LeBron Has a Bunch of Exciting, Imperfect Options This Summer

LeBron James will have a critical decision to make this summer.

He holds a $35.6M player option for the 2018-19 season. He must decide by June 29 whether to exercise it.

If he declines the option, Cleveland could offer him more money as a free agent than can any other team – while his maximum starting salary would be the same $35.4M (35% of the projected $101M salary cap) no matter where he goes, the Cavs can offer a five-year deal worth as much as $205M while other teams could offer a four-year deal worth as much as $152M.

LeBron has said he is no longer willing to take a discount from max money, as he did for the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010. But what he decides to do with his player option will surely be dictated not my monetary concerns but rather by where he wants to play next season.

LeBron has indicated on numerous occasions that he ideally wants to finish his career in Cleveland. But after a tumultuous year for the Cavs, he may be inclined to change his interim calculus. The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have positioned themselves as teams of the future in the Eastern Conference, and the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are each a clear step ahead in the Western Conference.

The Cavs will have a difficult time keeping pace with any of them. Including LeBron, they’d not only be capped out but deep into the luxury tax next season (with a payroll that projects to be a minimum of $24M over the tax line). They’d have access to only the $5.3M Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, which could be cost prohibitive to utilize, and minimum salary contracts with which to improve in free agency. Their No. 8 pick in the 2018 draft isn’t likely to provide significant near-term help. And they have numerous unappealing contracts and limited assets with which to pursue potential trades. The prospect of building a championship-caliber roster around LeBron in Cleveland appears daunting.

If LeBron were to consider leaving Cleveland, a host of NBA teams would surely line up to recruit him. Among those already rumored to be in the mix: the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs.

None is a perfect fit. Each would have its unique challenges.

There are only three primary ways by which a potential suitor could acquire LeBron James this summer: a direct signing, a sign-and-trade, or a trade.

DIRECT SIGNING

Mechanics: LeBron would decline his $35.6M player option by June 29, and sign a new contract on or after July 6.

Potential Contract: LeBron could sign a contract with an up to $35.4M starting salary, which could range anywhere between one and four seasons in length, with annual raises of up to 5% of his first-year salary.

Challenges: Among the potential challenges to a direct signing include:

  • Potential suitors would need to create $35.4M of cap space
  • After cap space is used up, potential suitors would only have access only to the lesser $4.4M Room Mid-Level Exception

Potential Suitors: Only two potential suitors currently have a clear path toward signing LeBron with cap space: the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Lakers currently project to have $60M+ of cap space this summer — that would be enough to sign LeBron and, if the Spurs should be so inclined, acquire Kawhi Leonard in trade, a scenario in which they would undoubtedly have interest. If the Lakers were to waive and stretch the two years, $37M remaining on Luol Deng’s contract, they could increase their potential cap space to $70M+ — that would be enough for LeBron and either Paul George or Chris Paul. If the Lakers were able to shed Deng’s salary entirely, they could increase their potential cap space to $77M+ — that’s enough to sign LeBron, either sign Paul George or acquire Kawhi Leonard in trade, and re-sign Julius Randle. And if the Lakers could increase their potential cap space to $84M+ — it would be enough for LeBron, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

How could the Lakers clear $84M in cap space? At the current $101M salary cap projection, they’d need to trade Deng, along with either (i) Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and their 2018 first-round pick (No. 25), or (ii) Lonzo Ball and at least one of Kuzma, Hart and the No. 25 pick. If any or all of the above assets doesn’t prove enough to both shed Deng and acquire Leonard, the Lakers would also have up to four future first-round draft picks (coupled with three more future first-round pick swaps), up to seven future second-round draft picks, and up to $5M in cash to offer as an enticement. They could potentially also sign-and-trade Julius Randle, without Base Year Compensation issues (see below for what this means), as part of the maneuvering(1). It wouldn’t matter where it all goes. It could all go to the Spurs. Some of it could go to a third (or even fourth) team. It just needs to be enough to appease everyone, and work within the confines of cap rules(2).

Several of these scenarios could be enticing to LeBron. But going it alone likely wouldn’t be. He’ll surely reach out to Chris Paul, Paul George and/or Kawhi Leonard if this were an approach he would consider.

The 76ers can currently create up to $27M of cap space this summer, but they can easily make up the $9M difference that would take them to the targeted $35.4M. The Sixers have one of the most desirable compilations of draft and player assets in the league, and not a single undesirable multi-year contract on the books. Which provides the team a ton of flexibility. The Sixers don’t just have a realistic path toward signing LeBron; they too could potentially have a realistic path toward acquiring Kawhi Leonard in trade, and possibly do it without sacrificing Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, or Joel Embiid. LeBron may want to reach out to Kawhi about the Philly opportunity as well.

