NBA Saturday: Post-Draft 2016-17 Cap Projections


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The NBA Draft is complete, with the Philadelphia 76ers landing LSU forward Ben Simmons with the top overall pick.

Free agency begins shortly, with negotiations starting on July 1 and signings, after the moratorium, on July 7.

The current salary cap projection for the 2016-17 season includes an unprecedented leap to $94 million, up from the current $70 million.

Max contracts project to start at $22.2 million for players with up to six years of experience, $26.6 million for those with seven to nine years, and $31 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, DeMar DeRozan, Nicolas Batum, Andre Drummond (restricted), Harrison Barnes (restricted), Bradley Beal (restricted), Jordan Clarkson (Arenas rule restricted), Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, Bismack Biyombo, Arron Afflalo, Ryan Anderson, Jeremy Lin and Rajon Rondo among others.

Player options could add to the free-agent pool with names like LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

Teams can also shuffle their books via trade or player buy-outs.  Some deals have already been agreed to (Jeff Teague, George Hill, Marco Belinelli, Thaddeus Young, etc. will be on the move), but the trades won’t execute until after the NBA’s moratorium.  The projections are post-trade, with estimates based on reports.

The following details the best- and worst-case scenario 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 once July hits will determine exactly how much each team has to spend.

Team Best Worst Comment
Los Angeles Lakers $66.4 mil $0 The Lakers can max out their cap room once they renounce Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert.  The team may choose to stretch out the contract of Nick Young.  A $2.7 mil qualifying offer to Clarkson is likely to reduce their max salary position to $64.3 mil.
Dallas Mavericks $61.2 mil $0 The Mavericks are in a tremendous position to spend, but might need to account for any players they want to bring back (Deron Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Nowitzki and/or Parsons).
Philadelphia 76ers $59.9 mil $48.4 mil Now that the franchise has changed management, the team may try to be more aggressive in free agency or trade to add established veterans.
Brooklyn Nets $55.2 mil $41.4 mil Jarrett Jack’s $6.3 mil salary is only $500,000 guaranteed.
Boston Celtics $55.0 mil $16.5 mil The Celtics have a wide-range of options, with multiple tradable assets and non-guaranteed players.
Orlando Magic $50.1 mil $19.2 mil The Magic made a big play already, adding Serge Ibaka in trade.  Ibaka’s salary can be restructured up, if both sides are willing.
Houston Rockets $46.2 mil $0 Howard’s $23.3 mil player option (or cap hold) has a significant impact on the Rockets’ cap space.
Atlanta Hawks $45.5 mil $0 The Hawks have early Bird rights on Kent Bazemore.  Al Horford’s cap hold takes up $18 million of the team’s cap space.
Washington Wizards $45.1 mil $0 Beal takes up $14.2 mil in cap room unsigned, but the Wizards still have space to chase a player like Durant.
Memphis Grizzlies $43.5 mil $0 The Grizzlies can find room for a max slot, while paying Conley after they’ve used the cap space — provided they tab $14.1 mil for Conley’s cap hold.
Portland Trail Blazers $41.4 mil $0 The Blazers have decisions to make on potential restricted free agents Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless.
Miami HEAT $41.3 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 Whiteside.
Charlotte Hornets $39.0 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.
New York Knicks $35.1 mil $11.5 mil The Derrick Rose trade did not hurt the Knicks’ cap position.
Phoenix Suns $34.8 mil $19.2 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.
Sacramento Kings $34.2 mil $17.0 mil The Kings opened up cap room with the pending Belinelli trade.  Some of the Kings cap space could go towards retaining Rajon Rondo — if Sacramento chooses to pursue a return.
Denver Nuggets $33.8 mil $18.9 mil The Nuggets have Joffrey Lauvergne on a non-guaranteed deal, but at $1.7 million he’s an easy keeper.
Oklahoma City Thunder $31.1 mil $0 The Thunder do not want any part of being under the cap, which would mean Durant is off their books.  Ersan Ilyasova’s $8.4 mil contract is only $400,000 guaranteed through the end of June.
Utah Jazz $29.4 mil $18.7 mil Even after the trade to bring in Hill is executed, the Jazz can still find spending power.  Both Derrick Favors and Hill are eligible for their contracts to be restructured up.
Minnesota Timberwolves $29.1 mil $26.8 mil Most of the previous-season’s roster is still under contract, with decisions needed on Damjam Rudez, Tayshaun Prince and Greg Smith.
Milwaukee Bucks $28.4 mil $0 Milwaukee’s free agents include O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez, Steve Novak and Miles Plumlee.
Detroit Pistons $26.1 mil $0 The Pistons sacrificed some of their future cap space to invest in Tobias Harris.  Slot in $8.2 million for Andre Drummond’s cap hold, giving the Pistons closer to $14 million in workable cap room.
Chicago Bulls $25.7 mil $0 Should Gasol opt out, the Bulls can get near a mid-tier max slot.
New Orleans Pelicans $23.9 mil $0 The big question for the Pelicans is the free agent status of Anderson, whose cap hold takes up $12.8 million in space.
San Antonio Spurs $22.3 mil $0 A number of Spurs’ veterans are free agents (Tim Duncan, David West and Manu Ginobili).  Boris Diaw isn’t fully guaranteed.
Indiana Pacers $20.9 mil $4.3 mil The Pacers will use their cap room to add Teague and Young.  Ian Mahinmi’s cap hold, with Bird rights, is $7.6 million.
Toronto Raptors $20.8 mil $0 The Raptors need cap room to re-sign Biyombo to a significant contract, provided he opts out.  Keeping both DeRozan and Biyombo may be impossible without a trade to open up space.
Golden State Warriors $19.3 mil $0 The Warriors would need to let go of Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and others to get significantly under the cap — and probably look to trade Andrew Bogut to get a mid-tier max slot if they can get a high-level free agent commitment.
Cleveland Cavaliers $16.2 mil $0 The Cavaliers are unlikely to go under the cap.  Even if James leaves, the franchise won’t gain the kind of spending power needed to try and replace him.
Los Angeles Clippers $12.5 mil $0 Without a trade, the Clippers will not be a major factor in free agency this summer — but since they’re looking to set up a meeting with Durant . . .

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.  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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