Most of the top available players have found homes as July nears an end, although a few stragglers remain like restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe.
Cap space is at a premium. Very few teams have the spending power to go after Bledsoe or Monroe, giving the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons significant leverage.
While Bledsoe can take the Suns’ $3.7 million qualifying offer, and Monroe can accept a similar one-year offer ($5.5 million) from the Pistons, both would prefer to lock in long-term money.
The Philadelphia 76ers can spend more than any team in the league (up to $29.4 million) but don’t seem inclined to acquire expensive, long-term talent.
The Suns have roughly $20.2 million without Bledsoe. Detroit has about $11.8 million to spend if they let Monroe go.
While the Milwaukee Bucks are also over the cap, buoyed by unsigned Ekpe Udoh’s $11.1 million cap hold, the team can spend up to $12.5 million. If the Bucks stay over the cap, they’ll have their full $5.3 million Mid-Level Exception (MLE).
The Houston Rockets are also currently over the cap but could get as much as $8.3 million in space — but it would require renouncing their various exceptions (Bi-Annual and $8.4 million Jeremy Lin trade exception and the $4.8 million left of their MLE).
Other teams with money to spend include the Orlando Magic ($11.1 million), Atlanta Hawks ($10.5 million, after renouncing Elton Brand and others) and Utah Jazz ($7 million).
Mid-Level money won’t be enough for Bledsoe or Monroe, but would appeal to a number of free agents still looking for a home — like Shawn Marion, Andray Blatche, Ray Allen (considering retirement), Emeka Okafor, Ramon Sessions and Mo Williams among others.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Bucks have their full MLE available still. The Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets have $4.8 million remaining.
A number of teams have their Bi-Annual ($2.1 million) or Room ($2.7 million) Exceptions available as well.
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