Click through to read a comprehensive summary of every NBA team's current salary cap situation and some excellent analysis regarding what each might be able to do this summer from Blazersedge's Salary Cap Guru Storyteller. Some exceptional off-day reading.
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Now that the trade deadline has come and gone in the NBA, I've updated my predictions as to which teams will have significant cap room this summer (ie, more than the expected MLE amount) to be able to make either free agent acquisitions or for use in making lopsided trades. Although I must still be clear that all we can do today is make educated guesses – we don’t know what next year’s salary cap will be, plus trades and signings can still take place over the next 4 months that would obviously affect team salary situations. So for purposes of this evaluation, my assumption is that no major roster changes will take place between now and July 1st.
Oh, and for purposes of this ‘prediction’, I’m assuming a cap figure of $53.5 million. That assumes that BRI will drop significantly this year and that predicted BRI for the 2010-11 season drops as well. Over the last several months, we’ve seen predictions that such a decrease is inevitable, as well as preliminary figures of league revenue that would indicate that this will be the case, Plus, last year, the NBA distributed a memo to its teams warning them of an expected drop in BRI which would directly affect the 2010-11 salary cap figure. I am using the top end of the prediction from this memo for this prognostication.
So here are my best guesses as to which teams will have significant cap space in July, barring any major player transactions between now and then. I’ve tried to make the best assumptions possible about team options, player options, guaranteed contracts and ETOs, but as I’m not an expert on every team in the NBA and what they are likely to do, I reserve the right to adjust these guesses over time as I receive your inevitable feedback (which is absolutely welcome!) on which of these are likely and which are unlikely to actually count in next season’s figures:
CHICAGO currently has 6 players under contract for 2010-11 in Deng, Hinrich, Rose, Noah, Johnson and Gibson. There will be a cap hold for their first round draft pick, which I’m assuming will be pick #19, making the hold $1,371,200. If the Bulls renounce their rights to all free agents, they could have $17.91 million in cap room, after accounting for 5 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster.
LA CLIPPERS currently have Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin under contract for 2010-11. Assuming that they don’t get Minnesota’s first round pick (due to protection on the pick) and that their own first round pick is #10, that adds a cap hold of $1.37 million. I’m assuming that DeAndre Jordan will be retained and that his full contract will count against the cap. After accounting for 6 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster, the Clippers look to have $15.26 million in cap room if they do not make a qualifying offer to Mardy Collins.
MIAMI currently has only Michael Beasley and Daequan Cook fully guaranteed for 2010-11. I’m assuming that the Heat will pick up the team option on Mario Chalmers and that Joel Anthony picks up his player option. Also, I’m assuming that their first round draft pick is #17 and that they get Toronto’s first round pick (assumed to be #18), which adds two cap holds that total $2.54 million. Finally, I’m assuming that they will renounce all their free agents and that the team does not retain James Jones, so that only the guaranteed amount of his contract ($1.86 million) counts against the cap, which means that there will be 5 cap holds of $473,604 applied for having fewer than 12 players on the roster. In the end, Miami looks to have $20.72 million in cap room if Dwyane Wade picks up his player option. If Wade does not pick up his player option, his free agent cap hold will leave the Heat with $21.30 million in cap room. And if Wade leaves for another team, the Heat would be left with $37.39 million in cap room.
MINNESOTA currently has Jefferson, Sessions, Love, Flynn, Brewer, Hollins and Ellington guaranteed for 2010-11. As for first round draft picks, the assumption is that their own pick will be #2 and that they will also have #15 from Charlotte and #24 from Utah – these three carry cap holds totaling $6.24 million. Rubio’s cap hold will also be in play at $2.81 million. Finally, I’m assuming that they release Ryan Gomes so that only the $1.0 million guaranteed counts against their cap in July and that they renounce all rights to their free agents, which means that a single cap hold of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster would be applied. All this would leave the Timberwolves with $12.06 million in cap room.
