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NBA AM: Set-Off, Trade Exceptions and Camp Money

Eric Pincus looks at which teams saved money from a set-off, trade exceptions around the NBA and partially-guaranteed deals.



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Here’s a look at which NBA teams saved money due to a set-off, the status of every trade exception around the league and this past season’s partially-guaranteed contracts.


Upon completion of the 2015-16 NBA regular season, a number of teams received minor salary savings in the form of “set-off.”

For franchises with the dead money of a waived or stretched player on their books, a portion may be set-off upon completion of the season, provided the provision was not waived in the buyout agreement.

The set-off formula is the player’s new salary minus the minimum for a player with one year’s experience in the year in which they were waived.  The balance is then divided by two, the amount deducted from the original team’s obligation.

For players cut over the past season, the sophomore minimum was $845,059. For 2015-16, it was $816,482.

The Boston Celtics received relief for David Lee, who was waived with a buyout of $15,035,105 – subject to set-off.  Lee then signed with the Dallas Mavericks for $2,085,671.

Deducting the $845,059 from his Dallas salary, then dividing that amount in half, the Celtics received a set-off of $620,306 – reducing both the amount Boston owed Lee and his cap hit to $14,414,799.  Lee successfully double-dipped to earn $16,500,470 between the Mavericks and Celtics, but only after the portion owed by Boston was reduced.

Meanwhile, JaVale McGee’s $12,000,000 was waived last season by the Philadelphia 76ers.  His $1,270,964 minimum deal with the Mavericks reduced Philadelphia’s obligation by $227,241 to $11,772,759.

The Detroit Pistons’ application of set-off for Josh Smith’s $1,499,187 minimum contract with the Houston Rockets is complicated by the stretch provision.  Detroit was on the hook for $5,400,000 for five years, starting with the 2015-16 campaign.  The $341,353 in set-off from his Houston contract will also be spread out over five years, reducing that obligation to $5,331,729 per year.

The Pistons also received salary cap relief with the salary of Aaron Gray coming off their books because of a forced medical retirement (heart related).  Gray’s stretched salary of $452,049 for three seasons starting with 2015-16 will still be paid out by the team, but won’t count against their cap.

The Denver Nuggets also received a small set-off for Pablo Prigioni, who is earning the minimum at $981,348 with the Los Angeles Clippers.  His $440,000 waived amount with Denver shrunk by $68,144 to $371,856.

The Indiana Pacers’ $600,000 obligation to Toney Douglas, who’s now under contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, was reduced to $440,100.

Finally, the Portland Trail Blazers received a $327,064 set-off for Mike Miller, who played the season with the Nuggets.

Trade Exceptions

With the NBA’s salary cap jumping from $70 million to a projected $92 million in July, the majority of the league is expected to fall under the cap.

Once a team is below the salary cap, they lose their exceptions (although they gain a $2,898,000 room exception). With that in mind, most of the following trade exceptions are more likely to expire if not used before the end of June, possibly around the draft:

Atlanta Hawks: $947,276 (expiring 2/18/17)

Brooklyn Nets: $2,170,465 (expiring 7/13/16), $1,357,080 (expiring 6/27/16)

Charlotte Hornets: $646,260 (expiring 6/25/16), $548,000 (expiring 6/26/16)

Chicago Bulls: $2,854,940 (expiring 2/18/17)

Cleveland Cavaliers: $9,638,554 (expiring 2/18/17), $2,854,940 (expiring 7/27/16), $2,329,471 (expiring 7/27/16), $974,276 (expiring 2/18/17), $845,059 (expiring 6/12/17)

Denver Nuggets: $135,000 (expiring 2/18/17)

Golden State Warriors: $5,387,825 (expiring 7/27/16), $3,197,170 (expiring 7/31/16)

Los Angeles Clippers: $974,276 (expiring 1/22/17)

Memphis Grizzlies: $450,000 (expiring 2/18/17), $122,411 (expiring 6/27/16)

Miami HEAT: $2,854,940 (expiring 2/18/17), $2,145,060 (expiring 2/16/17), $2,129,535 (expiring 11/10/16), $1,706,250 (expiring 7/27/16), $1,294,440 (expiring 7/27/16), $845,059 (expiring 2/18/17)

Milwaukee Bucks: $5,200,000 (expiring 7/9/16), $4,250,000 (expiring 7/9/16)

