New Faces, New Places: Spencer Hawes Signs With Los Angeles Clippers

Mar 30, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Spencer Hawes (32) reacts during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 90-76. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Player: Spencer Hawes

The Team: Los Angeles Clippers

The Contract: 4 years, $23 million (Player option on fourth year; 15 percent trade kicker)

How does it affect the cap situation?

It depends on how the Clippers end up acquiring Hawes. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, who broke the news of Hawes’ signing, noted that the Clippers were planning on using their full mid-level exception on him. However, both he and USA Today‘s Sam Amick suggested that L.A. would pursue a sign-and-trade with Cleveland in an attempt to preserve their MLE (perhaps for Paul Pierce?).

Regardless of whether the Clippers use their MLE on Hawes or sign-and-trade for him, they’ll be hard-capped at the apron ($4 million above the luxury-tax threshold) for the remainder of the season. Assuming the Clippers renounce the rights to Glen Davis (cap hold of $915,243), Danny Granger ($915,243), Ryan Hollins ($915,243) and Hedo Turkoglu ($915,243), they’ll have $72,719,577 in cap space committed for 2014-15 before the Hawes signing. (That calculation factors in Darren Collison leaving for the Sacramento Kings, resulting in three incomplete roster charges totaling $1,522,008).

With Hawes’ 2014-15 salary likely starting in the $5 million range, signing him with the MLE leaves just $3 million and change in cap space for L.A. to use before hitting the apron (based on the projected tax threshold of $77 million). Unless the Clippers can convince the Cavs to agree to a sign-and-trade for Hawes, thus reducing their salary commitments for 2014-15, acquiring him severely restricts L.A.’s ability to sign Pierce outright, as D.J. Foster explained for Bleacher Report.

How does it affect the luxury tax?

The exact financials of Hawes’ deal have yet to be released, but it’s safe to assume that the Clippers will be over the luxury-tax threshold after signing him if they’re forced to use the MLE. Renouncing the rights to Davis, Granger, Hollins and Turkoglu still wouldn’t keep the Clippers out of the tax.

Realistically, unless L.A. can either sign-and-trade for Hawes or find a taker for Jamal Crawford (who’s reportedly being dangled in sign-and-trade talks, per Wojnarowski), Jared Dudley, or Matt Barnes, they’re going to be paying the luxury tax next season. In that sense, being hard-capped may be a blessing in disguise for Steve Ballmer, who’s set to take over the franchise once the Donald Sterling fiasco blows over once and for all. (He won’t be racking up a Mikhail Prokhorov-esque luxury-tax bill during his first season as owner of the franchise.)

What’s next?

If L.A. can convince the Cavs to agree to a sign-and-trade for Hawes, Clippers coach Doc Rivers will likely push to sign Pierce using the MLE. Brooklyn can offer more money, but Pierce may prefer a reunion with Doc and a chance to compete for a title with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

If the Clippers are forced to use the MLE on Hawes, however, he’ll be their one major free-agent splash, barring any trades. They’ll be stuck filling out the roster with guys on veteran’s minimum contracts, mindful of their proximity to the apron at all times.

Bryan Toporek

Bryan Toporek is just talkin' about practice. He writes about the NBA for Hardwood Paroxysm, BBALLBREAKDOWN, Bleacher Report, Vantage Sports and Hoop76 of the ESPN TrueHoop Network.

  • Samuel Kidder

    Clips still have the BAE, no? If so, they’re not necessarily “stuck filling out the roster with guys on veteran’s minimum contracts.”

    • Bryan Toporek

      They do, but with ~$76.5M in cap commitments (not counting the incomplete roster charges), using a $2.1M BAE will put them dangerously close to the apron. Not convinced they’ll want to get themselves that close before the season even starts, as it reduces their ability to pick up players on waivers after the trade deadline, etc.

      • Samuel Kidder

        They’d still have a ~$2M cushion under the apron after the BAE and one incomplete roster charge. That’s more than enough to pick up min contract players on waivers after the trade deadline.

        • Bryan Toporek

          Depends who they’re signing with those min contracts. Anyone with 5+ years in the league commands at least $1M this season, per Coon. So, are they really willing to go into the season with only 12 players on the roster & a little over $1M in cap space for the rest of the season? I’m skeptical.

          • Samuel Kidder

            It doesn’t really depend on who they are signing with those min contracts. For veterans playing on min contracts, only $915,243 (i.e., the min. for a 2nd year player) is charged against team salary, regardless of the player’s actual salary.

            And as you’re probably aware, the Clips just announced that they are using their BAE on Jordan Farmar. So they’re not playing this as conservatively as you thought/recommended.

          • Bryan Toporek

            I’m legitimately shocked that they’re using the BAE, especially on a non-big man. Have to think another move is coming — perhaps a S&T involving Crawford? Otherwise, they’re stuck signing two vet min guys — and only have three bigs on the roster at the moment. They can probably get Ryan Hollins back on a cheap deal… otherwise, they’re going to be awfully thin up front & with no avenue to improve the roster during the season (barring a trade).

          • Samuel Kidder

            I agree that another move is probably coming. But rounding out the roster with Hollins and a random scrub SG/SF on min deals wouldn’t be terrible.

          • Bryan Toporek

            Agree that it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but God forbid if one of their bigs get hurt… leaves very little margin for error. I’d have thought this year’s lack of reliable backup bigs would have taught the Clippers a lesson.

          • Samuel Kidder

            I wonder what the market for Big Baby is like. It would be a coup if they could get him back as their 4th big on a min deal.

          • Bryan Toporek

            Gotta figure since he opted out of a min deal, he’s looking for more than that… but I doubt we’ll see those chips fall until all the big FAs make their decision. (Maybe the teams who strike out will be desperate to burn their cap space elsewhere, helping the lower-tier guys.)