July 17, 2008 1:42 AM
Could Nuggets get under the luxury tax?
By Chris Tomasson
Could the Nuggets possibly get under the luxury tax next season?
It's highly likely, but not impossible. But let's remember that, on the heels of the Nuggets trading Marcus Camby and his $10 million salary-cap number to the Clippers on Tuesday for what could amount to nothing in return, there's still a few more months for owner Stan Kroenke to try to give away another player.
The Nuggets have eight players with guaranteed contracts totaling $69.54 million. They have two players with non-guaranteed deals in Bobby Jones ($797,581) and Taurean Green ($711,517), and they have a second-round pick in Sonny Weems, who likely will sign for $442,114.
So that brings us to $71.49 million and 11 players. The luxury tax is $71.15 million.
If J.R. Smith, who doesn't seem to be getting much interest from teams, returns for the $3.04 million qualifying offer and the Nuggets sign another player to a minimum contract who counts as $797,581, then we're up to $75.32 million for 13 players, the number the Nuggets must have.
The Nuggets then would need to find a way to dump $4.17 million to make Kroekne a very happy man. Kroenke, you see, wasn't very happy last season when the Nuggets had to pay $13.57 million in luxury tax and also lost out on $3.08 million distributed to non-tax payers. So Kroenke forfeited an extra $16.65 million for a team that couldn't win a playoff game.
Before we start seeing how the Nuggets could get under the luxury tax, let's look at their players under contract for next season. A lot of outlets have been publishing incorrect Nuggets salaries, but these are the correct ones, should you want to make a printout:
NUGGETS SALARIES FOR 2008-09
Allen Iverson $20.84 million
Kenyon Martin $14.18 million base and $250,000 pro-rated signing bonus for $14.43 cap number.
Carmelo Anthony $14.41 million
Nene $9.68 million
Steven Hunter $3.86 million
Chucky Atkins $3.24 million
Linas Kleiza $1.82 million
Anthony Carter $1.26 million
Bobby Jones $797,581 (guaranteed if not waived by Aug. 15)
Taurean Green $711,517 (guaranteed if not waived by Aug. 1).
So how could the Nuggets dump even more salary? As stated above, it's very difficult.
The Nuggets could try to dump both Chucky Atkins and Steven Hunter and replace them with minimum-contact players, but that would be very difficult.
It probably would have to come down to trading Allen Iverson. If the Nuggets could deal Iverson, making $20.84 million, and get back players making $16.67 million or less, they could get under the luxury tax.
Hey, after Camby was given away, anybody for a discounted Iverson?
Realistically, though, the Nuggets probably will be luxury tax payers next season. If Smith comes back for the qualifying offer, their payroll could be around $75 million. If he gets $5 million for next season, it could be around $77 million.
So Kroenke might not really be a happy man until 2009-10, after Iverson's contract comes off the books. By then, he has a very good chance of not being a tax payer.
How good his team will be remains to be seen.