Warriors Rumors

Recent History Of NBA Taxpaying Teams

As we detailed last week, five NBA teams finished the 2018/19 season in luxury tax territory, with the Thunder, Warriors, Raptors, Trail Blazers, and Celtics on the hook for an estimated total of $153.5MM in tax payments.

It was the first time since 2016’s salary cap spike that as many as five teams were taxpayers, and the projected league-wide tax payments of $153.5MM appears to be a new high. While two teams – Oklahoma City and Golden State – contributed significantly to that figure, the rising number of clubs in the tax reflects that teams are once again going well over the salary cap, as annual cap increases have slowed in recent years.

Listed below are the NBA’s taxpayers for the last five seasons, based on data from ESPN, Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, and our own records.

As this list shows, the Thunder, Warriors, and Cavaliers were each taxpayers in three of the last four seasons, making those teams eligible for repeater-tax penalties if they finish in tax territory again in 2019/20. Repeater penalties are more punitive — the tax for every dollar spent above the tax line starts at $2.50 rather than $1.50. As such, those teams figure to do their best to avoid excessive spending next season.

The 2019/20 tax line is expected to be around $132MM, based on the NBA’s latest cap projections, and the Thunder already have nearly $138MM in guaranteed salaries on their books, per Basketball Insiders. The Cavaliers are at about $123MM, but may increase that figure substantially if they trade J.R. Smith‘s non-guaranteed contract for guaranteed salary. As for the Warriors, they’re only at $82MM in guaranteed money, but would be at risk of going well into the tax if they re-sign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

As we prepare to keep an eye on those teams’ spending this offseason, here are the reported luxury tax figures from the last five NBA seasons:


  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: $61.6MM
  2. Golden State Warriors: $51.5MM
  3. Toronto Raptors: $21.4MM
  4. Portland Trail Blazers: $15.1MM
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.9MM
    Total: $153.5MM
    Note: This season’s figures are still subject to change, based on postseason-related contract incentives.


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($50.7MM)
  2. Golden State Warriors ($32.3MM)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder ($25.4MM)
  4. Washington Wizards ($7MM)
    Total: $115.4MM


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($24.8MM)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers ($3.6MM)
    Total: $28.4MM


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($54MM)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers ($19.9MM)
  3. Golden State Warriors ($14.8MM)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder ($14.5MM)
  5. Houston Rockets ($4.9MM)
  6. San Antonio Spurs ($4.9MM)
  7. Chicago Bulls ($4.2MM)
    Total: $117.2MM


  1. Brooklyn Nets ($20MM)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers ($7MM)
  3. New York Knicks ($6.9MM)
  4. Los Angeles Clippers ($4.8MM)
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder ($2.8MM)
    Total: $41.5MM

Information from Basketball Insiders, Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, and ESPN’s Bobby Marks was used in the creation of this post.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Cousins, Beverley

Despite perhaps surrendering a chance​ to​​ claim​ additional MVP awards and scoring titles, among other accolades and/or recognition, Warriors forward Kevin Durant does not appear to have any regret about joining Golden State in the summer of 2016, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic.

“I came here knowing for a fact, that every media member, every fan was going to call me every name in the book for however long I was here and I was going to take the brunt of everything. I knew coming here,” Durant said. “But I wanted to be a part of this so bad, I didn’t (care).”

According to Lee, Durant has actually had the chance to improve his game despite playing with a better supporting cast because he has learned to move more consistently and more urgently while off the ball and further developed his ball handling, helping him get to his spots where his high-released shot remains lethal.

In regard to the constant comparison to other greats, Durant says that comparison is simply a need for joy, and that when you focus on other player’s accomplishments instead of your own goals, you end up taking away from the focus of trying to make yourself the greatest that you can be. Accordingly, Durant appears to be singularly concerned with this season and winning a third-straight championship with the Warriors.

