At the outset, there are a couple of things worth remembering while we think about the bonanza that is the 2013 off-season.
1. Cap holds matter. Possessing big-money players that are free agents (Dwight Howard, Josh Smith) does not allow their current employer to just spend up to the cap amount (whatever it ends up being) and then re-sign him to put the team over the limit. As Howard is on a max contract now, his cap hold will have a substantial effect on the money the Lakers can offer within the confines of the cap. Of course, should a big ticket free agent leave or sign for less money, this hold would be eliminated from his original team's books accordingly, unlikely as it may be for the max-level players in the short run.
2. The Mid-Level Exception and other cap holds do not go on top of cap space- they take it away. One of my biggest criticisms of the 2K basketball series (excellent as it is) is that they have never gotten the free agency rules correct. The MLE is just that- an exception. That means it allows teams over the cap to still spend that money, but teams under the cap have to renounce it should they want to use that cap space on free agents. One particularly notable example of this was Rashard Lewis, where Orlando had to renounce their exceptions to fit his sizeable salary on their ledgers, though that was complicated a little further by it being a trade. As such, any team that maxes out their cap space cannot just toss on a Mid-Level Exception on top. They can absolutely add minimum salary guys and give bigger contracts to players they have Bird Rights on, but they do not have the MLE to work with on top of the cap. Teams that have the Room Team MLE, however, do get to use an additional $2.652 million.
3. Bird Rights teams and non-Bird Rights teams can offer the same maximum possible contract for the first season of the deal. The difference between Bird squads and teams trying to sign their free agents is that the Bird team can offer higher raises (7.5% vs. 4.5%) and add the fifth contract year.
4. 1st Round draft picks count against the cap…but not entirely- Once drafted (and before signing with an overseas team- if they do that, they’re off the books for that season with some paperwork), first round selections not presently under contract count at their scale amount. However, players can sign for between 80 percent and 120 percent of scale, though a vast majority sign for 120% of scale. As such, waiting to sign that full value rookie deal can save the team 1/5 of the scale value for the first season during that period, a value that only holds any real significance for top-5 picks and teams really on the cap borderline.
5. I am using a $58.5 million dollar salary cap. No one knows for sure where the cap will be next off-season, but the number I am using is $58.5 million, the most recent estimate.
Atlanta Hawks- While Atlanta’s moves this past summer make them a more interesting player in both free agency and the trade markets for 2013, they still have a series of fascinating choices with their current roster. Since valued pieces like Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia, Devin Harris and Jeff Teague are free agents, they will have cap holds that will eat into the Hawks’ space to sign new players. As such, they have to evaluate and prioritize those players while also trying to procure new talent all while those same free agents can be getting offered contracts by other NBA squads.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Al Horford, Louis Williams, Lucas Nogueria, Dennis Schroder, Jared Cunningham, DeShawn Stevenson, John Jenkins, Mike Scott and Jeff Teague’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Josh Smith (UFA), Jeff Teague (RFA), Devin Harris (UFA), Zaza Pachulia (UFA), Kyle Korver (UFA), Dahntay Jones (UFA), Ivan Johnson (RFA), Anthony Tolliver (UFA), Johan Petro (UFA) and Jannero Pargo (UFA)
Boston Celtics- Even though the departure of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers indicates the beginning of a rebuilding process, Danny Ainge’s spending bonanza in 2012 means the Celtics still will not have a shot at any free agents for more than their mid-level this summer. That said, they are a fascinating trade partner because of their collection of assets at varying salaries and positions.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Jordan Crawford, Kelly Olynyk and Fab Melo]
- Free Agents: Chris Wilcox (UFA)
Brooklyn Nets- The Nets used any and all space they could potentially have this year in their spending explosion last summer, as was both expected and necessary. The megatrade did not affect that in any way. They have the taxpayer mini-midlevel to use along with minimum salaries.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Mirza Teletovic, Jason Terry, Reggie Evans, Tyshawn Taylor, Tornike Shengalia and Mason Plumlee]
- Free Agents: CJ Watson (player option), Andray Blatche (UFA) and Jerry Stackhouse (UFA)
