Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden durin

Tuesday And-1 links: The new NBA luxury tax and you


Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• There’s a great post from Mike Prada at SBN that starts to explain why traditional big-spending teams — Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Mavericks — are making moves now to lower payroll, because they are scared of the increased taxes that will kick in starting in 2014. He has a great paragraph explaining the implications:

As an exercise, consider the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, they had a payroll of nearly $86 million. Under the old system, which was in effect, the Lakers owed just under $16 million in luxury-tax fees. Under the new system, though, they would have owed $7.5 million for the first $5 million over the tax, $8.75 million for the next five million, $12.5 million for the next five million and $3.25 million for the final $1 million. Right there, that’s a $32.25 million tax bill. In addition, since the Lakers were over the tax in four of the past five years, they would have owed an additional $5 million at each juncture. That leaves them with a tax bill of over $52 million for being $16 million over the threshold.

• Despite the future tax implications, James Harden expects to sign a new contact with Thunder this summer. Nobody doubts he will, but there is a big bill coming for the Thunder down the line and they will make changes.

• My take on those last two notes — the owners fought hard to have this heavy tax and flattening of payrolls in the NBA, thinking it would flatten out the salary levels (it will) and give more teams a chance. To force some parity. But what it will do — whether you built your team like the Heat or Thunder did — is force you to break it up sooner or have stars with no real talent around them. Is that good for the league? Especially a league that sells stars? I think it backfires.

• Tyler Zeller talks about going through the workout process leading up to the draft with Zach Lowe at SI. And they talk fashion.

• As expected, the Blazers extended a qualifying offer to Nicolas Batum. Other teams like him but the Blazers will not let him go.

• Tyreke Evans has told the Sacramento Kings he doesn’t want to play the small forward next year. The smart money is he doesn’t play for the Kings next year — his name comes up in all kinds of trade rumors.

• As was expected, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills has been named to the Australian Olympic basketball team.

• However, Bobcats big man Byron Mullens will not play for Great Britain in the Olympics due to a toe injury.

• LeBron is back being active on twitter and has more followers than you.

• Taj Gibson’s birthday cake was a picture of him dunking on Dwyane Wade. Nice.

• With Danny Ferry signing on to be GM of the Hawks, the 76ers are scaling back their search for the guy who will take over for Rod Thorn.

• Danny Ainge talks about how the Celtics overachieved this year. His word, not mine.

• A Q&A with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

• By the way, Thorn said the 76ers would be drafting the best player available regardless of position. Every team should do this (or use a tier system). Drafting for need works in the NFL, but the NBA draft is a different animal.

Here’s a breakdown of how the appeal of the arbiter’s ruling on the Jeremy Lin/waiver/Bird rights ruling will go down. Big implications for the Knicks offseason on the line.

• Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon is having some business troubles.

RIP to Ted Luckenbill, the former University of Houston college star who played in Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
Leave a comment

He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
Leave a comment

With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.