How many times has each NBA team paid the luxury tax?

How many times has each NBA team paid the luxury tax?

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How many times has each NBA team paid the luxury tax?

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Because the NBA doesn’t have a hard cap, they needed another way to control team spending.

The solution they came up with was to tax teams for going over a specified tax level, that way, teams can spend as much as their owners are willing to shell out. In the simplest terms, the luxury tax is an incremental tax owners have to pay for their teams going over the salary cap. It’s a not-so-complicated formula, featuring brackets and tax rates, and if you’re really curious about how it works, you can read all about it – and see the formula for yourself – right here.

Of course, because of the way it’s set up, the luxury tax is most often paid by teams in huge markets, who have owners with big pockets.

Below, we break down how many times each team has paid the luxury tax, and how much success they’ve had in years they did pay it.

For this, we’ve used Shamsports.com research plus our own Salary archive.

Let’s get into it.

1. NEW YORK KNICKS: 10 times

No one can say the Knicks have been exactly efficient with their spending. In the 10 seasons they paid the luxury tax, New York made the playoffs just twice, and had one series victory to show for it.

One of the years the Knicks paid the luxury tax was in 2012-13, when Carmelo Anthony led the league in scoring. Their playoff journey that season ended in the first round of postseason action, an event that was buoyed by the fact Amare Stoudemire cut his hand following a Game-2 defeat and had to play the rest of the series with a bandaged arm.

Fun fact: the Knicks are the only team in the Top-18 of this list with a losing record in their luxury-tax years. So teams who spent way less than them also have had far more on-court success.

Overall, a dismal bang for their buck for the Big-Apple franchise.

Total amount: $248.5 million
Record in tax seasons: 324-496 (39.5 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, one series won

2. Dallas Mavericks: Nine times

When teams plot their spending, they hope their return looks more like the Mavericks’ and less like the Knicks’. Dallas has paid the luxury tax nine times, made the playoffs all nine years and has a championship to show for it.

High-spending? Certainly. But efficient, too.

Total amount: $151.5 million
Record in tax seasons: 532-285 (65.2 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Nine appearances, 10 series won, one championship

3. Los Angeles Lakers: Nine times

Like the Mavericks, the Lakers have also been extremely effective with their spending. Paying the luxury nine times is well worth it when you get two championships out of it, and are giving the money to future Hall-of-Famers like Kobe BryantShaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol.

Total amount: $120.6 million
Record in tax seasons: 455-267 (63.0 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Seven appearances, 17 series won, two championships.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Seven times

Despite not being in the biggest market, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert deserves credit for being so willing to shell out dough to sustain a winner. He may not have had much of a choice considering he had the best player in the world on his team for all of those years, but regardless, Cleveland spent more than a lot of other teams, and had a lot of success to show for it.

That LeBron James guy sure helped.

Total amount: $179.6 million
Record in tax seasons: 343-215 (61.5 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Seven appearances, 17 series won, one championship

5. Boston Celtics: Seven times

Another team with a perfect history when it comes to paying the luxury tax and making the playoffs in the same year. Despite having paid the luxury tax seven times, the total amount the Celtics have paid – $47.3 million – is actually one of lowest total amounts among teams that have a championship in the last 16 years.

Total amount: $47.3 million
Record in tax seasons: 350-207 (62.8 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Seven appearances, 11 series won, one championship

6. Miami Heat: Six times

The Heat have been one of the savvier teams when it comes to avoiding the luxury tax. Nevertheless, when it comes to paying for a contender, there’s no getting around the extra cost. Teams with LeBron on the roster simply aren’t cheap.

Total amount: $50.5 million
Record in tax seasons: 253-223 (53.2 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Four appearances, two championships, 11 series won

7. San Antonio Spurs: Six times

Among teams in the top half of this list, the Spurs have the second-lowest total amount of luxury tax paid at $17.5 million. Even so, they have won two titles in the six years they paid the tax. Talk about efficient.

Total amount: $17.5 million
Record in tax seasons: 348-128 (73.1 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Six appearances, two championships, 13 series won

8. Brooklyn Nets: Five times

The Knicks may be one of the more inept teams when it comes to spending, but the Nets aren’t far behind. $138.4 million in luxury taxes is an obscene amount for a team that has zero titles to show for it. In fact, it’s the second-highest amount on the list for a team without a title to show for their efforts. It’s probably a good thing both Brooklyn and New York are under new, competent leadership these days.