Charlotte Bobcats- Charlotte’s decision to grab an eventual first round pick from Detroit in exchange for taking on Ben Gordon’s longer contract means that the Bobcats have a surprisingly large amount of money on the books for 13-14 for a team with their record. Even with that, they could play a pivotal role in trades either during the summer or closer to the deadline if they are willing to spend long-term money in order to swap some of their expiring deals for more talented players on teams looking to reduce their future outlays.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, Brendan Haywood, Jeff Adrien, Jeffrey Taylor, Gerald Henderson’s cap hold and Byron Mullens’ cap hold]
- Free Agents: Gerald Henderson (RFA), Reggie Williams (UFA), Josh McRoberts (UFA), Byron Mullens (RFA) and DeSagana Diop (UFA)
Chicago Bulls- With their four most expensive players having contracts for 13-14, the Bulls do not have a ton of flexibility even if they used their amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer (which seems awfully unlikely at this time). Richard Hamilton’s partially guaranteed contract should be the biggest decision they make since so much of their core already has deals in place. A potential Luol Deng extension could come down the pike though that would effectively take them out of the 2014 free agent pool as well.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Marquis Teague and Tony Snell]
- Free Agents: Marco Belinelli (UFA), Nate Robinson (UFA), Nazr Mohammed (UFA), Daequan Cook (UFA) and Vladimir Radmanovic (UFA)
Cleveland Cavaliers- The Cavs are in a fun place because they already have 10 players on the books for 13-14 and still only have a relatively small salary commitment for both the short and long terms. That combined with two first round picks this year and one next year should allow them to properly add some needed pieces before Kyrie Irving gets his big pay raise in 2015. One particularly interesting thing to watch out for is whether Cleveland works to maintain enough space to potentially sign LeBron James next summer since that marks a major tactical decision for the team.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Marreese Speights’ cap hold, Alonzo Gee, CJ Miles, Tyler Zeller, Josh Selby and Kevin Jones]
- Free Agents: Marreese Speights (UFA), Daniel Gibson (UFA), Omri Casspi (RFA), Wayne Ellington (RFA), Shaun Livingston (UFA) and Luke Walton (UFA)
Dallas Mavericks- One year after Mark Cuban tried and failed to get a big-name free agent to come to Dallas, he gets another chance. This time, the Mavs are in an even more interesting circumstance because they have nothing but guys on rookie contracts on the books for 14-15 and beyond. The team would have even more flexibility if they can find a taker for Shawn Marion’s final year under this contract. Unfortunately for them, OJ Mayo also has a player option and it appears awfully unlikely that he would take that small a salary without a longer-term commitment. The organization also has a strong group of young talent that are free agents (Darren Collison, Rodrigue Beaubois, and the aforementioned Mayo) and thus will need to figure out their futures at the same time they try to add a new piece like Dwight Howard.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion’s player option, Vince Carter, Darren Collison’s cap hold, Rodrigue Beaubois’ cap hold, Shane Larkin, Elton Brand’s cap hold, Brandan Wright’s cap hold, Jae Crowder and Bernard James]
- Free Agents: OJ Mayo (player option), Chris Kaman (UFA), Shawn Marion (player option), Elton Brand (UFA), Rodrigue Beaubois (RFA), Darren Collison (RFA), Dominique Jones (UFA), Brandan Wright (UFA) and Anthony Morrow (UFA)
Denver Nuggets- Even though Andre Iguodala opted out of his final year, Denver’s salary cap flexibility comes in the form of tradable assets rather than cap space. Ty Lawson’s extension kicking in combines with JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari’s deals to form a triumvirate of contracts between $10 and $11 millions for 13-14. Those contracts combined with Wilson Chandler and the other players on the books mean that trading some of them, draft picks, or Iguodala would be the ways the Nuggets are major players this summer. I expect Iguodala to re-sign a longer deal with Denver that could have less money for 13-14 than his current one but more security for the future. The team also needs to figure out what they want to do with talented and underutilized Timofey Mozgov since his depth does make Denver more resistant to injury but that same value could lead to another team offering him more than the Nuggets can handle.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala’s cap hold, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Andre Miller, Darrell Arthur, Kenneth Faried, Anthony Randolph, Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton, Quincy Miller and Timofey Mozgov’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Andre Iguodala (UFA), Timofey Mozgov (RFA), Corey Brewer (UFA) and Julyan Stone (RFA)