NEW JERSEY currently has Harris, Jianlian, Lopez, Lee and Terrence Williams guaranteed for 2010-11. I am assuming that they pick up the team option on Douglas-Roberts and that Humphries picks up his player option. In terms of first round draft picks, I’m assuming that their own pick will be #1 and that they also get the #23 pick from Dallas, which means two cap holds totaling $5.29 million. I’m also assuming that they will release Dooling so that only $500,000 of his salary is applied against the cap. Finally, I’m assuming that Josh Boone does not get a qualifying offer and that they renounce all rights to their free agents, which means that there will be 3 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster. This would leave the Nets with $23.22 million in cap room.
NEW YORK currently has only Gallinari, Chandler and Douglas guaranteed for 2010-11, although my assumption is that Curry will pick up his player option. I also assume that the team waives Bill Walker and his non-guaranteed contract, that they do not tender a qualifying offer to Sergio Rodriguez and that they renounce all rights to their free agents. After accounting for 8 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster, the Knicks would be left with $31.93 million in cap room. This would leave NY just short of being able to offer two max contracts to players such as James, Wade or Bosh (they would need $33.04 million in cap room to do so).
OKLAHOMA CITY currently has Collison, Krstic, Durant, Harden, Westbrook, Green, Sefolosha, Maynor, Mullens, White and Ibaka under contract for 2010-11. As for first round draft picks, I’m assuming that their own pick is #21 and that they get #20 from Phoenix, which makes for cap holds for $2.22 million. Finally, I’m assuming that the team keeps Weaver, guaranteeing his $0.94 million, but that they renounce all rights to their free agents. This would leave the Thunder with $11.28 million in cap room.
SACRAMENTO currently has Nocioni, Udrih, Garcia, Evans, Hawes, Thompson, Greene and Casspi under contract for 2010-11. I’m also assuming that they end up with the #4 pick in the draft which adds a cap hold of $3.11 million. Finally, I’m assuming that the team picks up the team option on Landry, that Dorsey is not waived, guaranteeing his full $0.95 million salary and that all rights to their free agents are renounced. After accounting for a single cap hold of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster, this would leave the Kings with $15.93 million in cap room.
WASHINGTON – After trading away Jamison and Butler, the Wizards could easily be under the cap this summer. Arenas, Blatche, Thornton, Young and McGee represent $28.0 million in guaranteed contracts. I’m assuming that Ross picks up his player option and that Foye does not get a qualifying offer. As for first round picks, I’m assuming that their own pick is #6 and that the pick from Cleveland is #30, which adds two cap holds totaling $3.4 million. After accounting for cap holds for having fewer than 12 players on their roster, Washington could have $19.0 million in cap space if they don’t pick up Howard’s team option or nearly $7.7 million in cap space if they pick up the team option.
Here, quickly, are the teams that look to be above the cap this summer, barring any major roster moves between now and then:
ATLANTA – Even before re-signing Joe Johnson, the Hawks have Smith, Crawford, Williams, Bibby, Pachulia and Horford under contract (among others). I’m also assuming they make another qualifying offer to Josh Childress. All of this should keep Atlanta well above the cap next summer.
BOSTON – I guess Paul Pierce could use his ETO and give up more than $21 million. But I don’t think there’s any way he will. You add Garnett, Wallace, Rondo and Perkins to the mix and the Celtics are already nearing $60 million in team salary – meaning that even if they don’t re-sign Ray Allen, Boston is going to be above the cap.
CHARLOTTE – If the miraculous happens and both Chandler and Mohammed exercise their ETOs, the Bobcats could be below the cap if they don’t give Tyrus Thomas a qualifying offer. Now let’s get back to reality – those two guys will take the guaranteed money, the team will make a qualifying offer to Thomas and Charlotte will have no cap room this summer.
