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NBA’s Best/Worst Case 2016-17 Cap Projections

Salary cap guru Eric Pincus looks at the best- and worst-case cap projections for each NBA team.

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The NBA’s salary cap projects to climb to roughly $90 million for the 2016-17 season, possibly higher.

A number of teams may have sizable spending power to chase a free agent list that should include players like Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, Al Horford, Nicolas Batum, Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, 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 individuals like LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Arron Afflalo capable of opting out.

Max contracts project to start at $21.1 million for players with up to six years of experience, $25.3 million for those with seven to nine years, and $29.5 million for those with 10 or more years.

Teams still have time to shuffle their books with the NBA’s trade deadline on February 18.

The following details the best- and worst-case scenario for cap room next 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 $64.1 mil $26.9 mil The Lakers can max out their cap room if they renounce Roy Hibbert, and if Brandon Bass opts out.  If their first-round pick goes to Philadelphia, they gain roughly $4 mil in spending power.
Dallas Mavericks $57.2 mil $8.1 mil The Mavericks have multiple players with options, including Deron Williams, Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki.  The team would also have a $9.9 mil cap hold for Zaza Pachulia.
Philadelphia 76ers $55.7 mil $48.9 mil The Sixers will have multiple first-round picks and a mountain of cap space.
Boston Celtics $49.4 mil $28.7 mil Both cases assume Jonas Jerebko is waived, and both David Lee and Tyler Zeller are renounced.  Best case also presumes Amir Johnson released.
Washington Wizards $46.7 $0 Bradley Beal takes up $14.2 mil in cap room unsigned.  The Wizards have multiple non-guaranteed players and free agents to renounce to max space.
Houston Rockets $42.2 mil $0 Dwight Howard’s player option (or cap hold) has a significant impact on the Rockets’ cap space.  Ty Lawson’s $13.2 million is non-guaranteed.
Portland Trail Blazers $42.0 mil $14.5 mil The Blazers have decisions to make on potential restricted free agents Meyers Leonard and Mo Harkless.
Brooklyn Nets $41.1 mil $0 Worst case includes re-signing Joe Johnson at the max (which isn’t happening). Also, Jarrett Jack’s $6.3 million salary is only $500k guaranteed.
Memphis Grizzlies $39.9 mil $0 Cap holds for Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Mike Conley take up most of the Grizzlies’ space.
Charlotte Hornets $39.7 mil $0 Cap holds for Al Jefferson and Nicolas Batum take up most of the team’s cap space, but plenty of spending room without the either.
Detroit Pistons $38.7 mil $7.9 mil The Pistons have to decide on Ersan Ilyasova’s slightly guaranteed contract.  Andre Drummond takes up $8.2 million in cap space unsigned.
Miami HEAT $37.6 mil $0 Miami’s cap space could be determined by how much Dwyane Wade is willing to take to stay.
Atlanta Hawks $35.0 mil $8.7 mil Lower number includes a cap holds for Al Horford and Kent Bazemore, plus the non-guaranteed salaries of Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack.
New York Knicks $31.4 mil $11.1 mil Both Derrick Williams and Arron Afflalo have player options.
Utah Jazz $31.3 mil $23.0 mil The Jazz will have room for a max player, especially if they renounce Trevor Booker.
Indiana Pacers $30.2 mil $7.3 mil The Pacers need to decide on free agents Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi.
Denver Nuggets $28.5 mil $7.2 mil The Nuggets project to have double-digit cap space, upon renouncing J.J. Hickson and Randy Foye.
Sacramento Kings $26.5 mil $9.4 mil A sizable portion of the Kings’ cap space could go toward retaining Rajon Rondo.
Orlando Magic $26.4 mil $11.2 mil The Magic have to decide on free agents Evan Fournier, Andrew Nicholson, Dewayne Dedmon and Jason Smith.
Minnesota Timberwolves $26.2 mil $17.6 mil Kevin Martin has a $7.4 million player option.
Phoenix Suns $25.7 mil $10.5 mil The Suns have decisions to make on P.J. Tucker, Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer.
Milwaukee Bucks $25.6 mil $0 Milwaukee’s free agents include O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez, Chris Copeland and Miles Plumlee.
Oklahoma City Thunder $23.0 $0 The Thunder do not want any part of being under the cap, with Kevin Durant off their books.
New Orleans Pelicans $22.9 mil $0 The big question for the Pelicans is the free agent status of Ryan Anderson.
Chicago Bulls $22.5 mil $0 Pau Gasol has a player option.  Joakim Noah has a sizable cap hold.
San Antonio Spurs $18.3 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 $17.3 mil $0 Bismack Biyombo and DeMar DeRozan have player options.  Biyombo should have suitors in free agency.
Golden State Warriors $15.3 mil $0 The Warriors would need to let go of Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli and others to get under the cap.
Cleveland Cavaliers $11.2 mil $0 The Cavaliers are unlikely to go under the cap, even if LeBron James leaves, not a lot of spending power.
Los Angeles Clippers $8.5 mil $0 The Clippers are not likely to drop under the cap, barring trade.

Most teams 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.

Estimates assume current draft position based on standings through games played January 28.

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Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.

Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.

Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.

From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.

Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

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Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.

“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.

In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.

Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.

NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.

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Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons

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According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.

However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.

Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.

On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.

Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.

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