Salary Cap

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Cap Projection Lowered for 2020/21 Season

The NBA has informed teams that its updated projected salary cap and tax level remain unchanged for next season and is $2MM lower for the 2020/21 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The league projects a cap of $109MM for next season and a $132MM threshold when the luxury tax kicks in. Its projection for the 2020/21 season is a $116MM salary cap and a $141MM tax level.

The stable projection for the 2019/20 season means that budgets set for free agency don’t have to be altered. The teams projected to have the most cap space to pursue free agents include the Knicks, Clippers, Nets, Mavericks, Hawks, Pacers, Lakers, Kings and Sixers.

The salary cap this season is $101,869,000 with a luxury tax threshold of $123,733,000.

NBA Projects $109 Million Cap for 2019/20 Season

The NBA has provided teams with updated projections of a $109MM salary cap for the 2019/20 season with a luxury-tax threshold of $132MM, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The NBA also projects a $118MM cap and $143MM luxury-tax line for the 2020/21 season.

The 2019/20 cap projection remains unchanged from the NBA’s last update on July 1 but the $118MM projection for the following season is $2MM higher than the previous update, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. That’s due to BRI projections and a projected shortfall-based adjustment, Charania adds in another tweet.

The latest projections means that teams can trust they will be dealing with a $109MM cap or something close to it when making out their budgets for next summer. Teams will likely have more than $7MM to play with next season than they did this summer, when the NBA set a $101,869,000 cap.

Rookie Scale Salaries For 2018 First Round Picks

With the NBA’s salary cap set at $101,869,000 for the 2018/19 league year, the rookie scale has been set as well. The rookie scale locks in the value of contracts for first-round picks.

In every NBA league year, rookie scale amounts are assigned to each first-round slot, from No. 1 through No. 30. Teams can sign their first-rounders to as little as 80% of that rookie scale amount, or up to 120% of that figure. While that rule theoretically affords teams some flexibility, first-round picks virtually always sign contracts worth 120% of their rookie scale amount, and unsigned first-rounders have a cap hold worth 120% of their rookie scale amount.

Listed below, via Coon and RealGM, are the salary figures that represent 120% of the rookie scale amounts for 2018 first-round picks. Players will sign for these amounts unless they accept a deal worth less than the maximum allowable 120%. Rookie scale contracts are guaranteed for the first two years, with team options on the third and fourth years.

Here’s the 2018 breakdown:

Pick Player 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 Total
1 Deandre Ayton $8,165,160 $9,562,920 $10,018,200 $12,632,950 $40,379,230
2 Marvin Bagley $7,305,600 $8,556,120 $8,963,640 $11,312,114 $36,137,474
3 Luka Doncic $6,560,640 $7,683,360 $8,049,360 $10,174,391 $32,467,751
4 Jaren Jackson $5,915,040 $6,927,480 $7,257,360 $9,180,560 $29,280,440
5 Trae Young $5,356,440 $6,273,000 $6,571,800 $8,326,471 $26,527,711
6 Mo Bamba $4,865,040 $5,697,600 $5,969,040 $7,568,742 $24,100,422
7 Wendell Carter $4,441,200 $5,201,400 $5,448,840 $6,920,027 $22,011,467
8 Collin Sexton $4,068,600 $4,764,960 $4,991,880 $6,349,671 $20,175,111
9 Kevin Knox $3,739,920 $4,380,120 $4,588,680 $5,845,978 $18,554,698
10 Mikal Bridges $3,552,960 $4,161,000 $4,359,000 $5,557,725 $17,630,685
11 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander $3,375,360 $3,952,920 $4,141,320 $5,495,532 $16,965,132
12 Miles Bridges $3,206,640 $3,755,400 $3,934,320 $5,421,493 $16,317,853
13 Jerome Robinson $3,046,200 $3,567,720 $3,737,520 $5,340,916 $15,692,356
14 Michael Porter $2,894,160 $3,389,400 $3,550,800 $5,258,735 $15,093,095
15 Troy Brown $2,749,080 $3,219,480 $3,372,840 $5,170,564 $14,511,964
16 Zhaire Smith $2,611,800 $3,058,800 $3,204,600 $4,915,856 $13,791,056
17 Donte DiVincenzo $2,481,000 $2,905,800 $3,044,160 $4,675,830 $13,106,790
18 Lonnie Walker $2,357,160 $2,760,480 $2,892,000 $4,447,896 $12,457,536
19 Kevin Huerter $2,250,960 $2,636,280 $2,761,920 $4,253,357 $11,902,517
20 Josh Okogie $2,160,720 $2,530,680 $2,651,040 $4,087,904 $11,430,344
21 Grayson Allen $2,074,320 $2,429,400 $2,545,320 $4,054,695 $11,103,735
22 Chandler Hutchison $1,991,520 $2,332,320 $2,443,440 $4,019,459 $10,786,739
23 Aaron Holiday $1,911,960 $2,239,200 $2,345,640 $3,980,551 $10,477,351
24 Anfernee Simons $1,835,520 $2,149,560 $2,252,040 $3,938,818 $10,175,938
25 Moritz Wagner $1,762,080 $2,063,520 $2,161,920 $3,893,618 $9,881,138
26 Landry Shamet $1,703,640 $1,995,120 $2,090,040 $3,768,342 $9,557,142
27 Robert Williams $1,654,440 $1,937,520 $2,029,920 $3,661,976 $9,283,856
28 Jacob Evans $1,644,240 $1,925,880 $2,017,320 $3,641,263 $9,228,703
29 Dzanan Musa $1,632,240 $1,911,600 $2,002,800 $3,615,054 $9,161,694
30 Omari Spellman $1,620,480 $1,897,800 $1,988,280 $3,588,845 $9,095,405