Total amount: $138.4 million
Record in tax seasons: 227-183 (55.4 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Five appearances, five series won

9. Los Angeles ClipPers: Four times

They don’t spend quite as much as the team they share a city/arena with, but the Clippers still rank Top-10 in amount of luxury-tax payments. These all occurred during the Lob City era, when Chris PaulBlake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were all still around.

Total amount: $29.7 million
Record in tax seasons: 217-111 (66.2 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Four appearances, two series won

10. Phoenix Suns: Four times

Despite having paid the luxury tax four times, the Suns have been pretty frugal with their spending, paying just $15.6 million in total taxes, the lowest amount in our Top-10. Their latest payment came in 2009-10, when Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire were still pick-and-rolling teams to death. That team made it as far as the Western Conference Finals, so it wasn’t a bad investment.

Total amount: $15.6 million
Record in tax seasons: 199-129 (60.7 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Three appearances, two series won

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Three times

Surprisingly, the Blazers haven’t paid the luxury tax in nearly 10 years. Considering their current payroll, it’s somewhat of a shock they still haven’t been penalized for the deals they dolled out in the summer of 2016. However, Portland is currently projected to be well on their way to paying the luxury tax this year – unless they perform some cap gymnastics – so this number could change rather soon.

Total amount: $86.7 million
Record in tax seasons: 145-101 (58.9 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, zero series won

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Three times

Oklahoma City has paid the luxury tax three times in the last four years. For a small-market team, that’s an impressive amount of spending. And after re-signing Paul George last summer to go with Russell Westbrook’s super-max deal, the Thunder will be relevant both on the court in with their spending for the foreseeable future.

Total amount: $42.7 million
Record in tax seasons: 148-98 (60.2 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, two series won

13. Orlando Magic: Three times

The Magic haven’t paid the luxury tax since Dwight Howard’s departure, which is understandable considering they haven’t made the playoffs since then, either. Paying the luxury tax in a year they made it to the Finals is more than understandable, though, so we can define Orlando’s spending as efficient.

Total amount: $39.0 million
Record in tax seasons: 147-99 (59.8 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, three series won

14. Minnesota Timberwolves: Three times

It’s been a while since Minnesota paid the luxury tax – 11 years to be exact. The last time they did was in 2006-07, when even an in-prime Kevin Garnett couldn’t carry them to anything more than a 32-win regular season. That would probably explain why Garnett was traded to Boston shortly thereafter.

Total amount: $24.7 million
Record in tax seasons: 141-105 (57.3 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, two series won

15. Denver Nuggets: Three times

The Nuggets may not spend often, but when they do, at least they’ve been able to reach the playoffs. Postseason success on years they paid the luxury tax (2006-07, 2007-08 and 2009-10) was hard to find, evidenced by their zero playoff series wins in those years, but for small-market teams without a surefire superstar, just making the playoffs is a pretty solid accomplishment.

Total amount: $21.2 million
Record in tax seasons: 148-98 (56.6 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Three appearances, zero series won

16. Indiana Pacers: Three times

Indiana should be commended for consistently fielding a strong team despite being so frugal. Despite not paying the luxury tax since 2005-06, the Pacers have made the playoffs in seven of the last nine years, making it as far as Eastern Conference Finals in 2013-14.

Total amount: $8.9 million
Record in tax seasons: 150-96 (61.0 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Three appearances, two series won

17. Golden State Warriors: Two times

Somewhat inexplicably, despite the dynasty they currently have going, the Warriors have paid the luxury tax just twice, once in 2015-16 and once in 2017-18. Of course, they’re well on their way to paying it for a third time with the roster they have together at the moment. If this season culminates in a title, though, they won’t mind.

Total amount: $47.1 million
Record in tax seasons: 131-33 (79.9 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, seven series won, one championship

18. Sacramento Kings: Two times

The Kings paid the luxury tax in the inaugural year of the rule and the year after, and then, to this point, haven’t paid it again. Makes sense, as those teams, the ones led by Chris Webber, were great, and well worth the price. The Sacramento teams since then… haven’t quite been good enough to warrant paying the luxury tax.

Total amount: $30.5 million
Record in tax seasons: 114-50 (69.5 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Two appearances, two series won

19. Philadelphia 76ers: Two times

Like the Kings, the 76ers paid the luxury tax in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and haven’t paid it since. They may have to start eyeing the possibility, though, with Ben Simmons looking like a lock to land a rookie-scale max extension, Joel Embiid on a huge deal already and the recently-acquired Jimmy Butler also due to get a new contract this summer.

