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NBA AM: Who Is Getting A Contract Buyout?

With the NBA trade deadline behind us, next up is buyout season. Who is primed to be waived?… Is Ben Simmons the next big thing for the NBA?… Buyouts, Trades and The Problem Of Being The Lakers.

Steve Kyler profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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The Buyout Club:  After the trade deadline, a number of teams will try to reduce what they owe their roster through contract buyouts. A team always has the option of simply cutting a player and eating his entire salary, but there is a window to reach a compromise that some players looking for a new situation are open to.

The general process of a buyout is to reach a deal to reduce the amount owed to player just enough to get the player to agree to it, so the team gets to shave a little bit of cash off the final payroll bill.

The typical buyout reduction is usually about what a player can sign for with another team.

The Dallas Mavericks were able to sign Amar’e Stoudemire to a pro-rated minimum deal that would pay him $485,000 for the balance of the season. To get there, Stoudemire left roughly $2.5 million of his final $23.410 million contract with the New York Knicks on the table. That’s usually a bit more than most players would leave, but when you factor in salary plus playoff money and the chance to compete, it was worth it to Stoudemire.

That is what many teams hope they can achieve over the next few days.

The Denver Nuggets have already reached a buyout deal with forward Thomas Robinson, who was acquired as part of the deadline deal with Portland and was waived yesterday. He is expected to clear waivers and choose his next team fairly quickly.

Sources close to Robinson say he wants a situation where he can play a significant role and have a chance to change the perception of his game.

The Utah Jazz reached a buyout with Kendrick Perkins, who they obtained from the Oklahoma City Thunder at the deadline, and have already waived him. He has agreed to join the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Phoenix Suns didn’t even try to buy out swingman John Salmons and just outright released him after the deadline, absorbing a 100 percent of his remaining contract.

The New Orleans Pelicans agreed to buy out forward Shawne Williams after obtaining him at the deadline. He too is expected to clear waivers and pick a new team.

Philadelphia 76ers big man JaVale McGee was thought to be a buyout candidate too; however, he has since told the media that he wants to stay in his deal and with the 76ers.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Carlos Boozer has taken the same stance with the Lakers, as has Orlando Magic veteran guard Willie Green.

The 76ers waived forward Andre Kirilenko, but word is he is headed back to Russia to join CSKA Moscow.

New Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince is said to be a little upset that he didn’t end up in a buyout situation. It was believed he was going to get a buyout from the Boston Celtics after the deadline, but the C’s found a trade for him to Detroit, who actually plans to keep him for the balance of the season.

This one is still very fluid, so it’s worth watching.

Arguably, the most interesting buyout was Larry Sanders and the Milwaukee Bucks. Sanders is said to have left some $21 million of his remaining $36 million on the table in Milwaukee to be out of his deal.

While Sanders is getting attention from teams trying to understand his situation, the big man has been battling personal issues all season and is expected to sit out the contract market for the immediate future, looking to get his life in order before deciding what to do next. Some teams have offered to allow Sanders to find his way in their program, but that seems undesirable to Sanders at this point.

Players who are waived before March 1 can sign with a new team and be playoff eligible. Teams can waive players at any time after that date and they are free to join teams – they just would not be able to participate in the postseason.

A common question about buyouts is, why do teams do them? The truth is rather cold in this regards. The balance of a player’s contract is simply a debt to be paid; at this point, a team is paying that debt regardless. If they can negotiate a reduction in that debt, they save money. While a few hundred thousand here and there seems trivial in the grand scheme of what NBA teams spend, those dollars are meaningful to the bottom line, especially for a team not looking to make the post season. Another reason for teams to buy out a player is because it’s seen as a show of good faith to a veteran. Rather than hold a player hostage in a bad situation, they are letting them go to a better team. Players and agents notice those kind of things, and every front office would like to be known as player-friendly (especially if they are in the midst of a bad season).

When you factor in that the luxury tax is computed on what you actually pay, Stoudemire did the Knicks a huge favor in leaving $2.5 million on the table, as that’s $2.5 million they also won’t pay luxury tax on.

