2014 NBA Trade Deadline: A primer for what the Atlanta Hawks can and cannot do

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

A quick rundown of any oddities that the Hawks will encounter this trade season.

Today is the last day that Cartier Martin is under contract with the Hawks. It turns out that if the Hawks sign Cartier to a second 10-day contract, then this will expire on the Trade Deadline (February 20th). What better time to discuss the issues the Hawks will face with the trade deadline than today?

Trade Rules

The Hawks are not in danger of being above the Luxury Tax (or its buddy The Apron) unless they make a series of moves that increases their Team Salary by about $15 million. We can safely ignore any issues arising from this and simply address the trade rules as such:

  1. If the Hawks trade away up to $9.8 million in contracts, they can take back up to 150% + $100,000 of the amount traded away.
  2. If the Hawks trade away between $9.8 million and $19.6 million in contracts, they can take back up to the outgoing amount plus $5 million.
  3. If the Hawks trade away more than $19.6 million in contracts, they can take back up to 125% + $100,000 of the amount traded away.

The Hawks can always take back less salary if they so choose.

In addition, the Hawks cannot exceed the roster limit of 15 contracts. Not counting Cartier, the Hawks have 14 players under contract. It does not matter that Al Horford and John Jenkins are injured and out for the rest of the season, they are still contracts and they count against Atlanta's limit.

The Hawks are free to waive any player on their current roster to get around the roster limits. The Hawks will be liable for contract payments if the waived player is not claimed in the waiver process.

Disabled Player Exception

As previously discussed, the Hawks have a Disabled Player Exception (DPE) of $5,250,000 they can use to acquire one contract that does not extend beyond the end of this season. The acquisition can be by free agency or by trade. The DPE cannot be combined with anything else.

For example, the Hawks cannot combine the DPE and Jared Cunningham's $1,208,400 contract to acquire a player earning $6,458,400. However, the Hawks can use the DPE to acquire a player on a contract ending this year and earning less than $5,250,000 while also making another deal that exchanges other assets with said team (like a draft pick, cash, or players). The Hawks need to look at this as a completely separate transaction, but said team can actually consider the two transactions as one singular transaction.

The Hawks can get creative with this and trade the contract they acquired using the DPE. The only stipulation here is that the contract cannot be aggregated with other contracts on the team. This would hinder the amount of money the Hawks could acquire in a trade, but it is still useful nonetheless.

In some alternative world, this is like giving Dwight Schrute a thumbtack to trade up for a $150 telescope (to then be traded for Jim's "miracle legumes"). Of course, there is not enough time for Danny to make enough trades to increase the value of the DPE, but it is still nice to think about.

Room Mid-Level Exception

The Room Mid-Level Exception is available to the Hawks. This allows the Hawks to exceed the salary cap by up to $2,652,000 in order to sign a free agent. This amount can be split between more than one player, however the contract cannot be for more than 2 seasons. The contracts are also limited to 4.5% raises.

Unfortunately, the Hawks cannot use this exception in acquiring existing contracts (i.e. trades). So while this can be helpful in signing a player late in the year, it has limited use during the trade deadline.

Jeff Teague Has The Power

Jeff Teague signed an offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks this past offseason. The Hawks matched this offer sheet and now Teague gets the power to veto any trade he is involved in this season. The Bucks also put in a trade kicker for Jeff Teague's contract (hover over Jeff's name in the Atlanta Hawks Salary page at ShamSports to see). This implies that if Danny Ferry is able to convince Jeff to a trade, he would be paid $600,000 upfront by the Hawks. For cap purposes, this also changes his salary from $8,000,000 to $8,150,000 for any trades.

For Jeff to be traded it would take at least 3 parties to agree (Danny, Jeff, and the team involved in a hypothetical trade). Because of this, it is highly unlikely that Jeff is traded by the trade deadline. In addition, Jeff cannot be acquired by the Bucks this season. I bet Jeff is OK with this at the moment.

All Other Hawks

Watch out, as you are powerless in trade discussions.

Even though this is said, be wary of any "rumors" out there. One should always recognize that Sports Websites make money through advertisers and advertisers pay based upon number of clicks. If you look around the Sporting World, this is a fairly dull time. This is partly why the highly publicized Michael Sam story broke this week, you can read more about the timing of this decision in a great piece by Cyd Ziegler. So be careful when reading trade rumors. If they talk about the Hawks combining the DPE with another player, then they are undoubtedly making things up.

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