Pre-Lottery 2016-17 NBA Cap Projections


Based on the NBA’s most-recent projection, the league’s salary cap will jump to $92 million for the 2016-17 season.

Currently at $70 million, the $22 million projected leap is unprecedented in NBA history. This is because the league is benefiting from a new national television deal.

Max contracts project to start at $21.6 million per season for players with up to six years of experience, $25.9 million for those with seven to nine, and $30.2 million for those 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 and Arron Afflalo capable of becoming unrestricted.

The salary cap landscape may shift again on May 17, when the NBA holds its annual draft lottery.  Teams can also shuffle their books via trade, once eliminated from postseason play.

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 $68.3 mil $0 The Lakers can max out their cap room once they renounce Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert.  If their 2016 first-round pick drops to four or five, it’s conveyed to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Lakers gain roughly $4 mil in spending power. 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 also likely to reduce their max salary position.
Dallas Mavericks $59.2 mil $0 The Mavericks have multiple players with options, including Deron Williams, Parsons and 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 $45.9 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 the Brooklyn Nets’ lottery pick.
Houston Rockets $44.2 mil $0 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 Beal takes up $14.2 mil in cap room unsigned, but the Wizards still have space to chase a player like Durant.
Brooklyn Nets $42.2 mil $28.4 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.
Portland Trail Blazers $42.2 mil $0 The Blazers have decisions to make on potential restricted free agents Meyers Leonard and Moe Harkless.
Memphis Grizzlies $41.5 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.
Miami HEAT $39.3 mil $0 Miami’s cap space could be determined by how much Wade is willing to take to stay.  The team only has early Bird rights on Whiteside.
Atlanta Hawks $37.4 mil $0 The Hawks have early Bird rights on Kent Bazemore.  If Horford re-signs, he’ll take up most of the team’s cap space.
Utah Jazz $34.5 mil $22.8 mil The Jazz will have room for a max player, and even more if they renounce Trevor Booker.
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.
New York Knicks $33.4 mil $10.5 mil Both Derrick Williams and Afflalo have player option, 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.
Denver Nuggets $30.7 mil $19.3 mil The Nuggets have Joffrey Lauvergne on a non-guaranteed deal, but at $1.7 million 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.
Oklahoma City Thunder $25.0 mil $0 The Thunder do not want any part of being under the cap, as this would mean 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.  Slot in $8.2 million for Andre Drummond’s cap hold, giving the Pistons closer to $14 million in workable cap room.
Chicago Bulls $23.4 mil $0 Gasol has a player option.  Joakim Noah has a sizable cap hold.  Losing both gives 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 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 isn’t fully guaranteed.
Toronto Raptors $18.8 mil $0 Bismack Biyombo and DeRozan have player options.  Biyombo will have a number of suitors in free agency.
Golden State Warriors $17.3 mil $0 The Warriors would need to let go of Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli and others to get significantly under the cap.
Cleveland Cavaliers $15.1 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 $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. 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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