Unlike with the Lakers, the Sixers possess a strong enough existing roster to entice LeBron even without such a secondary addition. The biggest question for LeBron with the Sixers may be one of fit. How would he integrate with the ball-dominant Simmons and Embiid? And would Saric and Markelle Fultz provide enough floor spacing? A direct signing may mean the end of JJ Redick, unless he were willing to accept the $4.4M Room MLE. (He’d have Early Bird rights next summer if he did, enabling him to sign a multi-year contract starting at around $9.5M or so.)

Among other potential suitors, only one team seems to have any realistic shot at a direct signing: the Spurs. San Antonio is currently capped out, but they could potentially make a run at LeBron with cap space. See the “TRADE” section below for further details.

Heat Challenges: The Heat will start the summer $21M over the salary cap (excluding cap holds), which means they’d need to clear at least $58M off the books, without taking any salary back in return, to sign LeBron outright. That’s unlikely.

SIGN-AND-TRADE 

Mechanics: LeBron would decline his $35.6M player option by June 29, and execute a new contract with the Cavaliers on or after July 6 on condition that the contract be traded to an assignee team within 48 hours of its execution.

Potential Contract: LeBron could sign a contract with an up to $35.4M starting salary, which could range anywhere between three and four seasons in length, with annual raises of up to 5% of his first-year salary.

Challenges: Among the potential challenges to a sign-and-trade include:

  • All challenges described in the “TRADE” scenario below (other than the second one), plus:
  • Potential suitors would be hard-capped at the apron (projected at $129M)
  • LeBron would be required to make a 3-4 year commitment

Sign-and-trade transactions are largely a relic of past Collective Bargaining Agreements. Their relevance to the current market NBA environment is far more intricate.

Such contracts must be for at least three seasons (not including any option year) and no longer than four seasons. The first year of the contract must be fully guaranteed, but the remaining seasons can be non-guaranteed. The combination of a three-year minimum length and a one-year guarantee ensures that the player’s new team cannot acquire the player’s Bird rights any sooner than if they had signed him directly. It would also ensure that LeBron couldn’t sign a short-term deal.

Such contracts also trigger a hard cap on spending at the apron, which is projected at $129M. Teams that have acquired a player via sign-and-trade can’t cross the apron, under any circumstances, for the rest of the salary cap year. It’s a constant menace floating in the distance.

The “TRADE” scenario described below could be structured to produce a higher payout with fewer restrictions (i.e., no contract length requirement, no hard cap on spending) than a sign-and-trade transaction.

Potential Suitors: Preferably none.

Given the restrictions they impose, there aren’t any teams for which a sign-and-trade transaction would be a clear preference.

The only clear advantage a sign-and-trade scenario could have over a trade scenario would be one of timing. A sign-and-trade would allow LeBron to decline his player option and take the rest of the summer to decide his new team. A trade scenario would require LeBron to exercise his player option by June 29, and he isn’t likely to do that without having already decided his future destination. Therefore, what he chooses to do with his option will be extremely telling.

If LeBron were to decline his option in order to give himself more time to make his decision as to where he wants to play next season, it could eliminate potential suitors who don’t have the potential cap space to sign him outright and who don’t have the means to acquire him in a sign-and-trade without crossing the apron. Since that doesn’t currently eliminate any teams out of hand (though it could restrict their ability to fill out the remainder of their rosters), potential suitors for a sign-and-trade of James, despite their strong lack of preference for such a structure, could include the Celtics, Rockets, Heat, 76ers, and Spurs.

Heat Challenges: The hard cap would be a big issue for the Heat. If Miami were to round out a 14-player roster through free agency in the cheapest possible way this summer, it would end up with a team salary of as much as $126M, depending upon whether Kelly Olynyk and/or Dion Waiters collect their bonus money. That’s already higher than the $123M projected luxury tax threshold, and approaching the $129M hard cap. And that’s before dealing with Wayne Ellington, or utilizing the $5.3M Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. Taking in LeBron via sign-and-trade at the max would add another $35.4M, which would require the Heat to send back at least $34M, and potentially more, to avoid violating the hard cap. Factor in that the Cavs would surely aim to reduce their own payroll as much as possible in conjunction with any such sign-and-trade and such a structure could prove extremely challenging. A trade would be a preferable, and less restrictive, approach for Miami.

