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Clippers May End Up Paying Luxury Taxes
Posted By Eric Pincus On June 20, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
The Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics continue to work on a trade that could send Kevin Garnett and, indirectly, coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks.
The negotiations have started and stopped along the way but are ongoing, and even nearing completion.
The Clippers are still considering alternate coaches like Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw and Byron Scott — but impending-free agent Chris Paul certainly seems to favor Rivers.
“Just spent better part of the evening [with] Chris Paul and his wife Jada. I can only tell you that he is a big fan of Doc Rivers,” tweeted long-time Clippers’ broadcaster Ralph Lawler.
According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the Clippers are “prepared to pay Rivers $6 million to $7 million per year over five seasons,”
If Rivers and Garnett are coming to L.A., it’s all but a lock that Paul will return — likely with a contract starting at $18.7 million.
With Paul and Garnett, along with Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers would have six players under guaranteed contract for next season at a total of $63.4 million.
The league’s current luxury tax projection for next season is $71.5 million. If the Clippers intend to stay under the tax, they’d have just $8.1 million to flesh out the roster with at least seven players.
Boston’s Paul Pierce has been linked to the Clippers, with the expectation that Boston will waive him before July. The Celtics owe him just $5 million of his $15.3 million contract for next season.
L.A. can offer him as little as the minimum at $1.4 million to their full Mid-Level Exception (MLE) at $5.15 million — but the best scenario for the Clippers would be the taxpayer’s MLE at $3.183 million.
Once a team uses the full MLE, they lock in a hard cap. The Clippers may not intend to climb to $4 million over the tax line (approximately $75.5 million) but the taxpayer MLE gives the team flexibility to spend as needed.
If the full amount of the team’s MLE (standard or taxpayer) goes to Pierce, the most the Clippers can spend to keep their own free agent, Matt Barnes, is $1.5 million.
Lamar Odom would also like to return. The Clippers have his Bird Rights and the ability to pay him more than last year’s $8.2 million — although he’s certain to take a substantial decrease if he does re-sign.
The Clippers have the Bird Rights for Chauncey Billups but non-Bird for both Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf. Willie Green ($1.4 million), DaJuan Summers ($948k) and Maalik Wayns ($789k) are all signed on non-guaranteed deals.
Los Angeles has been linked to Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic. If Pierce and Barnes re-sign, the Clippers might be able to save money while filling a need by moving Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe — reducing the team’s salary by $3.2 million.
If the Clippers are serious about putting together a championship team, they will probably drift into the tax.
If they want to go all in, perhaps they can get the Magic to include another former Celtic (Glen Davis) in the deal for Afflalo (with the non-guaranteed Summers included to match salaries).
That would require a significant commitment from the Clippers. If they spend $80 million in salary, they’re paying an additional $13.6 million in luxury taxes. That’s probably too much to ask of a team that isn’t accustomed to that level of payroll.
The Clippers still have a lot of decisions ahead, Boston trade or no — specifically with free agents Odom, Barnes and Billups.
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