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Don't forget to stretch: The Clippers say goodbye to Delfino and Raduljica

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The stretch provision has been around a decade, but few teams ever use it.


When something that is widely available is in fact rarely used, I tend to ask myself why that is. I bring this up because there would seem to be a reason that NBA teams almost never use the stretch provision, which allows them to waive players and spread the remaining salary over multiple seasons rather that take the cap hit all at once. The provision has been around since the 2005 CBA, and was modified in 2011, and has almost never been used. This in a league where players are constantly being waived and teams are ever-searching for worthwhile salary cap machinations.

So it seems, based on their actions, that teams don't feel like the stretch provision is an effective tool. If it were, teams would use it. So why did the Clippers go that way with the newly acquired Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica? I can think of a few things that might make the Clippers outliers here.

First of all let's point out what I believe to be a mistake in Ben Bolch's LA Times story on the situation. Players can be stretched over a period of years double the years remaining on the contract, plus one year. Since Delfino and Raduljica both have one season left, they can be stretched to three seasons (double one year plus one). They could only be stretched over five years if they had two years left. (I suppose their could be some loophole where Delfino;s unguaranteed second year could qualify him for the five year stretch, but that would be a loophole since by waiving him his losing that money.)

Teams don't like to use the stretch clause for a fairly simple reason -- they have to take the cap hit eventually, and teams have chosen to take a big hit now rather than taking little hits in the future. It's not surprising that in a league where teams appear to intentionally lose in order to marginally improve their chance in the draft lottery teams would prefer to suffer now if it means a cleaner balance sheet later.

The Clippers are bucking that trend, and it is probably a direct result of Balmer's billions. It seems that very soon the Clippers will be getting to payroll levels far about the luxury tax, and staying there. Once they're up there, they will already be missing their full mid-level exception. At that point, the salaries of Delfino and Raduljica won't matter much -- it will only add a little to the tax bill. But those future cap liabilities don't limit the team's flexibility going forward (they'd like have the mini-MLE instead of the full MLE either way.

By using the provision now, the Clippers probably have about $3.5M to spend under the hard cap -- and 11 players on the roster. You have to carry 13 contracts (although you can start the season with 12) and you need 14 players under contract in order to sign training camp-only contracts. The Clippers are still limited to the minimum contracts at this point, and they have enough under the cap to sign three of them.

The bottom line is that Doc Rivers was ready to get rid of Dudley, and it seems like he's confident he can put his hand on a better players or players; already Ray Allen has been linked to the team as a possible addition.