With the NBA trade deadline now behind us, buyout season is in full swing.
Players such as Anderson Varejao, David Lee, J.J. Hickson and Steve Novak have already secured their releases from their prior teams and signed with new ones. Others, such as Joe Johnson and Andre Miller, have reached buyout agreements and are in the process of being waived, and will become free agents shortly. Still others, such as Kevin Martin and Ty Lawson, are rumored to be negotiating buyout agreements with their existing teams and, if successful, would become free agents thereafter.
Buyout season is a frenetic time because it represents the last real opportunity for significant player moment. It can be loosely defined as the period of time that starts after the trade deadline expires, and ends on March 1st. Players must be waived by their existing teams by March 1st (whether in conjunction with a buyout or not) to be eligible for the playoffs with another team.
A buyout is essentially an agreement between a player and his team wherein the team agrees to terminate the player’s contract in exchange for a reduction in the remaining guaranteed salary he is owed.
Technically, a buyout constitutes an amendment to an existing player contract in which: (i) the team will request waivers on the player, and (ii) if the player clears waivers, the remaining portion of his guaranteed salary will be reduced or eliminated.
“Waivers” are a temporary status for players who are released by their teams. A team initiates the waiver process by “requesting waivers” on the player it is releasing. The player stays “on waivers” for 48 hours, during which time other teams may claim the player.
If a team makes a successful waiver claim, it acquires the player and his existing contract, and pays the remainder of his salary. Any negotiated buyout is nullified, and the waiving team is relieved of all responsibility for the player.
Waiver claims are rare, particularly for players with large contracts, for two primary reasons.
First, they require: (i) a claiming team to either have room below the salary cap to fit the player’s entire salary, a trade exception for at least the player’s salary, a disabled player exception for at least the player’s salary and that the player be in the final season of his contract, or (ii) that the contract be initially executed for two seasons or fewer at the minimum salary.
Second, they require a claiming team to pay out the remaining salary obligations under the contract in full.
If no team has claimed the player before the end of the waiver period, he “clears waivers.” The player’s buyout (if any) takes effect, his contract is terminated, and he becomes a free agent.
The Miami Heat has taken dead-aim at Joe Johnson.
Johnson is assured to clear waivers because no NBA team has enough room, or a large enough exception, to claim his $24.9 million salary.
According to Zach Lowe, Johnson, who reportedly agreed to give up a whopping $3.0 million of the $6.7 million remaining to be paid on his expiring contract in order to secure his release from the Brooklyn Nets, is expected to sign with the Heat, and will do so after he clears waivers on Saturday.
But Miami has a problem. Read more…