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$19.5 Million in Cash Swapped in 2015-16

Eric Pincus looks at how NBA teams have used cash in trades over the last two years.

Eric Pincus

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Prior to the NBA’s 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams could send up to $3 million in cash out in trade multiple times a season.

To level the playing field, limiting higher-budget franchises, teams are separately capped in the amount of money they can both send out and receive over the course of a season (from July 1 to June 30).  Last year’s limit was $3.4 million; the maximum for the 2016-17 season is $3.5 million.

Teams include cash in trades for a variety of reasons, including purchasing draft picks, avoiding luxury taxes (by moving off unwanted contracts) or facilitating a deal that simply needs a little extra push.

Collectively, teams swapped $19,489,635 through the 2015-16 season (July 1 through June 30).  That’s a $2 million increase over the $17,428,653 traded during the 2014-15 season.

Four franchises (the Miami HEAT, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder) spent the maximum of $3.4 million. The Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz were all close to the other end of the spectrum, receiving at least $3 million apiece.

Miami used their cash (in just a few of their many transactions to get under the luxury tax threshold) to pay the Celtics $1.6 million to take Zoran Dragic, $1.1 million to the Magic with Shabazz Napier and $721,300 to deal Jarnell Stokes to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The HEAT actually received $75,000 in a deal to send Brian Roberts’ salary on the Portland Trail Blazers.  Portland paid the minimum in cash allowed, in lieu of trading a player or future pick.

The Blazers also paid out $75,000 in a similar transaction with the Cavaliers, to help Cleveland move Brendan Haywood into Portland’s cap space.

Cleveland sent $934,614 with Joe Harris to the Magic, helping to reduce their luxury tax bill.  In June, the Cavaliers spent $2.5 million to acquire the 54th pick from the Atlanta Hawks, drafting Kay Felder – who has since signed a three-year, $2.5 million deal (with $1 million guaranteed over the next two seasons).

Portland paid just under half that amount, sending $1.2 million to the Magic, for the 47th pick in order to select Jake Layman (who signed for three years at $2.6 million, with $1.5 million guaranteed).

The Blazers seemingly got a steal at that price, given the Nets sent $3 million and the 55th pick (Marcus Paige) to the Utah Jazz for the 42nd pick (Isiah Whitehead).  Whitehead signed for four years at $4.6 million – his first two seasons at $2.2 million are fully guaranteed.

Golden State sent out $2.4 million to the Milwaukee Bucks to buy the 38th pick, drafting Patrick McCaw, whose two-year, $1.4 million contract is fully guaranteed.  The Warriors also paid $1 million to the Philadelphia 76ers to take on Jason Thompson’s contract.

The Thunder spent $730,441 to buy the 56th pick from the Denver Nuggets to draft Daniel Hamilton, who has yet to sign a contract.  The Thunder also paid the Nuggets $1.2 million at the trade deadline in the deal that brought Randy Foye to Oklahoma City.  The Thunder also sent $1.5 million to the Celtics to dump the contract of Perry Jones III.

Netting $16,921, the Houston Rockets were paid $456,921 by the Los Angeles Clippers to take on Josh Smith, while Houston sent $440,000 to the Nuggets for Ty Lawson.

Last summer, the Knicks paid the Magic $100,000 to help facilitate the sign and trade of Kyle O’Quinn to New York.

Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies sent $542,714 to the Charlotte Hornets in their Courtney Lee deal.

The following details the final tally in cash transactions for the 2015-16 season:

Team Spent Received
Cleveland Cavaliers $3,400,000 $75,000
Miami HEAT $3,400,000 $75,000
Golden State Warriors $3,400,000 $0
Oklahoma City Thunder $3,400,000 $0
Brooklyn Nets $3,000,000 $0
Portland Trail Blazers $1,350,000 $0
Memphis Grizzlies $542,714 $0
Los Angeles Clippers $456,921 $0
Houston Rockets $440,000 $456,921
New York Knicks $100,000 $0
Chicago Bulls $0 $0
Dallas Mavericks $0 $0
Detroit Pistons $0 $0
Indiana Pacers $0 $0
Los Angeles Lakers $0 $0
Minnesota Timberwolves $0 $0
Phoenix Suns $0 $0
Sacramento Kings $0 $0
San Antonio Spurs $0 $0
Toronto Raptors $0 $0
Washington Wizards $0 $0
Charlotte Hornets $0 $542,714
New Orleans Pelicans $0 $721,300
Philadelphia 76ers $0 $1,000,000
Denver Nuggets $0 $2,340,000
Milwaukee Bucks $0 $2,400,000
Atlanta Hawks $0 $2,465,386
Utah Jazz $0 $3,000,000
Boston Celtics $0 $3,100,000
Orlando Magic $0 $3,313,314

Miami was also a big spender through the 2014-15 season, as were the Rockets, Nets and Thunder. The Pelicans, 76ers, Jazz and Suns each received at least $2.1 million, as previously detailed by Basketball Insiders.

The Jazz have been the biggest beneficiary of cash trades over the past couple of seasons, taking in $5.8 million.

The following is a two-year view of cash transactions, including the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons:

Team Spent Received
Miami HEAT $5,939,424 $75,000
Oklahoma City Thunder $5,101,000 $0
Brooklyn Nets $4,880,000 $0
Cleveland Cavaliers $4,700,000 $75,000
Golden State Warriors $3,400,000 $0
Houston Rockets $2,940,000 $456,921
Portland Trail Blazers $2,850,000 $0
Memphis Grizzlies $1,861,950 $0
New York Knicks $1,600,000 $0
Los Angeles Clippers $1,386,921 $0
Chicago Bulls $1,000,000 $0
Washington Wizards $839,431 $0
Minnesota Timberwolves $344,562 $1,000,000
New Orleans Pelicans $75,000 $4,021,259
Dallas Mavericks $0 $0
Detroit Pistons $0 $0
Indian Pacers $0 $0
Los Angeles Lakers $0 $0
San Antonio Spurs $0 $0
Toronto Raptors $0 $250,000
Sacramento Kings $0 $839,341
Charlotte Hornets $0 $1,842,276
Phoenix Suns $0 $2,170,465
Denver Nuggets $0 $2,340,000
Milwaukee Bucks $0 $2,400,000
Atlanta Hawks $0 $3,015,386
Philadelphia 76ers $0 $3,900,000
Orlando Magic $0 $4,313,314
Boston Celtics $0 $4,419,236
Utah Jazz $0 $5,800,000

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

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