After calculating the numbers on 2012 free agent expenditures for teams in the Atlantic, Central and Southeast, we're moving over to the Western Conference. Using Hoops Rumors' Free Agent Tracker, our look at summer spending out West starts in the Northwest Division, where a pair of rivals spent a chunk of July battling over restricted free agent Nicolas Batum, who ultimately landed the largest contract in the division.
Once again, these figures only take into account free agent signings, so salary absorbed in trades or money used to sign draft picks isn't included in this list. Additionally, not all of this salary is necessarily guaranteed, which we'll try to note as we go along. Here are this summer's Northwest Division free agent costs, sorted by player salary:
Denver Nuggets: $63.875MM (JaVale McGee, Andre Miller, Anthony Randolph)
Miller's three-year, $14.625MM deal is only guaranteed for $12MM, so the Nuggets' overall bill may not ultimately be quite so high, but this is still a good chunk of money spent by an over-the-cap team that's not in a top market. Between their trades of Nene and Arron Afflalo though, the Nuggets have exhibited an ability to shed long-term contracts not long after they're signed, without taking long-term salary back in return. It's unlikely that happens with McGee's four-year, $44MM deal, but you never know.
Portland Trail Blazers: $54.572MM (Nicolas Batum, J.J. Hickson, Jared Jeffries, Ronnie Price)
After missing out on restricted free agent Roy Hibbert, the Blazers settled for bringing back their own RFA, Batum, at a cost of $45MM over four years. The team could end up only paying about $6.3MM for their other three signings — Hickson will receive $4MM, Price receives a minimum salary, to which the Blazers will contribute $854,389, and only Jeffries' first-year salary of $1,475,106 is guaranteed.
Minnesota Timberwolves: $45.666MM (Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Alexey Shved, Greg Stiemsma)
After weeks of cap maneuvering and a failed offer sheet for Batum, the Timberwolves signed Kirilenko to a two-year contract worth $20MM, a deal that looked a lot worse before the Olympics than it does now. Still, of the four players Minnesota signed this summer, only one (Stiemsma) played in the NBA this season, making the club's offseason approach one of the more high-risk, high-reward strategies in the league.
Utah Jazz: $8.000MM (Jeremy Evans, Randy Foye)
It was a modest summer on the free agent market for the Jazz, whose only outside signing so far is Foye, for $2.5MM of the team's mid-level. But Utah made up for its restraint in free agency by taking on plenty of salary via trades, acquiring Mo Williams (one year, $8.5MM) and Marvin Williams (two years, $15.79MM).
Oklahoma City Thunder: $7.598MM (Daniel Orton, Hasheem Thabeet, Hollis Thompson)
While other Western Conference rivals like the Lakers practically overhauled their entire rosters, the Thunder have had a remarkably quiet summer, and will rely on their young core to continue to improve. Oklahoma City's 2012 free agent bill figures to amount to significantly less than the $7.598MM listed above — of the three multiyear contracts they've inked, only Thabeet's is fully guaranteed for 2012/13.