TRADE

Mechanics: LeBron would exercise his $35.6M player option by June 29, and agree to a trade, which could be executed either before July 1 or on or after July 6.

Potential Contract: LeBron could achieve just about any contract structure he wants.

In conjunction with any trade, LeBron would exercise his $35.6M player option for next season. That’s already slightly higher than he would receive in the first year of a new contract he could sign as a free agent this summer ($35.4M). To that salary for next season, he could extend his contract to tack on additional seasons if he wants.

LeBron could extend his contract for up to an additional two seasons starting August 12, the two-year anniversary of his original contract signing. In addition to his $35.6M salary for 2018-19, the extension could pay out up to $37.8M in 2019-20 (35% of the $108M projected salary cap), and up to $39.7M in 2020-21 (a 5% increase); that’s up to $113.1M over the next three years.

LeBron could extend his contract for up to an additional four seasons starting six months after the trade is executed. In addition to his $35.6M salary for 2018-19, the extension could pay out up to $37.8M in 2019-20 (35% of the $108M projected salary cap), $40.8M in 2020-21 (an 8% increase), $43.8M in 2021-22, and $46.9M in 2022-23. That’s up to $205.0M over the next five years, virtually identical to the five-year free agency payout he could receive from the Cavs this summer!

Challenges: Among the challenges to a potential trade include:

  • The Cavs would need to be enticed to trade LeBron.
  • LeBron would need to exercise his $35.6M player option by June 29.
  • Potential suitors would need to send out at least $26.5M in salary for trade-matching purposes if the trade is executed before July 1, or $28.4M in salary if the trade is executed on or after July 6.
  • While potential suitors could attempt to sign-and-trade(s) their own free agents to reach the $28.4M outgoing salary requirement for trade-matching purposes, Base Year Compensation, hard-cap restrictions, and other complications could apply.
  • The Cavs would have a minimum projected payroll of $112M to start the season even without LeBron, which is just $10.6M below the projected $101M luxury tax line, and surely wouldn’t want to pay the luxury tax without him.

The trade scenario would allow potential suitors to acquire LeBron without clearing the necessary cap room, would allow LeBron the flexibility to achieve just about any contract type he wants, would allow potential suitors to retain Bird rights to their own free agents (of whatever form they have), and would accomplish it all without imposing a hard cap on spending. But the trade scenario is not without its own serious structural challenges.

First and foremost, the Cavs would need to agree to a trade. That alone could potentially make any trade scenario unlikely. An instantly rebuilding and still expensive Cavalier franchise would surely demand a significant enticement to facilitate his departure.

A trade for LeBron would require the receiving team to send out at least $26.5M in salary if completed during the 2017-18 salary cap year(3), and at least $28.4M in salary if completed during the 2018-19 salary cap year. With the Cavs projected to a minimum of $10.6M below the luxury tax line for next season even without LeBron, that’s a serious problem.

The Cavs aren’t likely to want to pay the luxury tax next season without LeBron (particularly considering their repeater taxpayer status). Which could mean one of two things: (i) a trade partner might need to accept an unwanted Cavaliers contract(s) in addition to that of LeBron, and/or (ii) a trade for LeBron might require the involvement of a third (or even fourth) team willing to swallow contracts a trade partner would be obligated to send and the Cavs would be unwilling to receive. But cap space around the league will be severely limited this summer, which means offloading contracts could be far more challenging and expensive than in past seasons.

The contracts of George Hill or J.R. Smith could potentially help to mitigate some structuring issues. Hill has a guaranteed $19.0M salary for next season, but his $18.0M salary for 2019-20 is just $1.0M guaranteed; if the Cavs, or any team to which he is traded, were to waive and stretch his contract, his $19.0M cap hit for next season would be converted into a $4.0M dead-money cap charge for each of the next five seasons; which would produce $15.0M in cap savings (but one additional roster requirement) for 2018-19. Similarly, Smith has a guaranteed $14.7M salary for next season, but his $15.7M salary for 2019-20 is just $3.9M guaranteed; if the Cavs, or any team to which he is traded, were to waive and stretch his contract, his $14.7M cap hit for next season would be converted into a $3.7M dead-money cap charge for each of the next five seasons; which would produce $11.0M in cap savings (but one additional roster requirement) for 2018-19. The set-off provided by any new contract either would sign over the next two years could reduce those cap hits even further.

