- Maddie Meyer/Getty
No team in professional sports shows their true intentions quite like the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers are tanking for a third straight season as a part of a massive rebuild that aims to acquire as many draft picks as possible to get a core of young, future stars.
In doing so, the 76ers basically sit out free agency, spending as little money as possible and are open to acquire every other team’s trash – for the price of a draft pick.
In the past year, the 76ers agreed to take on two of the worst contracts in the NBA in center JaVale McGee and forward Gerald Wallace. The 76ers took McGee off the Nuggets hands at last year’s trade deadline, and then promptly waived him while eating the remainder of his salary last season and his $12 million salary this year.
During the offseason, the 76ers got involved in a four-team trade with the Kings, Warriors, and Celtics and took on Wallace’s $10 million salary before waiving him in September.
Despite neither player being on their roster, they do help the 76ers achieve one thing, as SI’s Andrew Brandt notes:
Sixers novel way to hit $63M Cap floor this year. Paying departed players JaVale McGee $12M, Gerald Wallace $10M. $26M total to non-roster.
— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) October 27, 2015
McGee and Wallace make up $22 million of that $26 million, with the other $4 million going to other waived players and some cap holds.
The NBA has a $70 million salary cap that teams pay penalties for exceeding, but there is also the salary floor which gives teams a minimum they’re supposed to spend on player salaries each season.
The penalty for not hitting the salary floor? The difference in the team’s salary and that $63 million is spread among the players on the roster at a percentage determined by the NBA Players Association. It’s not even really a penalty, as NBA writer Mark Deeks once noted.
This is all part of the 76ers’ larger plan, which remains somewhat questionable. While the 76ers want to finish with a low record to improve their odds at a top draft pick, it would seemingly only build good will with the players on the roster to give them bonuses by not hit the salary floor.
Instead, the 76ers are still accomplishing being bad, but they’re paying money to players not on the team, just to avoid a penalty that’s not really a penalty.