Atlanta Hawks: No magical relief for Hawks in CBA

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

113 comments Add your comment

JJ

November 27th, 2011
1:16 pm

This looks like a messy situation – especially when I keep reading the letters “ASG” throughout this blog.

hmmmmm

November 27th, 2011
1:23 pm

you are assuming they want to add productive players…they may just sign some minimum guys and keep trying to sell the team

UGA

November 27th, 2011
1:31 pm

So if the Hawks use the midlevel exceptions and that puts them over the cap………….they pay the luxury tax still?

PD

November 27th, 2011
1:43 pm

Oh boy………..who do you cut is a tough game to play. Marvin is the best bet. Then sign Al Thorton and Jamal Carwford and get some bigs

UGA

November 27th, 2011
1:46 pm

So the Hawks have 9 players that will probably be under contract, including Sy and Benson? I would say 11 because Collins and Damien Wilkins will be back. I would also assume ASG will want to keep Josh Smith. So we gotta find a scorer to replace Crawford, or pay him big time, and a big man……

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
1:46 pm

@UGA: “So if the Hawks use the midlevel exceptions and that puts them over the cap………….they pay the luxury tax still?”

if it puts them over the tax threshold then, yes, the amounts of team salary above the threshold are subject to the tax. but teams can’t go more than $4 million above the tax to do this. so if, for instance, the team salary is $500,000 below the tax line, the team can use up to $4.5 million of the MLE>

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
1:49 pm

@hmmm: “you are assuming they want to add productive players…they may just sign some minimum guys and keep trying to sell the team”

ha, no way i would assume that. just saying if they want to do so, here are their options.

but even adding minimum-salaried vets to get to 13 is going to mean paying some tax unless they amnesty someone. i guess they could go with Zaza and Marvin/Hinrich/Teague as their bench and add nothing but young guys. if so, you’ll know they’ve given up.

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
1:50 pm

That sucks…

Greg

November 27th, 2011
1:55 pm

MC, as I read it, the $1.50 per $1.00 tax doesn’t kick in until after this season and next.

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
1:56 pm

So MC, would you assume the hawks are going to be the one of those teams that don’t agree with the new CBA? I can’t beleive I’m saying this but, (because i was on the players side) I think they could’ve gotten a better deal.

northcyde

November 27th, 2011
1:59 pm

You DO NOT use that amnesty clause this year, under any circumstances.

The time to use it is when Josh Smith’s contract is up. By then, we’ll know exactly where we stand with Teague ( as far as an extension ) . . and we’ll see if JJ is either still the same player, a little better player, or is in decline. If we wait until then, we could get MAXIMUM VALUE from the amnesty of a player.

As MC correctly points out, to amnesty Marvin only means that we could use the MLE on one player, or the bi-annual exception on a few players. Honestly, that isn’t worth it, if we STILL have to pay Marvin the rest of the money due on his contract.

The ASG is still financially not in position to just pay some guy that they’re not playing, just to bring in a few journeyman players that will probably not be the difference between the Hawks getting to an NBA Finals.

I know people are waaaay down on Marvin, but until the ASG gets some significant revenue generated, I don’t think they’d amnesty any guy on this team until it is economically viable to do so. Marvin would still be part of the “operational costs” of the Hawks, even if he’s not part of the “payroll costs”.

We just have too much in salary right now, in order to use that right now. I hope the ASG keeps it in its back pocket like a Monopoly “Get Out Of Jail” free card.

Hawks free agent signings will be similar to last year:

- sign Keith Benson ( to be our backup PF/C . . despite him being garbage overseas )
- sign a FA center ( hopefully we could get an upgrade above Jason Collins )
- sign a SF ( probably Damien Wilkins )
- sign another PG ( hopefully this would be Allen Iverson . . simply for box office purposes . . or for him to play Teague’s role last year as the 2nd qtr PG )

Add Pape Sy and Magnum Rolle ( who are already on the hook for 788K this year . . . and there are your 6 players

In other words . . . our STARS have to play like STARS on a consistent basis, with Teague and Hinrich hopefully playing up to their potential. And as always, Marvin is the wild card.

Section 303

November 27th, 2011
2:00 pm

So, the Hawks do not HAVE to use the amnesty this season, right? If they can bag it until next season, why not keep Marvin for one more year? The Hawks have said several times that they still think Marvin has some trade value. Plus, he still helps with though matchups on D and he does have the tools to be a good offensive player (does not always show it, though).

Try to trade Marvin or keep him for one more year. If does not work out, use the amnesty on him next season. That takes his contract and Hinrich’s off the books at the same time. Gives the Hawks room to add a good player to start 2012-2013 season.

