Sometimes, NBA teams decide to cut their losses and waive players with guaranteed money left on their contracts.
That creates a phenomenon known as dead money, which basically takes up teams’ cap space but is money that goes to players that are no longer on the team. The money is considered “dead” because it can’t be used on new players, but on paying off guys that are no longer on the team.
One of the most famous somewhat recent examples of that was with the Detroit Pistons and Josh Smith. When the Pistons decided to waive Smith back in 2014, he had two years and $26 million left on his contract, which Detroit had to stretch over a five-year period to pay off. That’s because when you waive and stretch a player and create dead money, you have to pay them off over twice the number of years left on the contract, plus one.
In essence, the Pistons were still paying Smith through 2019-20 with a dead-cap hit of $5.3 million annually. That was money they weren’t able to use one new signings, making it quite costly for the franchise.
Below, we present all of the dead money NBA teams are paying off in the 2020-21 season.