Update: Allen Crabbe didn’t surrender quite as much money as initially reported. Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights:
Jordan McRae gave back 390,424 to secure his release from Denver.
Allen Crabbe gave back 681,544 in his buyout with Minnesota.
Anthony Tolliver's cap hit dropped by 91,557 on Sacramento's books, but the exact details of his buyout are still murky.
— Jeff Siegel (@jgsiegel) March 2, 2020
Four NBA teams are over the luxury-tax line.
The Trail Blazers, Heat and Thunder aren’t huge surprises. They’ve each paid the tax multiple times in the last decade and are still at least in the playoff hunt.
The Timberwolves are an outlier. They haven’t paid the tax since 2007, and they’re plunging toward one of the NBA’s very worst records.
It’s not too late for Minnesota to dodge the tax, though. The luxury tax is assessed the final day of the regular season. So, the Timberwolves – who were $1,136,270 over the luxury-tax line – can still trim salary through waivers and buyouts.
That started with buying out Allen Crabbe.
Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News:
Buzz is Crabbe gave back $750K to escape the #Twolves. … A buyout of Evan Turner came close, but didn’t happen w/ yesterday the deadline to be bought out and be eligible for the playoffs. However, he’d still like to play. Just unlikely for that to be w/ #Timberwolves right now.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) March 2, 2020
Subtract Johnson’s bonus and Crabbe’s salary reduction, and Minnesota would be just $144,270 over the tax line. So close. Yet, so far.
The Timberwolves could waive someone like Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaylen Nowell or Naz Reid. If that player gets claimed, Minnesota would dodge the tax. The Heat (Rodney McGruder) and Bulls (Erik Murphy) have made similar moves in recent years.
At minimum, buying out Crabbe will save the Timberwolves some money – even if they don’t escape the tax entirely. Really, the biggest surprise is that he relinquished so much. A rest-of-season minimum contract would pay Crabbe $515,744. But he was floundering in Minnesota and clearly ready to leave.