With a few (admittedly recent) exceptions, the NBA trade deadline usually involves a lot of big rumors leading up to 3 p.m., followed by a number of smaller trades that few saw coming. Many of those moves get made for financial reasons and involve bit players being dealt for very little.
There may be even more of a flurry of those types of moves this season. As Tom Ziller noted on the mothership today, the effect of the new repeater luxury tax has significantly cooled the market:
How bad is the repeater tax? At the first level of luxury tax -- up to $5 million over the threshold -- the base tax will be $1.50 for every dollar over the line. The repeater tax is $2.50 for every dollar over the line. It matches as you rise up the ladder from there -- the repeater tax is always $1 per dollar in exceedance of the threshold more than the base rate. For $20 million over the threshold, that's a $20 million difference based on whether you're a repeater or not.
As much as we chastise owners who won't go over that tax line ... those financial penalties are incredibly steep. Ziller went on to list six teams that went over the luxury tax last year and eight more teams that could be in danger of going over in future years. Those teams, in alphabetical order.
- Golden State
- L.A. Clippers
- L.A. Lakers
- New York
- Oklahoma City
- San Antonio
Of those 14 teams, a couple merit a closer look. The Hawks are about $900,000 over the line this year and went over the line last year, so you know they will want to get under with or without a Josh Smith trade. The Warriors are also barely over the line and are reportedly willing to offload two of their minimum-salary guys to get under. The Celtics are well over the line this year, but could make small moves now to get themselves under next season and avoid the repeater tax. The Thunder are within $1 million of the line this year, while the Nuggets find themselves right at the line in future years.
Why does this matter for the Wizards? For those teams that are very close to the line, they could offer some minor cap relief with one asset that isn't discussed much.
A league source confirmed to Bullets Forever that the Wizards still possess a $1.8 million trade exception left over from the summer's Rashard Lewis deal. While the same source cautioned against expecting too much, if anything, to be yielded from the exception given the team's surplus of young players already, the Wizards could use it to pick up an undervalued guy from one of the above teams. They could avoid the tax, while the Wizards could get a young piece for free.
How does it work? The Wizards can acquire one player -- and only one player -- that makes $1.8 million or less without having to match salary, even though they're over the salary cap. Technically, something must be given back, but teams in these situations usually just surrender a top-59 protected pick or the rights to an international player picked several drafts back. (For the Wizards, this could be Tomas Satoransky or, more likely, Turkish forward Emir Preldzic, acquired from Cleveland in the 2010 Antawn Jamison deal).
Taking just the teams mentioned above, here are some players making $1.8 million or less that aren't key rotation pieces:
- Fab Melo (rumored to be on the block)
- John Jenkins
- Ivan Johnson
- Anthony Tolliver
- Anthony Randolph
- Evan Fournier
- Jordan Hamilton
- Festus Ezeli
- Charles Jenkins
- Jeremy Tyler
- Kent Bazemore
- Perry Jones III
- DeAndre Liggins
Hardly world-beaters, of course, but some of those guys could potentially be used to fill the Wizards' open roster spot. I've long been a fan of Charles Jenkins, and Hamilton and Fournier could be useful knockdown shooters. If I could take any of those guys for free, I'd certainly think about it.
Again: we're not exactly aiming high here, and the Wizards may not want to add yet another marginal young player to their core. But if they did think any of these guys were undervalued and wanted to scoop them up, they can, thanks to the $1.8 million trade exception.