The trade deadline on Feb. 18 wasn’t the last day in which teams could improve on the court and financially. The lead-up to the March 1 waiver deadline also allowed teams to improve for the stretch run while also providing clubs with opportunities to save money with an eye on the summer.
The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks takes a look at the teams that made moves before the March 1 waiver deadline.
BASKETBALL AND FINANCES
The trade-deadline deals of Brian Roberts and Jarnell Stokes helped the Heat go under the luxury tax but they are walking a tightrope to stay there. Both trades saw Miami go $218,000 below the tax and gave the Heat a small window to stay there.
Signing seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson to a pro-rated minimum contract pushed Miami over the tax by $44,000 for a short period of time. Although Johnson will be paid $414,000, the Heat will only have a $262,000 cap hit. Johnson should pay off huge for Miami come playoff time.
The Beno Udrih buyout put the Heat $46,000 below the tax line. Udrih shaved $90,000 off the $540,000 that Miami owed him.
Miami will now be in line to receive $2.5 million in league tax distribution with the ability to sign a player in April.
The veteran Humphries will be paid $1 million of the $2 million remaining on the pro-rated room mid-level. The $1 million contract Humphries signed is the equivalent of a $4 million deal a free agent would sign in the off-season.
The Mavericks added depth to their bench by signing David Lee to the pro-rated room exception worth $2.08 million. For financial purposes, the Lee contract is equal to a player signing a $6.8 million contract during the summer. Lee will be paid $40,000 a day for 52 days of work, not 170 days like players who sign as free agents.
To create a roster spot for Lee, Dallas waived John Jenkins. Phoenix eventually claimed Jenkins saving, the Mavericks $288,000 in salary while also wiping clean his cap hit for this season.
The Warriors released Jason Thompson to create a roster spot to sign Anderson Varejao. Although Varejao will be paid $458,575, the Warriors will only incur a $289,755 cap hit. Golden State will also add close to $500,000 to its tax bill at the end of the season because of the signing.
Golden State will pay Thompson the remaining balance of $1.8 million for 2015-16 and will have his $6.9 million full salary hit its cap. Golden State will stretch the amount owed to Thompson in 2016-17 over the next three seasons starting in July. The Warriors will have a $945,126 cap hit on their books starting next season.
Toronto added to its already deep bench by signing Jason Thompson.
The Raptors will incur a $245,000 cap hit with the signing. Thompson will earn $328,000 on top of his salary that Golden State will continue to pay.
In order to create a roster spot, Toronto released Anthony Bennett. The Raptors will pay Bennett for the remainder of the season while also being charged $947,000 for cap purposes.
To open a roster spot to sign Andre Miller, San Antonio waived point guard Ray McCallum. McCallum’s $947,000 cap hit will stay on the Spurs’ books and they will pay him for the remainder of the season.
Miller signed for $396,000 for the remainder of the season with $250,000 going toward the salary cap. San Antonio will be charged an additional $375,000 in luxury tax.
Trading Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair opened a roster spot but also depleted the Wizards’ depth at forward. The signing of J.J. Hickson will bolster the bench for the next six weeks. Hickson will earn $366,000 with Washington having a $273,000 cap hit.
AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE
The Nets created two roster spots as well as substantial savings now and in the future with buyouts of Joe Johnson and Andrea Bargnani.
The savings and roster spots will set the wheels in motion for the summer. Look for the Nets to use the roster spots on development players with an eye on the summer league.
The Nuggets were able to use the $1.16 million obtained from Oklahoma City at the trade deadline to offset some of the buyout costs for Steve Novak and J.J. Hickson.
Novak gave back $416,000 in salary, while Denver trimmed $396,000 off the $1.7 million owed to Hickson. For cap purposes, the Nuggets will be charged $3.3 million for Novak and $5.2 million for Hickson.
With the two open roster spots, Denver signed JaKarr Sampson for the rest of the season with a non-guarantee for next season, and Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.
Minnesota opened two roster spots with the buyouts of Andre Miller and Kevin Martin.
Minnesota saved $4 million overall with the Martin buyout. At the time of the buyout, Minnesota owed Martin $1.7 million this year and $7.3 million next season. Martin walked away with half of the money that was owed to him.
The Timberwolves will have a cap hit of $6.3 million this season and $4.1 million in 2016-17. Minnesota can elect to stretch the $4 million owed to Martin starting in July to cover three seasons.
Minnesota used one of the roster spots to sign Greg Smith to a 10-day contract.
Phoenix saved $1 million by buying out the remainder of Kris Humphries’ contract. Although the Suns will have Humphries’ $3.4 million cap hit on their books, they will not owe him financially for the rest of the season. Humphries made up the loss in salary when he signed in Atlanta.
The Suns used the trade exception from the Markieff Morris deal to claim shooting guard John Jenkins. The Suns incur the $981,349 cap hit of Jenkins’ contract but will only pay him $288,632 for the remainder of the season. Jenkins’ contract for 2016-17 will be guaranteed if Phoenix does not waive him by July 11.
ROSTER SPOT CREATED WITH SOME SAVINGS
The original buyout with David Lee saved the Celtics $458,000 in salary. However, with Lee signing with Dallas for $2.08 million, the Celtics will save an additional $620,000 with a set-off.
In total, Boston will save $1.06 million in salary by waiving Lee while also creating an open roster spot.
Houston created two roster spots by waiving Marcus Thornton and buying out Ty Lawson.
The Rockets saved $225,000 with the Lawson buyout. Houston will owe Lawson $3.5 million for the remainder of the season.
Houston used money saved in the Lawson buyout to sign Andrew Goudelock for the remainder of the season and a non-guaranteed contract for next year.
Although a roster spot was created, the Rockets did not save money in the Thornton waiver.
The Bucks saved money by signing Steve Novak and with the Magic claiming Chris Copeland, who was waived to make room for Novak.
Novak earned back the salary that was lost with Denver by signing for $414,000 with Milwaukee. The Bucks saw $295,000 of that salary hit their cap. However, signing Novak was costly because he was injured and lost for the remainder of the season
SALARY CAP GYMNASTICS
League rules stipulate that teams must reach 90 percent of the salary-cap floor. With the Channing Frye trade to Cleveland, Orlando saw its team salary drop to $62.36 million, which was $664,000 from the cap floor.
Claiming Chris Copeland's salary of $1.1 million allowed the Magic to go over the floor while also saving money. Although the full cap hit of $1.1 million will go toward the Magic’s books, Orlando will only owe Copeland his remaining salary for the year, thus saving $296,000 overall.
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