SI.com’s Sam Amick obtained details of the principal agreement between NBA owners and whatever-the-current-union-group-is-called. The full document is here.
It looks like the cap and tax levels will remain about the same: $58 million and $70 million, respectively. As noted previously, this doesn’t leave the Hawks much room to add salary below the tax threshold since they have about $65 million in guaranteed salary committed to seven players and must add at least six more.
There is an amnesty provision in the (tentative) deal, to be used one time over the life of the CBA (10 years, or six if either side decides to opt out). It can be used only on existing contracts and will allow 100 percent of the players’ salary to be removed for cap and tax purposes. The “stretch” provision, which would allow a waived players’ payments and cap salary to be spread out beyond the length of the contract, will be available only for new contracts.
My reading of the agreement suggests the amnesty provision may not be a significant short-term cap/tax cure for the Hawks. This is assuming it won’t be used on J.J., which seems to be a safe bet unless you believe the Hawks are willing to pay him $107 million to while he plays elsewhere over the next five years.
(An aside on that note: One element included in the deal is a “modified waiver process” that allows teams under the cap to “submit competing offers [for amnesty players] to assume some but not all of the players’ remaining contract.” However, “the remaining portion of the player’s salary will continue to be paid by the team that waived him.” It will be interesting to see that dynamic in action.)
Judging by the comments of my blog people, Tweeps and the radio interview I did yesterday, Marvin is the people’s choice to be waived under the amnesty clause. The move would reduce Atlanta’s salary commitments for 2011-12 from $65 million to about $57 million. Assuming the accounting down to the final cent comes to about that figure, Atlanta’s team salary would be just below the expected salary-cap level.
That doesn’t do much for the Hawks.
From there, they could spend what’s left of the cap room and then use the new “Mid-Level Exception for Room Teams” for teams that do so (under the old CBA, teams could either renounce free agents and use the cap room or use cap exceptions, but not both). This exception provides a first-year salary of up to $2.5 million in 2011-12 and a maximum contract length of two years. It’s available for “one or more” free agents. But teams that use it forfeit the use of the non-taxpayer MLE (with max starting salary of $5 million and up to four years) and the bi-annual exception (starting salary of $1.9 million and up to two years).
So, if I’m reading this correctly (please tell me in the comments if you think I’m missing something), the Hawks could waive Marvin under the amnesty clause, and then round out the roster using one or more of the $2.5 million exceptions and minimum-salary exceptions. Keep in mind that ASG still would be paying Marvin his $8 million salary in 2011-12 plus the salaries of the added players.
This is where ASG gets input from their basketball people and number-crunchers on a cost-benefit analysis for a future track: Should they keep Marvin for now, use part of the $5 million MLE for non-taxpayers to add a piece and then–gasp!–pay some luxury tax on the salaries added beyond those nine players?
The new rate in the first two years of the CBA is
$1.50 $1 for each $1 over the threshold up to $5 million, so this path actually could end up costing ASG less than letting Marvin go and adding vets using the “room” MLE. (This obviously would cost more than letting Marvin go and then rounding out the roster on the cheap, but I won’t go there out of respect for my blog people.) The Hawks then could gain some relief under the tax threshold next season by letting Kirk Hinrich’s deal expire, leaving them with roughly $61.6 million in guaranteed salaries for six players in 2012-13.
I suppose the Hawks could choose to use the amnesty provision on Hinrich. The drawback is that, unlike with Marvin, this would provide no tax/cap relief beyond 2012-13. Hinrich also figures to be a decent trade chip. I’d also add that, no matter what you think of Hinrich, his contributions wouldn’t be as easy to replace with a cheaper player. Same thing goes for Zaza, who is making less than the full MLE anyway.
The bottom line: If ASG wants to add productive, veteran players, they are going to have to pay one way (luxury tax) or another (amnesty plus replacement salaries). The only question is how much do they want to pay.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat