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Blazers Salary Cap Room (Updated)

Today's ruling by an arbitrator granted the Blazers Bird Rights for JJ Hickson, who is our restricted free-agent. That changes our salary cap situation so I'm updating this post from a previous version.

First, here's how today's ruling affects our cap room.

The arbitrator's ruling has both a positive and negative effect on the Blazers if we want to retain JJ Hickson. The positive effect allows us to go over the salary cap by any amount necessary to match an offer sheet to Hickson (or to sign him to a new contract directly). That prevents a team from stealing Hickson from us by waiting until we use up our salary cap space on other free agents (or trades) and then offering Hickson a contract just slightly larger than his previous cap hold (which was $4.4M), which we then would not have been allowed to match. Now we can match any offer sheet.

The negative effect of the arbitrators ruling is that because of complex CBA rules Hickson's salary cap hold increased by $1.5M to about $5.9M, and therefore reduces our salary cap room this summer by that $1.5M. However, if we re-sign Hickson only his actual salary counts against our cap room. Since we are unlikely to sign him or match an offer sheet for $5.9 or more, we can increase our cap room by signing him before other free agents.

So keeping the Hickson situation in mind, here's a look at our current cap room going into this summer.

Assumptions:

1. Crawford doesn't opt-in. It is still possible that we will work some sort of trade for Crawford by draft day, but if not, he has said he will not opt-in.

2. We are willing to renounce all free agents except Joel Freeland as soon as we need cap space to sign other free agents. That includes Crawford, Felton, Craig Smith, Victor Claver (just $1.05M), and Przy (we can still resign him if we want. We only have non-Bird rights, so renouncing Przy doesn't hurt our ability to resign him). JJ Hickson is handled in the table below with his cap hold and without his cap hold (renounced).

About the table:

1. Teams must have 13 players on the roster. There is a minimum player charge to cap space of $474K for every player less than 12 players (since signing a free agent with the cap space gets you to 13 players). If we renounce JJ Hickson, then his cap hold is replaced by that minimum cap space charge.

2. It is crucial to our cap room that we use the room (sign other free agents) before we sign or match an offer to Batum because we have Bird Rights to Batum, which means we can go over the Salary Cap to retain him. Until we re-sign or match a Batum offer sheet, he only counts against our cap room as a $5.4M cap hold. However, other teams may try to sign him quickly and force us to use up our cap room to match.

3. The first 2 columns of the table show our cap room if we re-sign or match a Batum offer sheet AFTER we use our cap space on other free agents, and the last 2 columns show our cap space if we re-sign or match Batum for $10M (a worst case guess) BEFORE we use our cap room on other free agents. Note the effect is $4.6M ($10M-$5.4M) on our cap room.

4. The 1st and 3rd columns include JJ Hickson's cap hold. The 2nd and 4th columns show our cap room if we renounce Hickson to create more cap room to sign other free agents. Even if we make the $5.9M Qualifying Offer to Hickson, which gives us the right to retain him by matching any offer he receives, we can still withdraw it by July 23 (date added because of a question in the comments) to get the cap room back.

Sign FA's Sign FA's Sign Batum Sign Batum
Before Batum Before Batum Before FA's Before FA's
With Renounce With Renounce
Hickson CH Hickson Hickson CH Hickson
1 LaMarcus Aldridge 14,000,000 14,000,000 14,000,000 14,000,000
2 Wesley Matthews 6,505,320 6,505,320 6,505,320 6,505,320
3 Kurt Thomas 1,352,181 1,352,181 1,352,181 1,352,181
4 Luke Babbitt 1,892,280 1,892,280 1,892,280 1,892,280
5 Elliot Williams 1,442,880 1,442,880 1,442,880 1,442,880
6 Nolan Smith 1,365,720 1,365,720 1,365,720 1,365,720
7 Shawne Williams 3,135,000 3,135,000 3,135,000 3,135,000
8 1st Round Pick (#6) 2,554,200 2,554,200 2,554,200 2,554,200
9 1st Round Pick (#11) 1,772,100 1,772,100 1,772,100 1,772,100
10 Batum (cap hold) 5,388,413 5,388,413 10,000,000 10,000,000
11 JJ Hickson/min player 5,886,343 473,604 5,886,343 473,604
12 Joel Freeland 850,800 850,800 850,800 850,800
13 Free Agent(s)
Total 46,145,237 40,732,498 50,756,824 45,344,085
Salary Cap 58,000,000 58,000,000 58,000,000 58,000,000
Cap Room 11,854,764 17,267,502 7,243,177 12,655,915

All salary data from Storyteller's excellent contracts site.

Bottom line:

1. If we do NOT resign Hickson we should have about $17.3M to sign other free agents if we get it done before resigning Batum, or $12.7M to sign other free agents if we sign Batum to a $10M contract first.

2. If we want to keep the option open to resign Hickson, our salary cap room drops to $11.9M if we sign free agents before Batum, and only $7.2M if we sign Batum to a $10M contract first. If we sign Hickson before using our cap room on other free agents, our cap room would increase by the difference between $5.9M and Hickson's actual salary.

3. We could pick up an additional $3.1M in cap room if we can find a way to get rid of Shawne Williams in some sort of trade on draft day.

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