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NBA Salary Now, Salary Tomorrow
Posted By Eric Pincus On January 24, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
Economics are often a driving force in the NBA. The Memphis Grizzlies just traded three players and a first-round pick to acquire Jon Leuer from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Leuer was the player the Grizzlies got in return but the true purpose was to dip below the luxury tax threshold.
As teams approach the February 21 trade deadline, finances will help dictate moves. Some teams will make moves to open up cap room this summer. Others will look to avoid the tax.
The cap for the 2013-14 NBA season won’t be set until July but a reasonable projection is $60 million. With that number in mind, which teams will have spending power this offseason?
Atlanta Hawks: $0 now
2013 Cap – $36.4 million best case, $14.1-$29.0 million likely.
If the Hawks want to go all out, they can renounce the rights to all their free agents, including Josh Smith, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague and/or Ivan Johnson to reach approximately $36.4 million in cap space. That number can climb to about $37.9 million if they trade away their 2013 draft pick and John Jenkins. Any more space would require Atlanta moving Al Horford or Lou Williams. If the Houston Rockets make the playoffs, the Hawks will gain a first-round pick. Atlanta can put together about $29 million in cap space while keeping two firsts, John Jenkins and issuing offer sheets to Jeff Teague and Ivan Johnson. If Smith is in the mix, that number drops to about $14.1 million in space.
Charlotte Bobcats: $0 now
2013 Cap – $13.9 million best case, $0-$13.5 million likely.
The best case for the Bobcats would have Ben Gordon opting out of his final year at $13.2 million but that’s probably not a reasonable assumption. To maximize cap space, Charlotte would need to renounce the rights to Gerald Henderson, Byron Mullens, Hakim Warrick, Jeff Adrien, etc. In addition to what should be a high pick of their own, the Bobcats may get a Portland Trail Blazers pick (top-12 protected). If the Bobcats want to keep Henderson, Mullens and Warrick, they won’t have much spending power over the summer which is why Charlotte may be a buyer at the February trade deadline.
Cleveland Cavaliers: $4.1 million now
2013 Cap – $22.1 million best case, $19.6-$21.3 million likely
The Cavaliers can still use their cap room to broker deals this season but with a full, 15-man roster, Cleveland will have to waive guaranteed salary before doing so. The Cavs are likely to get a high first-rounder along with a pick from the Miami HEAT. Don’t expect the team to make qualifying offers to Omri Casspi or Wayne Ellington (unless Ellington shows a lot after his recent trade from Memphis). C.J. Miles is a relatively inexpensive player with $2.2 million of non-guaranteed salary.
Dallas Mavericks: $0 now
2013 Cap - $18.4 million best case, $12.7-$18.1 million likely
The Mavericks can have spending power but a lot rides on what the team wants to do with players like O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Chris Kaman. Mayo will probably opt out of his contract and look for a bigger deal. Dallas has to decide if Collison is worth the qualifying offer. If the Mavericks want to try and get closer to two max slots, they’ll need to find takers for Shawn Marion and Vince Carter.
Detroit Pistons: $0 now
2013 Cap – $28 million best case, $15.7 -$28 million likely
After Charlie Villanueva presumably opts into the final year of his contract ($8.6 million), the Pistons can use their amnesty clause to get him off their cap. If maximum cap room is a priority, Rodney Stuckey’s $8.5 million is only $4 million guaranteed. If both are gone, the Pistons would gain significant spending power.
Houston Rockets: $7 million now
2013 Cap – $17.4 million best case, $14.9 million-$17.4 million likely
The Rockets have spending power. It just becomes a question of who they want to retain (Carlos Delfino, Toney Douglas, Greg Smith, Patrick Beverley, James Anderson, etc.). It’s hard to imagine any scenario where Houston doesn’t keep Chandler Parsons at $927k.
Milwaukee Bucks: $0 now
2013 Cap – best case $32.5 million, likely $8.4-14.5 million
The Bucks can have significant space if Monta Ellis opts out and the team renounces Brandon Jennings rights as well. They can have even more if they amnesty Drew Gooden. Renouncing Beno Udrih, Samuel Dalembert, Mike Dunleavy, etc., would give Bucks a decent amount of cap room this summer.
New Orleans Hornets: $0 now
2013 Cap – best case $20.9 million, likely $13.8-$15.8 million
The Hornets will have spending power over the summer. If they trim players like Jason Smith or even economical (but productive) center Robin Lopez, that number can climb significantly.
Orlando Magic: $0 now
2013 Cap – best case $15 million, likely $0-$13.3 million
The Magic can buy-out Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington to increase cap space. They can also stay over the cap and look instead to trade Turkoglu and Harrington’s cap friendly contracts for assets.
Phoenix Suns: $6.4 million now
2013 Cap – best case $13 million, likely $9.5 million
The Suns can waive Shannon Brown and a few others to open up a little more space this summer. Either way, Phoenix projects to be a cap team.
Portland Trail Blazers: $2 million now
2013 Cap – best case $14.3 million, likely $7.7 million
The Blazers keep their pick if it’s top-12; otherwise it goes to the Charlotte Bobcats. The bigger question is J.J. Hickson. Is he a long-term piece or does he get sacrificed for cap room?
Sacramento Kings: $120k now
2013 Cap – best case $14.6 million, likely $0-$14.6 million
The Kings may have new owners, a new city and a new name before that season. They also have to decide if they want to keep Tyreke Evans. Aaron Brooks might opt out of his $3.4 million, seeking a larger role somewhere else. The Kings seem likely to pass on Francisco Garcia’s option. The Kings might not have any cap – or nearly $15 million, depending on a wide range of variables.
Utah Jazz: $0 now
2013 Cap – best case $37.4 million, likely $0-17.7 million
The Jazz have a tremendous amount of flexibility. If Marvin Williams happens to opt out, Utah will have more cap than anyone. On the other hand if the Jazz want to keep Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and/or Mo Williams, most of that cap space gets eaten up.
Teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers may be able to get under the cap, but that may depend on player options, trades, amnesty and free agent decisions. For instance, if the Sixers lose Andrew Bynum to free agency, that would put them on a different path.
The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Miami HEAT, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder are also heavily invested this season and next.
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