HoopsHype’s salary cap expert Yossi Gozlan is providing updates and reactions on each major event at the start of free agency.
Hour 4 Update
* Norman Powell will re-sign with Portland on a five-year deal worth $90 million. This can start him as low as $15.5 million which would put the Blazers roughly $4 million below the luxury tax assuming Cody Zeller got a minimum deal. A salary dump could be coming since there’s no way to get this roster to 14 players without getting off some money.
* In a surprising move, PJ Tucker is leaving the Bucks for the Heat on a two-year deal worth $15 million. That is slightly less than the full mid-level exception and they should have roughly $2 million remaining on it.
* Reggie Bullock will sign with Dallas on a three-year deal worth $30.5 million. This deal could also fit into the Mavericks’ mid-level exception, so it’s possible that they are hedging as an over-the cap team as well. They are also set to sign Sterling Brown to a two-year deal worth $6.2 million. Both deals can fit into Dallas’ remaining cap space, or if Bullock is going into the mid-level exception, Brown can fit into the bi-annual exception.
* Devonte’ Graham will be sign-and-traded to New Orleans for a first-round pick. His four-year deal worth $47 million should leave the Pelicans with $11.6M left in cap space. That is large enough to keep Josh Hart’s cap hold, allowing them to re-sign him for more than the amount of cap space they have left. They could also operate over the cap still and acquire Graham via the Eric Bledsoe trade exception, or better yet, turn their trade with Memphis into a three-way to acquire Graham. New Orleans is roughly $35 million below the luxury tax. Meanwhile, Charlotte is now left with $13 million in cap space now that they no longer have to factor in Graham.
* This now begs the question, where will DeMar DeRozan, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Dennis Schroder go? The Spurs are the only team left with maximum cap space. Their best shot on a big contract might be via sign-and-trade.
Chicago's roster is taking form
* Alex Caruso will join the Chicago Bulls on a three-year deal worth $37 million. That is slightly less than the full mid-level exception. The Bulls stand $22 million below the luxury tax with 9 players on the roster. They still have the salaries of Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu, and the Bird rights of Lauri Markkanen to offer in potential trades.
* Meanwhile, Daniel Theis will be leaving Chicago for Houston on a four-year deal worth $36 million. He can get that amount either through Houston’s mid-level exception, or via a sign-and-trade into the Victor Oladipo trade exception that could give him a starting salary up to $8.2M.
* The Knicks will give Derrick Rose a three-year deal worth $43.5 million. That is the most he can earn in three years via his Early Bird rights.
* Nicolas Batum will re-sign with the Clippers on a two-year deal worth $6.5 million. His first-year salary will be $3.17 million, which is a 20 percent raise off his minimum salary from last season. He will have a player option for year two, so look for him to decline it and re-sign with the Clippers next year on a long-term deal via his Early Bird rights. Also, the Clippers still have the taxpayer mid-level exception available.
* Phoenix finally gets a legitimate backup center in JaVale McGee. He will earn $5 million for one season, which will take most of the Suns mid-level exception without hard capping them. Suns are now roughly $15 million below the luxury tax with 11 players on the roster.
* Cory Joseph will return to Detroit on a two-year deal worth $10 million. That amount could either come via Detroit’s remaining cap space, or through the $4.9 million room mid-level exception. They will also sign Trey Lyles to a two-year deal worth $5 million. Both can fit into Detroit’s $8 million remaining in cap space, assuming they’re operating with cap space. They could also be doing all this as an over-the-cap team with the mid-level exception.
* Oklahoma City finally gets in the action and re-sign Mike Muscala to a two-year deal worth $7 million. Assuming they’re operating as an over-the-cap team, they can re-sign him via Early Bird rights. This wouldn’t take away from their mid-level exception.
Here come the Lakers
* The Lakers have agreed to one-year deals with former veterans Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, and Dwight Howard, likely all on one-year minimum deals. They probably still have another three or four minimum signings left to help fill out the roster.
* Evan Fournier will sign with the Knicks on a four-year deal worth $78 million. He could get an $18.1 million starting salary with 5 percent raises. With Reggie Bullock off the board, they only need to factor in Derrick Rose’s $10M cap hold to re-sign him over the cap. This would give the Knicks $7 million in cap space left.
* The Sixers will re-sign Furkan Korkmaz to a three-year deal worth $15 million, which will put the Sixers over the luxury tax with 13 players. They can get back below by waiving some of their non-guaranteed players such as George Hill, Anthony Tolliver, or Paul Reed.
