Celtics, Warriors, Heat Among Teams Facing Restrictions on Buyout Market amid Trades

Some of the NBA’s top title contenders may not find much luck on the buyout market this winter due to new league-imposed restrictions for exceeding the luxury tax.

Any team that has reached the first luxury tax apron, which is $7 million above the luxury tax level of $165 million, will not be able to sign a buyout player who made more than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $12.4 million this season.

This is also true for the teams that have reached the second luxury tax apron, which is $17.5 million above the tax level.

The teams that have reached those marks are as follows, according to Spotrac’s Keith Smith:

Boston Celtics—Second apron. Denver Nuggets—First apron (Hard capped at second apron).Golden State Warriors—Second apron. Los Angeles Clippers—Second apron.Miami Heat—First apron.Milwaukee Bucks—Second apron.Phoenix Suns—Second apron.

This is an important note as the league’s title contenders will be looking to make some minor upgrades ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 8 trade deadline in hopes of shoring up their rosters for a title run.

The Celtics have been the best team in the league this season, and while they don’t need help in the starting lineup, Boston is going to be “aggressive in just seeing what could be out there for bench help,” The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania reported last month.

That bench help could come in the form of a buyout player, but since the franchise is restricted, it’s unclear what type of help they could get there.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, have been linked to Clippers’ veteran P.J. Tucker ahead of the deadline. If Tucker is bought out, Denver would still be eligible to sign him as he has a salary of $11 million this year.

Golden State, which is 12th in the Western Conference, likely needs more help than it could receive from the buyout market, and the franchise is among those that have been linked to Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray.

The Bucks have also been linked to Murray, though they are second in the Eastern Conference and aren’t nearly as desperate for help, which is why the buyout market could be a good option for Milwaukee.

Additionally, the Clippers are among the best teams in the Western Conference and could consider exploring the buyout market as ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that they are “searching the trade market for one last player, sources said—likely a tweener forward or backup center.”

That type of help could come on the buyout market if the team is unsuccessful via trade.

The Suns could also find success in the buyout market as they aim to build around Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant. However, the franchise is also shopping Grayson Allen and Nassir Little this winter, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, so they appear to be more focused on the trade market.

While the Heat haven’t been ruled out of the buyout market, the franchise made a blockbuster trade on Tuesday, sending Kyle Lowry and a 2027 first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Terry Rozier.

That deal fills a major gap for the Heat, which have now positioned themselves well for a deep playoff run.

In addition to Tucker, the likes of Detroit Pistons veteran Alec Burks, Washington Wizards veteran Danilo Gallinari and perhaps even Hornets veteran Gordon Hayward could be buyout candidates this winter.

Burks would be eligible to be signed by any team this year as his salary is worth $10.5 million this season. The same can be said for Gallinari, who is earning $6.8 million this year.

Hayward, however, would not be eligible to be signed by the restricted teams as his salary is worth $31.5 million this year.



Gideon Canice

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