NBA teams who did the best job saving their billionaire owners money at the trade deadline, ranked

Everyone loves the NBA trade deadline. Not only is it the last big chance for contenders to fortify their rosters for a playoff run, or for teams out of the hunt to trade veteran contributors for picks to help them rebuild, but it’s also home to basketball fans’ favorite type of transaction: Saving billionaire’s some money.

The 2024 deadline was no different, so let’s figure out which owner’s accountants will be thanking their general managers the most at the end of the year by ranking the top four coupon-cutting moves of this year’s big transaction day.

4. The Milwaukee Bucks separating twin brothers to save money on their luxury tax bill

The Bucks play in one of the smallest markets in the NBA, so it’s never surprising to see them make a slightly money-motivated move. And when considering how much they’re spending at the top of their payroll, it’s also a little more forgivable.

But trading your starting center’s identical twin brother to save $8.6 million in tax money and free up a roster spot? That’s the type of heartless stuff they pay general managers the big bucks for… so the Bucks don’t have to pay even bigger bucks.

At least Robin, ever the optimist, will always have memories to cherish from his second stint playing alongside Brook:

3. The Warriors saving eight figures by dumping Corey Joseph’s veteran’s minimum

The Warriors are still slated to pay the most in luxury taxes in the NBA (approximately $181.4 million, according to Salary Swish). But they lessened that by a little bit on Thursday, as they are so far into the second apron and repeater tax that sending out just Corey Joseph’s veteran’s minimum deal will save them nearly $14 million in payroll expenses:

Hell yeah, love it when Joe Lacob saves some money. Nothing gets me more excited for NBA basketball.

2. The Sixers getting below the luxury tax

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, there has been a big question facing the Sixers over the last several weeks, something hovering over the fanbase like a dark cloud that the entire city has been wondering about: How is Daryl Morey going to help the Sixers duck the luxury tax for the second deadline in a row?

What, did you think I was referring to something else?

Well, fear not, as we got our answer to that first question on Thursday, as the Sixers’ series of transactions in the hours before the deadline allowed them to dip just underneath the tax again. What a coincidence they keep doing that:

Can’t wait to see what Sixers owner Josh Harris spends these savings from the payroll of his current title contender on. Let’s go!

1. The Raptors straight up cutting Spencer Dinwiddie to save $1.5 million

There was never any doubt about what was going to go No. 1 here. The Raptors traded Dennis Schröder and Thaddeus Young to the Brooklyn Nets for Spencer Dinwiddie in one of Thursday’s earliest transactions, but then they had a decision to make: Should they pay Dinwiddie their remaining, pro-rated portion of his just over $20 million salary to play basketball for them for the rest of the season? Or should they pay him their entire portion of that — less $1.5 million — to not play for them because he would hit the 50 games played minimum that would guarantee the rest of his contract during his stint in Toronto?

After a few hours to deliberate, they made their decision:

NBA teams avoid spending all the time, but rare is an incoming player making as much as Dinwiddie in a midseason trade cut just to avoid such a small, likely contract bonus. And for that little wrinkle in innovation, you, Raptors, win SB Nation’s inaugural Golden Coupon.

No, no, don’t get too excited, you can’t use it to pay what you owe Dinwiddie, it’s not actually worth anything. Like his non-guarantee, in this case, it’s completely ceremonial.

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