There are a few other notes out of Oakland this evening:

  • In an interesting piece worth a full read, Nick Friedell and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reflect on the injury suffered by center DeMarcus Cousins in the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Clippers on Monday night. The team understandably still possesses a great amount of confidence in their ability to win a championship without Cousins’ help, but even if a third-straight banner is raised, the storybook ending for Cousins after returning from a torn Achilles is no longer on the table.
  • In another article surrounding the news of Cousins’ season-ending quad injury, Anthony Slater of The Athletic analyzes how life will change for Golden State without their big man now (more opportunity for Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney), in the near future (perhaps not a big issue against the Rockets), and later on this summer (could the Warriors get Cousins back on the cheap for a second straight offseason?).
  • In a separate article from Friedell, it’s relayed that Durant is not worried about the Clips’ pesky point guard Patrick Beverley causing Durant to lose his rhythm. “(I could make some contested shots over Beverley), (b)ut that’s not really gonna do nothing for us with the outcome of the game, ’cause we got a nice flow, everybody’s touching the rock, everybody’s shooting and scoring.” In other words, Durant isn’t going to force anything in some kind of veiled effort to show-up Beverly or win a one-on-one contest.

Stein’s Latest: Lakers, Sixers, Myers

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka appears to be gaining more power inside of the team’s front office, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes in his weekly newsletter. The former agent is reportedly running Los Angeles’ search for a new head coach.

It’s curious that the team is searching for a coach before settling on an official head of basketball operations. Many organizations set up their front office structures prior to hiring a coach.

Stein provides more on the situation and passes along some additional nuggets in this week’s edition of the newsletter. Here are the highlights from his piece:

  • There’s chatter within league circles that Sixers assistant coach Monty Williams’ candidacy for the Lakers‘ gig is as strong in part because some within the front office fear giving the job to Tyronn Lue would hand too much control to LeBron James. Williams met with Pelinka to discuss the position earlier today. Lue and Juwan Howard are among the other candidates rumored to be in contention for the position.
  • The Sixers attempted to pry Warriors team president Bob Myers away from Golden State last offseason before deciding to promote Elton Brand to the role, Stein reports. Philadelphia also attempted to bring Rockets GM Daryl Morey to its front office.
  • Morey’s recent contract extension from the Rockets is estimated to pay the executive in the neighborhood of $8MM annually, Stein hears. Magic Johnson‘s salary as the Lakers’ team president was estimated to be $10MM per year and Stein argues that Los Angeles could feasibly offer a candidate double that salary if they wanted to lure a prized rival executive.
  • Stein writes that there is both “shock and relief” within the league that the Lakers haven’t attempted to poach a decorated rival executive, such as Myers, Spurs GM R.C. Buford, or Thunder GM Sam Presti.

DeMarcus Cousins Diagnosed With Torn Quad

The Warriorsfears have been confirmed, as big man DeMarcus Cousins has been diagnosed with a torn left quad, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

According to Charania (via Twitter), the tear will almost certainly end Cousins’ season, though he and the team will see how he responds to the first couple weeks of rehab. For now, the Warriors have ruled him out indefinitely.

The injury isn’t expected to require surgery, sources tell Charania. Marc Spears of The Undefeated adds (via Twitter) that the former All-Star is still waiting to learn the “full extent” of the injury, which presumably includes a recovery timeline.

As we detailed earlier today, Cousins’ latest injury is a brutal break for the 28-year-old, who has now had two consecutive contract years cut short by major leg injuries. After missing the postseason in his first seven NBA seasons, Cousins has been on playoff teams in each of the last two seasons, but was unable to suit up last spring for the Pelicans due to his Achilles tear, and now will likely end up playing just 25 playoff minutes for Golden State.

Cousins, who spent the first half of the 2018/19 season recovering from his Achilles injury, averaged an impressive 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, and 1.5 BPG in 30 games (25.7 MPG) for the Warriors, positioning himself for a more lucrative contract than his current one-year, $5.34MM deal. Faced with another major injury though, he may have to take a second consecutive one-year, prove-it contract this summer in the hopes of once again rebuilding his value.