Total amount: $17.9 million
Record in tax seasons: 81-83 (49.4 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, one series won

20. Memphis Grizzlies: Two times

The last time the Grizzlies paid the luxury tax was in 2005-06. That year, they won 49 games, finished No. 3 in the West and had a roster headlined by Pau GasolShane Battier and Mike Miller. A solid team, but probably not one worth breaking the bank for. Especially not in a small market.

Total amount: $11.3 million
Record in tax seasons: 77-87 (47.0 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, zero series won

21. Chicago Bulls: Two times

The Bulls being this low on the list is a bit more befuddling. After all, they’re in a pretty big market, and became one of the most well-known brands in the league thanks to that Michael Jordan guy. Even so, it’s true, they do rank this low. The last time they paid it was in 2015-16 when they had Gasol, Butler and Derrick Rose, the latter of whom was on a huge deal at the time.

Total amount: $8.1 million
Record in tax seasons: 87-77 (56.6 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, one series won

22. Utah Jazz: Two times

Speaking of Utah, they’ve paid the luxury tax just twice, the last time coming in 2010-11, a year they didn’t even make the playoffs. Surprising, but the Jazz, to their credit, have had much more success in recent years, without having to break the bank, either.

Total amount: $8.1 million
Record in tax seasons: 92-72 (56.1 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, one series won

23. Toronto Raptors: Two times

The Raptors only paid the luxury tax in the first two years of its existence, just like Philadelphia and Sacramento. They did so without making the playoffs either year, so not exactly a great bang for their buck there. Their leaders in Win Shares those two years? Alvin Williams and Donyell Marshall. Looking back, those teams probably didn’t warrant such a heavy investment.

Total amount: $6.8 million
Record in tax seasons: 57-107 (34.8 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: Zero appearances

24. Houston Rockets: Two times

The Rockets have paid the luxury tax just twice, but they’re in danger of doing it for a third time this year, as they currently have the fifth-highest payroll in the league. Worth it, though, since they’re contenders and have James Harden and Chris Paul, a Top-2 backcourt in the league, under contract for the next few years.

Total amount: $5.26 million
Record in tax seasons: 82-82 (50.0 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, zero series won

25. Atlanta Hawks: Two times

Atlanta paid the luxury tax in the first year it came into effect, and one more time in 2011-12. The second payment was minuscule, totally just $0.67 million.

Total amount: $4.4 million
Record in tax seasons: 75-73 (50.7 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, zero series won

26. Washington Wizards: One time

The Wizards are coming off the first year where they had to pay the luxury tax, and it looks like this year will be the same, as they’re sixth in highest payrolls, due to the max contracts dolled out to John WallBradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. Last season, Washington made the playoffs but were ousted in the first round. This year, they’re off to a rough start, though they have turned it around recently. It’ll be interesting to note how many more years of mediocrity their front office is willing to pay for.

Total amount: $7.0 million
Record in tax seasons: 43-39 (52.4 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, zero series won

27. Milwaukee Bucks: One time

The only time the Bucks paid the luxury tax was in 2002-03, when they won 42 games and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Their roster back then had big names like Sam Cassell and Ray Allen.

Total amount: $4.7 million
Record in tax seasons: 42-40 (51.2 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One appearance, zero series won

28. Detroit Pistons: One time

The one time the Pistons had to pay the luxury tax, 2003-04, was also, not so coincidentally, the year they won their last championship. For a $0.8 million luxury-tax payment and with stars like Chauncey BillupsRasheed WallaceRichard Hamilton and Ben Wallace, that’s one awesome return on investment.

Total amount: $0.8 million
Record in tax seasons: 54-28 (65.9 percent)
Playoffs in tax seasons: One championship, one appearance, four series won

29. Charlotte Hornets: Zero times

Charlotte has made the playoffs three times since the inception of the luxury tax, and are one of just two teams to have never paid it. Not so surprising, considering the market.

29. New Orleans Pelicans: Zero times

The Pelicans are the other team to have never paid the luxury tax. New Orleans, however, has made the playoffs seven times since the luxury-tax rules came into effect, getting as far as the Western Conference semi-finals on two separate occasions.

Alberto De Roa contributed to this article.

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