Teams Limited To Paying The Minimum Salary

July 25 at 10:30am CDT By Chuck Myron

Money dries up quickly in NBA free agency. Teams come to dozens of agreements within in the first two weeks of July, leaving little remaining cash for stragglers. That’s often why top restricted free agents remain on the table until late in the process, as teams hesitate to tie up cap room on an offer sheet that could end up being matched. Mid-tier veteran unrestricted free agents also feel the squeeze, as patience is often rewarded only with a shrinking pool of options.

Eleven of the NBA’s 30 teams are already limited to offering no more than the minimum salary to free agents from other teams. They’ve used up all of their available cap room and exceptions, aside from the minimum-salary exception. Teams below the tax apron can take sign-and-trades, as the Wizards did with Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair, and some clubs, like the Cavs, can waive non-guaranteed salary to open up more cap space. Still, these 11 teams can’t sign players for more than the minimum, at least without a corresponding move, and in most cases, such a move would require the cooperation of another team:

Updated 8/12/14

  • Nets: Tax team. Used taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Bojan Bogdanovic.
  • Bulls: Cap room exhausted. Used room exception on Kirk Hinrich.
  • Cavs: Cap room exhausted. Used room exception on Mike Miller.
  • Mavericks: Cap room exhausted. Used room exception on Jameer Nelson.
  • Warriors: Over the cap. Used non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Shaun Livingston. Biannual exception unavailable this year (used on Jermaine O’Neal in 2013).
  • Lakers: Cap room exhausted. Used room exception on Ryan Kelly and Xavier Henry.
  • Clippers: Over the cap. Used non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes and biannual exception on Jordan Farmar.
  • Heat: Cap room exhausted. Used room exception on Udonis Haslem.
  • Knicks: Tax team. Used taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Jason Smith.
  • *Trail Blazers: Over the cap. Used non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Chris Kaman and biannual exception on Steve Blake.
  • Wizards: Over the cap. Used non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Paul Pierce. Biannual exception unavailable this year (used on Eric Maynor in 2013).

* — The Trail Blazers have $505K remaining on their non-taxpayer’s MLE, but that amount is less than the rookie minimum salary.

Basketball Insiders and ShamSports were used in the creation of this post.

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