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.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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