Detroit Pistons- By making the trade with Charlotte last summer where they gave up a first round pick shed an extra year of Ben Gordon’s contract, Detroit made a statement that this would be the year for the team to make an impact in the off-season. Carrying two major building blocks in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond that are still on rookie contracts through 2014 and 2016 respectively, Joe Dumars and the Pistons need to strike now to build a core that can propel them into at least the second round of the playoffs when the rest of their roster gets closer to their peak. Dumping Tayshaun Prince’s useless deal (for them) gives Detroit even more flexibility moving forward though I could absolutely see them re-signing Jose Calderon at the right price. Using the amnesty provision on Charlie Villanueva proves both prudent and necessary while the team should make a decision sooner rather than later on Rodney Stuckey and the partially guaranteed final season of his deal. What makes Detroit’s situation particularly interesting is that they have young assets outside of the Monroe/Drummond core that could be used in combination with their cap space to help acquire a talent on another team who has become too expensive for that franchise.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Slava Kravtsov, Kyle Singler, Khris Middleton and Kim English]
- Free Agents: Jose Calderon (UFA), Corey Maggette (UFA), Jason Maxiell (UFA) and Will Bynum (UFA)
Golden State Warriors- After a simply excellent offseason in 2012, Bob Myers and staff could end up having some incredibly difficult choices to make in 2013. Both Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have outperformed their deals this season, yet the Warriors do not have much flexibility to pay them more per year than they are currently garnering. On top of that, management has a complicated situation to manage in terms of the 14-15 cap since the team as presently constituted could actually be a player in 2014 if they did not add much to the guys they already have on the books for then (Lee, Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Ezeli, and Green). Dumping Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins to get under the tax this season was an incredibly smart decision since it heavily reduces the chance of the team paying the dreaded repeater tax in a few seasons. This summer Warriors fans will learn one of the hard lessons of having a successful team with underpaid players, a tradeoff I am sure they are willing to make.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [David Lee, Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Jarrett Jack’s cap hold, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green, Kent Bazemore and Brandon Rush]
- Free Agents: Jarrett Jack (UFA) and Carl Landry (UFA)
Houston Rockets- The fun of having Daryl Morey in the league as that while we do not know how it will happen, we do know that he will majorly turn over his roster this summer. While adding James Harden solidifies their core more than previous years, even recently-added components like Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik could be on the move if certain things happen in free agency. The Rockets also have an absolute bevy of young, cheap talent that can be traded in myriad combinations pretty much any time this summer.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [James Harden, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson, Royce White, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith, James Anderson and Patrick Beverly]
- Free Agents: Francisco Garcia (team option)
Indiana Pacers- Adding more than a few meaningful contracts took a substantial chunk out of Indiana’s cap space for this summer, though they can still make some noise. In a serendipitous turn, Danny Granger’s contract comes off the books at the same point Paul George can be extended (or become a Restricted Free Agent), which means now could be the time for the Pacers to make one or two final moves to solidify their rotation before the combination of George, Hibbert, and Hill gobble up even more of the cap. Of course, they also must make a decision on pivotal component David West, which is likely to be a tough call since this could be his last big contract.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, Paul George, George Hill, David West’s cap hold, Ian Mahinmi, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough’s cap hold, Miles Plumlee, Lance Stephenson, Orlando Johnson and Solomon Hill]
- Free Agents: David West (UFA), DJ Augustin (UFA), Tyler Hansbrough (RFA), Jeff Pendergraph (UFA) and Ben Hansbrough (RFA)
Los Angeles Clippers- The Clippers’ future hinges on Chris Paul and their ability to get Doc Rivers sealed it. The contracts given to Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler mean that the team cannot make a huge splash in free agency. Fortunately, the Clippers had a strong season and possess enough young talent to make staying a good decision for the best PG in the league. Unlike many teams relying on cheap veterans, the Clippers have the benefit of having most of them booked to deals lasting longer than this season so they can count on their deep rotation for 13-14 as well. Paul’s decision has begun the domino effect of what happens to breakout stud Eric Bledsoe since the team would likely not have the money to match a strong offer he could get next summer as a Restricted Free Agent.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Chris Paul’s cap hold, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups’ cap hold, Eric Bledsoe, Willie Green, Matt Barnes’ cap hold, Reggie Bullock and Trey Thompkins]
- Free Agents: Chris Paul (UFA), Lamar Odom (UFA), Chauncey Billups (UFA), Matt Barnes (UFA), Ronny Turiaf (UFA) and Ryan Hollins (UFA)
