Danny Green’s torn ACL and LCL cast doubt on his Sixers future

In the opening minutes of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat in Thursday night’s Eastern Conference Semifinals, swingman Danny Green suffered this we feared to be a serious knee injury. Those fears were confirmed on Friday, when the team announced the 13-year-old veteran tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee.

It’s a devastating blow for Green and the Sixers as he now believes he’ll be sidelined for most or all of the 2022-23 season. This raises unfortunate questions about his immediate future in Philadelphia.

Green’s $10 million salary for next season is fully unsecured until July 1. That gives the Sixers less than two months to figure out what to do with him.

They have three main options to consider: waive him on July 1, guarantee his salary and trade him in, or keep him after July 1.

Give up green

During exit interviews Friday, team president Daryl Morey made no commitment about Green’s future. But now that they know his diagnosis, the Sixers will likely waive him before his salary is guaranteed on July 1. They can’t afford to commit $10 million and a roster spot to someone who won’t be playing for most or all of next season. .

Giving up Green wouldn’t just help lower the Sixers’ luxury tax bill for next season. Depending on the structure of James Harden’s next contract, this could allow them access to the larger mid-tier exception for non-taxpayers ($10.3 million) and semi-annual exception ($4.1 million). million) rather than to the MLE taxpayer alone ($6.4 million) .

Not counting Harden and Green, the Sixers currently have 11 players under contract for next season at around $96.1 million. The luxury tax apron is expected to be just south of $155.7 million, which is the line that no team can cross if they use the NTMLE or BAE in any given season.

If Harden takes his $47.4 million player option or signs a maximum five-year deal with a starting salary of $46.5 million, the Sixers wouldn’t have enough under-the-apron space to use the full NTMLE and BAE even though they forgo green. But if Harden takes a little less than that — say, a starting salary of $40 million — the Sixers would have enough room under the apron to use both the NTMLE and the BAE if they waived Green.

If the Sixers keep Green on their books at $10 million, they’d have $106.1 million committed for 12 players before factoring in Harden. Even if Harden took $40 million instead of his maximum starting salary, they would have less than $10 million to breathe before hitting the apron. This means that they could not use their full NTMLE and/or would have to forgo using the BAE unless the list changed further.

Considering how much the Sixers need to bolster their supporting cast this offseason, keeping Green as a $10 million placeholder is likely a non-starter. However, there are a few reasons why they might consider it.

Guarantee Green’s salary and exchange it

Under the NBA‘s old collective bargaining agreement, a player’s outgoing salary for trade purposes included a non-guaranteed salary. In other words, if the Sixers had traded Green between now and July 1, he would have counted for $10 million in outgoing salary even if his new team could immediately waive him and free up $10 million of cap space. .

The flow collective agreement closed this loophole. Unless the Sixers guarantee Green’s salary for next season, he will count as $0 in outgoing salary in a trade, which defeats the purpose of trading him.

The Sixers can explore their options over the next month and a half before waiving Green. If another team is looking to dump a player on an unenviable multi-year deal, they might be willing to trade him for Green’s expiring deal for future cap relief alone. The Sixers would have to weigh the opportunity cost of that, though.

Unless Harden accepts a gargantuan discount on his next contract, trading Green for a similarly paid player would push the Sixers too close to the apron for them to use the NTMLE or BAE. They should decide if they would be better off with this player and who they sign with the TMLE rather than having access to both the NTMLE and the BAE.

keep it green

The Sixers could still keep Green past July 1 in hopes of a) returning by next year’s playoffs or b) trading him at some point during the season. 2022-23 season.

They have yet to release a timetable for Green’s takeover, but time is running out against the future 35-year-old. Jamal Murray missed the entire 2021-22 season after tearing his ACL in mid-April last year, while Kawhi Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 season after undergoing surgery to repair a partial tear in the LCA last July.

Even if Green returns at some point next season, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to deliver the same impact both ways. The Sixers need a contingency plan in place anyway.

If the Sixers buy Green but don’t find a taker by July 1, they could keep him on their books in hopes of trading him later. His contract is their best salary token for trades right now.

Since the Sixers will likely exceed the luxury tax threshold next season, they can’t return more than 125% plus $100,000 of the salary they send. If they guaranteed Green’s salary for next season and then traded him alone, they could receive a player earning no more than $12.1 million in return. But if they package it with Furkan Korkmaz ($5.0m next season), Matisse Thybulle ($4.4m) or one of their younger players, they could bring in a slightly higher paid player.

Knowing that Green likely won’t play next season, it’s hard to imagine anyone interested in accepting his $10 million salary. The likeliest outcome is for the Sixers to waive him on July 1, unfortunately. However, they should still aim to keep Green in their building, as long as the NBA allows it.

The ABC prohibits teams from having “a financial arrangement with or offering a financial inducement to any player (excluding retired players) not signed to a current player contract.” That could prevent the Sixers from offering Green a paid assistant coaching job this season, especially if they hope to re-sign him in 2023-24 once he recovers from his injury.

At the very least, the Sixers and the NBA should work together to make sure Green can use its medical staff and facilities to help him recover, even if they give him up by July 1. This devastating injury will likely see the end of his time with the Sixers, though.

Unless otherwise stated, all statistics via NBA.com, PBPStats, Clean the glass or Basketball Reference. All salary information via spotrac. All odds via FanDuel Sports Betting.