Ahead of what’s expected to be a wildly entertaining and action-packed free agency period, there’s one big question that NBA aficionados want to know: Does my team have the salary-cap space to be in the running for max-caliber free agents?
HoopsHype is here to answer that question.
For starters, we have to determine how much a max salary will cost in the 2019-20 season.
For teams attempting to sign players to a normal max salary, i.e., not a super-max deal, that will run them 30 percent of the salary cap. Using the predicted salary cap for next season of $109 million, that means a team will need roughly $32.7 million in cap space to be able to sign players to a max contract.
Currently, two teams – by waiving all of their current cap holds – have enough cap space to sign two max-level free agents, and they both happen to share the same market.
TEAMS WITH TWO MAX SALARY SLOTS
- The New York Knicks are presently at $69.8 million in cap space, and could open up even more if they dump Frank Ntilikina, as has been rumored,
- Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets are at $68.6 million in cap room.
Besides those two teams, there are a number of other franchises who have made themselves players in free agency and possess the ability to land a max-level player.
LIST OF TEAMS WITH MAX CAP SPACE
- The Boston Celtics, who are reportedly the front-runners for Kemba Walker, have about $34.6 million in cap room heading into the summer.
- The Philadelphia 76ers, who could use Bird Rights to re-sign their two most important free agents this offseason, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, could have up to $58.8 million in cap space this offseason since they currently only have four players under contract.
- The Indiana Pacers, who have eyes for Ricky Rubio to fill their point-guard vacancy this summer, have around $33.9 million in cap room. Rubio, obviously, wouldn’t take all of that up if he does sign with Indiana.
- The Milwaukee Bucks, who came within two games of reaching the NBA Finals, have the power to open up $34.9 million in cap room, but will need most of it to bring back last season’s elite team. Milwaukee has Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez hitting free agency this summer and, according to reports, Brogdon could legitimately be a flight risk.
- The Dallas Mavericks, by renouncing all of their free-agent rights besides those of Kristaps Porzingis, as well as by waiving Ryan Broekhoff, could open up nearly $33.0 million in cap space. Reports state that Porzingis will be offered a five-year, $158 million as soon as free agency opens up, which would cost Dallas the ability to land another max-level player this summer.
- The New Orleans Pelicans, by renouncing the rights to Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton, neither of whom will likely be Pelicans next season anyway, will have $33.7 million in cap room.
- The Sacramento Kings could have $48.5 million in cap space, all they need to do is waive the rights to Harrison Barnes. They’ll lose a good chunk of that, though, if they go ahead with their reported plans to bring Barnes back on a four-year, $88 million contract this summer.
- The Los Angeles Clippers should have around $46.9 million in cap room, and could open a good amount more if they dump Danilo Gallinari. By dealing the Italian swingman, the Clippers would vault up the list of available cap space and join the Nets and Knicks as one of three teams with enough room for two max-level free agents at $68.6 million.
- And finally, the Los Angeles Lakers, who figure to be major players in free agency this summer (and might even land the reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard), also still have enough room for one more max player despite having Anthony Davis and LeBron James signed.
OTHERS WHO COULD WIGGLE INTO MAX SPACE
Of course, those aren’t the only teams that can open up a max slot this summer, as other organizations can get themselves into the running by dumping their bad contracts. Granted, that might be easier said than done in some cases.
- One team that is reportedly looking into doing that, the Houston Rockets, badly want to get themselves into the Butler sweepstakes, and have been shopping Clint Capela, among others, to do so.
- Another team who some believe might take that path is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are interested in pairing their lone star, Karl-Anthony Towns, with fellow 2015 draft alumni D’Angelo Russell, and could try and dump Andrew Wiggins to give themselves a shot.
With nearly half of the NBA either already possessing max cap space or having the ability to open up enough room for such a deal, we will likely see a crazy amount of big names moving this offseason.
This summer could get hectic.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.