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NBA AM: Timing is Crucial for Trade Kickers

Timing is crucial when it comes to trade kickers. Salary cap guru Eric Pincus explains why.

Eric Pincus

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A number of NBA players have trade kickers in their contracts – bonuses up to 15 percent of the players’ remaining salary.

Timing, however, is crucial in determining whether or not a kicker actually kicks. When a player is traded with a bonus, the additional salary is averaged out over his contract, excluding any player or team option years.

For instance, Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague is due $800,000 if he’s traded. Dealt before July, Teague’s salary would actually jump to $8.4 million for both the completed 2015-16 season and the 2016-17 campaign.

That’s a significant caveat; even if a trade happens as late as June, the player’s salary for the previous season, on paper, is impacted by the bonus.

Should Atlanta move Teague next season, which officially starts in July, the entire bonus will raise his 2016-17 salary to $8.8 million.

The complication rises when a player is already getting paid a maximum salary for the current season.

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, earning the maximum of $19.7 million for a player with seven years of experience, cannot go over that number with a kicker. Traded in June, Gasol would get no bonus at all; dealt in July, the Grizzlies would be on hook for $10.2 million.

While Memphis may have no interest in trading the former Defensive Player of the Year, if they do, a deal in June makes a lot more sense economically than it would in July.

Once the NBA’s year rolls over to 2016-17, Gasol’s salary climbs to $21.2 million, short of the projected $25.9 million, mid-tier maximum.  The incoming team wouldn’t be responsible for paying his bonus, but Gasol’s salary cap number would climb by $3.4 million for each of the next three seasons.

A bonus wouldn’t impact Gasol’s final player option year of $25.6 million for the 2019-20 season.

Other players who “should” be dealt in June rather than July include Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks (who also has a no-trade clause) and both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls among others.  Of course, the listed teams may have no interest in parting with their respective players.

Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz is an interesting case in that he is eligible for some of his bonus as a non-max player.  In June, he could receive a $2 million bonus, upping his salary by roughly $1 million for both last and next season.  In July, he would be eligible for the full $2.4 million, which would apply entirely on his 2016-17 cap figure.

Both the salaries of Vince Carter (Grizzlies) and Butler have slightly different formulas because of Carter’s partially-guaranteed salary and Butler’s signing bonus.

Another quirk in calculating trade bonuses is that a player can optionally waive their bonus – but only if the math is specifically limiting.  Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers wisely used their cap room so there was only room to give Hibbert $78,185 instead of $2.3 million.

Hibbert had to willingly approve the trade from the Indiana Pacers, without his full 15 percent bonus.

With most franchises flush with spending power in July, with the salary cap jumping from $70 million to a projected $92 million, teams may find it difficult to creatively limit a players’ potential trade bonus.

In terms of salary matching, the team trading away a player with a bonus uses the original salary — while the incoming team needs to make room to acquire the player after the bonus is applied.

The following table lists players with potential trade bonuses.  Teague’s $800,000 would apply to two seasons, indicated by “x 2” – including the 2015-16 year.  Butler’s $877,610 would apply to three seasons (“x 3”):

Player Team Bonus Before
July
After
June
Jeff Teague Atlanta Hawks 10% – $800,000 $400,000 x 2 $800,000
Thaddeus Young Brooklyn Nets 15% – $3.75 mil $1.25 mil x 3 $1.88 mil x 2
Bojan Bogdanovic Brooklyn Nets 15% – $535,953 $267,977 x 2 $535,953
Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls 5% – $2.6 mil $0 $877,610 x 3
Derrick Rose Chicago Bulls 15% – $3.2 mil $0 $3.2 mil
Nikola Mirotic Chicago Bulls 15% – $867,368 $433,684 x 2 $867,368
Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers 15% – $8.5 mil $0 $2.8 mil x 3
Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets 15% – $2.3 mil $1.1 mil x 2 $2.3 mil
Andre Iguodala Golden State Warriors 15% – $1.7 mil $834,853 x 2 $1.7 mil
Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers 15% – $5.8 mil $0 $5.8 mil x 1
Chris Paul Los Angeles Clippers 15% – $7.1 mil $0 $7.1 mil x 1
DeAndre Jordan Los Angeles Clippers 15% – $6.6 mil $0 $3.3 mil x 2
J.J. Redick Los Angeles Clippers 5% – $368,875 $184,438 x 2 $368,875
Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies 15% – $10.2 mil $0 $3.4 mil x 3
Vince Carter Memphis Grizzlies 15% – $639,609 $435,393; $204,216 $639,609
Brandan Wright Memphis Grizzlies 15% – $1.7 mil $583,282 x 3 $874,923 x 2
Tyreke Evans New Orleans Pelicans $1.0 mil $500 x 2 $1.0 mil
Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks 15% – $11.8 mil $0 $3.9 mil x 3
Enes Kanter Oklahoma City Thunder 15% – $5.3 mil $0 $2.6 mil x 2
Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs 15% – $8.5 mil $0 $2.8 mil x 3
LaMarcus Aldridge San Antonio Spurs 15% – $6.3 mil $0 $3.2 mil x 2
Gordon Hayward Utah Jazz 15% – $2.4 mil $997,930 x 2 $2.4 mil

