Los Angeles Clippers: Salary Cap Maneuvering In Action

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7 Responses

  1. Steve Perrin says:

    Great job. You may not be a Clippers expert, per se, but you nailed this.

    A couple of things I would add —

    It’s worth noting that Maalik Wayns injured in meniscus in pre-season last year while playing for the Clippers. Wayns was activated before his contract became fully guaranteed and therefore did not wind up costing the Clippers his full season salary, which was important in that the team was also hard-capped last season. Had Wayns not recovered, they might not have had room for the likes of Danny Granger (I’m actually not sure, as the trades of Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens created some breathing room). At any rate, the “training camp” injury scenario is quite real and one that almost bit the Clippers last season.

    The other scenario that has always had more wondering about the hard cap would be a rash of injuries. It’s highly unlikely of course, but if six players were injured and unable to play, the Clippers would be down to seven healthy bodies. Teams are required to dress eight, raising the prospect of having an injured player in uniform on the bench for show. The NBA has the leeway to issue injury exceptions — but would they do so where the ‘hard cap’ is concerned? Again, this is not likely because it involves so many injuries. However, it probably dictates how the Clippers will go into the season. Just two injuries (for instance to Chris Paul and Jordan Farmar) could put the team in a terrible bind at one position. It seems as if they’ll have to carry an unguaranteed player in the 13th slot, providing the flexibility to drop that player and add one at a different position in case of injuries.

    • Albert says:

      @Steve Perrin

      Thank you!

      The Clippers never really threatened the apron last season :). They started the regular season with an apron-adjusted team salary of $73.4M for the 14 players under contract. It rose to $74.1M when Stephen Jackson was signed on 12/13 (still $1.7M below the apron, and enough room for all subsequent acquisitions even if Wayns’ injury were to have been season-ending), then fell under $74M when Wayns was waived on 1/5 (his 12/1 guarantee date was previously renegotiated) and never got that high again. They finished the year at $72.7M (which was just above the tax level, well shy of the apron). This year’s situation is far more fascinating!

      My apologies, but I am not quite sure what you mean by “injury exception.” Some refer to the NBA granting a team the ability to add a 16th player in the event of hardship as an injury exception, but that wouldn’t apply to the Clippers. Others refer to the disabled player exception as an injury exception. A team can apply for a DPE from July 1 to January 15 no matter where its team salary is relative to the apron (e.g., Indiana just received a DPE which, if utilized, would press them right up against the apron… though, in practical reality, they won’t even exceed the tax level), which would be granted if the player in question were determined to be unable to play through June 15. However, the NBA would not let the team use the DPE (or any other exception) if doing so would take its team salary above the apron. I suppose there are extreme circumstances which would need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis (e.g., if 9 players are injured from a 13-player roster).

  2. Steve Perrin says:

    That’s all I’m really saying… those “extreme circumstances” — we don’t know if the hard cap is so hard that a team would be forced to play with four healthy players. Now, that’s not likely to ever happen, but it’s an interesting thought exercise, I guess.

    The Clippers actually came close to getting under the luxury tax with the Jamison and Mullens deals last year — they could have moved Willie Green and done it, perhaps. (Mark Deeks at ShamSports says they should have, I’m not sure I agree.) Presumably the luxury tax, and even the repeater tax, is not something that Steve Ballmer fears much. We’ll see.

    Curious what you think about the Dudley for Delfino and Raduljica deal as it relates to this situation…

  3. Albert says:

    @Steve Perrin
    The Clippers wound up just $883,544 above the tax last year, resulting in a tax payment of $1,325,316. Whether they should have maneuvered to drop below, I leave to you :).

    I think I still have their step-by-step team salary calculations from last season (for both the tax and hard cap). If you’d like, I would be glad to send it to you.

    I tweeted out some quick thoughts on the trade earlier in the day if you’d like to read those. But those were higher-level in nature and didn’t really incorporate all aspects of the trade with the degree of detail with which I am comfortable. I will try to provide a better answer to your question by tomorrow if that’s ok. I’m watching some TV now, and my Marlins start after that :).

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