Teams Still With Cap Space; Projecting Summer 2017


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With July nearing an end, most NBA teams have reached the $94,143,000 salary cap.  A few never went under, including the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.

Most of the top free agents are off the market, although technically LeBron James has yet to re-sign with the Cavaliers.

Stragglers remain like J.R. Smith, Donatas Motiejunas and Lance Stephenson among others, but a number of teams may be saving cap room in case the Oklahoma City Thunder look to move Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook, heading into the final year of his contract, is eligible to have his deal renegotiated and extended – similar to what James Harden and the Houston Rockets agreed to earlier in the month.

If he is dealt, a team can raise his salary from $17.8 million to $26.5 million for the 2016-17 season, while adding on as many as three additional years.

Meanwhile, the unrestricted free agent class of 2017 is deep with players like Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul (early termination option), Blake Griffin (early termination option), Kevin Durant (player option), Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap (player option), Dwyane Wade, Danilo Gallinari (player option), Gordon Hayward (player option) and Jeff Teague among others.

The league’s latest salary-cap projection for 2017-18 is $102 million.  A very rough estimate for maximum salaries would be $24 million for players with less than seven years of NBA experience, $28.8 million for those with seven-to-nine years experience and $33.5 million for players with at least 10 years of experience.

The following table lists the maximum potential cap room for both this summer and next, assuming all rookie-scale team options are taken:

Team 2016 2017 Comment
Philadelphia 76ers $25.3 mil $47.2 mil While the Sixers have changed their managing philosophy, they still have a significant amount of unspent cap space available.  Nerlens Noel could take up $11 million of cap space next summer as a restricted free agent.
Denver Nuggets $22.1 mil $37.3 mil If Danilo Gallinari does not opt out, he’ll take up $16.1 million of the Nuggets’ 2017-18 cap room.
Brooklyn Nets $18.7 mil $41.2 mil The rebuilding Nets still have a lot of spending power this season, and likely will have quite a bit of flexibility next year as well.
Oklahoma City Thunder $14.0 mil $64.0 mil The Thunder are clearly at a crossroads, hoping to lock in Russell Westbrook long-term or facing a more significant rebuild.  The team also has to decide on 2017 potential restricted free agents Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Andre Roberson.
Los Angeles Lakers $13.4 mil $31.7 mil Thus far, the Lakers have protected some cap space for 2017.  To get to $13.4 million in cap space this summer, the team would need to waive and stretch Nick Young’s salary, although that would negatively impact their 2017 space.
Minnesota Timberwolves $13.4 mil $30.7 mil Minnesota has a lot of young talent and sizable spending power next summer.
Phoenix Suns $13.2 mil $35.1 mil Phoenix has spending power both in 2016 and 2017, although Alex Len may take up $12.1 million with his cap hold next summer as a restricted free agent.
Utah Jazz $12.5 mil $53.9 mil The Jazz still have room to restructure Derrick Favors’ contract this summer.  Their cap space in 2017 depends heavily on Gordon Hayward’s $16.7 million player option, or cap hold should choose to be a free agent.
Indiana Pacers $7.2 mil $26.5 mil The Pacers’ 2017-18 cap room depends on Jeff Teague’s cap hold and Rodney Stuckey’s $7 million player option.
Boston Celtics $6.1 mil $31.6 mil Boston will see draft picks Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele play overseas this season. If they come over for 2017-18, the Celtics’ cap room will dip slightly.
Milwaukee Bucks $5.0 mil $24.5 mil The Bucks will need Greg Monroe to opt out of his $17.9 million (or trade the big man) to gain any significant spending power next summer.
Golden State Warriors $0 $59.5 mil Kevin Durant can opt out; Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala can leave in free agency.  The Warriors may need some cap room to re-sign Durant at the max, since they don’t have his full Bird Rights.
Sacramento Kings $0 $55.1 mil Provided Rudy Gay and Matt Barnes opt out (or if Gay gets dealt), the Kings could have major spending power next summer.
Chicago Bulls $0 $54.9 mil Dwyane Wade can opt out of his contract after the season.  Neither Rajon Rondo nor Isaiah Canaan have a fully-guaranteed salary in 2016-17.  Some of that cap space may go to Nikola Mirotic, who would have an $8.7 million cap hold as a restricted free agent.
Dallas Mavericks $0 $36.4 mil Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t officially signed, but his reported salary of $25 million for 2017-18 is believed to be just $5 million guaranteed.
Atlanta Hawks $0 $31.1 mil The Hawks could have sizable spending power in 2017, provided Paul Millsap (player option) is off their books.  Dennis Schröder has a $9.6 million cap hold as a restricted free agent.
Los Angeles Clippers $0 $29.5 mil The Clippers face big decisions with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick all likely hitting free agency.
Orlando Magic $0 $29.3 mil The Magic gave up a lot to acquire Serge Ibaka, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
New Orleans Pelicans $0 $27.9 mil The Pelicans will have some flexibility with Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans each on an expiring contract.
San Antonio Spurs $0 $26.1 mil Player options for Pau Gasol ($16.2 million) and Dewayne Dedmon ($3 million) will determine how much spending power the Spurs have next summer.
Miami HEAT $0 $22.4 mil Miami’s cap space could be limited by the player options of Josh McRoberts, Dion Waiters and Willie Reed.
New York Knicks $0 $22.2 mil The Knicks have some additional spending power in 2017, if they cut ties with Derrick Rose.
Charlotte Hornets $0 $21.4 mil The Hornets would need Spencer Hawes to opt out of his final year at $6 million, to reach $21.3 million in cap space next summer.
Cleveland Cavaliers $0-$12.8 mil $21.4 mil Cleveland obviously wants no part of cap room, as re-signing LeBron James this summer and next is where they want that money to go.
Toronto Raptors $0 $12.7 mil If Kyle Lowry opts out after this season and leaves, the Raptors may not have enough cap room to replace him in free agency.
Houston Rockets $0 $11.7 mil If the Rockets re-sign Donatas Motiejunas to a multi-year deal, they may not have significant spending power in 2017.
Detroit Pistons $0 $0 Detroit will need to decide on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, either by the end of October for an extension or next July in restricted free agency.
Memphis Grizzlies $0 $0 The Grizzlies are heavily invested in Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Marc Gasol.
Portland Trail Blazers $0 $0 With pending deals for Moe Harkless and C.J. McCollum (via extension), the Blazers will be worrying more about luxury taxes than cap room in 2017.
Washington Wizards $0 $0 The Wizards have significant money invested in Bradley Beal, John Wall, Ian Mahinmi, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris.

Note: Teams’ cap space in 2017 will be impacted by their draft position.  Initial projections primarily use the 2016 draft order.  Additionally, players can be traded or bought out to increase cap room.


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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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