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2014 Cap Space Projections – Northwest Division

Basketball Insiders’ salary cap expert Eric Pincus takes a look at the projections for the Northwest Division.

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Twelve teams have officially clinched playoff berths as the 2013-14 regular season heads into its final week.

Looking ahead to the 2014 offseason, a number of teams in the Southeast, Southwest, Atlantic, Pacific and Central divisions could have significant cap room this summer.

The league’s early projections for next year’s salary cap is $62.9 million, up from this year’s $58.7 million.  The luxury tax threshold is also expected to climb to approximately $75.7 million from $71.7 million.

In the final entry of a six-part of a series, where do the five teams in the Northwest Division stand this offseason?

Denver Nuggets (33-44)
Projected 1st Round Pick: 11th
Projected Cap Space: None

Injuries derailed Coach Brian Shaw’s debut season, losing JaVale McGee (tibia), Danilo Gallinari (knee) and Nate Robinson (knee).

Darrell Arthur ($3.5 million) and Robinson ($2.1 million) both have player options, but even if both decide to leave, the Nuggets aren’t likely to have cap room this summer.

Denver will probably keep Quincy Miller at an economical $915k.  With 10 players guaranteed, two players with options and Miller, the Nuggets may not be very different next season (barring trade).

The Nuggets will receive the New York Knicks’ first-rounder from the Carmelo Anthony trade, but also owe a pick to the Orlando Magic for Andre Iguodala.  The lower of the two picks will go to Orlando, which would be the Denver selection based on current standings.

Minnesota Timberwolves (39-48)
Projected 1st Round Pick: 13th pick (top-14 protected)
Projected Cap Space: None

The Timberwolves have missed out on the playoffs … again.

The franchise is certain to head into May’s NBA Draft Lottery in 13th position.

If the 14th slotted team wins a top-three pick (a 1.8% chance) Minnesota’s selection will go to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Wesley Johnson trade.

The Wolves can give Robbie Hummel a $1.0 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.  Otherwise, Dante Cunningham is team’s only other free agent.

Unless the team lands a gem in the first round, it’s hard to see exactly how Minnesota is going to improve significantly next season.  Kevin Love has a player option before 2015-16, which means next year may be his final one with the Wolves.

Will Minnesota find a way to add impact pieces, perhaps via trade, or is it time for the franchise to start thinking about what they can get in return for their All-Star forward — before he leaves them in free agency for nothing in 2015?

Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21)
Projected 1st Round Picks: 22nd (top-20 protected), 29th
Projected Cap Space: None

The Thunder still have their one-time amnesty available.  The team could look to use it on Kendrick Perkins, clearing his $9.4 million from their books.

Even if they did, the Thunder do not project to have cap space this summer.

Hasheem Thabeet’s $1.25 million isn’t guaranteed.  Thabo Sefolosha will be a free agents, as will Derek Fisher, who is expected to retire.

The Thunder currently project to get the Dallas Mavericks’ first round pick (James Harden trade), which was originally dealt to the Lakers (Lamar Odom), followed by a deal to the Houston Rockets (Derek Fisher).

Portland Trail Blazers (50-28)
Projected 1st Round Pick: None
Projected Cap Space: None

The Blazers have 12 guaranteed players next season, along with Will Barton on a non-guaranteed minimum salary ($915k).

Mo Williams has a $2.8 million player option.  If he stays, the Blazers next year could look very much like the roster the team has on the floor this season.

Given Portland’s success, that’s not a bad thing.

The Blazers first-round pick will go the Charlotte Bobcats as part of the Gerald Wallace deal.

Utah Jazz (24-54)
Projected 1st Round Pick: 5th, 23rd (Golden State)
Projected Cap Space: None to $26.6 million

The Jazz should be the only franchise in the Northwest Division with cap space.

The biggest question for Utah is the status of guard/forward Gordon Hayward.  A $4.7 million qualifying offer will make him a restricted free agent — although until he’s signed, his cap hold will be $8.6 million.

Utah has plenty to spend, but historically the team has had difficulty luring players.  Hayward appears likely to return, but that really depends on how much he demands and how much the Jazz are willing to pay him.

Marvin Williams is also a key free agent the Jazz might look to re-sign.  Brandon Rush’s contract also expires after the season.

Five players have non-guaranteed contracts (John Lucas, Diante Garrett, Ian Clark, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy).

If Utah keeps Hayward, Williams and a number of their non-guaranteed players, they may never actually go under the salary cap.

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

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