Early prediction: Joe Johnson starts the year off hot. He stays in great shape all the time. Betting that gives him an edge on a lot of guys, who might have let themselves go a bit during Lockout off time.

Also, how long before the Josh Smith trade rumors start? I could see him being traded. Score the first game.

Astro Joe

November 27th, 2011
2:01 pm

Seems the most logical option is to wait and dump Joe during year 5 & 6 of his contract when his production won’t be in the same hemisphere of his contract. Using the one chip on Marvin now (and then having limited options to dispose of Joe later) would be foolish and wasteful.

Given the lack of ramp-up room prior to the season;s start, having 7 players who know each other well may actually provide a little competitive advantage over those teams who need to complete gaps in their primary player rotation. Hopefully enough of an advantage to secure a top 4 seed in the conference,

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
2:07 pm

I wonder if Larry Drew can shape this Hawks team into a defensive minded team.

Buddy Grizzard

November 27th, 2011
2:09 pm

From the previous blog…

“PF – Smoove and Kito” – Steve W.

Kito couldn’t stick in the Italian league. I’m guessing the Hawks will try to milk one more season out of Jason Collins, in which case he will play backup center while Zaza backs up power forward and center. Keep in mind, the Hawks lost the CHI series because dumbass Drew played unproductive Jamal Crawford and Jason Collins too many minutes while playing Zaza, with the best +/- of any Hawk in the postseason, too few minutes. Collins is done, but don’t expect Hawks management to understand that.

“The key question is what if u were to wait a few years and if Joe Johnson clearly regresses due to age…” – brigadierjerry

Clearly the best strategy for the Amnesty Clause. Waiving Marvin isn’t necessary because he can be traded for a draft pick and have his salary completely off the books. Remember, the Hawks have had trade offers for Marvin. After his back surgery, he may become a viable NBA player in which case we might get a significant asset back for him such as a conditional first round pick. After this season, if you dump Marvin and Kirk comes off the books, that’s $16m in cap room for the next off season.

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
2:09 pm

@Greg: “MC, as I read it, the $1.50 per $1.00 tax doesn’t kick in until after this season and next.”

yes, same as the old CBA. but the salary for tax purposes includes guys with expiring contracts in the previous season and those released with guaranteed money owed (except now for Amnesty). In other words, Kirk’s salary (or, if he’s traded, the player(s) that replace him) will count for the tax.

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
2:16 pm

@concerned fan: “So MC, would you assume the hawks are going to be the one of those teams that don’t agree with the new CBA? I can’t beleive I’m saying this but, (because i was on the players side) I think they could’ve gotten a better deal.”

it was reported the Hawks were among the hard-line teams who didn’t like the proposal before this one, and i think it’s safe to say the final deal is worse for owners than that one. i couldn’t independently verify the Hawks were hard-liners but it would make sense.

the owners got a very good deal from the BRI standpoint because about $300 million annually is going back to them. we will see how the system issues work out but i do think there are provisions that will mean more good mid-level FAs on the market.

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
2:17 pm

@ northcyde: “As MC correctly points out, to amnesty Marvin only means that we could use the MLE on one player, or the bi-annual exception on a few players. Honestly, that isn’t worth it, if we STILL have to pay Marvin the rest of the money due on his contract. ”

actually, it’s the other way around: multiple MLEs, one biannual. but your point still holds.

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
2:18 pm

@Section 303: “So, the Hawks do not HAVE to use the amnesty this season, right?”

right. can be used one time over the life of the CBA and has to be executed before the season begins.

Greg

November 27th, 2011
2:27 pm

But MC, as I understood it, it will continue to be $1 per $1 tax for the next two years… so the $1.50 won’t come into play with Hinrich since that contract will be done… or, what am I missing here?

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
2:40 pm

@Greg: “But MC, as I understood it, it will continue to be $1 per $1 tax for the next two years… so the $1.50 won’t come into play with Hinrich since that contract will be done… or, what am I missing here?”

you are missing nothing. i missed it. fixed. thanks.

ryan

November 27th, 2011
2:47 pm

What a surprise NBA and David Stern just can not stand ASG until this cancer is out and we get a new owner things will stay the same .

