The Knicks, Hawks, and Hornets are the only teams that still project to have cap room available after the first day of free agency, tweets Keith Smith of RealGM.
Smith estimates that New York has about $29MM or so left to spend, with Atlanta around $25MM and Charlotte at about $19MM. Cap exceptions, minimum deals, and sign-and-trades will be the only way for other teams to add free agents, barring cost-cutting moves to get under the cap, Smith notes.
We may find out as early as today what each of those three Eastern lottery teams intends to do with its cap room.
The Knicks are reportedly in the running for free agent forward Gordon Hayward, but could turn their attention elsewhere if Hayward agrees to re-sign with the Celtics or reaches a sign-and-trade deal with the Pacers. Fred VanVleet, who is reportedly meeting with interested teams today, might be one option.
The Hawks are believed to have their sights set on Bogdan Bogdanovic and Rajon Rondo, with a report yesterday indicating that the team was confident it will be able to land at least two players from a group of free agents that included those two and Danilo Gallinari (who is finalizing a three-year deal with Atlanta).
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer says Atlanta is considered the frontrunner to land Bogdanovic, but notes that the Lakers remain in pursuit. Getting something back from L.A. in a sign-and-trade may appeal more to the Kings – who still hold Bogdanovic’s RFA rights – than losing him for nothing if the Hawks use their cap room to sign him to an offer sheet they won’t match.
As for the Hornets, I expect they’ll use a chunk of their cap room to fortify their frontcourt. A report on Friday night indicated they made Montrezl Harrell a bigger offer than the two-year, $19MM deal he ultimately accepted from the Lakers.
Besides VanVleet, Hayward, and Bogdanovic, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Serge Ibaka, Jae Crowder, and Hassan Whiteside are among the best free agents still available from our top-50 list. Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram also technically haven’t agreed to deals with their respective teams, but are considered virtual locks to re-sign with the Lakers and Pelicans.