A predominance of the NBA’s general managers are pushing for the league to begin a dialogue on possible alterations to the in-season contract buyout and waiver process, league sources told The Vertical.
Among executives and owners, there’s concern that the buyout process, which allows players to negotiate releases from contracts and often sign with playoff contenders, has become unfair to many smaller and mid-size market teams.
A majority of the league’s executives and several owners attached support to a letter sent to the NBA’s New York offices recently that requests an agenda item on the buyout process be included as part of the general managers’ meetings in May with the NBA, league sources said.
The NBA has a rule that dictates a player must be bought out or released and have his waiver process started prior to March 1 to become eligible to be added onto playoff rosters. That buyout deadline is one week past the NBA’s late February trade deadline, which league executives increasingly believe has played a part in stifling trade activity.
For instance, because rival teams know that buyouts are likely to come immediately post-trade deadline, team officials trying to move buyout candidates often believe that they’re unable to get trade assets in return. Essentially, interested teams believe they can sign a prospective player as a free agent once he clears waivers – and don’t need to make a trade to acquire the player.
Among the issues that general managers believe are negative byproducts of the buyout process system now, league sources told The Vertical: the suppression of trade activity, creating an environment of tampering, lessening the purpose of cap room and exceptions, possible salary-cap circumvention and poor optics for fans and sponsors.
General managers want to find a way to stop pre-arranged deals post-buyout with teams, which might give more clubs the chance to sign a buyout player who has cleared waivers.
Among players who joined contenders in 2017 after contract buyouts and clearing waivers: Deron Williams (Cleveland), Andrew Bogut (Cleveland), Jose Calderon (Atlanta) and Brandon Jennings (Washington). A year ago, players who joined teams after buyouts included Joe Johnson (Miami), David Lee (Dallas) and Andre Miller and Kevin Martin (Spurs).
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