Los Angeles Lakers- Thanks to the gigantic contracts they have on the books, the Lakers have no meaningful flexibility for this summer whether or not Dwight Howard chooses to stay. That said, they still can make moves with players like Pau Gasol and also possess their amnesty to use as they see fit.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard’s cap hold, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison’s cap hold, Earl Clark’s cap hold and Robert Sacre’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Dwight Howard (UFA), Metta World Peace (player option), Antawn Jamison (UFA), Earl Clark (UFA), Devin Ebanks (UFA), Darius Morris (UFA), Andrew Goudelock (UFA) and Robert Sacre (RFA)
Memphis Grizzlies- Their trade with Cleveland took Memphis off the luxury tax hot seat for this year and then the big trade of Rudy Gay loosened the tax noose for another few seasons. Now the team should be able to retain Tony Allen and potentially get some more cheap depth at the swingman spots since the big man rotation seems solid. The other major potential move could be a trade of one of their bigs (Randolph, Koufos, or Ed Davis) this summer to open up the rotation and add a different asset.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tayshaun Prince, Mike Conley, Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos, Jerryd Bayless, Austin Daye’s cap hold, Quincy Pondexter, Tony Wroten and Tony Allen’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Tony Allen (UFA), Austin Daye (RFA) and Jon Leuer (RFA)
Miami Heat- The champs parallel the Clippers in the fact that their veteran depth players are also on the books for future seasons already, though more of Miami’s come in the form of player options that give the guys in question more leverage. As such, it seems unlikely we see any major movement this summer from Miami, though they have surprised before.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Joel Anthony, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, James Jones and Rashard Lewis]
- Free Agents: Jarvis Varnado (UFA)
Milwaukee Bucks- Milwaukee stands out in the league because of the immense amount of uncertainty they have with their starting backcourt this summer. Monta Ellis opted out of his final season while Brandon Jennings should be the best Restricted Free Agent on the market and JJ Redick could go nearly anywhere. Beyond them, the emergence of LARRY SANDERS! has helped clarify the big man rotation while they still try to figure out what to do about their SF slot long-term. The other big question for Milwaukee is whether they will use the amnesty provision on Drew Gooden this summer. Considering the potential for cap space due to the above factors, now seems like the best time to do so.
- Projected 13-14 Salary [Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings’ cap hold, Monta Ellis’ cap hold, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, John Henson, Mike Dunleavy’s cap hold and JJ Redick’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Brandon Jennings (RFA), Monta Ellis (UFA), JJ Redick (UFA), Samuel Dalembert (UFA), Mike Dunleavy (UFA) Joel Przybilla (UFA) and Marquis Daniels (UFA)
Minnesota Timberwolves- Nikola Pekovic’s Restricted Free Agency looms as the largest factor in Minnesota’s off-season plans. Beyond Pek, Andrei Kirilenko opted out of the second year of his contract and now the team will have to figure out if he wants to be a part of their plans for a longer deal or if they need to replace him on the fly. They also have the compelling issue of Chase Budinger’s free agency and whether the team wants to do anything about their current logjam of point guards and relative dearth of healthy swingmen.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic’s cap hold, Derrick Williams, JJ Barea, Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Greg Stiemsma, Dante Cunningham, Chris Johnson, Mickael Gelabale and Chase Budinger’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Nikola Pekovic (RFA), Andrei Kirilenko (UFA), Chase Budinger (RFA) and Louis Amundson (UFA)
New Orleans Pelicans- The shocking trade for Jrue Holiday takes some of the financial flexibility out of the equation for New Orleans though they still have plenty of space to make an impact over the next few seasons. We will have to see how committed they are to keeping Eric Gordon and whether they can get an acceptable offer for either him or Grevis Vasquez.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Austin Rivers, Jason Smith, Grevis Vasquez, Lance Thomas, Brian Roberts and Darius Miller]
- Free Agents: Robin Lopez (non-guaranteed), Al-Farouq Aminu (UFA), Xavier Henry (UFA) and Roger Mason (UFA)
New York Knicks- Unsurprisingly, the Knicks have zero cap flexibility either for 2013 or 2014 as long as Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire do not both exercise their ETO’s after next season and leave town. For this summer, the biggest question will be whether JR Smith picks up his player option (he won’t) and how much he will ask for when he opts out. Losing him would be a major blow to this team, yet I think he wants to stick around if they can hit the right price.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr, JR Smith’s cap hold and Raymond Felton]