Potential suitors could also potentially sign-and-trade their own free agents to reach the outgoing salary requirement for trade-matching purposes, but several additional restrictions could apply if so. First, the trade would need to be completed after July Moratorium (as players can’t be signed before the new salary cap year). Second, any signed-and-traded player would need to consent to the transaction (no player can be forced to sign a new contract), and his signed-and-traded contract would possess the same three-year length requirement described in the SIGN-AND-TRADE scenario above. Third, any team receiving a signed-and-traded player would be hard-capped at the apron for the rest of the season (which, if it were to be the Cavaliers, could be highly restrictive). And fourth, if a team re-signs its Larry Bird or Early Bird free agent in order to trade the player in a sign-and-trade transaction, the player’s new salary is greater than the minimum, he receives a raise greater than 20%, and the sending team is above the salary cap immediately after the signing, Base Year Compensation would apply — the player’s outgoing salary for trade purposes would be the greater of his previous salary or 50% of his new salary, while the team receiving the player would use his new salary. Base Year Compensation can be a major structuring complication.

Potential Suitors: Everyone but the Lakers.

The Sixers would need to send out a bunch of salary and assets to placate the Cavs trading LeBron into their conference, but doing so would allow them to exceed the salary cap to re-sign JJ Redick. It would also give Philly access to the both the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception ($8.4M) and Bi-Annual Exception ($3.4M), whereas a free agent signing would only give them access to the $4.4M Room Mid-Level Exception.

The Celtics could, among their many options, swap James for Gordon Hayward. That’s a contract the Cavs might be willing to accept. Boston should be able to avoid the luxury tax this season even with such a swap and, even if not, wouldn’t have repeater tax concerns until at least the 2021-22 season. But trading Hayward could reflect poorly on the Celtics, and acquiring LeBron could be problematic for Kyrie Irving. To avoid these issues, Irving himself could headline a trade back to Cleveland, though the Cavs would likely require Kyrie to commit to an extension of the lone non-option year remaining on his contract. Irving alone wouldn’t represent enough salary for trade-matching purposes, but including Marcus Morris and a couple of lesser-salaried players gets you there.

The Rockets could well be the most ideal trade destination, if not for the serious structural issues.

Houston would ideally love to include Ryan Anderson as part of any package for LeBron. But the Cavs certainly aren’t going to accept the two years, $41.7M remaining on his contract. Which means a trade involving Anderson would likely require a third team with cap space to swallow his contract. That may require at least two future Rockets first-round draft picks (with such picks carrying limited value), in addition to whatever it would take to entice the Cavs to make the trade.

Houston could potentially complete a LeBron trade without involving Anderson more easily. Such a trade could only be completed on or after July 6 (with LeBron having already executed his player option), and (barring sign-and-trade scenarios involving Rockets free agents) would require Houston to trade, either to the Cavs or a third team, the far more tenable contracts of Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, Nene Hilario, Chinanu Onuaku, Zhou Qi and Aaron Jackson. Houston would have to guarantee the 2018-19 minimum salaries of Qi and Jackson in conjunction with the trade. Houston could also be asked to throw in at least a couple of future first-round picks to appease the Cavs (the Rockets will have a full complement after the 2018 draft).

If the Rockets were able to execute such a trade, it would leave them with James Harden and LeBron James (and Ryan Anderson) under contract, and in position to retain free agents Chris Paul and Clint Capela. Paul will surely push for the max, and Capela could easily push for $20M+. The Rockets have wisely and strategically maneuvered to avoid the luxury tax over the past two seasons. Repeater taxes therefore wouldn’t be a concern for at least four years. Even still, the cost of such a team could quickly get ridiculous.

Let’s assume, for the hell of it, that LeBron and Chris Paul get the max, and Capela gets $20M to start; that’s already $142M to five players (James, Paul, Harden, Anderson and Capela). Building out the rest of a 14-player roster on minimum-salary contracts would add at least another $13M, taking the total team salary to at least $156M. Slap luxury taxes onto that kind of a payroll? Another $100M! That’s $256M total!(4)

Now imagine if the Rockets try to bring back Trevor Ariza as well. Or utilize the $5.3M Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception they’d have access to. Or even add a 15th player. Things could get comically ridiculous! And none of this accounts for the $7.4M jump in Harden’s contract in 2019-20.