NBA Minimum Salaries For 2018/19

While some NBA teams will head into free agency with more than enough cap room to add a maximum salary player, other clubs will be totally capped out. However, each of the NBA’s 30 clubs will be on common ground in one respect: No team will be ineligible to sign a player to a minimum salary contract.

Teams with cap room available will have a little more flexibility to sign players to longer-term minimum salary contracts, but over-the-cap clubs will still be able to use the minimum salary exception to add as many players as they want. Unlike other exceptions, such as the mid-level or the bi-annual, the minimum salary exception can be used multiple times, for contracts of up to two years.

[RELATED: Values of 2018/19 mid-level, bi-annual exceptions]

Undrafted free agents and late second-round picks are often recipients of minimum salary contracts, but there are plenty of veterans who end up settling for the minimum too. Of course, because a player’s minimum salary is determined by how much NBA experience he has, many veterans will earn more than twice as much money as a rookie will in 2018/19 on a minimum salary contract.

Listed below are 2018/19’s minimum salary figures, sorted by years of NBA experience. If a player spent any time on an NBA club’s active regular season roster in a given season, he earned one year of experience. So any player with zero years of experience has not yet made his NBA debut.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Years of Experience Salary
0 $838,464
1 $1,349,383
2 $1,512,601
3 $1,567,007
4 $1,621,415
5 $1,757,429
6 $1,893,447
7 $2,029,463
8 $2,165,481
9 $2,176,260
10+ $2,393,887

Because the NBA doesn’t want teams to avoid signing veteran players in favor of cheaper, younger players, the league reimburses clubs who sign veterans with three or more years of experience to one-year, minimum salary contracts. Those deals will only count against the cap – and against a team’s bank balance – for $1,512,601, the minimum salary for a player with two years of experience.

For instance, if David West – who has 15 years of NBA experience – signs a one-year, minimum salary contract with a new team, that team would only be charged $1,512,601 for West’s contract. He’d earn $2,393,887, but the NBA would make up the difference. This only applies to one-year contracts, rather than multiyear deals.

If a player signs a minimum salary contract after the regular season begins, he’ll earn a pro-rated portion of the amount listed above.

Players who are still on minimum-salary contracts that they signed in a previous season will have slightly higher minimum salaries than a player who signs a new contract this offseason. Those minimum salary figures are as follows:

Years of Experience Salary
1 $1,378,242
2 $1,544,951
3 $1,600,520
4 $1,656,092
5 $1,795,015
6 $1,933,941
7 $2,072,867
8 $2,211,794
9 $2,222,803
10+ $2,445,085

These numbers would apply to a player like Heat shooting guard Rodney McGruder, who signed a three-year, minimum-salary contract in 2016. He now has two years of NBA experience, so his minimum salary for 2018/19 will be $1,544,951. If he had been waived and signed a new minimum deal for ’18/19, his salary would only be $1,512,601.

NBA Maximum Salaries For 2018/19

Now that the NBA has set its salary cap for the 2018/19 league year at $101,869,000, we have a clearer idea of what maximum-salary contracts will look like for the coming season.