Minnesota Timberwolves: $5,000,000 (expiring 7/12/16)

New Orleans Pelicans: $102,217 (expiring 12/24/16)

Oklahoma City Thunder: $3,750,001 (expiring 2/18/17), $2,750,000 (expiring 6/30/16), $2,038,206 (expiring 7/14/16)

Orlando Magic: $7,043,029 (expiring 2/18/17)

Phoenix Suns: $578,651 (expiring 2/18/17)

Training Camp Money

While the focus of the NBA will shift from the playoffs to the draft in June to free agency in July, at some point teams will put together a training camp roster that can reach 20 players deep. Some players may make it to opening night, but many will be cut before the start of the season, destined for the NBA Development League.

Given the relatively light pay-scale in the D-League, which maxes out at just $25,000 for a season, some NBA teams have taken to giving players extra guaranteed money for training camp, with a spot waiting on the franchise’s Development League affiliate.

Additionally, some veterans trying to stick in the league will take a deal they need to earn, many non-guaranteed but some with sizable promises.

The following list details this past season’s partially-guaranteed contracts:

Atlanta Hawks: Lamar Patterson ($75,000) — with Hawks; Terran Petteway ($75,000) — waived

Boston Celtics: Malcolm Miller ($25,000), Corey Walden ($25,000) and Levi Randolph ($20,000) — all to Maine Red Claws

Brooklyn Nets: Ryan Boatright ($75,000) — waived; Willie Reed ($500,000 initially but full by opening night) and Donald Sloan ($50,000 initially but $200,000 as of 11/1/15) — both with team

Charlotte Hornets: Aaron Harrison ($75,000) — with Hornets; Elliot Williams ($80,000) — waived

Dallas Mavericks: Brandon Ashley ($50,000) and Jamil Wilson ($50,000) — both to Texas Legends; Jarrid Famous ($10,000) — waived; JaVale McGee ($250,000 initially, $500,000 and then $750,000 to opening night) — with team

Denver Nuggets: Kostas Papanikolaou ($350,000) — waived

Detroit Pistons: Adonis Thomas ($60,000) — to Grand Rapids Drive

Indiana Pacers: Toney Douglas ($600,000) — waived

Los Angeles Lakers: Michael Frazier ($50,000) and Robert Upshaw ($35,000) — both to Los Angeles D-Fenders; Jonathan Holmes ($100,000) — injured, waived and paid full rookie salary of $525,093

New York Knicks: Thanasis Antetokounmpo ($75,000), Darion Atkins ($75,000), Wesley Saunders ($75,000) and Travis Trice ($50,000) — all to Westchester Knicks

Orlando Magic: Melvin Ejim ($150,000), Jordan Sibert ($100,000) and Keith Appling ($100,000) — all to Erie Bayhawks

Philadelphia 76ers: T.J. McConnell ($100,000) — with team; Scottie Wilbekin ($200,000) — waived; Christian Wood ($50,000) — originally made squad, but waived and then eventually re-signed

Portland Trail Blazers: Cliff Alexander ($100,00) and Luis Montero ($100,000) — both with team

Sacramento Kings: Vincent Hunter ($30,000) and Marshall Henderson ($25,000) — both to Reno Bighorns; Eric Moreland ($250,000) — with team

San Antonio Spurs: Matt Bonner ($749,594) — with team; Jimmer Fredette ($507,711) — waived

Toronto Raptors: Ronald Roberts ($75,000), Michale Kyser ($25,000), Axel Toupane ($25,00) and Shannon Scott ($25,000) — all to Raptors 905

Utah Jazz: Treveon Graham ($75,000), J.J. O’Brien ($75,000) and E.J. Singler ($50,000) — all to Idaho Stampede; Jeff Withey ($200,000) — with team

Washington Wizard: Jaleel Roberts ($10,000) — waived

Note: A number of players signed without any promised money, but still agreeing to join the D-League as an affiliate player (like Keifer Sykes, who was cut from the San Antonio Spurs to join the Austin Spurs).  Others took non-guaranteed money, were waived and moved on to other teams or leagues altogether.

Once in the D-League, players can be called up as free agents by any NBA franchise, regardless of any assigned affiliate rights.  Raptors designate Axel Toupane was signed to a pair of 10-day contracts by the Nuggets, then to a multi-year deal.

Eric Pincus is a Senior Writer for Basketball Insiders, with a focus on the business side of the game.

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