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Terms to Know for Blazers’ Offseason, NBA Awards Recap

Friend of the show @BritRobotista joins the WHAT podcast to talk about some of the key concepts of NBA free agency.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

One of the smartest people we know, @britrobotista, joined us this week to walk us through the basics and the nitty gritty of free agency lingo. First we discuss the NBA Awards, who was snubbed and which awards have clear rubrics? How would we fix the awards? Then we share memories of Evan Turner on and off the court (mostly off), and wonder how Kent Bazemore will fit in?

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1:00 Icebreaker: If you suddenly were living in a new city, like many NBA players will be over the next few months, what would be the first thing you’d try to find?

3:00 Awards Season. Highlights of the NBA Awards show. We think they should include playoff awards too if they are going to be so late. Bill Walton is just that uncle.

4:30 From the perspective of a Rockets fan, was it a snub that Harden didn’t win?

6:00 The Hustle Award, won by Marcus Smart, appears to actually have a rubric, as it is based off of the Hustle stats measured on

8:00 Tara thinks Masai Ujuri was snubbed! But Brit has a good point about John Horst because he made a lot of important small moves that caused a huge impact, like bringing in Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe.

10:00 Evan Turner and Kent Bazemore trade. Will Kent Bazemore be a better fit for the Portland system? He was so much more than just a basketball player here. Weird stuff always happened to him. Never a dull moment.

17:30 How we talk about players in transactions is important.

18:00 The story of Emily/MLE

These definitions were developed with lots of help from Brit. She suggests Larry Coon’s CBA FAQs for reference.

20:00 What is the salary cap? The salary cap is the dollar amount that is set per team that can be spent to acquire players. Think of it as a budget given to all 30 teams that they have to hold to. If they go over it, they have restrictions to what they can do to build the team.

21:15 What does hard capped mean? A hard cap is used to indicate a maximum salary cap amount that cannot be exceeded, whereas a “soft cap” allows for designated “exceptions” which can be used to exceed the maximum salary cap for a team. A team becomes hard capped when the following exceptions are used:

  • A taxpaying team signs a player a contract above the taxpayer MLE amount.
  • BLE - Biannual exception is an exception that can be triggered every other year, however if a team is above the luxury tax line and use this option they are hard-capped immediately.
  • Sign and trade: the team that acquires a player that is signed and traded receives a hard cap. The team that trades the player is not hard-capped.

25:00 How do exceptions work? In a soft salary cap system, an Exception is used to allow teams to go above the salary cap to sign players. The Mid-level Exception (MLE) can be used by non-taxpaying teams. The tax-payer MLE is worth less money and is available for teams who have already exceeded the salary cap. The Bi-annual Exception (BLE) can be used every other year, but if a team uses it and goes over the tax line they get hard capped.

31:00 What is the luxury tax? The luxury tax is a penalty that is utilized by the NBA when teams go over the salary cap above a certain amount. Teams do not automatically go into the luxury tax if they are above the salary cap, it is a separate amount above the salary cap number (53.51% above the salary cap). Eight teams will pay luxury tax for the 2019 season. The taxes collected in the luxury tax are redistributed among all teams that are not over the luxury tax line after the last game of the NBA regular season.

36:00 What is the Repeater tax? Repeater’s tax is an additional tax that is imposed by the league if a team is above the salary cap for 3 of the last 4 seasons. This tax is further consequence for habitual over-spenders. The Warriors are scheduled to be the first team to pay the repeater’s tax. Once a team has hit that threshold the amount tax per dollar increases exponentially.

40:00 Everything we wanted to know about the Supermax but were afraid to ask. Supermax (proper name Designated Player Exception) is the largest contract that can be offered to a player and was designed to keep players on the team that they were drafted to. In order to qualify for the Supermax, a player must:

  • Be on the team that drafted them OR be traded to current team during rookie contract (which is why Chris Paul is not on a super max, just a max deal).
  • In a three year period has to meet one of the following criteria: make one All-NBA team in three seasons (has already done this as of last season and made it again in the 18-19 season ensuring that he will be eligible for the SuperMax starting this season), be Defensive Player of the Year or MVP in the current or previous season.

Players with Supermax currently: Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and James Harden.

Players eligible for Supermax as of this offseason: Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo (can extend current max contract to achieve Supermax), Kemba Walker.

45:00 Why trading a Supermax deal is so hard: At of the time of this recording there has not been a team that has traded a player under a Supermax deal. Deals are designed to allow teams to keep a player above their standard salary cap. This exception cannot be passed from one team to another.

If a team wants to acquire a Supermax player they must have the cap space to acquire him. For most teams, a Supermax contract would immediately place them the luxury tax window and be unable to obtain other players, even at the veterans minimum or MLE levels.

59:00 Wrap up--find our guest @britrobotista

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Music used in the episode: “Happy Alley” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License