* Gary Trent will re-sign with the Raptors on a three-year deal worth $54 million. He won’t affect the Raptors cap space and they can still generate $18 million in cap space if they reroute Dragic elsewhere. It’s possible the Raptors are looking like an over-the-cap team now.
* Houston will re-sign David Nwaba to a three-year deal worth $15 million. A $5 million starting salary should put Houston roughly $31 million below the luxury tax with 14 players on the roster. They still have the $9.5 million to comfortably use.
* Alen Len will sign with the Kings on a two-year deal worth $7.65 million, which is the two-year maximum amount for the bi-annual exception.
* Bobby Portis will return to Milwaukee on a two-year deal worth $9 million with a player option on the second year. Not only did he take a pay cut re-signing with them, he took less than the maximum amount the Bucks can give him. This will start him at $4.3 million, the maximum 20 percent raise off his previous salary allowed by his Non-Bird rights. The Bucks still have their $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level left to offer a veteran. Portis will be able to re-sign with the Bucks next year to much more money via his Early Bird rights, possibly at a maximum of four-years, $50 million.
* Moe Harkless will return to Sacramento on a two-year deal worth $9 million, which also starts him at $4.3 million like Portis. Both players signed for the $3.2 million bi-annual exception last year.
* Indiana lost Doug McDermott and replaced him with Torrey Craig on a two-year deal worth $10 million. They also re-signed TJ McConnell on a four-year deal worth $35 million. If Craig has a $5 million starting salary and McConnell gets an $8.1 million starting salary, the Pacers will be precisely $6.2 million below the luxury tax. That is the combined starting salaries of their two first-round picks Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson. Feels safe to say Indiana’s offseason is done unless they unload big salaries first.
* McDermott will join the Spurs on a three-year deal worth $42 million. Also, Zach Collins will join on a three-year deal worth $22 million. San Antonio should have roughly $32 million remaining in cap space with 12 players on the roster.
* Jeff Green going to Denver on a two-year, $10 million deal will be a tough blow for Brooklyn, but Green has been due for a pay raise for a while now. Green could take up a portion of Denver’s mid-level exception, but less than the taxpayer mid-level portion, allowing the Nuggets to avoid being hard-capped. They are now roughly $4 million below the luxury tax, enough space to sign two players to veteran minimum contracts while avoiding the tax completely.
Residual of the first hour
* The Suns have given Chris Paul a mammoth four-year deal worth $120 million. The annual salary range at $30 million isn’t a surprise, but that fourth-year sure is. Phoenix also agreed to a three-year, $19 million deal with Cameron Payne. The Suns should be roughly $20 million below the luxury tax with 10 players on the roster. They will comfortably be able to use the $9.5 million mid-level exception.
* The Heat have agreed to acquire Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade. They also agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract with Duncan Robinson. Full 8 percent raises could start Robinson at $15.5 million, which would still allow Heat to give Lowry $87.5 million over three years while also using the mid-level exception.
* It will be interesting to see how the Jazz structures Mike Conley’s three-year, $72.5 million deal. If it has full 8 percent raises, the lowest starting salary Conley could get is $22.4 million. This would put the Jazz approximately $8 million over the luxury tax.
* Five years, $100 million for Jarrett Allen will put the Cavaliers approximately $18 million below the luxury tax assuming flat $20 million cap hits. They can still comfortably utilize the $9.5 million mid-level exception.
* JaMychal Green could get a starting salary of up to $8.6 million with his Non-Bird rights, which could be an indication of his starting salary on his two-year, $17 million deal. Meanwhile, Will Barton will return on a two-year, $32 million deal which will pay him more annually than his previous deal. The Nuggets are now roughly $9 million below the luxury tax. They can still use the $9.5 million mid-level exception, but it will put them over the luxury tax.
First hour madness
* Lonzo Ball is the first free agent off the board and is heading to Chicago on a sign-and-trade for Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple. His $85 million deal should start him at roughly $20 million, meaning the Bulls need to send back $15 million in outgoing salary. Satoransky makes $10 million, and according to David Aldridge, Temple will earn $5 million annually on his three-year, $15 million deal. Chicago is now hard-capped and roughly $36 million below the apron with 8 players on the roster.
* If New Orleans wishes to still use cap space, they would have roughly $22 million left. It seems very possible that they will instead operate over the cap to keep Josh Hart’s Bird rights and their $18 million trade exception. They are also hard-capped after acquiring Temple via sign-and-trade and sit approximately $47 million below the luxury tax.
* Dallas should have a maximum of $15 million left in cap space after re-signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $74 million deal.
