The Jazz would not receive luxury-tax relief if veteran forward Matt Harpring retired for medical reasons this offseason, a leading NBA collective bargaining expert said Friday.
Harpring said Thursday that he's contemplating retirement because of a lingering ankle injury, and that he plans to let the Jazz know his plans by late August.
Harpring has undergone three knee surgeries, two being microfracture procedures, and one on each ankle.
Surgery last offseason on his right ankle led to severe infection, and the ankle still hasn't healed properly.
A provision in the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players association provides for possible salary-cap and luxury-tax relief in the case of players who sustain a career-ending injury.
But because Harpring took part in the playoffs for the Jazz this past postseason, California-based cap guru Larry Coon suggested, a required one-year waiting period before such relief can be granted would squash the notion of the Jazz having Harpring's $6.5 million for next season purged from their payroll.
"There is no way they can have his '09-10 salary removed from the books," Coon said.
It is possible that the Jazz negotiate down Harpring's salary via a buyout, or that they fold his contract into a trade.
They potentially can also replace Harpring on their roster by using a disabled player exception, but that seems unlikely as it would mean adding and not subtracting salary.
The Jazz are in jeopardy of being an NBA tax-payer after next season, and could be fined upwards of $13 million if they match another team's pricey offer sheet to restricted free agent Paul Millsap, sign a requisite 13th player and fail to shed any salary via trade.
MILLSAP UPDATE: With Millsap's quest for a lucrative contract offer seemingly at a standstill three full days into the opening of the NBA's summer free-agency shopping market, theories abound as to what might await for the Jazz's backup power forward.
One is that an offer from Northwest Division-rival Oklahoma City eventually will come, though perhaps later rather than sooner.
The thinking in that regard, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, is that it would afford the Jazz "less time to prepare to match their offer."
Because he's restricted, Utah is permitted to match any offer sheet he signs with another team.
Writes Broussard: "Contracts can be signed (at 10 p.m. July 7), and a team has seven days to match the offer. If OKC were to make an agreement with Millsap before (then), it would be giving the Jazz more time to potentially move players around to create room to re-sign Millsap."
With more than $73 million currently committed to 11 players for next season, the theory goes, the Jazz might have to trim some salary before committing to Millsap.
If no offer beyond one starting at midlevel-exception money (about $5.8 million) were to come from Oklahoma City or another NBA team, however, it's possible that Millsap would simply accept the $1.03 million qualifying offer Utah recently made to him for next season.
That would make him unrestricted in the summer of 2010, when many teams are expected to have much more spending money and cap room. But it also appears to be an unlikely scenario, since Millsap spent his first three NBA seasons making less than $1 million per year.
All of which seems to leave Millsap banking, at least for now, that the Thunder will come through.
Whether they will, though, is uncertain.
On one hand, according to ESPN.com, "they had contacted him and told him they like his game, but that's about it." On the other, ESPN.com also reported, "some executives believe the Thunder, who have roughly $14 million in cap space, would be making a mistake not to go after Millsap."
Said one unidentified executive to the Web site: "Honestly, what free agents are you going to attract to Oklahoma City? Is it time to jump on a Paul Millsap? I would say, 'Yeah.' "
KNICKS TRIED TO TRADE FOR ALMOND:The New York Post on Friday cited an unnamed team source in reporting that the New York Knicks "fully expect to sign" ex-Jazz shooting guard Morris Almond "for next season as long as he performs decently in Las Vegas."
Almond, the Jazz's 2007 first-round draft choice from Rice University and an unrestricted free agent, will play for the Knicks' summer-league team later this month in Vegas.
Knicks basketball boss Donnie Walsh, the Post reported, "said Almond is being heavily considered to be signed for next season" and "revealed he tried to trade for the 6-foot-6 Almond last season."
"We're looking for shooting," Walsh told the newspaper. "We acquired some of it in the draft (with picks Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas), but he's someone you have to look at."
The Jazz have no interest in re-signing Almond.
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