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Summer Cap Space Projections

The trade deadline has passed, and we have a better look at where our picks will land, so I thought it was time to revisit our summer cap space numbers.

$13,000,000 Al Jefferson
$3,964,320 Ramon Sessions
$3,638,280 Kevin Love
$3,192,000 Jonny Flynn
$3,703,472 Corey Brewer
$2,333,333 Ryan Hollins
$1,078,800 Wayne Ellington
$1,000,000 (Ryan Gomes)

$2,812,200 Rights to Ricky Rubio

$3,336,800  MIN 2010 1st (currently #2)
$1,328,400  CHA 2010 1st  (currently #15)  ($0 if #12 or higher)
$933,500  UTA 2010 1st (currently #25)  ($0 if #15 or higher)

$473,604 Minimum Roster Holds

$40,794,710 ... Total

$12,805,290 ... Expected 2010 Cap Space

However, there's some variability that could alter that number between now and then

Guaranteed Contracts (7):  In an NBA system where contracts are guaranteed, it would appear that there'd be little flexibility in these numbers, but it can still occur.

First, as many of you may have noticed, I've listed Ryan Gomes at $1,000,000 for 2010.  Gomes is on a partially guaranteed contract, and if he's waived before June 30, 2010, he's only guaranteed a $1 mil in 2010-11, $1 mil in 2011-12, and $750,000 in 2012-13.  Its a shame to waive Gomes who is a good player on a good contract, but the additional $3.26 mil in raw cap space it brings may make it difficult to avoid.

Next, there's always the chance for a late season trade.  Many people believe that once the Trade Deadline passes, a team can't trade again for the rest of the NBA season. That's not quite true. A team can't trade for the rest of "their" NBA season. As Kahn demonstrated with the Mike Miller/Randy Foye trade, we can occasionally see these late season maneuverings.

However, this won't save us much cap space. Expiring contracts can't be traded after the deadline, so we'd need to deal with a player who was guaranteed 2010-11 salary. The only way to move real money would be to deal with the teams under the 2009-10 cap or with TPE's.  OKC ($2.5 mil) and MEM ($0.2 mil) don't match up or provide real savings under the cap, and the teams with TPE's have luxury tax problems and would be unlikely to deal. Perhaps a Jefferson trade could save some money within the 125% + $100,000 range, or a partially guaranteed deal could be acquired, but there are very few of those still around. A trade probably isn't going to increase our cap space - at least until 2010 free agency opens.

Euros (1): Ricky Rubio - Let me take a minute to remind people of how the Collective Bargaining Agreement works here.  Since Rubio was a first round pick, he carries a cap hold until the start of the season which is equivalent to the rookie scale salary for the current year's #5 pick.  Even if Rubio states that he won't come over next season, which is very likely, we will still carry that cap hold.  Let me also note that 1st round picks generally get a 20% signing bonus to their rookie scale, so it would add $562,440.

Nikola Pekovic - As a second round pick, Pekovic does not carry a cap hold, and he will only count against our cap if he comes over and signs a contract.  You'll note that I have not included him in our cap hold calculations, but if he comes over, which could be likely, we'll need to find money for him.  I should also mention that if a team wants to use their cap space, they need to renounce all their exceptions (... to the salary cap), like the MLE, so paying Pekovic is an important issue to keep in mind.

Draft Picks (3).  MIN pick.  No one knows where we'll land in the lottery, and there could be big differences

1 - $4,152,900
2 - $3,715,700
3 - $3,336,800
4 - $3,008,400
5 - $2,724,300

We currently have the #2 spot before the lottery, and that looks unlikely to change.  The expected value for the #2 spot, according to lottery odds, is almost exactly equal to the #3 pick, so I used that salary in the projection.  Obviously, winning the lottery would happily cost us an additional $816,100 in cap space.

CHA pick (currently #15) $1,328,400.    Likely Range #15-19 - $1,398,200- $1,144,900 ... ($0 if #12 or higher).  The Bobcats are the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference right now, two games in front of MIL.  Both teams upgraded at the deadline (and CHI slipped), but if the Bobcats come in ninth, they will likely fall within their top 12 protection, and the pick would be deferred to next year  -- and save us cap space

UTA pick (currently #25) $933,500.   Likely Range #20-28 - $1,099,100- $836,300 ... ($0 if #15 or higher).  Since the Jazz decided not to trade Carlos Boozer, they will likely be one of the better teams in the play-offs.  However, they lost Ronnie Brewer while several of their peers traded to add talent, so they could slip.  Note though that picks in the 20's have only small differences in salary, so their final record won't alter our cap space figure significantly.

As I mentioned before, teams generally give their rookies a 20% increase over the rookie scale, so if we give out contracts too early, it can reduce our amount of cap space.

Minimum Roster Hold (1):  The NBA requires every team to carry 12 players on its active roster.  They assign a minimum salary cap hold for anything under 12, to prevent teams from artificially boosting their cap space with shortened rosters.  Its important to mention that the number of roster holds we'd need will vary depending on our actions.  For example, if we traded the UTA pick for a future pick, we would not save the full value of the pick, because we'd reduce our roster size, and need to add a second roster hold.

2010-11 NBA Salary Cap Estimate.  This figure can't be calculated until the bean-counters add up all the money at the end of the season.  Kevin Arnovitz just used $53.6 mil in a True Hoop article, that's close to what wyn's got too ($53.561).  It will certainly be less than the current $57.7 mil we have now, but we'll have to wait and see.  I suppose there's a chance that the NBA's revenues increase over the rest of the season, and that number could be $55 .. giving every team under the cap $1.4 mil more in cap space.

Finally, I want to thank wyn for his help keeping me on the straight-and-narrow in this article.  We all know the blank stares (or worse) we get when we try discussing these things with spouses, girlfriends and co-workers.