Buddy Grizzard

November 27th, 2011
2:55 pm

“I guess they could go with Zaza and Marvin/Hinrich/Teague as their bench and add nothing but young guys.” – MC

I’m confused… what is your starting lineup? I see both candidates for opening night starting point guard on your bench. If I was coach, this would be my depth chart for the Hawks this year:

Starters:

PG: Teague
SG: JJ
SF: Damien (not signed)
PF: Smoove
C: All-NBA Al

Primary backups:

PG: Hinrich
SG: Hinrich
SF: Marvin
PF: Zaza
C: Zaza

That’s 8 players. The following are players who won’t play significant minutes but are signed to deals below the vetern’s minimum to take up a roster spot and provide the Hawks with some savings:

Magnum Rolle
Pape Sy
Kito Benson

That’s 11 players. Add Jason Collins at a one year veteran’s minimum deal at $1.2m (in addition to a one year deal for Damien) and that puts the Hawks right at $69m in committed salaries for a 12 man roster. Think Sund didn’t plan that?

Nate

November 27th, 2011
3:04 pm

Hawks suck. ASG is getting what it deserves. Long live the Thrashers!!! Gone, but not forgotten!

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

@Buddy: i meant one of Teague, Hinrich or Marvin coming off the bench. Hinrich or Teague as starting PG with Marvin at 3, or Marvin on bench with Joe at 3 and Teague and Hinrich at guards.

Astro Joe

November 27th, 2011
3:25 pm

Yep, waiving any player with a year left makes no sense (in our case, Hinrich) and Marvin’s deal isn’t nearly as punitive now as Joe’s deal will be in another 3 years. Hawks need to have the discipline to not waste their ability to free up cap space a little later. Likewise, they have to look at the contracts of other players to determine when would be the optimum time to free up cap space. There are several variables to consider other than the simple desire to dispose of Marvin as soon as possible.

Zit

November 27th, 2011
3:31 pm

This team will have to be re-located in order to find a dope to buy it.

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
3:44 pm

Someone needs to buy this team.

Buddy Grizzard

November 27th, 2011
3:53 pm

Correction… Pape and Magnum are signed… Kito won’t be signed until the NBA opens for business. But my point holds… he’s a second round pick so his contract will be sub-veteran’s minimum.

Astro Joe

November 27th, 2011
4:34 pm

Buddy, unless there is a trade made, it wouldn;t surprise me if the Hawks only sign 3 FAs including Damien to complete the 13 man roster. 7 of the top 8 from last year (excluding Jamal), Benson, Rolle, Sy, Damien and 2 dollar store FAs (guys like Tony Battie and Ronnie Price as an example). Let’s just hope that their back-end free agent signings are better than Josh Powell and Etan Thomas.

Section 303

November 27th, 2011
5:17 pm

Michael, any thoughts on cheap free agents the Hawks may sign? I think it’s safe to say that Damien Wilkins is coming back. So, besides him…

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
5:29 pm

Invite Allen Iverson to training camp? He has said he would come off the bench. Explosive scorer, with a sick crossover like jamal. He won’t be asking for much.. I’m just stating him because we need a cheap scorer off the bench that can fill Jamal’s role.

joBjo

November 27th, 2011
5:30 pm

Hawks are going to surprise this year. Marvin had an operation and will be the player we thought he was going to be. everybody else is older and more experienced after a good playoff run last year. A short season will be good to the Hawks as they wore down last year.
go Hawks. also I think ASG without the hockey distraction will be a better owner now. the sky’s the limit for Hawks!!!

Michael Cunningham

November 27th, 2011
6:25 pm

@ Section 303: “Michael, any thoughts on cheap free agents the Hawks may sign? I think it’s safe to say that Damien Wilkins is coming back. So, besides him…”

i think this depends on the market created by the amnesty releases. there will be some overpaid-but-productive players, many of whom will consider cheap deals for a favorable situation since they still earn their previous salary. i think this market should provide the Hawks a chance to find value.

i_am_soulstar

November 27th, 2011
7:05 pm

Still dealing with the ASG here. May as well not get too excited about potential forward movement with these guys.

Lou Hudson

November 27th, 2011
7:07 pm

48 wins and a quick exit in the playoffs. BORING! Just like the Braves, Falcons, whoever else may be an Atlanta team at any given time. BORING! Would rather not invest the time. GREAT MOVE signing JJ for all that cash. Smooth.

doc

November 27th, 2011
7:31 pm

amnesty allows the rich i.e. celts, lakers, spurs, magic, mavs, heat, bulls etc. to get richer as vets vie to get on with teams that have a legit chance at titles, we get sloppy seconds. it is going to be interesting to see how teams use amnesty. it also seems only the rich will be able to afford to drop guys and then use “new cap” space to make up the difference.

O'Brien

November 27th, 2011
7:32 pm

From the previous blog;

AJ,

I hope that the Hawks had a few extra scouts checking out the international leagues for the past few months. LD and his staff conceivably could have been over there checking out the talent considering the need to sign “fillers” on the backend of the roster..