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland front office has worked very hard to try and collect players to put around LeBron James so that he won’t leave as a FA this summer. So, even if he doesn’t exercise his player option, I think the Cavs would be heavy favorites to re-sign him. But, in the worst possible scenario - if LeBron James leaves and the team renounces all their free agents, the Cavaliers could have more than MLE-level money to spend if they take some savings out of Delonte West’s partial guarantee. But they certainly wouldn’t have enough space to sign a new max-level star.
DALLAS – Do you think Dirk Nowitzki will turn down $21 million and leave town? Do you expect DeShawn Stevenson to give up more than $4.1 million in guaranteed money? Neither do I. My money’s on “they’ll be well above the cap”
DENVER – Anthony, Billups, Nene, Smith, Anderson, Lawson, Balkman, Afflalo – just those 8 players put the Nuggets over predicted cap amount, even before accounting for players like Martin (ETO). No cap space for Denver.
DETROIT – Their opportunity for having cap space was last summer, and they took that opportunity and spent all the cap room that they had available. Now they will have Hamilton, Prince, Gordon, Villaneuva, Maxiell, Wilcox, Stuckey and Daye on their roster in 2010-11, meaning that the Pistons will not have cap room.
GOLDEN STATE – With Ellis, Biedrins, Maggette, Turiaf, Curry, Wright and Randolph, the Warriors have committed themselves to over $42 million in salary. I also don’t see any way that Radmanovic (ETO) and Azubuike (PO) turn down a combined guaranteed $10.2 million. The Warriors don’t look to be paying any luxury tax in the Spring of 2011, but they also don’t look to have any cap room next summer.
HOUSTON had the potential to be under the cap this summer until the trade that brought them Kevin Martin and other players in exchange for Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey. Now the only way that they could be significantly under the cap is if Yao Ming and Jared Jeffries both opt out and if the team decides not to give qualifying offers to Hilton Armstrong and Kyle Lowry. It’s not likely that all four of those happen.
INDIANA – They’ll be paying out nearly $62 million to Murphy, Granger, Dunleavy, Ford (PO), Foster, the two Joneses, Rush, Hibbert and to ex-Pacer Tinsley. That puts them well above the expected cap.
LA LAKERS - Even if Kobe Bryant opted out and left the Lakers high and dry (not that I expect that to happen), the combined salaries of Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Artest, Vujacic and Walton alone would keep the Lakers above the cap. I think it’s safe to say that the Lakers will not have cap space next summer.
MEMPHIS – There’s a general feeling that Memphis might once again have cap room to spend in July. The numbers don’t back this up. Randolph, (ex-Grizzly) Jaric, Thabeet, Mayo, Conley, Gasol, Haddadi, Arthur, Carroll and Young represent over $47 million in committed salary. Memphis will have their own 1st round draft pick along with the 1st round picks from Denver and the Lakers, which should add another $3.4 million or so in cap holds. That’s over $50 million in team salary even before accounting for Rudy Gay and Ronnie Brewer as free agents. That will leave them with no cap room this summer.
MILWAUKEE – After paying Redd, Bogut, Gadzuric, Salmons, Bell, Jennings, Ilyasova, Ukic and Meeks their $52 million, the Bucks won’t have any cap space. Sure, Redd could exercise his ETO, but does anyone really believe that he will? Sure, Salmons could exercise his ETO, but didn’t Chicago trade him because they believed he wouldn’t opt out? Plus even if Salmons does leave, they still won’t have more than MLE cap room.
NEW ORLEANS – Their concern in 2010-11 will not be trying to get under the cap but trying to get under the tax threshold, as Paul, Stojakovic, Okafor, West, Posey, Peterson, Songaila, Wright and Collison by themselves represent well over $70 million in salary. And, yes, I am saying that neither Stojakovic nor Songaila exercise their ETOs.
ORLANDO – Another team that committed themselves to long-term salary last summer, Orlando will also have as their main financial concern not trying to get under the cap but trying to get under the tax threshold. Lewis, Carter and Howard by themselves put the Magic over the cap – and they also have to pay Nelson, Gortat, Pietrus, Bass, Barnes, Anderson and the rest of their roster.
