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Why the 76ers claimed Thomas Robinson off waivers

Thomas Robinson, Robert Covington

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, left, and Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington vie for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. Portland defeated Philadelphia 114-93. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)


The Nuggets agreed to buy out Thomas Robinson.

The Nets agreed to sign him.

But Sam Hinkie agreed to nothing.

The 76ers interfered with the plans of Denver, Robinson and Brooklyn by claiming Robinson off waivers.


As usual with cases like this, the answer is money.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement requires all teams to end the regular season with a team salary of at least 90 percent the salary cap.

Prior claiming Robinson, the 76ers were $3,023,771 below the salary floor using data from Basketball Insiders.

Of course, there’s no real punishment for failing to reach the salary floor. The team must just pay its players the shortfall. One way or another, teams are supposed to pay at least 90 percent of the salary cap.

But the 76ers found a loophole.

Robinson’s $3,678,360 salary lifts them above the salary floor. However, because the Trail Blazers and Nuggets (but mostly the Trail Blazers) have already paid most of Robinson’s salary this season, Philadelphia is required to pay Robinson just the remaining $1,103,508 he’s owed.

So, instead of paying their players $3,023,771 for failing to meet the salary floor, the 76ers will pay Robinson just $1,103,508. It’s a savings of $1,920,263.

Not bad for the team that ranks 29th in home attendance and has alienated some fans with its tanking strategy.

Of course, money probably isn’t the only reason the 76ers claimed Robinson. They also get a free – really, better than fee – look at a player who was the No. 5 overall pick just three years ago. Robinson has failed to meet expectations, but there’s still a place for him in the NBA. Maybe’s that’s Philadelphia, and Hinkie will have a chance to evaluate him up-close.

Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the 76ers will hold his Early Bird Rights. I doubt there’s a long-term fit here, but since Philadelphia saved money by claiming him, why not give it a whirl?