NBA AM: Post-Lottery 2016-17 Cap Projections


Last week, the Philadelphia 76ers won the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics (via the Brooklyn Nets) rounding out the top three.

The draft will be held on June 23, ahead of an unprecedented free-agency period in July that will see the league’s salary cap will jump to $92 million for the 2016-17 season. Currently at $70 million, the $22 million expected leap (due to the NBA’s new national television deal), in turn, will drop most teams well under the cap.

Max contracts project to start at $21.6 million for players with up to six years of experience, $25.9 million for those with seven to nine years, and $30.2 million with 10 or more years in the league.

The top free agents include players like Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Nicolas Batum, Andre Drummond (restricted), Harrison Barnes (restricted), Bradley Beal (restricted), Ryan Anderson, Rajon Rondo and Jordan Clarkson (Arenas-rule restricted) among others.

Player options could add to the free-agent pool with names like LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, Bismack Biyombo and Arron Afflalo among others possibly becoming unrestricted free agents.

Teams can also shuffle their books via trade once they’re eliminated from postseason play.

The following details the best- and worst-case scenarios for cap room this summer, noting that many teams can choose to go under or stay over.  Player options, team options, non-guaranteed contracts, trades, the draft and free-agent decisions in July will determine exactly how much each team has to spend.

Team Best Worst Comment
Los Angeles Lakers $64.4 mil $0 The Lakers can max out their cap room once they renounce Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert.  Expect Brandon Bass to opt out. The team may choose to stretch out the contract of Nick Young.  A $2.7 mil qualifying offer to Jordan Clarkson is likely to reduce their max salary position.
Dallas Mavericks $59.2 mil $0 The Mavericks have multiple players with options, including Deron Williams, Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki.  Zaza Pachulia has a $9.9 mil cap hold.  Dallas can protect a max slot, but a second may cost Parsons and Pachulia.
Philadelphia 76ers $57.4 mil $46.4 mil The Sixers will have multiple first-round picks and a mountain of cap space.  Now that the franchise has changed management, the team may be more aggressive in free agency.
Orlando Magic $52.1 mil $0 The Magic have to decide on free agents Brandon Jennings, Evan Fournier, Andrew Nicholson, Dewayne Dedmon and Jason Smith.
Boston Celtics $51.4 mil $14.5 mil The Celtics have a wide range of options, with multiple draft considerations, tradable assets, non-guaranteed players and a top-three pick.
Houston Rockets $44.2 mil $0 Dwight Howard’s $23.3 mil player option (or cap hold) has a significant impact on the Rockets’ cap space.
Washington Wizards $43.1 mil $0 Bradley Beal takes up $14.2 mil in cap room unsigned, but the Wizards still have space to chase a star free agent like Kevin Durant.
Brooklyn Nets $42.4 mil $28.6 mil Jarrett Jack’s $6.3 mil salary is only $500,000 guaranteed.
Charlotte Hornets $42.2 mil $0 Cap holds for Al Jefferson and Nicolas Batum take up most of the team’s cap space, but the Hornets have plenty of spending room without the pair.
Memphis Grizzlies $41.5 mil $0 The Grizzlies can find room for a max slot and then pay Mike Conley after they’ve used the cap space – provided they tab $14.1 mil for Conley’s cap hold.
Portland Trail Blazers $40.0 mil $0 The Blazers have decisions to make on potential restricted free agents Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless.
Miami HEAT $39.3 mil $0 Miami’s cap space could be determined by how much Dwyane Wade is willing to take to stay.  The team only has early Bird rights on Hassan Whiteside.
Atlanta Hawks $37.4 mil $0 The Hawks have early Bird rights on Kent Bazemore.  If Al Horford re-signs, he’ll take up most of the team’s cap space.
Phoenix Suns $33.8 mil $15.8 mil After opening up additional space by dumping Markieff Morris, the Suns have decisions to make on P.J. Tucker, Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer.
Utah Jazz $33.5 mil $22.8 mil The Jazz will have room for a max player, and even more if they renounce Trevor Booker.
New York Knicks $33.4 mil $10.5 mil Both Derrick Williams and Arron Afflalo have player options, totaling $12.6 mil.
Indiana Pacers $32.4 mil $15.8 mil The Pacers need to decide on free agents Ty Lawson, Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi.  Mahinmi’s cap hold, with Bird rights, is $7.6 mil.
Denver Nuggets $30.7 mil $19.3 mil The Nuggets have Joffrey Lauvergne on a non-guaranteed deal, but at $1.7 mil he’s an easy keeper.
Minnesota Timberwolves $27.1 mil $24.8 mil Most of the previous season’s roster is still under contract, with decisions needed on Damjan Rudez, Tayshaun Prince and Greg Smith.
Milwaukee Bucks $26.7 mil $0 Milwaukee’s free agents include O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez, Steve Novak and Miles Plumlee.
Sacramento Kings $26.1 mil $11.2 mil A sizable portion of the Kings’ cap space could go toward retaining Rajon Rondo – if Sacramento chooses to pursue a return.
Oklahoma City Thunder $25.0 mil $0 The Thunder do not want any part of being under the cap, as it would mean Kevin Durant is off their books.
Detroit Pistons $24.1 mil $0 The Pistons sacrificed some of their future cap space to invest in Tobias Harris.  And slot in $8.2 mil for Andre Drummond’s cap hold, giving the Pistons closer to $14 mil in workable cap room.
Chicago Bulls $23.4 mil $0 Pau Gasol has a player option.  Joakim Noah has a sizable cap hold.  Losing both would give the Bulls a lower-tier max slot – a small move away from mid-tier.
New Orleans Pelicans $22.6 mil $0 The big question for the Pelicans is the free agent status of Ryan Anderson, whose cap hold takes up $12.8 mil in space.  If Anthony Davis is named to an All-NBA team, his salary will jump to a middle-tier max.
San Antonio Spurs $20.3 mil $0 The Spurs have a number of players with options like Tim Duncan, David West and Manu Ginobili.  Boris Diaw’s salary isn’t fully guaranteed.
Golden State Warriors $18.9 mil $0 The Warriors would need to let go of Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli and others to get significantly under the cap.
Toronto Raptors $18.8 mil $0 The Raptors need cap room to re-sign Bismack Biyombo to a significant contract, provided he opts out.  Keeping both DeMar DeRozan and Biyombo may be impossible without a trade to open up space.
Cleveland Cavaliers $15.8 mil $0 The Cavaliers are unlikely to go under the cap. Even if LeBron James leaves, the franchise won’t gain the kind of spending power needed to try and replace him.
Los Angeles Clippers $10.5 mil $0 Without a trade, the Clippers will not be a major factor in free agency this summer.

Franchises can stay over the cap completely should they choose via free-agent cap holds and available exceptions.

Team options need to be decided before July (for a complete list of players, click here). Players on non-guaranteed salary have a variety of individual cut-down dates.


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About Eric Pincus

Eric Pincus

Eric Pincus is a Senior Writer for Basketball Insiders, with a focus on the business side of the game.

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