While these numbers could soon be applied to contracts for free agents like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Nikola Jokic, they’re also relevant for players who signed maximum-salary extensions last year, such as Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins.

Listed below are the maximum-salary contracts for players signing contracts that start in 2018/19. The first chart shows the maximum salaries for a player re-signing with his own team — a player’s previous team can offer five years instead of four, and 8% annual raises instead of 5% raises. The second chart shows the maximum salaries for a player signing with a new team.

A player’s maximum salary is generally determined by his years of NBA experience, so there’s a wide gap between potential earnings for younger and older players. In the charts below, the “6 years or less” column details the maximum contracts for players like Jokic and Wiggins; the “7-9 years” column applies to free agents like George and DeMarcus Cousins; and the “10+ years” column applies to vets like James and Chris Paul.

Here are the maximum salary figures for 2018/19:


A player re-signing with his own team (8% annual raises, up to five years):

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2018/19 $25,467,250 $30,560,700 $35,654,150
2019/20 $27,504,630 $33,005,556 $38,506,482
2020/21 $29,542,010 $35,450,412 $41,358,814
2021/22 $31,579,390 $37,895,268 $44,211,146
2022/23 $33,616,770 $40,340,124 $47,063,478
Total $147,710,050 $177,252,060 $206,794,070

A player signing with a new team (5% annual raises, up to four years):

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2018/19 $25,467,250 $30,560,700 $35,654,150
2019/20 $26,740,613 $32,088,735 $37,436,858
2020/21 $28,013,975 $33,616,770 $39,219,565
2021/22 $29,287,338 $35,144,805 $41,002,273
Total $109,509,176 $131,411,010 $153,312,846

Values Of 2018/19 Mid-Level, Bi-Annual Exceptions

The salary cap for the 2018/19 NBA league year has officially been set, with the league announcing that the cap will be $101,869,000.

Under the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the values of the mid-level, room, and bi-annual exceptions are tied to the percentage that the salary cap increases in a given year. The cap figure for 2018/19 represents approximately a 2.8% increase over last season’s $99,093,000, so other exceptions will increase by the same amount.

Listed below are the maximum annual and total values of each of these exceptions, along with a brief explanation of how they work and which teams will have access to them.


Mid-Level Exception (Non-Taxpayer):

Year Salary
2018/19 $8,641,000
2019/20 $9,073,050
2020/21 $9,505,100
2021/22 $9,937,150
Total $37,156,300

The non-taxpayer mid-level exception is the primary tool available for over-the-cap teams to add free agents. As long as a team hasn’t dipped below the cap to use cap space and doesn’t go over the tax apron ($129.817MM) at all, it can use this MLE, which runs for up to four years with 5% annual raises.


Mid-Level Exception (Taxpayer):

Year Salary
2018/19 $5,337,000
2019/20 $5,603,850
2020/21 $5,870,700
Total $16,811,550

If an over-the-cap team currently projects to be a taxpayer, or expects to move into tax territory later in the 2018/19 season, it will have access to this smaller mid-level exception for taxpaying teams. If a team uses more than $5.337MM of its mid-level exception, it is forbidden from surpassing the tax apron at any time during the league year. So even if a team isn’t above the apron when it uses its MLE, it might make sense to play it safe by avoiding using the full MLE and imposing a hard cap.

The taxpayer MLE can be used to sign a player for up to three years, with 5% annual raises.


Room Exception:

Year Salary
2018/19 $4,449,000
2019/20 $4,671,450
Total $9,120,450

Although this is also a mid-level exception of sorts, it’s colloquially known as the “room” exception, since it’s only available to teams that have used cap room. If a club goes under the cap, it loses its full mid-level exception, but gets this smaller room exception, which allows the team to go over the cap to sign a player, once the team has used up all its cap space. It can be used to sign players for up to two years, with a 5% raise for the second season.


Bi-Annual Exception:

Year Salary
2018/19 $3,382,000
2019/20 $3,551,100
Total $6,933,100

The bi-annual exception, as its name suggests, is only available to teams once every two years. Of the NBA’s 30 clubs, only three – the Pistons, Rockets, and Clippers – used it in 2017/18, so they won’t have access to it in 2018/19. The league’s other 27 teams could theoretically use it this season.

Still, even if a team didn’t use its BAE in ’17/18, that club doesn’t necessarily have access to it for the coming year. As is the case with the non-taxpayer MLE, this exception disappears once a team goes under the cap. It’s also not available to teams over the tax apron — using the BAE creates a hard cap at the apron.

