Despite the salary cap going over the $100 million mark for the first time in history (last estimate was at $102 million), not as many teams will have cap space in 2017 as many might think after this summer’s spending spree. NBA teams spent approximately $3.5 billion (yes billion with a B) in salaries over the last month. And that is before LeBron James and J.R. Smith collect what is likely to be anywhere from $45-80 million from the Cavaliers.
Because so much money was spent this summer and because the cap estimate came in about $5 million less than originally thought (original projections were a cap of $107 million for 17-18), teams will be tighter against the cap than we thought a year or so ago.
In addition, Russell Westbrook and C.J. McCollum have already agreed to contract extensions that not only took two marquee free agents off the market, but also eliminated a chunk of available space in 2017. They may be joined by in the extension game by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert, Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel, among others.
Once you add it all up, there are still likely to be 10-12 teams with cap space available. And several more could join them. The tables below represent a look at where things stand as of today. A few notes:
- Cleveland has not signed LeBron James or J.R. Smith as of this writing. They were estimated at a one-year max for James and $15 million for one-year for Smith for the purposes of Projected Cap Space in these projections.
- Brandon Ingram (Lakers) and Domantas Sabonis (Thunder) have not yet signed as of this writing, but it was assumed they will sign for the standard 120% of their Rookie Scale amounts for these projections.
- Starting Cap Space assumes all Player Options will be declined, all Qualifying Offers will be issued and all Partial/Non-Guaranteed players will be kept.
- Maximum Cap Space assumes all Options (Player and Team) are declined and all free agents are renounced. Also, all Partial/Non-Guaranteed players are waived in this scenario.
- Projected Cap Space is a best guess at this point where each team will enter the summer of 2017 assuming a salary cap of $102 million.
One last, but important, note: it is highly likely that the NBA and NBPA will negotiate and agree upon a new CBA before free agency begins next summer. Pending the outcome of those negotiations, max contracts, Exceptions, Rookie Scale salaries and the salary cap itself could look drastically different from they look today. Both NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Director Michele Roberts have expressed optimism that a lockout and work stoppage can be avoided, but there are certain to be changes to the salary structure in the new CBA.
Sorted by Starting Cap Space
*Cleveland w/o LeBron James and J.R. Smith Cap Holds
Sorted by Maximum Cap Space
Sorted by Projected Cap Space