gave Irving all of this leverage as the way they operated over the past three years.”

Windhorst noted that there’s an urgency that goes beyond Irving’s message of “see you in the fall” when he announced his opt-in decision. He stressed that Irving needs to engage with management now and prove that he’s able to move beyond the “status quo” that resulted in a first-round playoff sweep.

There’s more on the Irving situation:

  • In a separate clip, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps called Irving’s extension negotiations an “acrimonious process” and debated with Windhorst about whether a deal with the Lakers involving Russell Westbrook and draft compensation could eventually become an option.
  • The Lakers were considered the leaders in the effort to work out a sign-and-trade for Irving, but the Mavericks, Heat and Sixers investigated their options as well, Shams Charania of The Athletic said in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show (hat tip to Clutch Points).
  • Irving posted a video Tuesday with his first comments since deciding to opt in, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post“This is a great moment in my spiritual path, being present enough to understand that it’s not me doing all this. At this point I’m being pushed in certain directions,” Irving said, adding, “You can’t be afraid to make mistakes, in private or out in the open. The mistakes that you do make, you’ve got to learn from them.”