Clippers Let Mike Taylor Go! (& salary cap explanations)


Good thing I didn’t choose Mike Taylor as one of my first players to profile on the Clips, ‘cuz he’s gone.  In a side note on an ESPN article about the Bucks waiving Bruce Bowen, I found this tiny mention of Taylor (along with others):

"Bowen was one of five NBA players waived Friday, joining Boston guard Gabe Pruitt, Los Angeles Clippers guard Mike Taylor, Los Angeles Lakers swingman Sun Yue and fellow Buck Salim Stoudamire."

One’s first thought is that it must be for financial reasons, but nope, Taylor was due the minimum salary for a one-year player, $736,420.  A quarter of what Mark Madsen will make.  Less than 10% of Camby’s salary.  About 6% of BDiddy’s earnings this year, or in other terms, what Dizzle makes in just 5 games.  And the only way to get someone cheaper would be to sign someone who’s never played a single NBA game their entire life.

Your next thought might then be, okay, they probably waived him to make room so they could sign another better player.  Nope, the Clips had only 14 roster spots and could’ve added another player without dropping anyone.  In fact, if they don’t resign Steve Novak (who’s a restricted free agent), they won’t have the league mandated minimum of 13 players and will definitely have to sign someone just to have an extra body.

If this was a savvy organization, I’d…

I’d assume this meant that they had several more moves up their sleeve that really required them to free up a roster spot.  But I ain’t got that faith in the Clips.  Maybe they’re still after Allen Iverson or Ramon Sessions and didn’t want a glut of point guards?  Word is that Sessions actually was concerned about the PG situation here since he’d have to fight for minutes with so many others.  Nah, ‘cuz Taylor clearly would’ve gone to the bench.  In order to make Sessions happy we’d have to move Telfair.  And if it was about roster spots to make more moves, wouldn’t it have made more sense to cut a Mark Madsen who’s unlikely to contribute, versus Taylor a young kid with potential who could grow into something.  Yes, we have to pay Madsen’s salary even if we cut him, but if this were purely to make space on the roster, that’d be the move that would make the most sense (& many thought the Clips would indeed toss Mad Dog).  I mean if he’s pretty much not gonna play, it doesn’t matter if you pay him to sit on the bench or to sit at home.  Although owner Donald T. Sterling, aka The Donald, has shown that he hates, hates, hates to do that.

Finally you think, well, duh, economic downspin, all the teams are trying to get rid of salaries so they don’t go over the cap and have to pay the luxury tax.  For those who don’t know, the luxury tax threshold dropped from $71.2 million last year to $69.9 for this year, catching many teams off-guard.  For every dollar on a team’s payroll over that, they have to pay an equal amount to the tax.  Meaning if the Clippers were right at the tax level of $69.9 and Mike Taylor’s salary would then put them over, the Clips would not only have to pay Taylor his $736k, but they’d also have to pay the league an additional $736k.  Although relative to the amount of money being thrown around, $736k is nothing.  The Utah Jazz retained Paul Milsap for $10.3 million even though they were already over the threshold.  Thus if they can’t get rid of other players, they’ll end up having paid $20.6 million for Milsap this year.  Whatever, this has all just been a digression into salary cap rules that are irrelevant ‘cuz no, the Clips are not one of the 12 teams currently over the threshold.

Okay, let’s go a bit more into cap stuff.  Besides there being a luxury tax threshold, there’s also the actual salary cap which is significantly lower.  Teams under the cap actually get to split a bunch of the luxury tax $ that those 12 teams will have to pay (by the way, that number of 12 is likely to change before things are done but we’re using that # ‘cuz as of today, that’s where we’re at, yo).  Therefore, particularly for a team with a notoriously cheap owner like the Clippers and The Donald, it’d be understandable if they wanted to get below that amount so they could share in the incoming dough — which can be sizable (I believe teams got like $6+ mill this year, but don’t quote me on that).  The salary cap, like the luxury dropped down this year too, down to $57.7 mill.  The ’09-’10 Clippers’ salary with Taylor?  $52.5 mill.  This doesn’t count Novak’s salary (should they re-sign him), but I can’t imagine he’d make more than $2 mill in this economy.  Even if the goal is to forget Novak & to instead sign Iverson or Sessions, they both likely would command the full mid-level of $5.8, which would put the Clippers over the salary cap regardless of whether Taylor’s around or not.  Again, with the salary cap, unless you hit that $69.9 luxury threshold, it doesn’t matter if you’re over the cap by a buck or $10 million — either way you wouldn’t have to pay the tax and you wouldn’t be able to receive the $ coming back in from it either.

The true, and only conceivable reason for the Clips waiving Taylor is the most basic but most annoying: it’s simply to save that $736k, a completely insignificant amount for a bball franchise since it’s nearly impossible to sign any player for less.  My guess is that the Clippers are aiming to have only the league mandated minimum of 13 players on the team, and most likely they’ll sign Novak (or rather match whatever other offer another team offers him), and then be done.

Mike Taylor had 2 years left at the lowest salary possible, and he’d shown glimmers of skills.  We would’ve had 2 years to see if he could amount to anything without having to commit any real money to him.  Instead we weren’t willing to pay him an amount that Kobe, TMac, KG, et al., probably spend on a family vacation.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Clippers.