The Trail Blazers face trade restrictions as the NBA deadline approaches

the Portland Path Blazers They’re hanging on to a 19-19 document because the NBA commerce season teeters into excessive gear. The mix of lofty ambitions and mediocre efficiency suggests the Blazers will probably 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 reap the benefits of as potential avenues for enchancment. They want dimension and protection, amongst different issues. Is it potential to get married subsequent month?

Whereas offers are fully potential, two components present delicate velocity 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The primary difficulty is our outdated buddy the luxurious tax.

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

Doing so could 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 should pay a penalty themselves, they will lose out on that further 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 a further 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 with out a violation.

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

We might give you eventualities by which the Blazers teeter beneath the tax threshold in 2026, however even that is not a certain factor. It is virtually not possible to search out any that maintain it under that stage in 2024 or 2025. This provides the Blazers nice incentive to remain under the tax threshold in 2023. If they will 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 seemingly 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 sexy nor a sensible possibility.

For these causes, any deal the Blazers pull by way of subsequent month might want to pay lower than they ship in, or a minimum of drop useless. If not, Portland will want to ensure the transfer lands them in a dispute clear sufficient to justify paying taxes — and probably reimposing taxes — down the highway. With it laborious to go 19-19 and end as a Championship Contender in a month, it’s totally seemingly that the Blazers will probably 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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