I've been noticing that, along with the constant drumbeat of how we are going to have a ton of cap space next off-season (unless we trade the REC), there have also been periodic shots from the periphery about other teams also being under the cap next year.
The Mo Williams trade was the latest reprisal of OKC-will-be-under-the-cap (although, unlike the other teams mentioned here, they're in great space to preserve that space into 2010, which is a much better year for free agents).
The attempted (and failed) Grizzlies signing of Josh Smith reminded us that they have cap space NOW, and are certain to still have it next year.
Looks like Toronto is headed there, too; they have a ton of expiring contracts.
Minnesota is loaded with cheap rookie contracts.
(Any other teams I'm overlooking? BEdgers, let us know if there's someone else who should be on this list.)
And while the Knicks, Mavs, Nuggets and Cavs will not be under the cap, they have about $30mil (Starbury and Malik Rose), $20mil (Jason Kidd), $20mil (A.I.) and $12mil (Damon Jones and Eric Snow) in expiring contracts; teams on track to be roughly at the cap can become below-cap playas by trading solid talent to those three teams (win-now franchises, all of them) for those expiring contracts; it's odd to see so much expiring money in the hands of teams NOT getting under the cap. Shift those contracts at the trade deadline to teams like the Clips or Sacramento, and the field for 2009 free agents gets REAL crowded.
Anyway, the point is obvious: We're on track to have the MOST cap space next off-season, but a lot of teams will also have some room to go bidding. And as we've re-hashed ad nauseum, there really aren't any free agents we're all that keen on in the first place.
Not really arguing for or against any particular approach regarding our impending cap space, especially on the trade-RLEC-vs-get-cap-space issue (although I AM still stunned by the implications of the trade that sent Camby to the Clips for a trade exception: Our cap space can be used as a trade exception to trade for a player already under contract, and players at Camby's level can be had for that exception). I'll let you all throw some advocacies and insistences at the wall and see what sticks, but the buyers' market next off-season looks to be about a half-dozen deep: How does that affect the Blazers' position a year from now?