PHILADELPHIA – It should come as no surprise that the Sixers, who have committed themselves to paying the trio of Brand, Iguodala and Delembert a combined $41 million in 2010-11 do not figure to have cap space. Not when they also have to pay Williams, Young, Speights, Holiday and Smith – not to mention Kopono and Green if they don’t opt out.
PHOENIX – Nash, Richardson and Barbosa will count as a combined figure of nearly $32 million. Dragic, Clark, Lopez and Dudley will make nearly $8 million. Hill and Frye hold player options for another $5.4 million. And all of this doesn’t even account for Stoudemire – who could exercise his ETO, yes, but whose free agent cap hold would still keep the team above the cap. Even if he left outright, the team would not be guaranteed to have greater-than-MLE-level cap room. That’s why they’re in this list and not the one above.
PORTLAND – Roy has his maximum extension that starts in 2010-11. Aldridge, Miller, Oden, Webster, Bayless, Fernandez, Batum, Cunningham and Pendergraph represent about $36 million in salary. Add in more than $3.8 million in cap holds for their upcoming 1st round draft pick and former 1st round picks Claver, Freeland and Koponen and the Blazers look to be right about at the cap figure next July – even if free agent Camby is allowed to walk away. Plus, if Joel Przybilla decides not to exercise his ETO, that will put Portland even further above the cap (and even if he does opt out, he’ll have a significant free agent cap hold).
SAN ANTONIO – the Spurs, not surprisingly, are more concerned with trying to win another championship while they still have the services of Tim Duncan than they are about trying to get under the cap this summer. Duncan and Parker will make more than $32 million combined in 2010-11, Jefferson will count either as his $15 million salary or will have a huge cap hold as a free agent if he utilizes his ETO, Ginobli will have a cap hold of his own that should be well over $15 million – then add in the rest of the roster. Yeah, big surprise that the Spurs won’t be under the cap next summer.
TORONTO - the Raptors are another team that added a lot of long-term salary this past summer, guaranteeing them to be well above the cap next summer. Turkoglu, Calderon, Bargnani, Jack, Evans, Banks, DeRozen, and Bellinelli represent $46 million in salary. Then add in either Bosh’s $17 million salary or a huge cap hold if he chooses not to pick up his player option. And even if Bosh leaves, the amount of cap room that the Raptors probably will not be of the larger-than-MLE variety when you account for the other cap holds they will have.
UTAH – Kirilenko, Williams, Millsap, Okur, Miles, Koufos and Price themselves represent more than $56 million in committed salary. Safe to say that even if Boozer walks as a free agent, the Jazz will be above the cap this summer.
As before, please let me know about anything that I got wrong so that I can update these predictions!
EDIT: I was asked by someone to put together possible scenarios where the Blazers could receive Chris Bosh in a sign-and-trade this coming July, with Aldridge as the principal piece going to Toronto. I won't say who made this request, but I will tell you that his first name starts with the fourth letter of the alphabet and rhymes with the word "save"....
Anyway, assuming that Bosh is given his maximum contract amount of $16,568,908 in 2010-11, here are some trades that would work from a salary-matching standpoint:
Aldridge + Przybilla for Bosh works even with Aldridge's BYC status. If the Blazers could re-sign Camby, a frontcourt combination of Oden, Camby and Bosh would certainly be interesting...
Aldridge + Miller + Webster for Bosh + Jack works as well. Is Portland ready to not only receive Jack back but probably hand him the starting PG duties?
Aldridge + Webster + Bayless + Pendergraph for Bosh also works. Can you say "Patty Mills gets his chance to be the backup PG?"
Finally, Aldridge + Camby (sign-and-trade) for Bosh works as long as Camby's new salary in 2010-11 was at least $7,340,000 and wasn't greater than $10,000,000.