As the NBA reaches the halfway point of its regular season, the focus is understandably on what’s happening on the court – and, more specifically, the upcoming trade deadline, All-Star Game and subsequent push for the playoffs.
“We saw quite a few financially motivated trades between about 2008 and 2012 or 13,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the latest edition of Posting Up, The Washington Post’s NBA podcast. “The cap wasn’t growing, the economy was poor, some teams were tight [with their money]. For the last three or four years, a lot of the deals that were financially based were to create cap space to use money elsewhere.
“Now that the cap isn’t going to grow – it’s essentially going to be flat – you’re going to see financially-based trades. So teams that have flexibility in their cap are going to be in great position to take advantage.”
That was the foundation of a half-hour discussion between Windhorst and host Tim Bontemps about the financial situation the league will experience beginning this summer, when nearly half of the league’s 30 teams face the prospect of paying the luxury tax entering the entering the 2018-19 season. To put that into context, over the past few years the number of tax-paying teams has hovered around five, and never has gone above seven.
That’s why several teams – from the Charlotte Hornets to the Denver Nuggets to the Milwaukee Bucks, just to name a few – could be looking at making hard decisions over the next several months. Could Charlotte look to trade Kemba Walker, as a way to both start a rebuild and avoid facing the tax? Could Milwaukee pass on keeping Jabari Parker on a max contract because of the long-term ramifications? Could Denver be forced to sell off some assets in order to reduce what should be a hefty tax bill for next season?
All of that was up for discussion – as well as Windhorst’s wild travel day escaping from the “bomb cyclone” in the Northeast and how Isaiah Thomas looked in his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
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