Deandre Ayton trade to the Nets is unlikely because of these CBA bylaws

Kristian Winfield, New York Daily News on

Published in Basketball

NEW YORK — A trade sending embattled Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton to the Nets is possible — but it’s incredibly unlikely for a number of reasons.

BetMGM reported the Nets have had interest in Ayton, who increasingly appears to have played his last games in Phoenix after a feud with head coach Monty Williams played out in public on the sidelines as the Dallas Mavericks eliminated the Suns in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The report suggested a potential package of Nic Claxton, Joe Harris and Cam Thomas headed to Phoenix to land Ayton in Brooklyn and create a Big 4 that also features Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and the newly re-committed Kyrie Irving.

But not only does the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement make a deal for Ayton very unlikely, it also makes both the Nets and Ayton losers if a deal were to be consummated.

A sign-and-trade for Ayton hard caps the Nets

Any team that receives a player in a sign-and-trade is hard-capped at — aka cannot have a payroll that exceeds — the “apron.” The salary cap is projected to hit $123.6M for the 2022-23 NBA season, according to ESPN, which marks a 9.964% increase from last year’s salary cap of $112.4M.

That’s an important note because the apron increases or decreases each year by one-half the percentage that the salary cap increases. The NBA set the 2021-22 apron at $143M, which means it will increase roughly five percent to $150.1M.


That means that any team that acquires a player in a sign-and-trade cannot, under any circumstances, have a payroll that exceeds $150.1M. If the Nets acquired Ayton in a sign-and-trade deal that pays him comparable numbers to what’s been reported for Knicks target Jalen Brunson — four years, $110M — that would mark an average annual value of $27.5M on his deal.

Then you factor in Kyrie Irving’s $37M player option, Kevin Durant’s $44.1M salary, and the $34M owed to Ben Simmons, and you’re already at a $142.6M payroll with a $150M hard cap. That doesn’t include the $8.5M due to Seth Curry or the $6.2M due if Patty Mills opts into Year 2 with the Nets.

And no, the Nets wouldn’t be able to exceed the hard cap to sign players to minimum contracts.

Ayton’s other route to Brooklyn isn’t feasible, either


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