Note: Both Paul and Griffin have early termination options (ETO) on their final seasons, which are included in trade bonus computations – unlike standard player options. The application of their bonuses would fall entirely on their 2016-17 salary, not on their ETO years (2017-18). Complicating matters further, Griffin’s full bonus of $6.2 million would put him over the projected second-tier maximum salary of $25.9 million, limiting his bonus to $5.8 million.

[6/25/16 — Revised to add Tyreke Evans to list]

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Dejounte Murray: The Spurs’ Latest Steal

The Spurs have a history of drafting talented players late in the draft. Dejounte Murray is emerging as their most recent steal, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz

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It seems like almost every NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs end up selecting a player late in the draft who unexpectedly goes on to become a valuable contributor, sometimes even a star. The entire draft in itself can often be a crapshoot, but the lower the pick, the lower the chances of a team finding a solid rotation player. But with the Spurs, it’s as if they hit far more often than they miss.

Their pick from a year ago is shaping up to be no exception as the injury to starting point guard Tony Parker has opened up a huge opportunity for Dejounte Murray; one that he is taking advantage of.

There is a lot of preparation by analysts leading up to the NBA draft. Several mock drafts are created up until draft night itself. Murray was often projected to be a high first-round pick, possibly even a lottery pick. He had a solid freshman season at the University of Washington where he averaged 16.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 4.4 assists.

Draft night arrived and he ended up slipping to the bottom of the first round (29th overall), far later than he had anticipated. Following his selection, LeBron James himself, who is represented by the same sports agency as Murray, tweeted out some words of encouragement for the young rookie. He let Murray know that he may not have been drafted where he wanted to, but that he was with the best organization in the league.

Murray pretty much rode the bench last season as a rookie, which is not at all uncommon for a first-year player on a veteran team with championship aspirations. He was inactive for most of the final two months of the season. In the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and most of the second round against the Houston Rockets, he was relegated to garbage time duty. Perhaps if he’d been drafted as high as initially projected, he might have had a bigger opportunity at getting minutes right away.

That all changed, however, against Houston in Game 2 when Parker went down with the injury that he is still recuperating from. Murray was thrust into the starting lineup and he responded as well as an inexperienced rookie under the bright lights of the playoffs could. In Game 4, although the Spurs lost, he had eight points on 50 percent shooting along with three assists. He actually didn’t play in Game 5, but in the Spurs closeout Game 6 win, he poured in 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Even though the Spurs were ultimately swept in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Murray continued his steady play with 8.3 points, 3.8 assists, and three steals.

At the start of this season, Murray has taken his momentum from the end of last season and carried it over. He was given the starting point guard spot in place of Parker on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded on national television with 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

It’s still too early to tell, but it’s highly possible that the Spurs have found their starting point guard of the future once Parker eventually decides to hang it up. At 6-foot-5, Murray is a tall point guard and his length gives him the potential to develop into an elite defensive player. He can score the basketball and he is improving his court vision and playmaking.

One area he could improve in is his outside shooting. Although he did shoot 39.1 percent from the three-point line last season, he only took 0.6 attempts. In his lone college season, he shot 28.8 percent from downtown. If he can improve his range and really begin to put together his entire package of skills, we’ll be talking yet again about how the Spurs bamboozled the rest of the league and found a draft-day gem.

