The Trail Blazers face trade restrictions as the NBA deadline approaches

the Portland Path Blazers They’re hanging on to a 19-19 file because the NBA commerce season teeters into excessive gear. The mix of lofty ambitions and mediocre efficiency suggests the Blazers shall be lively because the February 9 buying and selling deadline approaches. The Blazers have younger gamers, expertise, and even an expiring contract or two to benefit from as attainable avenues for enchancment. They want measurement and protection, amongst different issues. Is it attainable to get married subsequent month?

Whereas offers are fully attainable, two components present refined pace bumps in Portland’s quest to finish the deal. Each are monetary. That is often the toughest a part of the NBA commerce puzzle for normal individuals to grasp, however each of those points are plain and easy.

The primary problem is our outdated buddy the luxurious tax.

The Blazers fall roughly $67,000 below the tax threshold for 2022-23. In a league the place salaries are measured within the thousands and thousands, that is a really small margin. To Portland’s credit score they had been in a position to come so shut. They money in on each accessible greenback with out going by way of tax territory. It additionally implies that they haven’t any {dollars} left to spend until they need to cross the border into tax territory.

Doing so may have two penalties.

On the finish of the season, when all tax penalties are collected, the luxurious tax {dollars} collected from the offenders are divided between non-taxpaying groups. This often quantities to a couple million {dollars}. If the Blazers receives a commission greater than they ship in a commerce, not solely will they need to pay a penalty themselves, they’re going to lose out on that additional income. This value have to be factored into any consideration of offers within the coming months.

Getting into the luxurious tax additionally restarts the clock on the “repeated tax”. That is an extra penalty for groups that exceed the tax restrict in three out of 4 consecutive seasons. The Blazers paid taxes in 2018 and 2019, then slipped in 2020. They needed to be cautious to not cross the road in 2021, although, as a result of they’d have had a repeater tax penalty. They succeeded in resetting the clock by posting two years in a row and not using a violation.

This appears to go away them free and clear. Besides they only signed Damian Lillard to an enormous four-season extension past this season. Assuming in addition they lengthen their Grammy Grant, they’re a assured tax bypass within the close to future. It is onerous to see how they’re going to keep away from that within the distant future, too, assuming Lillard stays with the group.

We might provide you with situations by which the Blazers teeter below the tax threshold in 2026, however even that is not a positive factor. It is virtually not possible to search out any that maintain it under that degree in 2024 or 2025. This offers the Blazers nice incentive to remain under the tax threshold in 2023. If they’ll keep away from paying taxes this yr, they’re giving themselves flexibility for the longer term. In the event that they cross the road, they’re possible having to remain under par in 2026 and 2027 to keep away from paying a fortune. With Lillard set to make $58.6 and $63.2 million over these two seasons, it is neither a horny nor a sensible choice.

For these causes, any deal the Blazers pull by way of subsequent month might want to pay lower than they ship in, or not less than drop lifeless. If not, Portland will want to verify the transfer lands them in a dispute clear sufficient to justify paying taxes — and doubtlessly reimposing taxes — down the highway. With it onerous to go 19-19 and end as a Championship Contender in a month, it’s totally possible that the Blazers shall be restricted within the quantity of wage they’re keen to pocket for the remainder of this season.

Subsequent… issue two: contracts

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