With Cousins sidelined, the Warriors will lean more heavily on Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney at the five, with Jordan Bell perhaps seeing occasional minutes as well.

DeMarcus Cousins Out “A While” With Quad Injury

9:02am: With an MRI still to come, there’s “faint” optimism that Cousins could be healthy in time to return for a potential NBA Finals appearance, but the expectation is that he’ll miss the rest of the playoffs, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

8:02am: The Warriors fear that starting center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending torn left quad during Monday’s loss to the Clippers, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The team, which is hoping the quad is just strained, won’t be able to confirm the extent of the injury until conducting an MRI later today, Wojnarowski adds.

“There’s a pretty significant quad injury,” head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “We’ll get an MRI, but he’s going to be out for — I’ll just say a while because I think it’s unclear right now how long he’ll be out. It’s significant.”

The non-contact injury occurred as Cousins was going after a loose ball during the first quarter of Monday’s Game 2 matchup vs. the Clippers. To add insult to injury, the Warriors later blew a 31-point lead, allowing Los Angeles to even the first-round series at 1-1.

If Cousins’ injury is season-ending, it’s another horrible stroke of luck for the former All-NBA big man, whose 2017/18 season was cut short by an Achilles tear. That injury prevented Cousins from making the first postseason appearance of his career with the Pelicans last spring, and scuttled his chances of a massive payday.

The 28-year-old ultimately settled for a below-market deal with the defending champions in the hopes of making a title run, rebuilding his value, and returning to free agency this summer. He appeared to be on his way to doing just that after averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, and 1.5 BPG in 30 games (25.7 MPG) upon returning from his Achilles tear. However, after having suited up for just two playoff games, Cousins may now once again be recovering from a major injury when he hits the open market in July.

“It’s tough, for sure,” teammate Stephen Curry said, per ESPN’s report. “You feel for him considering what he’s been through this last year. This is a big stage, the playoffs. He’s been looking forward to this. I don’t know the extent of the injury at this point. Hope he gets back sooner than later. Just man-to-man in terms of him, what he’s been through, it’s tough for sure. There’s no sugarcoating it at all. You hate seeing that opportunity again on this big stage taken away from him like that.”

With Cousins sidelined, the Warriors will lean more heavily on Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney at the five, with Jordan Bell perhaps seeing occasional minutes as well.

Cousins To Undergo MRI On Quad Injury

DeMarcus Cousins suffered a left quad injury during the first quarter of the Warriors’ game against the Clippers on Monday night will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Cousins suffered the non-contact injury while making a steal. If the injury is serious, it would naturally be a major blow to Golden State’s quest for a third straight championship. The Warriors signed Andrew Bogut late in the season and his role would grow if Cousins misses significant time.

Durant Says He Has Yet To Make FA Decision

Kevin Durant recognizes that speculation about free agency and player movement is appealing to NBA fans, but as the Warriors gear up for another postseason run, the star forward tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he’d prefer those fans shift their focus to the games happening now.

“Just watch the game. Just focus on the game and stop nitpicking, because it is a beautiful game going on out there,” Durant said. “What can I do right now? I can’t sign a paper. I got to do the most important thing, and that is play. And that is what we should be focusing on.

“I know it’s the sexy part of the NBA: free agency, trades, transactions. But it’s a beautiful game that we’re out here playing. I feel like I play a different and unique way that may inspire some people.”

According to Durant, he has yet to make a decision on where he’ll be playing next season, and won’t do so until he reaches free agency on July 1. All season long, reports have popped up suggesting that people around the league believe the two-time Finals MVP will end up leaving Golden State to sign with the Knicks, but Durant insists that he won’t make that decision until after the season.

