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NBA AM: Free Agency – Who Still Has Spending Power?

After almost a week of free agency, salary cap guru Eric Pincus breaks down the current spending power of each team.

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The NBA will soon announce the salary cap for the 2015-16 season.  The exact figures aren’t likely to be available until late Wednesday, right before the signing period begins on July 9th.

In the meantime, the league’s most recent projection is $67.1 million, although a cbssports.com report suggested that number could climb to $69.1 million.

Teams that go under the cap gain a $2.8 million room exception (RE), but lose their mid-level (MLE) of $5.5 million, bi-annual (BAE) of $2.1 million and any trade (TPE) exceptions.

The luxury tax threshold projects to be $81.7 million, with the hard cap at $85.7 million — only triggered when a team uses their MLE, BAE or acquires a player via sign and trade.

Tax teams can spend the taxpayer mid-level exception (MMLE) of $3.4 million, not the full MLE or BAE.

The following is a projection of what spending power each team has remaining after the recent flurry of verbal deals.

Note that until contracts are officially signed, spending power can be fluid.  For instance, the Boston Celtics need to drop under the cap to afford Amir Johnson at $12 million, but if they can get the Toronto Raptors to send Johnson to them via sign and trade, using their Rajon Rondo trade exception, the Celtics can stay above the cap which would preserve their Mid-Level Exception and other trade exceptions.

All figures are in the millions unless otherwise indicated:

Team Cap Room Exceptions Notes
Portland Trail Blazers Up to $28.7 $2.8 (RE)  
Philadelphia 76ers Up to $18.5 $2.8 (RE)  
Utah Jazz $9.1-$16.6 $2.8 (RE) Part of the room exception may be for Joe Ingles.  To maximize space, the Jazz would have to cut Trevor Booker
Orlando Magic Up to $13.3 $2.8 (RE)  
Boston Celtics $4.6-13.2 $2.8 (RE) To get to $13.2 million, the Celtics need to stretch Gerald Wallace
Indiana Pacers Up to $10.1 $2.8 (RE)  
Denver Nuggets $0-$9.8  $2.8 (RE), or if over the cap, $5.5 (MLE), $2.1 (BAE) Biggest trade exception is $11.3 million.  Denver is over the cap but could choose to go under by renouncing/waiving players and exceptions
Phoenix Suns Up to $8.4 $2.8 (RE)  
Milwaukee Bucks $4.7 $2.8 (RE)  
Detroit Pistons $4.6 $2.8 (RE)  
Sacramento Kings $1.3-$2.4 $0 Room exception likely tabbed for Omri Casspi
Toronto Raptors Up to $1.6 million $0 May be over the cap, depending on exact figures for new contracts
Oklahoma City Thunder $0 $5.5 (MLE), $2.1 (BAE) Biggest trade exception $2.8 million.  If the Thunder's payroll climbs into the tax, no MLE or BAE but the $3.4 million MMLE
Charlotte Hornets $0 $5.5 (MLE), $2.1 (BAE) Biggest trade exception is $646k
Miami HEAT $0 $5.5 (MLE), $2.1 (BAE)  
Washington Wizards $0 $5.5 (MLE) Biggest trade exception $4.6 million
Houston Rockets $0 $5.5 (MLE) Biggest trade exception is $1.6 million
Chicago Bulls $0 $3.4 (MMLE)  
Atlanta Hawks $0 $2.8 (RE)  
New York Knicks $0 $2.8 (RE)
San Antonio Spurs $0 $2.8 (RE)  
New Orleans Pelicans $0 $2.6 (MLE), $2.1 (BAE) Trade exception of $507k
Minnesota Timberwolves $0 $1.7 (MLE), $2.1 (BAE) Biggest trade exception $6.3 million
Los Angeles Clippers $0 $2.1 (MLE) Trade exception of $915k
Brooklyn Nets $0 $1.9 (MMLE) Biggest trade exception is $3.3 million
Cleveland Cavaliers $0 $1.2 (MMLE) Biggest trade exception is $636k
Memphis Grizzlies $0 $0 (MMLE) Biggest trade exception is $968k
Golden State Warriors $0 $876K (MMLE)  
Dallas Mavericks $0 $0 Dallas might be able to open cap space by parting ways with Raymond Felton via trade or stretch
Los Angeles Lakers $0 $0 If the Lakers open up cap room via trade for Brandon Bass, they may preserve their $2.8 room exception

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

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