C’mon man. Do you really think the Hawks will spend the money to send guys overseas for scouting? If anything, they will have Fran Fraschilla on speed dial to answer all their questions.

O'Brien

November 27th, 2011
7:35 pm

I think this NBA season will be sloppy. All teams will have at least one set of back to back to back games, and the playoffs will also include back to back games.

I think this will help the young teams.

Ra'mon

November 27th, 2011
8:08 pm

AJ, The Hawks were scouting great sales for Black Friday, not actual players, lol.

ryan

November 27th, 2011
8:10 pm

I hope the Hawks at least try there is a lot available that you can get for the right price that can help your team .

Ra'mon

November 27th, 2011
8:14 pm

Seriously, I could see the Hawks ATTEMPTING a Kirk H. trade (and another piece) for L. Odom in LAL. A front line of Odom, Josh, and Al would be very dynamic and interchangeable in so many different ways. Also, it would give the starting lineup THREE players who can handle the ball (3 1/2 if you include Josh’s sometimes handles). Also it would add a championship pedigree to the starting lineup. The Lakers would get great depth at the guard slot, and an expiring contract.

Gwinnett Fred

November 27th, 2011
8:23 pm

1- The ASG will not pour more money into this team – especially in a season of games cut by 20%
2- They don’t need to do anything that won’t help the cap down the line, when they will really need it for JJ
3- So just how much will Miami have to pay in luxury tax this year?

Finally, a tip of the cap to you MC, the only columnist at the AJC that follows up with readers after his original story. This is especially true for Schultz & Bradley, who will write their column, make a couple replies to readers – then after no more than an hour after their column are never heard from again!

tyler

November 27th, 2011
8:23 pm

Lou Hudson- I would take 48 wins this year all day….would be improbable that kind of season would end in an early playoff exit but you never know.

Gwinnett Fred

November 27th, 2011
8:24 pm

Follow up question:

Is Childress still in any way part of the Hawks future (either by playing for them or getting something in trade)?

Astro Joe

November 27th, 2011
8:25 pm

From one account of the CBA, amnesty players will enter a pool where they can be chosen based on worse-to-first records. So Rashard Lewis may well end up on the Pacers as a back-up stretch 4 before he finds his way onto a contender. Of course, since not all 30 teams are going to release players, let’s not assume that there will be enough players in the pool for the Hawks to make a selection.

bob

November 27th, 2011
8:37 pm

this is depressing…..im tired of not being able to compet for a ring….its the same teams all the time and we have no chance……i was hopeing for a hard cap so the lakers and the rest dont just buy up all the good players….

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
8:42 pm

So what you are saying is that when a team waives a player, any other team who has interest in that player does not have to pay him his original contract but a cheaper one, if they liked.

A concerned fan..

November 27th, 2011
8:49 pm

cdog

November 27th, 2011
9:01 pm

IT SEEMS AS THOUGH ATLANTA HAWKS ARE CURSED. EVER SINCE I CAN REMEMBER,.EVEN DURING THE LOSING YEARS, THEY NEVER DRAFTED THE SUPERSTAR FRANCHISE PLAYER NOR HAD THE NO. 1 PICK EXCEPT WHEN THEY DRAFTED DAVID THOMPSON AND MARVIN WEBSTER BUT THE LEAGUE STEPPED IN AND PREVENTED THEM FROM SIGNING WITH THE HAWKS.JULIUS ERVING SIGNED WITH THE HAWKS AND EVEN PLAYED IN GAMES BUT AGAIN THE LEAGUE STEPPED IN AND PREVENTED HIM FROMN COMING TO ATLANTA. EVERYTIME A STAR PLAYER LEAVES THE CELTICS AND LAKERS, THE LEAGUE ALWAYS FINDS A WAY TO ADD OTHERS STAR PLAYERS DESPITE THESE TEAMS PLAYING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP EVERY OTHER YEAR.THE LEAGUE HAS A BUNCH OF SHADDY PEOPLE RUNNING THE SHOW. TO THIS DAY, BELIEVE THE YEAR THE KNICKS GOT PATRICK EWING, IT WAS A SETUP BY THE LEAGUE.WHY WOULD YOU GO BEHIND CLOSED DOORS TO DO A LOTTERY? I GUESS IF CERTAIN TEAMS GETS THE PICK, THE CROOKS CAN SWITCH IT TO THE TEAM THEY WANT TO HAVE IT.WHATEVER IT TAKES, THE HAWKS SHOULD GET DWIGHT HOWARD TO GO ALONG WITH HORTFORD AND JOSH.THE LEAGUE WANTS DALLAS, LOS ANGELES AND BOSTON EVERY YEAR PLAYING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY WHICH IS A SHAME