Three Teams Still Have Significant 2018 Cap Room

We knew coming into the 2018 NBA free agent period that there may not be enough cap room to go around for all the players who hoped to sign lucrative new deals. Now, on the fourth day of the new league year, that’s more true than ever.

Teams like the Lakers, Sixers, Pacers, Nets, Mavericks, and Suns have devoted most or all of their projected cap room to free agent commitments or agreed-upon trades. While many of those clubs could theoretically open up more space with certain moves, they currently don’t project to have a ton of room available once they complete their reported deals.

The early activity from those clubs leaves just three teams with substantial projected cap room for 2018/19. These teams will be worth watching closely in the coming days – and perhaps weeks – to see how they intend to use their remaining cap room.

Will any of them make a run at one of the many intriguing restricted free agents still on the board, such as Clint Capela, Jabari Parker, Zach LaVine, Marcus Smart, or Jusuf Nurkic? Will they want to collect assets by taking on another team’s unwanted contracts, with into-the-tax clubs like the Thunder, Nuggets, and Raptors perhaps looking to cut costs? Their cap room will give these three teams some leverage no matter what path they choose.

Here’s a breakdown of the three clubs in question:

Atlanta Hawks

It’s been a quiet July so far for the Hawks, who signed their three first-round picks and inked Jaylen Adams to a two-way contract, but have otherwise stayed out of the fray. That’s no surprise, as GM Travis Schlenk said last week that the team expected to take a wait-and-see approach to free agency.

Currently, the Hawks have about $22.1MM in available cap room. They could increase that number to approximately $24.8MM by cutting Jaylen Morris and Antonius Cleveland, who are on modest non-guaranteed deals.

The Hawks are the midst of a rebuilding process and will be very patient as they put together their roster. That could mean wanting to use their cap room to take on a bad contract or two, adding more picks to their cache of draft assets. However, if they think the time is right to make a swing for a young restricted free agent who could be a cornerstone piece, they’re in position to do so. One weekend report linked them to LaVine.

Chicago Bulls

Speaking of LaVine, the Bulls‘ projected cap room will be impacted by what happens with the RFA guard. With or without him though, Chicago will have plenty of flexibility.

Currently, with cap holds for LaVine and fellow RFA David Nwaba on their books, along with non-guaranteed contracts for Sean Kilpatrick and Paul Zipser, the Bulls project to have approximately $22.6MM in cap space. The team could increase that number to $26.2MM by releasing Kilpatrick and Zipser. Waiving those players and renouncing their two RFAs would get the Bulls up to about $37.5MM, though that scenario is unlikely.

If the Bulls decide to use their space to pursue an outside RFA target, Chicago native Jabari Parker could be an option.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings have been linked to both LaVine and Parker during the free agent process, but may no longer be eyeing Parker.

Assuming they renounce the cap holds for free agents Vince Carter and Bruno Caboclo, the Kings will have about $18.2MM in cap room. Waiving Nigel Hayes, who has a non-guaranteed contract, would bump that number up to approximately $19.5MM.

If they plan to keep Hayes, the Kings are already 14 players on their roster, so it could make sense for them to use their remaining cap room in one fell swoop if there’s an opportunity they like.

Other teams that could create flexibility

While there are a number of teams that could theoretically clear cap room if they’re willing to waive or trade players on guaranteed contracts, there are a couple clubs whose path to space is quicker and easier than most.

The Nets are one such team. Once they complete their acquisition of Dwight Howard, the Nets project to have approximately $6.6MM in space. That doesn’t include Ed Davis‘ new $4.4MM deal, since Brooklyn figures to complete that signing using the room exception. It also include Joe Harris‘ modest $1.5MM cap hold rather than his new $8MM-ish salary, since the Nets will likely use all their cap room before going over the cap to re-sign Harris.

With a buyout agreement in place for Howard, the Nets are in position to increase their cap room. While it’s not clear how much Howard will give up in his agreement with Brooklyn, let’s say he gives back $5.337MM, the amount he’s reportedly receiving on his new deal with the Wizards. In that scenario, the Nets could add that amount to their $6.6MM in space, getting up to approximately $12MM.

