Get your CBA out

One of the biggest questions people around the league will be trying to answer in the next few days, when deconstructing this Elton Brand situation, is the issue of whether the Clippers had to renounce their rights to Brand in order to sign both Brand and Baron Davis. That’s important because by renouncing Brand’s rights, the Clippers would have lost his Bird rights, and thus would not have been able to offer a sixth year to his contract.

I was told, by a source, that the Clippers had to do that.

But a reader actually e-mailed to ask why they’d need to do that, instead of just signing Brand first (keeping his Bird rights) and then signing Davis. I, myself, didn’t know the answer, so I e-mailed salary cap guru Larry Coon to see if he could provide some perspective.

Here’s what he had to say. A word of warning here: Do not keep reading this post if numbers make your head hurt or complexity makes your eyes roll back into your head.

For those that like this sort of thing, Coon’s answer is incredibly juicy.

“It’s all academic now, since Brand signed with Philly.

However — they simply had to fit both Brand & Davis under the cap. I’m
just going to use made up numbers here, since I can illustrate the point
with them and don’t really want to look up the actual numbers. Say the
cap is $58 million, they have $32 million tied up in existing contracts
and cap holds, they have $15 million in free agent amounts for free
agents other than Brand (Maggette, Livingston, etc.), and Brand’s free
agent amount is $17 million. Right now their cap amount would be $64
million. We can assume they renounce their $15 million in other free
agents (Maggette, Livinston, etc.), putting them at $49 million,
including Brand’s cap hold.

Let’s say they want to sign Davis for $12 million, and Brand for $14
million. Here are two scenarios:

Scenario 1 – Renounce Brand first: They renounce Brand, and gain the
amount of his cap hold, so they are now at $32 million, which gives them
$26 million of cap room. They sign Davis & Brand as free agents using
cap room (i.e., the Bird exception cannot be and is not used on Brand),
for $12 million & $14 million respectively, which takes them right up to
the cap.

Scenario 2 – Don’t renounce Brand. In this scenario, they have to
re-sign Brand before signing Davis. So they sign Brand for $14 million,
and his $17 million cap hold is replaced by his $14 million salary. Now
their cap amount is $46 million. That leaves $12 million of cap room
for Davis.

So either way, they are able to sign both players to the intended amounts.

The benefit of Scenario 2 is that it preserves the Bird exception, and
therefore their ability to give 10.5% raises and six years.”

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