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NBA Saturday: Jabari Bird Experiences The NBA Whirlwind

Jabari Bird entered a hostile environment Friday night after being on his couch just three days before.

Dennis Chambers

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When Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury six minutes into the Boston Celtics’ season on Wednesday, he wasn’t the only player who saw his season changed in the blink of an eye.

“I was at home in California watching the game as a fan,” Jabari Bird said.

Bird was the 56th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. After playing his college ball at the University of California, the Celtics gave the 6-foot-6 swingman a shot to continue his career. After impressing throughout the preseason, Bird was signed to a two-way contract with Boston and returned home to the west coast.

That didn’t last long.

“After the game was over my phone was going off that I had to get on the quickest flight to Boston,” Bird said about opening night. “Got in 7:30 the next morning, suited up against Milwaukee, now I’m here in Philly.”

With the massive hole Hayward left in Boston’s roster due to his injury, the Celtics are going to have to turn to some unlikely performers throughout the season to pick up the slack. Bird didn’t light up the scoreboard or stuff his stat sheet, posting just three points and one rebound in 13 minutes of play. But down the stretch in a close game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, Bird came up big on defense.

As the Celtics trailed the Sixers 61-53 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bird subbed in for Jaylen Brown and was tasked with guarding J.J. Redick, who was in the midst of carrying Philadelphia with his lights out shooting.

After wiping away the Sixers lead and gaining an 86-84 advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still had Bird sticking Redick. The Sixers’ shooting guard — and highest paid player — rose up for another three-point attempt which would’ve given Philadelphia a late lead and a momentum shift at home with a raucous crowd behind them. Only this time, Bird’s hand was in his face and the shot attempt didn’t find the back of the net.

In a big-time moment on the road, for a team facing a potential three-game losing streak to start the season, the unlikely rookie answered the call.

“Like I said before, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, really good perimeter scorer,” Bird said of Redick. “For the team to trust me with that responsibility, with us being down on the road needing to get a win, I was hyped up and ready to go. I was ready for the challenge.”

Placing such a responsibility like guarding Redick on a night where it seemed like the Sixers marksman couldn’t miss on a player who was sitting on his couch three nights ago seems like a bold strategy. Head coach Brad Stevens, however, knew what he was doing.

“All the way through preseason and training camp I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he has huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in preseason practices. His ability to guard off the ball, especially shooters coming off screens is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he’d step up.”

Going from the couch to a red-eye flight from California to Boston, to the bench in Milwaukee, to the court in Philadelphia is nothing short of a whirlwind experience. With such a series of events, it’s hard to be coached into that moment. As a player, sometimes you have to just go out and play.

“I wasn’t prepared at all for tonight. Mentally I just had to lock into the game,” Bird said. “Coach just looked at me and said ‘Bird get Jaylen.’ ‘Alright.’ So that’s what I did.”

After signing Hayward to $127 million contract this summer, the Celtics were expecting the small forward to provide an elite scoring 1-2 scoring punch with Kyrie Irving. Obviously, at least for this season, Boston will need to move forward without that possibility. An opening night loss, followed by another defeat to Milwaukee the following night, had the Celtics 0-2 heading into Philadelphia and searching for answers a lot sooner than they may have anticipated just a week ago.

Bird’s journey during his first week in professional basketball represents how quickly things can change, and how the ripple effects of injuries and other moves have far outreaching waves.

“I was already packed, I was ready to go to the G-League,” Bird said. “We had training camp coming up. My bags were already packed, I was ready to get out the house. Then I got the call to go to Boston and I was like alright I’m ready to go, just gimmie a flight. And that’s what happened.”

All-star point guard, and Bird’s new teammate, Kyrie Irving doesn’t foresee the rookie leaving the clubhouse anytime soon. With the adversity the Boston Celtics have felt in the first week of the 2017-18 season, Bird’s addition and impact are a prime example of being ready when your number is called, and the culture this team is looking to create.

“Jabari is now probably gonna be on every trip with us,” Irving said. “Guys are gonna be called up and called upon to be ready to play. We just have to have that expectation that when we come into the game we’re gonna be able to play, and we trust one another and have each other’s backs.”

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Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team

Basketball Insiders

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Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.

“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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