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NBA PM: A Look at Each Team’s Cap Position

Salary cap guru Eric Pincus looks at each team’s cap position with the regular season rapidly approaching.

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With the 2015-16 NBA regular season less than two weeks away, teams are gradually whittling down their rosters to the maximum of 15 players.

As of Friday, the NBA has a total of 558 players under contract for a maximum of 450 roster spots (at most 15 per team), assuming the Charlotte Hornets finally ink Damien Wilkins (as reported) before their trip to China.

Only the Phoenix Suns are within the required range with 15 players.  Some teams may ultimately go as low as 13 or 14 players to start the year, which means at least another 108 players will be cut by October 24 (approximately 19 percent of the league).

Meanwhile, the NBA currently has a combined $2.4 billion in contracted players – an average of almost $80 million per franchise.  Naturally that number will dip once teams submit their final rosters.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the highest payroll at $100.5 million, which doesn’t include a luxury tax bill in the $31 million range.

Ten teams are currently over the tax, although the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards likely drop under that line once they cut down to 15 players.

The Portland Trail Blazers are at the other end of the spectrum with just $50.8 million in contracts and up to $20.5 million in cap space.  The Philadelphia 76ers can also near $16.3 million, while the Utah Jazz may be able to reach $9.9 million.

The Charlotte Hornets have the largest available signing tool, outside of cap space, with their $5.5 million Mid-Level Exception.

A number of teams have trade exceptions (TPE). The Cavaliers have the largest at $10.5 million from their Brendan Haywood deal.  The Golden State Warriors have a $5.4 million TPE from their David Lee deal, Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks have a pair of TPEs for Zaza Pachulia ($5.2 million) and Jared Dudley ($4.3 million) – although trade exceptions cannot be combined to bring a player with a larger salary.

Seven teams have hard caps, limited to a total of $88.7 million in salary.

The following table details each team’s cap position with the regular season rapidly approaching:

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

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