The BAE can be used to sign players for up to two years, with a 5% raise after year one.

Note: Be sure to check out our Hoops Rumors Glossary installments for more information on the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception.

NBA Sets Salary Cap For 2018/19

The NBA has set the salary cap for the 2018/19 league year, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that the cap will be $101,869,000. The luxury tax threshold will be $123,733,000, Charania adds. Meanwhile, the minimum salary floor will be $91,682,000, according to the NBA.

The finalized cap figure comes in just slightly higher than what we expected. For virtually the entire 2017/18 league year, the NBA had projected that the cap for next season would be $101MM, with a luxury tax line of $123MM. The official figures are slightly higher than that, which is good news for teams looking to maximize their cap room, as well as clubs headed for tax territory.

As we detailed earlier this week, many other cap figures, including minimum and maximum salaries and several exceptions, are tied to the percentage of the salary cap increase. Here are some in-depth details on those numbers:

Here are a few more key cap-related figures:

  • Estimated average salary for 2018/19: $8,838,000 (Twitter link via Larry Coon)
  • Maximum starting salary for certain veteran extensions: $10,605,600 (Twitter link via Jeff Siegel)
  • Maximum cash a team can send, receive in trades in 2018/19: $5,243,000 (Twitter link via Coon)
  • Tax apron: $129,817,000 (Twitter link via Coon)

Meanwhile, the NBA has also issued updated cap projections for the next two seasons, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Those projections are as follows:

  • 2019/20: $109MM cap, $132MM tax line
  • 2020/21: $116MM cap, $141MM tax line

According to cap expert Larry Coon (Twitter link), the Cavaliers ($50.7MM), Warriors ($32.3MM), Thunder ($25.4MM), and Wizards ($7MM) finished the 2017/18 season as taxpayers, while the Bulls ($3.4MM) and Mavericks ($3.3MM) were charged for finishing below the salary floor.

And-Ones: BWB Asia, Gambling, Williams, G League

The Thunder’s Corey Brewer, Nets’ Caris LeVert, Heat’s Kelly Olynyk and Mavericks’ Dwight Powell will coach top high school age campers from the Asia-Pacific region in the 10th edition of Basketball Without Borders Asia, according to an NBA release.

BWB Asia 2018 will be held May 30–June 2 at The NBA Academy India in Delhi National Capital Region. Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars.

In other developments from around the league:

  • New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney voiced strong opposition to the sports’ leagues request for sports betting fees, ESPN Chalk’s David Payne Purdum tweets. “They are calling this extortion attempt an integrity fee, even while fully aware that providing participants a stake in the volume of betting would amount what could more accurately be called an anti-integrity fee,” Sweeney said. The NBA later defended its position, saying its games are the foundation of what will be bet on, the Associated Press reports. “We believe it is reasonable for casinos to compensate the NBA with a small percentage of the total amount bet on our games,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.
  • The NBA is projecting the salary cap to inflate by $7MM in 2019 and some of that projection might include some anticipated new gambling-related revenue, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. While the cap could rise due to gambling-related income, it won’t cause a dramatic increase in the future, Windhorst adds.
  • Former NBA guard Mo Williams will join Mark Gottfried’s staff at Cal State Northridge, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweets. Williams played for Gottfriend at Alabama, Goodman notes.
  • The G League showcase has been moved from January to December and Las Vegas is a strong contender to host it, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Orlando is also being considered as a host site, according to 2ways10days.com. League expansion is a major reason why Las Vegas and Orlando are potential landing spots for the showcase.

Salary-Cap Projections Remain At Preseason Level

The NBA’s preseason salary cap projections of $101MM for next season and $108MM for 2019/20 have not changed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The latest league projections were disclosed to teams in a recent memo, Pincus adds.

[RELATED: Maximum-salary figures for a $101MM salary cap]

The cap estimates, which were originally made public in September, could naturally have a major impact on the free agent market this summer. The projection for 2018/19 represents a modest $2MM increase from last summer and a major change from what teams have seen over the the past two years. The cap jumped from $70MM to $94MM for the 2016/17 season. It bumped up another $5MM to the $99MM mark for the 2017/18 season.

The luxury tax level projections remain at $123MM and $131MM for the next two seasons, Pincus continues.

The players project to have earned $20MM more than their share of basketball related income (BRI). The NBA will recoup that from escrow (10% that’s withheld all year from player checks), Pincus adds.