Other teams will look at buyouts in much the same way, especially if their season isn’t going as expected.

Is Ben Simmons The Next Big Thing?:  With the NBA trade deadline out of the way, I spent yesterday at IMG Academy’s Beach Blast tournament, which featured 40 invited independent high schools and prep programs that competed in a multi-day tournament.

There were some interesting NBA prospects that played, like IMG junior Romello White, a silky 6’8 forward who is committed to Tennessee. Elev8 Sports Institute had Yakuba Sima, a 7’1 big man with a crazy frame and unbelievable length. There was also 7’1, 280-pound IMG big man Santman Singh, the Indian born center whose closest physical comparison is Shaquille O’Neal in his massive size and frame.

While sitting with college scouts and coaches that live and breathe high school basketball, a concept surfaced that seemed a little surprising, until you really dig into it.

Is Montverde Academy’s Ben Simmons the best prep player in the country?

A whole lot of college coaches think so, and the prep coaches who have attended all the big tournaments compared him to LeBron James in his pure dominance of the competition.

The 18-year-old Simmons is committed to LSU next season and is considered the top prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft. In 28 games for Montverde, Simmons is averaging 27.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game and crushing everyone he’s faced in the fourth quarter.

While comparing any high school player to a Hall Of Famer like LeBron might be a little unfair, what was clear in talking with coaches and scouts was that Simmons is far and away the best non-college player playing and one of the better prospect players many of the coaches have seen in a long time.

So while big man Thon Maker captivated the imagination of draft gurus this past summer, the guy to watch in the coming months might be Simmons.

If you haven’t seen the 6’9 Australian forward, here is some YouTube action:


Buyouts, Trades and The Problem Of Being The Lakers:  Last week’s NBA Trade Deadline came and went and the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster looks today as it did before the All-Star break. Laker fans have wondered, did the Lakers take the deadline off? The truth is the Lakers worked the deadline fairly hard, but what they found was that the things they would be willing to move didn’t have much market appeal.

Very few ending contracts changed hands at the deadline, and most of the moves that got done were about improving basketball teams and the Lakers just didn’t have the talent to offer to get a deal done.

The players that most Laker fans talk about were hard to move. Big man Jordan Hill would have required his contract option for next season to be picked up and that would have added $9 million to his deal, which made it tough for the Lakers to send him out, get an asset worth something and not take back contract money.

The same was true of Jeremy Lin. What he was owed against the cap and in cash even as an ending deal would have required the Lakers to take back salary to complete a deal, and the Lakers were adamantly opposed to that.

So while the Lakers did take a swing at players like Goran Dragic and unused players on rosters across the league, they simply didn’t have the assets to get super serious with anyone, but they tried.

The Lakers had self-imposed limitations about future salary and future draft assets that made it hard to compete with teams willing to take on money or give up draft picks.

So now comes the question of buyouts – the Lakers have at least floated the idea of a contract buyout for some of their veterans, if they wanted to leave a little cash on the table to seek an opportunity with a playoff bound team. The top name is Carlos Boozer, but word is he informed the team he plans to stay in his deal and finish the season in L.A.


Because it’s L.A and Boozer is happy living and playing in L.A. Trying to uproot himself at this point in his career and find a better situation isn’t overly appealing.

There were rumors that a team or two inquired about Hill, and given his contract situation he had veto power, but like Boozer he wasn’t overly interested in leaving L.A. for a new situation in which me may not play a big role, unless it included picking up his $9 million option for next year.

So while the Lakers seem like they’d like to open a roster spot or two for development purposes, it does not seem like anyone is volunteering to give up their Lakers jersey just yet.

That’s the curse of being the Lakers. The hope is that same lifestyle appeal that’s keeping guys in L.A. now translates to free agency later.

The Lakers didn’t sit out the deadline. They also are not sitting out the buyout window either. There remain a few more days to see if anyone has a change of heart before the March 1 deadline to be waived and retain playoff eligibility, so the door isn’t completely closed.

The Lakers have tried all season long to make moves, they just haven’t found anyone who will make a deal.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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