Once the NBA Trade Deadline comes and goes, the unofficial start of buyout season will be upon us. As teams at the bottom of the standings look to move away from some of their more expensive players, those veterans could be on the move to spots that give them a better shot at contention.
Teams like the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets will look to jettison their dead weight. While this has become commonplace, the NBA has recently put some new provisions into place that make it more difficult for contenders to stack multiple impactful veterans on top of one another as they push for a championship.
While the league will implement more changes related to buyouts after the 2024-25 season gets rolling, one big change that has already been implemented will impact what the shape of this market will look like. The change was to prevent top teams from hearing the best available players for cheap.
NBA Buyout Rules: New change made for the 2024-25 season
A buyout is when a player will agree to give a bit of cash back to their respective teams on their deals, usually an expensive and/or expiring contract, in exchange for the player being granted free agency. The league wants to stop this practice from helping contenders resupply for cheap in an instant.
Any team above the first luxury tax apron ($172,346,000, or about $7 million more than the luxury tax line) can't sign a bought-out player unless the player's salary was below the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $12,405,000. This move will prevent most of the top seeds in the NBA from actively participating in this chase.
The Bucks, Celtics, Cavaliers, and Heat currently lie above that first tax apron in the Eastern Conference. Likewise, the Nuggets, Suns, Warriors, and Clippers are unable to add any expensive buyouts in the Western Conference. This buyout season promises to be fairly juicy, given some of the names available.
Two Hornets could be on the move in Gordon Hayward and former Raptors great Kyle Lowry. Two rebuilding teams, the Wizards and Pistons, might be willing to let go of players like Delon Wright and Joe Harris, respectively.