“If I already made a decision, it would take away from the team, what we’re fighting for. Every play would be overshadowed by it,” Durant said, per Spears. “It is not necessary for me to make a decision right now. It would be bad to do that. It would take the focus off of what is important. I would never want to put my teammates in a messed-up position. I want to forget about it.”

While Durant has a player option available for the 2019/20 season, he’s expected to turn that down to sign a new contract in unrestricted free agency. He’ll be eligible to sign for up to five years and a projected $221MM with the Warriors, or four years and $164MM with another team.

Pacific Notes: Durant, Walton, Beverley, Joerger

Kevin Durant‘s poor temper could prove costly for the Warriors down the stretch of the playoffs, with the two-time NBA Finals MVP already accruing two technical fouls in the first game of the postseason, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports writes.

According to NBA rules, a player will receive a one-game suspension if he reaches seven technical fouls during the playoffs. Durant was one of the league’s leaders with 15 techs during the regular season, often times expressing his displeasure with missed calls or getting into it with opposing players. In Game 1 on Saturday, it was Clippers guard Patrick Beverley who got in Durant’s head, leading to both players being ejected.

“Oh, sure, we took the bait,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant’s ejection, according to Haynes. “[Kevin] took the bait. That’s two technicals. You get seven technicals, your seventh one is a suspension in the playoffs. Whether you play four playoff games or 24, seven is the magic number. He’s got four to play with after one game. But that’s what Beverley does. We talked about it for the last couple days. He’s a hell of a defender. He plays hard. Got a lot of respect for him.”

The Warriors are seeking their fourth championship in five years and need Durant’s production, sporting an elite starting lineup that consists of him, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins. The team took a 121-104 victory in Game 1 despite Durant being ejected, though it’s imperative he maintains his composure as the team looks to make a deep playoff run.

“I’ve been playing against Pat Beverley since he was at Arkansas, so I kind of know what he brings,” Durant said. “He’s a Chicago kid, grew up and played in the Chicago area, so those dudes play with a different type of grit, so I can appreciate that about Pat. You know what he’s going to bring to the table, just physicality, the mucking up the game a little bit with his physicality, his talking, everything. That’s what he brings to each team he plays on. That’s his identity, and they support him with the Clippers. For me, I know that coming into the series. I thought it was fun tonight.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Jason Jones of The Athletic examines how new head coach Luke Walton could make the Kings a better team. Walton, who was hired by the team one day after mutually agreeing to leave the Lakers, holds a strong record with several NBA players and officials. He was an assistant on the Warriors’ 2015 championship team, proving his worth as a coach under Steve Kerr and registering interest from multiple teams around the league at the time — including the Kings.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers had a problem with Patrick Beverley‘s play earlier in the season, eventually leading to a positive turning point for the team, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times wrote. “Early in the year we struggled with Pat,” coach Doc Rivers said last week, “because he was struggling buying in.” Beverley has since bought in, leading the Clippers at the point guard position and helping the team obtain a 48-34 record on the season.
  • The Kings’ sudden decision to fire head coach Dave Joerger caught him by surprise, agent Warren LeGarie told Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “Obviously, it’s a great disappointment,” LeGarie said as part of a larger statement. “Dave thought, in light of the youth of the team and other challenges, he did a good job, certainly one that other people have recognized around the league. And, more importantly, exceeded expectations.” Joerger spent full three seasons with Sacramento as coach before being dismissed.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Klay Thompson, Warriors, 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $69MM deal in 2015
The smart money has Kevin Durant signing elsewhere this summer, which makes it more imperative for Golden State to keep its dynamic backcourt intact. The Warriors would probably have to max out Thompson at $190MM over five years and ownership appears willing to do so. If not, rivals with ample cap space would certainly give him a four-year, $140MM deal, the max they could offer. In any case, Thompson won’t have to take a discount the way the market figures to play out. Even in a somewhat down year by his standards, he still had the sixth-most 3-point makes in the NBA.

