Last week, we discussed the pros and cons of a potential Deron Williams buyout via the “stretch” provision, which would allow the Nets to sneak under the tax this season while likely keeping Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez. But David Aldridge reported Tuesday morning that a buyout scenario for Williams is “not in the cards” for the Nets:
But a buyout of Williams, while potentially saving the Nets millions of dollars via the “stretch” provision, is not in the cards. The Nets are not interested in giving Williams $43 million to not play. The intriguing question is whether the Nets can deal Joe Johnson and his expiring contract, at $24.8 million next season. For one year, even at that price, Johnson would have suitors.
If used before August 31, the stretch provision would allow the Nets to buy out Williams’s contract and “stretch” the remaining $43 million evenly over the next five years, at around $8.6 million per season. That would allow the Nets to get under the luxury tax, and avoid the “repeater tax.”
Here’s what the repeater tax would mean. Say the Nets keep their current core intact.[note]That means: no trades, re-sign Lopez to a max deal (a little under $19 million in the first year), re-sign Young to a deal around $10 million, sign Mirza Teletovic to the qualifying offer (around $4.2 million), and add the 29th pick in the draft to their roster.[/note] That would put the Nets at around $97 million in salary commitments next season, which would cost them — you guessed it — a little over $43 million in repeater luxury tax payments.
So if they can’t strike a trade, they either pay Williams $43 million over five years to not play, or they pay $43 million in luxury tax for a 38-44 Eastern Conference team that just lost in the first round. Somewhere a guy named Morton just grabbed a fork.
Barring a magical turnaround for Brooklyn’s core players, that’s the doomsday scenario for a team that has already lost record-setting sums. As Aldridge mentioned, the Nets should have suitors for Johnson, who is still an effective scorer and a huge trade chip as an expiring contract. If they can find a taker for Williams and get a decent, cheaper point guard in return, that’ll help them re-tool going forward; losing Williams for nothing would be a significant blow for the team at point guard with little room to get a new one.
Then comes the summer bonanza of 2016, when the Nets — like most of the league — will have boatloads of cap space as the league’s new TV money kicks in.
An interesting summer lies ahead for the Nets, that’s for sure.