- Free Agents: JR Smith (UFA), Kurt Thomas (UFA), Chris Copeland (RFA), Pablo Prigioni (RFA) and James White (UFA)
Oklahoma City Thunder- Even with the gutsy James Harden trade, the Thunder do not have any space under the cap this summer to make moves. In a strange parallel, the hardest decision they will have this off-season centers on the main player they acquired in the Harden deal: Kevin Martin. While Kevin clearly has value to the team, the same money constraints that contributed to Harden’s departure could make it hard for Martin to stay if he wants more money than Sam Presti and ownership are willing to give him. Fortunately for them, the team acquired leverage as a part of the same trade in the form of Jeremy Lamb since he could replace a portion of Martin’s contributions at a fraction of the price if need be. While unlikely, the Thunder could also choose to free up some space by amnestying Kendrick Perkins.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin’s cap hold, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Hasheem Thabeet, Perry Jones III, Daniel Orton, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and DeAndre Liggins]
- Free Agents: Kevin Martin (UFA) and Ronnie Brewer (UFA)
Orlando Magic- If only they could get HedoTurkoglu to use his ETO… Since Orlando traded Redick, the Magic have the offseason fun of a half-guaranteed Al Harrington contract that could give them another few million in space or be used in a trade with a team that wants to clear some themselves.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Victor Oladipo, Hedo Turkoglu’s ETO, Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington’s guaranteed amount, Glen Davis, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Gustavo Ayon, Andrew Nicholson, Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, Kyle O’Quinn and E’Twaun Moore]
- Free Agents: Hedo Turkoglu (ETO) and DeQuan Jones (UFA)
Philadelphia 76ers- After the trade of Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a future pick, the team can do a whole lot of different things this summer and moving forward. Using a high pick on a young talent like Noel likely takes them out of the bidding for Andrew Bynum.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Nerlens Noel, Thaddeus Young, Michael Carter-Williams, Spencer Hawes, Andrew Bynum’s cap hold, Nick Young’s cap hold, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen, Kwame Brown and Arnett Moultrie]
- Free Agents: Andrew Bynum (UFA), Nick Young (UFA), Dorrell Wright (UFA), Damien Wilkins (UFA) and Royal Ivey (UFA)
Phoenix Suns- After seeing their offer to Eric Gordon get matched and facilitating Steve Nash’s move to the Lakers, Phoenix has some compelling options moving forward despite having a meaningful amount of players under contract. The challenge for the Suns is that they need to add top-level quality rather than rotation players which can be incredibly hard to do even when playing in a place that many players live in the off-season. Marcin Gortat’s future with the franchise should also play a major role because the team cannot afford to potentially lose a quality player like him via free agency in 2014 without getting anything in return. If he will not commit to an extension, we could see him in a different uniform before the start of next season.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, Alex Len, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Michael Beasley, Kendall Marshall, Luis Scola, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Archie Goodwin, Malcolm Lee and PJ Tucker]
- Free Agents: Wesley Johnson (UFA), Jermaine O’Neal (UFA), Hammed Haddadi (UFA) and Diante Garrett (RFA)
Portland Trailblazers- In a situation that loosely parallels what New Orleans has going, Portland has the benefit of some potential cap space despite having their entire core locked up for at least the next two seasons. With LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, C.J. McCollum and even project Meyers Leonard locked up through at least the 14-15 season, the space Portland has this summer can actually be used in powerful ways to fill the few gaps they have. The biggest free agent on their current roster has to be J.J. Hickson who can either be retained or upgraded with the cap space they possess. Considering the starting PG, SF and PF spots are solidified for a few seasons if they do not trade LMA, it would make sense to go after another perimeter player and a true center.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Wesley Matthews, Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland, Victor Claver, Sasha Pavlovic, Ronnie Price, Will Barton and JJ Hickson’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: JJ Hickson (UFA), Eric Maynor (UFA), Luke Babbitt (UFA), Nolan Smith (UFA), Elliot Williams (UFA) and Jared Jeffries (non-guaranteed)