The Lakers are another team to watch. Based on their roster moves to date, they project to have approximately $5.7MM in space. While it looks like they’ll avoid taking on multiyear deals, preferring to preserve cap flexibility for 2019, they could create significant flexibility right away if they’re willing to waive and stretch Luol Deng. Doing so would increase their cap room to about $15.5MM.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

newest oldest

17 thoughts on “Three Teams Still Have Significant 2018 Cap Room

    • mcmillankmm

      Hawks should see if the Sixers will attach a future 1st with Bayless in a salary dump

      • Z-A

        Why would the Sixers even contemplate doing that now? Waste a pick when they aren’t going to use that 8.5 on anyone else? They could just cut or buy him out.

  1. Connorsoxfan

    If Brooklyn gets Dwight to give back
    7 or 8 mil instead, they could absorb Deng straight into cap space and send nothing back. That might be more beneficial than making a signing. Especially since it’s an expiring deal next year at which point it either becomes an actual asset or they just let it expire because they’ll have some space to work with then. Off the top of my head Harris signed for 8 so that added to Deng would give them a minimum of 22 million if they stay close to the limit.

  2. I think the Hawks will end up using most of their cap space on veterans to help lead the team and to possibly flip at the deadline for some future picks.

    I think some of the Bulls space will be eaten up by Lavine, and I don’t see Parker going there (except maybe on a shorter term, prove it type of deal) since he’s more natural at the 4 and they already have Markkanen there.

    • justinept

      I don’t see the Bulls matching an offer for Lavine that goes beyond $15 mil per year. I think the front office is satisfied with Markhannen and Dunn and wouldn’t be too upset if those were the only pieces they had to show for the Butler deal.

      Of course- my opinion is skewed by yesterday’s news that Butler and Irving are looking to team up next year. Even though they dealt him, Butler has maintained a really good relationship with Bulls ownership. And if the Bulls maintain their cap space, they’ll be position to add both of them to a roster with Markhannen and Carter.

      …And even if that plan blows up in their face, and Butler and Irving go elsewhere next year, Id still be fine with it. You win in the NBA by signing stars or by being bad enough to land high enough draft picks to draft them.

      Keeping Lavine at a big salary prevents them from doing either. It takes away the cap space to bring Butler and Irving in. But it also puts them in the 8-12 position in the draft – which isn’t high enough most years to land a star.

  3. formerlyz

    How much room could Phoenox create by buying out or stretching Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels, and waiving most of their remaining non guaranteed salaries?

    • Luke Adams

      Would have to sit down and double-check to be sure, but quick math says they could get to about $10MM.

      • formerlyz

        They should poison pill Marcus Smart. 3 years/$45 million with an option for the 4th, and a trade kicker

        • Luke Adams

          They’d need $14MM-ish in space for that sort of deal. RFAs coming off their rookie contracts like Smart can’t get a backloaded third year like that — that rule only applies to RFAs with one or two years in the league.

          • formerlyz

            Damn lol. Well…is that $10 million number the total space they could get to or the amount of extra space they can create? If it’s the latter, I think that puts them close to that $14 million-ish number

            • Luke Adams

              That’s what they could get to in total. Dudley would be about $6.35MM, Daniels $2.17MM (then I believe if they removed both, they’d have to add one incomplete roster charge for $838K).

              • formerlyz

                Dont they have like $3.5 million or so left before that? My math may be wrong. But if that’s the case, that would give them something between $11-12 million…Maybe if they structured the deal for slightly less, but a higher trade kicker. Boston might still match that though. But ya, I forgot that about the Arenas provision. That explains why Van Vleet was mentioned as a previous target for them. They can always hope the Clippers cut Patrick Beverly’s non guaranteed lol, or maybe Tony Parker makes some sense if the Spurs actually do move on from him.

              • formerlyz

                David Nwaba might make some sense as well, and they can keep with their Booker at the PG spot in certain lineups

  4. Danthemilwfan

    Bucks will match 4 years 72 mil in a heart beat. Bucks are going to sign Parker to the 4 year 84 mil that Gordon got from Orlando

  5. But why would they match offers for Jabari? I think is a good player (when healthy) & a nice guy, but I have never seen his fit next to Giannis, even last year before his injury, he was doing very well, but Giannis got better when he paired up with K-Mid & it worked well again this year, so basically this is my problem with Jabari in Milwaukee, cannot see him playing next to Giannis, so for a bench guy they only should pay him a 1/3 or 1/2 what he wants, & be happy in the bench, ain’t gonna happen, right?

Leave a Reply