* The Knicks have agreed to re-sign Alec Burks on a three-year, $30 million deal and Nerlens Noel on a three-year, $32 million deal. Both signings will require cap space. They can still generate a maximum of $34 million, or $18 million if they hold onto the cap holds of Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullock. That means the Knicks would be able to re-sign both players after spending their cap space.
* Three years, $37 million for Kelly Olynyk will require cap space as the starting salary is slightly over the mid-level exception, unless the Pistons acquire him via sign-and-trade. If so, the Pistons should have a maximum of $8 million left in cap space assuming they waive Rodney McGruder.
Where teams stand before 6 pm
The lead-up to free agency featured several decisions that will change the cap space landscape in the league. For now, we can absolutely lock in Charlotte, Memphis (sort of), New York, and San Antonio as teams that will utilize cap space.
* Charlotte secured their spot under the cap after agreeing to acquire Mason Plumlee from Detroit. His $8.9 million salary knocked off a good chunk of Charlotte’s $24 million in potential cap space. That, and acquiring the draft rights to Kai Jones brings Charlotte’s current maximum cap space figure down to $12 million. That figure includes the possibility of Charlotte agreeing to a new contract with Devonte’ Graham, then rescinding his $4.7 million cap hold to the veteran minimum, thus creating more cap space. This is a technique that could also be utilized by Toronto in regards to Gary Trent Jr., but more on them later.
The Hornets didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Malik Monk, which was very shocking to many. However, had Monk accepted his $7 million qualifying offer, that would’ve thrown Charlotte’s cap space plans out the window. He will now become unrestricted and could be a great value signing for whichever team scoops him up. It’s unclear what Charlotte plans to do with the rest of their cap space, especially now that they may have figured out their center situation for next year.
* Detroit getting off Plumlee and waiving the non-guaranteed contract of Cory Joseph put them in a position to generate $19 million in cap space. The question is, who will they pursue? Kelly Olynyk is one name the Pistons could monitor, per our insider Michael Scotto. Or perhaps they’ll sign someone as unexpected as when they signed Jerami Grant last offseason.
* The trade Memphis executed with New Orleans will require all of their cap space, which led to them declining Justise Winslow’s $13 million player option. Unless they get off more salary, they’ll be left with the $4.9 million room mid-level. New Orleans, on the other hand, now can generate up to $36 million in cap space. Alternatively, they can operate over the cap, re-sign or match offer sheets for Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, and have access to the $9.5 million mid-level exception. Also, instead of cap space, they’d generate an $18 million and $3 million trade exception for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, respectively. They could use those exceptions to sign-and-trade for free agents or veterans.
* New York and San Antonio are set to have the most cap space at roughly $50 million each. Meanwhile, Dallas is likely to remain a cap space team as long as they can secure a player they’re targeting. They currently can generate up to $30 million if they renounce all cap holds, including Tim Hardaway Jr. After acquiring Moses Brown and exercising Willie Cauley-Stein’s player option, they could look to offload one of their other big men to generate even more cap space to help keep Hardaway Jr.
* Miami is no longer a cap space team after exercising Goran Dragic’s $19.4 team option. The Heat could’ve generated a maximum of $27 million in cap space, which is roughly the starting salary they could give Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade for Dragic and Precious Achiuwa. The deal under that starting salary could reach a maximum of $87.5 million over three years. The sign-and-trade path for Lowry is better than outright signing him since it gives Miami access to the $9.5 million mid-level exception and $3.7 million bi-annual exception.
However, completion of a sign-and-trade for Lowry would hard cap the Heat, which would likely allow them to do two, but not all three, of re-signing Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and using the $9.5 million mid-level exception. For example, If Lowry gets a $27.8 million starting salary, and the Heat spend the $9.5 million mid-level exception on a free agent or uses the equivalent of it to re-sign Nunn, they could give Robinson a starting salary of $17 million while being able to fill out the rest of the roster with veteran minimum contracts. Such a starting salary for Robinson could total $100 million over five years from the Heat.
* And that leads back to Toronto. They currently can generate $21 million in cap space while factoring Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher. However, if they do not reroute Dragic and Achiuwa elsewhere, they will lose all that cap space and operate over the cap. Their path to free agents would most likely be via sign-and-trades, unless they get off more salary elsewhere.
* Barring any massive salary dumps, Brooklyn, Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Utah are expected to have access to the $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception. Minnesota now has access to the $9.5 million mid-level exception thanks to the savings from trading Ricky Rubio for Taurean Prince, but doing so would still take them over the luxury tax when factoring in a rookie-scale contract for Leandro Bolmaro. Every other team not else not listed in this section yet will have access to the $9.5 million mid-level exception.