The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the weekly thought processes of NBA teams and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday grind of putting a team together.
This week we examine what teams are focusing on as the season begins to wind down.
THE MINDSET OF THE FRONT OFFICE
Hands off the declared underclassmen
One thing that drives owners crazy is giving money back to the NBA.
Unless teams want to write a blank check to the NBA, early-entry draft prospects like LSU star Ben Simmons are off limits for the next six weeks.
Teams cannot contact or talk publicly about players who still have eligibility until the NBA sends out a list of declared prospects. Teams will receive the early-entry memo in late April, and until then there should be no contact for draft workouts or background research. Teams also cannot contact a prospect’s family members or representatives.
If a team is found to have violated these rules, there are financial consequences.
Focus on bonus incentives
There are 36 players this season with incentive bonuses tied into their contracts for team or individual achievement. The maximum bonus amount allowed is 15 percent of the current compensation for that season. The league puts bonuses in two categories: unlikely or likely. If the team or player achieved the bonus from the season before the amount will be factored into likely.
When San Antonio reaches 62 wins (it has 59 now), Duncan will receive a bonus of $750,000. The bonus will be added to his current salary of $5.25 million for a cap hit of $6 million this season. The Spurs will see their tax bill increase from $3.8 million to $4.9 million. For next season, Duncan’s salary will increase from $5.64 million to $6.4 million. The Spurs will lose an extra $750,000 in cap space next summer once the bonus is achieved. This of course only applies if Duncan opts in to his contract in June. Because the team bonus would be achieved, the NBA deems the bonus likely.
The Clippers are likely to save $1.1 million in luxury taxes from the Jeff Green bonus. Green has a likely bonus factored into his contract of $450,000 if the Clippers win 56 games this season. Although the contract was signed with the Celtics, traded to the Grizzlies and eventually traded to Los Angeles, the NBA moved the bonus from unlikely to likely when Green was traded at the deadline. The Clippers last season won 56 games and the NBA deems the bonus now likely. However, with 13 games remaining, the Clippers have 43 wins, and earning this bonus is unlikely.
The Warriors will save $4 million in taxes and $1.8 million in salary if Andrew Bogut fails to make the NBA All-Defensive first or second team. Bogut must play 65 games (currently at 60) and repeat as a member of the All-Defensive team to receive this bonus. If Bogut misses out, the Warriors’ tax bill will drop from $18.8 million to $14.9 million. The Warriors cap figure this summer would decrease also with the team having an extra $1.6 million in room. The room is created because the NBA would deem the bonus unlikely. His cap hit would go from $12.6 million to $11 million.
Watch the regionals from your couch
Unless you want to use the company credit card on expensive tickets, the best place for NBA executives to watch the regionals is from a living room or boardroom at the team compound.
The NCAA tournament does not offer the same perks to scouts as it does for the regular season or even the conference tournaments. Teams do not have special access and often will have to rely on ticket brokers to buy seats close to the action.
The only exception to the rule is if the regional is in a scout’s home arena – in this case Philadelphia and Chicago.
TEAMS WITH ROSTER SPOTS
Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland, Minnesota, Orlando and Phoenix each have an open roster spot.
Brooklyn, Minnesota, Denver, Detroit and Boston have players on 10-day contracts and can create a roster spot if needed.
UNDER-THE-RADAR FREE AGENT
F Jared Dudley, Washington
Dudley, 30, is the ultimate teammate and professional. Dudley and John Wall have kept Washington afloat during a tough period when injuries have ravaged the Wizards.
More substance to his game than flash, the nine-year veteran has posted career bests of 47.5 percent shooting from 2-point range and 43.1 percent from 3 this season. He can play both wing positions and can even shift to PF if a team elects to go small.
Dudley has not missed a game this season and has only missed 19 since 2011-12.
WHAT SCOUTS ARE SAYING ABOUT …
F Joel Bolomboy, Weber State
Way before his 14-point, 10-rebound performance against Xavier in the first round, Bolomboy first caught the attention of teams during his freshman season at Weber State.
A high flyer with elite athleticism, the senior is still a work in progress on the offensive end.
A big-time rebounder who has seen his numbers jump from 10.2 last year to 12.6.
Will likely be in Portsmouth Invitational in mid-April where teams will get a better look at him.
A mid-second-round to undrafted prospect who could be a sleeper in June.
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