Looking At The NBA Cap – Post-Deadline

Salary cap expert Eric Pincus breaks down the NBA’s financial landscape after Thursday’s trade deadline.

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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Thursday’s NBA trade deadline came and went with a flurry, as 39 players changed teams.

Some teams made acquisitions to bolster their chances of a playoff run, like Arron Afflalo to the Portland Trail Blazers, Goran Dragic to the Miami HEAT and even Thaddeus Young to the Brooklyn Nets.

Other squads embraced rebuilding, or just chose to shuffle the deck for better fits, like the Denver Nuggets dumping JaVale McGee and Afflalo, the Milwaukee Bucks swapping out Brandon Knight for Michael Carter-Williams and the Phoenix Suns sending out Isaiah Thomas and Dragic, while landing Knight from Milwaukee.

Each and every move had salary cap implications.  Five teams are over the NBA’s luxury tax limit (Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder).

Seven teams have cap room (Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz), which can be used to add a free agent before the end of the regular season.

The Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets are not under the salary cap, despite payroll below the $63.1 million line.  Their sizable trade exceptions (for Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee, respectively) keep them over.  While those exceptions can be renounced, both teams stand to have more flexibility while over the cap — at least through the NBA draft in June.

The salary cap picture will change dramatically when last-year contracts expire before July.

A few teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers and HEAT) still have disabled player exceptions (DPE), expiring on March 10.  Beyond the trade deadline, a team can still use a DPE to sign a free agent or claim a player off waivers — but limited to rest-of-season deals.

The NBA deadline for playoff eligibility is the end of February, players must be free agents before March to be available for the postseason with a new franchise. Players don’t need to sign until the last day of the regular season in April to be eligible for the playoffs, but they need to be clear of their prior team by March. Here’s a look at where teams stand after the deadline:

Salary data is updated as soon as information becomes final. Check back early and often for the latest.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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