If the Rockets are able to snag LeBron, the finances might therefore dictate they choose between Paul and Capela. If so, the choice would be intriguing. Paul surrendered big money to facilitate his trade to Houston last summer, and was likely given an unwritten (and technically illegal) promise to do so, which makes him the far more likely choice. But Capela would be the far less expensive of the two (his max salary is a full $10M lower), which could make re-signing Ariza and/or utilizing the Mid-Level exception a far more realistic proposition. With James, Harden, Capela, Anderson and the remaining roster consisting of nothing but minimum salary contracts, the Rockets could even potentially avoid the luxury tax entirely (though LeBron might not be too happy about that).

The Spurs could try to muscle their way into the LeBron sweepstakes as well, and could offer him the potential to be paired with Kawhi Leonard and perhaps even LaMarcus Aldridge. The trade math could work with the contracts of Pau Gasol and either Patty Mills, Danny Green (if he exercises his $10.0M option), or perhaps even Rudy Gay (if he exercises his own $8.8M option) as the centerpieces. But, again, the Cavs would surely have no desire for any of that ballast. San Antonio would need to direct a host of additional assets both to a third team to swallow the contracts and to the Cavs to entice them to facilitate the trade, which could potentially include the Spurs’ 18th pick in this year’s draft, future first-round picks (the Spurs have a full complement), and/or young player(s) such as Dejounte Murray or Derrick White.

But here’s where things could get intriguing for the Spurs: To acquire LeBron without surrendering Aldridge would require San Antonio to shed Gasol and at least one of Patty Mills, Danny Green, and Rudy Gay (though combining the latter three players, without Gasol, could also work). To shed all that, the Spus would surely need to send a bunch of trade assets as an enticement. But if they can do it, they wouldn’t be all that far away from creating the $35.4M of cap space required to sign LeBron outright. Which, in turn, would avoid the Spurs from having to compensate the Cavs as well. Shedding Gasol and any two of Mills, Green, and Gay (whether via trade or if one or both of the latter two should choose to decline his player option) would put the Spurs in range.

The Spurs could therefore have a shot at acquiring LeBron either as an outright signing or in trade. Acquiring LeBron in an outright signing would avoid the Spurs from having to compensate the Cavs, but it would likely mean surrendering Bird rights to all of its free agents AND having access only to the lesser $4.4M Room MLE. Acquiring LeBron through trade would require the Spurs to compensate the Cavs, but it would position the team to retain their free agents (Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans and/or Bryn Forbes) and provide it access to the both the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception ($8.4M) and Bi-Annual Exception ($3.4M). Which approach they’d take is still to be determined.

Heat Challenges: For the Heat to acquire LeBron in trade, they would need to send out at least $26.5M in salary if executed before July 1, or at least $28.4M in salary if executed on or after July 6.

The Heat has one of the more attractive collection of assets to entice the Cavs in trade for LeBron, should they choose to use it. Miami can offer various player assets (including Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and Bam Adebayo), various draft assets (including up to three future first-round picks, up to three additional future first-round pick swaps, and up to three second-round picks), and up to $5.2M in cash (if the trade is executed after July Moratorium). Miami could further entice the Cavs by expanding the trade to take on contracts that Cleveland might not want in a post-LeBron scenario, as a means to reduce their future tax burden.

Cavaliers owner “Dan Gilbert believes that he can build a championship team without LeBron, and I think he is looking forward to trying,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective. Cleveland views Larry Nance, Jr. as a foundational piece at power forward (both sides reportedly have interest in executing a rookie-scale extension this summer), but the team doesn’t currently have any obvious long-term pieces around which to surround him. Josh Richardson could certainly be viewed as a foundational piece at shooting guard, Justise Winslow could certainly become a foundational piece at small forward if he continues upon the developmental trajectory he achieved last season, and Adebayo had quite an impressive rookie season at center. That’s a bunch of potential future talent.

Dragic, at 32 years of age, can’t realistically be viewed as a long-term piece, but he could nonetheless play a meaningful role in a potential trade. Goran is one of a limited number of Heat players with a ten-digit salary and a clearly positive trade value. His salary could potentially be utilized as the basis upon which Miami would reach its trade-match salary target (which would leave the Heat without a true point guard), or as the basis upon which Cleveland could expand a potential trade beyond just LeBron (perhaps to include George Hill, perhaps as a means for the Cavs to substantially reduce its team salary without having to endure an ugly stretch-related dead-money cap charge while providing the Heat with a similarly-aged point guard at a nearly equivalent cost). Dragic could potentially then be flipped by the Cavs for additional future assets.

Miami’s first-round picks could have substantially more value than those of any other potential suitors as well, if only because its post-LeBron roster could be viewed as weaker.

