NBA PM: Team Salaries Averaging $67.1 Million
The numbers are fluctuating with camp invites, but as the 2012-13 NBA season nears, teams have locked in most of what they’re going to pay for the upcoming season.
A few interesting free agents remain but rosters are close to what they’ll be on opening night (less those trying out on non-guaranteed contracts).
For a summary, check out the HOOPSWORLD NBA Team Salaries 2012-13 page, which breaks down each team’s total salary, available exceptions, tax liability and remaining cap room.
On average, teams are paying $67.1 million, which is about $9.1 million over the salary cap of $58 million but $3.2 million below the luxury tax threshold at $70.3 million.
Topping the list would be the Los Angeles Lakers at $101.9 million, which will shrink once the roster is set at 15 or lower. The Cleveland Cavaliers are at the bottom with just $48.2 million in committed salary.
Technically the salary “floor” is $49.3 million, the minimum teams need to spend, but since the Cavaliers have $12.3 million going to Baron Davis as an amnesty cut, they’re considered above the floor.
Currently eight teams are over the tax, which remains a dollar-for-dollar penalty one last year. Next season, it becomes a graduated tax, which should dramatically change how teams spend money long-term.
The Golden State Warriors have a bill of about $849k, close enough to the border that a simple trade during the season might help them dip back under.
The Lakers are at $31.6 million followed by three additional teams with eight-figure tax looming: the Miami HEAT, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. The Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics are all moderate tax payers as well.
Six teams still have cap room, although three don’t have much to work with – the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats are all within $430k of the cap.
The Houston Rockets are $1.9 million under but with a number of partial and non-guaranteed contracts on the books, Houston can find more spending power if need be. The Phoenix Suns are about $7.4 million under the cap while the Cavaliers have $9.9 million.
A full third of the league still has access to their Room Exception, a new rule of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which allows for an additional $2.58 million in spending power once a team climbs within range of the cap.
The Bobcats can use their Room Exception while standing at $429k under the cap, but the Suns and Cavaliers would need to spend a bit more before they can tap into their Room Exception.
Ten teams still have their Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) to offer at almost $2 million. The San Antonio Spurs would make 11 teams, although they’ve used a portion of it already on Nando De Colo, leaving just $557k.
The only benefit the Spurs would have with their remaining BAE would be a little extra money to offer a rookie over the $474k minimum.
Additionally, 12 teams have a portion of their Mid-Level Exception (MLE) to spend. None have the full $5 million remaining, but teams like the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks both have over $4.2 million left.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors didn’t use their entire MLE, but don’t have enough left to offer to even a rookie. The Spurs have $500k, which would only be enough to sign a first-year player at slightly above the minimum.
The Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons still have sizable chunks of MLE to offer. Saving it may come in handy if a quality player is bought-out mid-season.
The Chicago Bulls are hamstrung by a hard cap, which locked in when they used their BAE on Marco Belinelli and a large portion of their MLE on Kirk Hinrich. The remaining million they have left of their MLE is likely to go unused.
Note that tax teams, like the Lakers, had a pared down Mini-MLE to offer at $3.09 million this offseason. L.A. still has $1.59 million to spend after using a portion to sign Jodie Meeks.
Finally, once the season starts, sign-and-trades are no longer available until next offseason. Teams over the tax, according to a new implementation of the rules, can no longer take in players via sign-and-trade, although they can send out players to teams under the tax.
The deal bringing in Steve Nash to Los Angeles was legal this offseason, but would not be available to the Lakers next summer.
Darko in Green: The Boston Celtics have inked Darko Milicic to a one-year deal believed to be fully guaranteed at the minimum.
Milicic has already been in the NBA for nine seasons. It’s safe to say teams are no longer waiting for him to finally “break out.” He’s a decent seven-footer, who can block shots and defend in the post relatively well, but he isn’t going to put up more than 5-8 points and 4-6 rebounds a game.
Over the course of his career, Milicic has averaged six points on 46 percent shooting from the field along with 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He’s also a poor free throw shooter at just 57.4 percent.
The Detroit Pistons passed on Carmelo Anthony to take Milicic, which seemed like a mistake at the time and looking back nine years later, it doesn’t look any better.
For a team like the Celtics? Milicic is a nice get.
Boston doesn’t need a lot of help at the five, especially if the team commits to Kevin Garnett starting at center. The league has evolved through the years and with so few dominant true centers, Garnett fits the mold of the mobile, lanky defender who can help guard the pick-and-roll more capably than a plodding big.
Milicic gives the Celtics some size when they need it, depending on match ups. If he doesn’t bring much nightly, Boston may not need much nightly.
The key for Coach Doc Rivers is getting the most out of Milicic when the team does need that extra size in the middle. When engaged, Milicic has been a productive player. eeping him engaged has seemed to be the challenge, especially in a bench role.
Heading into camp, Boston has 19 players under contract. Milicic would be the 14th guaranteed salary, which doesn’t bode well for invites Kris Joseph, Dionte Christmas, Jamar Smith, Robert Kurz and Micah Downs.
Christmas, in particular, had a nice showing with Boston’s Las Vegas Summer League entry. Even with the Celtics’ depth at shooting guard, Christmas probably has the best chance to grab that 15th roster spot.
For more detail on the Celtics, check out the HOOPSWORLD’s Boston Celtics Team Salary page. Downs was just added as an invite and will be added to the salary page shortly.
Remaining Free Agents: With the Celtics inking Milicic, they took arguably the top remaining center off the list of available free agents.
For the full list, check out the HOOPSWORLD’s 2012 NBA Free Agents list.
At point guard, Derek Fisher is still looking for a home along with Jonny Flynn, Gilbert Arenas, T.J. Ford, Earl Boykins and Mike Bibby (among others).
The shooting guard list includes Leandro Barbosa, Mickael Pietrus, Josh Howard, Michael Redd and Marquis Daniels.
Small forward is headlined by Terrence Williams, Tracy McGrady, Shawne Williams and Bobby Simmons.
The top power forward remaining is Kenyon Martin followed by Lou Amundson, Anthony Tolliver, Shelden Williams and D.J. White.
Finally at center there’s Ben Wallace, Erick Dampier and Sean Williams.
Of course there are more names on each list, but the available pool of quality players has nearly dried up.
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