Sacramento Kings- Despite continuing to live near the bottom of the Western Conference, Sacramento does not have any meaningful cap space for this summer. The real challenge for them is figuring out what to do with enigmatic perimeter player Tyreke Evans, who clearly has talent but could end up being overpaid through the Restricted Free Agency process. Considering the even more enigmatic DeMarcus Cousins becomes an RFA next summer, they must figure out the long-term structure of their team sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the salaries of players like John Salmons, Marcus Thornton, and Chuck Hayes mean that even a decision to dramatically change the roster would have to come through incremental action rather than an immediate overhaul despite new ownership.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [DeMarcus Cousins, John Salmons, Jason Thompson, Marcus Thornton, Ben McLemore, Patrick Patterson, Travis Outlaw, Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans’ cap hold]
- Free Agents: Tyreke Evans (RFA), Toney Douglas (RFA), Cole Aldrich (UFA) and James Johnson (RFA)
San Antonio Spurs- Even though the Spurs have a meaningful amount of cap space at the moment for 2013, the reality that they will re-sign Manu Ginobili makes them using it on much new talent a pretty unlikely proposition unless he retires or takes a big pay cut early in July. The other major challenge for RC Buford comes in the form of Tiago Splitter, who has really begun to make a name for himself playing alongside Tim Duncan. They would be well-advised to give him a good offer since he brings a set of skills and positional scarcity that could lead another team to make an offer that would put a lump in San Antonio’s throat. That said, it feels like the Spurs will pull the rabbit out of the hat again and somehow end up with another great young talent on top of it all.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu’s cap hold, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter’s cap hold, Danny Green, Nando de Colo, Cory Joseph, Aron Baynes, DeJuan Blair’s cap hold, Gary Neal’s cap hold and Patty Mills]
- Free Agents: Manu Ginobili (UFA), Tiago Splitter (RFA), DeJuan Blair (RFA) and Gary Neal (RFA)
Toronto Raptors- Toronto has an unusual salary structure with five different players making between $6 million and $11 million dollars next year and that was before the deadline addition of Rudy Gay to go atop the salary mountain. The challenge for the team moving forward is that they have to figure out who from this group they want to keep and who they want to try to move in order to meaningfully upgrade from where they are presently. The big remaining question has to be whether the Raptors can get anything meaningful in return for Andrea Bargnani (which I doubt at this moment) with whether they will burn their amnesty card on Linas Kleiza this summer looming as well.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, John Lucas, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray]
- Free Agents: Alan Anderson (UFA) and Mickael Pietrus (UFA)
Utah Jazz- The Jazz potentially could have the most interesting and impactful summer of any team not in on Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. Utah’s offseason will make waves because both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will be Unrestricted Free Agents and I have not heard of anyone who has a good idea what either wants to do. Since Utah has two major young building blocks on the interior in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, it would stand to reason that the team only needs to bring back one of the two for the long-term, though retaining both and eventually trading one of the four bigs certainly would be an option. What makes Utah’s summer even more interesting is that they have another season of rookie scale contracts for both Favors and Gordon Hayward which means that each becomes eligible for an extension in 2013 that would kick in for the 2014-2015 season. Considering the amount of work their perimeter rotation needs, Utah could use the resources they have to make some major moves, especially since they will have two first round picks in the Draft. Fun stuff.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, Marvin Williams’ player option, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, Kevin Murphy, Al Jefferson’s cap hold and Paul Millsap’s cap hold]
- Free Agents: Paul Millsap (UFA), Al Jefferson (UFA), Mo Williams (UFA), Marvin Williams (player option), Raja Bell (UFA), Earl Watson (UFA), Jamaal Tinsley (UFA), Randy Foye (UFA) DeMarre Carroll (RFA)
Washington Wizards- Assuming both Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza pick up their player options, Ted Leonsis and the Wizards will need to wait one more summer before potentially being players in the market. However, should the team determine that there is more of a market in selling their future cap space for currently signed players (as they did with the JaVale McGee for Nene swap last season), they could parlay their expiring deals into an already signed player. With a strong young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards can afford to be more daring in finding a frontcourt that can help fuel a playoff run.
- Projected 2013-2014 Salary [John Wall, Nene, Otto Porter Jr, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza’s player option, Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton]
- Free Agents: Martell Webster (UFA), Leandro Barbosa (UFA), AJ Price (UFA), Garrett Temple (UFA), Cartier Martin (UFA) and Jason Collins (UFA)