But that distinction could be an issue for LeBron. The Heat is already relatively thin on realized (vs. potential) talent, and relatively heavy on cost. Trading away any assets could leave the team without a roster that would be appealing to LeBron, and accepting unwanted contracts could leave the team with a very heavy tax burden.

Pat Riley may well have the assets to entice the Cavs to trade LeBron. But does he have the assets to both acquire him from the Cavs and convince him he would be joining a title contender? Can Riley strike a balance between what assets it would cost to acquire him, and what assets the subsequent team would be left with? If Riley is extremely creative (and perhaps a small bit crazy), could he structure a potential trade scenario(s) that could have the Heat potentially taking in multiple star-level players? (I have my ideas!)

***

For LeBron, time is of the essence.

If he should choose to leave the Cavaliers, his June 29 player option deadline becomes a critical dividing line. The easiest path for him to join most of his potential suitors would be through trade, and any trade would require that he first exercise his option. He isn’t likely to do that without having already decided his future destination. Therefore, unlike in summers past, James would benefit substantially from identifying his desired future team as quickly as possible, which, in turn, would provide the Cavs as much time as possible before the June 29 option deadline to seek out an amenable trade. If any proposed trades would include 2018 draft picks, it could benefit LeBron and the Cavs to seek out such scenarios prior to June 21 (the date of the draft). If the option deadline passes unexercised, James’ range of potential suitors could be greatly diminished.

How will LeBron proceed? Only time will tell.

Notes:
For a complete list of teams with the cap space to take on unwanted cap space, click here.

(1) Sign-and-trades are always tricky, of course. You can’t force someone to sign a contract. Julius Randle would need to agree to be signed and traded to a team, whether it be the Spurs or otherwise, that gets hard-capped as a result. And bear in mind that the Lakers couldn’t take back any salary, making this idea of more limited usefulness. A Randle sign-and-trade would really only make sense to a team that doesn’t have enough cap space to sign him outright, which means it would need to send back salary in return, which in turns means the potential trade would almost assuredly involve at least two other teams. 

(2) For the Lakers to free up $84M in cap space, they would need to send out at least $27M+ in salaries. If the Spurs were to remain an over-the-cap team, they could only accept back $25.2M in a straight up trade for Kawhi Leonard. In such a scenario, additional Spurs and/or Lakers players, and/or additional teams, would likely need to be involved.

(3) Trades executed before July 1, 2018 would not impact any team’s 2017-18 luxury tax consequences, unless trade bonuses are involved, in which case the allocated portion to team salary in 2017-18 of any trade bonus would count against the current year tax.

(4) Waiving and stretching the contract of Ryan Anderson could lower the total theoretical payroll obligations from $256M to $200M, but it would produce a rather ugly $8.3M dead money cap charge for the following four years (which could have luxury tax consequences of its own, potentially even repeater tax consequences down the line). 

5 Responses

  1. Ben says:

    Great rundown here. I think the one somewhat more likely trade scenario with Boston that you missed, would be Kyrie Irving going back to Cleveland (and then likely being traded out again by CLE to a third team). I think Ainge would understand that Irving and James don’t work on the same team at this point, plus, with Kyrie off the roster, that’s one less Max salary to worry about going forward for Ainge

  2. Brian says:

    If Ryan Anderson has free agent market value, he might accept a smaller buyout. Say he finds a team willing to pay him 2 years/$12 million after he is bought out, then he’d accept a buyout paying him $29 million over 2 years, and Houston could stretch that to make it $5.8 million over 5 years. This would be an enticing scenario for Houston whether they trade for Lebron or not.

  1. June 15, 2018

    […] expert Albert Nahmad from the Heat Hoops blog has a great post on all of the scenarios — check it out here. But let’s get one thing out of the way, acquiring LeBron as a direct free agent signing will […]

  2. June 28, 2018

    […] The Heat or any other team trading for James in this scenario would need to send out at least $26.5 million in salary for trade-matching purposes if the deal is done before July 1 or $28.4 million in salary if it’s done on July 6 or later, according to NBA salary-cap expert Albert Nahmad from the Heat Hoops blog. […]

  3. June 29, 2018

    […] The Heat or any other team trading for James in this scenario would need to send out at least $26.5 million in salary for trade-matching purposes if the deal is done before July 1 or $28.4 million in salary if it’s done on July 6 or later, according to NBA salary-cap expert Albert Nahmad from the Heat Hoops blog. […]

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