Reggie Bullock, Lakers, 28, SG (Down) — Signed to a two-year, $5MM deal in 2017
The cap-strapped Pistons figured they couldn’t re-sign Bullock, so they traded him to the Lakers for a couple of assets. He was Detroit’s most reliable wing player but things didn’t go well for him in L.A. He never got into a shooting rhythm with the Lakers, as the career 39.2% long-range gunner made just 34.3% of his 3-point shots. Bullock’s price tag might have gone down somewhat, though he should still field some multi-year offers. He might even return to Detroit, where he played four seasons, if the Pistons can fit him into their budget.

Rodney McGruder, Clippers, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder finished his season in the Clippers organization, though he’s ineligible for the playoffs. Miami put him on waivers to get under the luxury tax and the Clippers claimed him. The Clippers gained control of his Early Bird rights and can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $3MM qualifying offer. It seems that McGruder might benefit from Miami’s surprising move, as he could claim a rotation role with his new club depending upon how well they do in free agency. If they choose not to give him a QO, he should be able to secure a contract on the open market befitting a second-unit player.

Jamal Crawford, Suns, 39, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
How crazy is this? Crawford entered the league in 2000, the same year Zion Williamson was born. They could be teammates next season. That’s if Crawford decides re-sign with Phoenix. He wants to play at least another year and why not? This week, Crawford became the oldest player in NBA history to record a 50-point game. Crawford appeared in 64 games with Phoenix after playing a minimum of 79 the previous three years. He’ll be providing offense off the bench somewhere next season, a tribute to his preparation, perseverance and durability.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, C (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
Cauley-Stein said prior to the season he was “ready to get paid” after his walk year. He started all but one game this season for Sacramento but didn’t really enhance his value. He’s not a shot-blocker. He doesn’t rebound particularly well for his size. He can’t shoot free throws, nor does he pose much of an offensive threat. The Kings can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $6.25MM qualifying offer but even that’s not a given. Cauley-Stein will certainly get a raise compared to his rookie deal but it probably won’t be what he expected.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Teams Finish 2018/19 Season In Tax Territory

With the exception of bonuses that could still be earned – or missed – in the postseason, 2018/19 NBA team salaries are now frozen for luxury-tax purposes, ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes. That means that five teams will finish the ’18/19 season as taxpayers.

Here are those five teams, along with approximations of their projected luxury tax bills, per Marks:

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: $61.6MM
  2. Golden State Warriors: $51.5MM
  3. Toronto Raptors: $21.4MM
  4. Portland Trail Blazers: $15.1MM
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.9MM

While the Warriors‘ payroll is actually slightly higher than Oklahoma City’s, the Thunder met the repeater tax criteria, since they also paid the tax in 2015, 2016, and 2018. As a result, they’re subject to more punitive penalties, as we outline in our glossary entry on the luxury tax. The standard penalties for taxpaying teams start at $1.50 per dollar and increase from there; the repeater penalties start at $2.50 per dollar.

Golden State will meet the repeater criteria next season if they’re in the tax again, since they’ll have paid the tax in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Teams qualify as repeat offenders when they’ve finished in the tax in three of the previous four seasons.

The figures listed above are subject to change. For instance, Kyle Lowry has three separate $500K bonuses that he could still receive, depending on how far the Raptors advance in the playoffs. If he earns any of those, they’d be added to Toronto’s payroll and would in turn increase the club’s tax bill.

Since half of the luxury tax penalty money is reallocated to the teams that finished out of the tax, those non-tax clubs are in line for payouts of approximately $3.1MM, per Marks.

The Heat, Wizards, and Rockets made in-season transactions to get out of tax territory and will now receive $3.1MM from the tax pool. Other clubs, such as the Grizzlies, Knicks, Hornets, Cavaliers, Pistons, and Bucks, managed to keep their team salaries just below the $123.73MM tax threshold throughout the league year.