Take a look at how each lottery team’s current and potential future contracts look under the rising salary cap.
As Grantland’s Zach Lowe [and insert your favorite hoops writer] detailed in the aftermath of the NBA’s $24 billion television and digital rights contract with Disney and Turner—nearly triple the $925 million average of the current deal ending after 2015-16— change is coming. The league’s cap is projected to rise $3.44 million next year, but the cap will likely go up quite a bit more heading into 2016-17, making every questionable long-term, big-money signing a little bit easier to deal with going forward.
While plenty of details are still up in the air, and a potential lockout may be looming, the cap will eventually be in the $80-90 million range—a huge increase from 2014-15’s $63 million cap, and the potential for super-teams to form will surely skyrocket. Without further ifs ands or buts, I’ve analyzed the affects this may have on the teams most likely to be vacationing early in 2014-15.
Boston, Brooklyn and Philadelphia
The Rondo situation doesn’t get much easier for the Celtics, who could lose him for nothing next summer if he starts looking for greener pastures to play the remainder of his prime years. Avery Bradley’s four-year, $32 million, which was scrutinized by many, now seems like a steal.
The Celtics are still owed the Nets’ first-round selections in 2016 and 2018 with the right to swap first-rounders in 2017, and until this megadeal was announced it appeared the Nets would be buried by Billy King’s inability to understand the salary cap rules and proclivity for pissing away draft picks. However, the Nets may not be doomed after all given the eventual rise of the cap, and these picks may not be quite as valuable as a result.
Meanwhile, the other Atlantic Division tankers could have insane money to throw around in 2016-17 if Embiid, Noel, and Michael Carter-Williams can make the Sixers a magnetic force in free-agency for the first time since they signed Elton Brand back in 2008.
New York and L.A. Lakers
Carmelo Anthony’s five-year, $124 million deal looks a lot better now, and the Knicks could be able to add two more max players in the next few years. For the Lakers, this combined with Kobe’s deal coming off the books will open up more cap space than imaginable, and instantly make them players in the 2016-17 free-agent frenzy.
New Orleans, Denver and Phoenix
Sure, they’re going to be paying Anthony Davis as much as any player in the league, but he’ll be worth it, and Jrue Holiday (three years, $33 million) and Tyreke Evans (three years, $32 million) will be downright bargains in 2016-17, the final year of their respective deals. If the Pelicans have a solid season and the AD-Omer Asik big man duo meshes well, the Turkish Tank has probably found a home in New Orleans, and he’ll likely be set to earn a raise from the $8.4 million he’s set to make this year, the last of his current deal. Further, if Ryan Anderson (two years, $17 million) can stay healthy he could be in line to receive an extension, and the Pelicans could still have money leftover to splurge on a supporting cast as the cap continues to soar.
In Arizona, Bledsoe’s five-year, $70 million deal looks a lot better if he can stay healthy, P.J. Tucker’s three-year, $16.5 million contract looks great, the addition of Isaiah Thomas for four years, $27 million looks stellar, and so does retaining the Morris twins for four years, $52 million combined. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski called the Suns a playoff team recently, but even if that doesn’t happen this year the future still looks bright in Phoenix.
For Denver, Kenneth Faried’s signing (four years, $52 million with incentives) on Monday was arguably the quickest to get done in the wake of the megadeal. The Nuggets squad that seemed capped out with no leverage in the trade market and microscopic title hopes now appears to have a rejuvenated hope for the future. Ty Lawson’s deal (three years, $37 million) looks a lot better, Arron Afflalo becomes retainable at a reasonable rate, and the Nuggets have loads of cap space by 2016-17.
Orlando and Milwaukee
Magic fourth-year players Nik Vucevic and Tobias Harris become exceedingly interesting extension situations to follow leading up to the Halloween deadline, as do Brandon Knight’s negotiations with the Bucks. For two rebuilding franchises it’s important that they don’t spend recklessly, but these three players may very well be worth extending provided they continue to improve this season—otherwise they risk paying more to keep them like the Jazz did with Gordon Hayward.
Utah, Indiana and Minnesota
The Jazz look way better than they did a few days ago after signing Gordon Hayward (four years, $63 million) and Derrick Favors (four years, $48 million) to huge contracts in the last two years. Ultimately, they still need those two guys, Dante Exum, and others to turn out, but Utah’s future outlook is much improved from just a week ago.
The Pacers, despite being locked into a max-level contract with Paul George and owing Roy Hibbert $30 million over the next two years, are primed to have serious cap space, meaning their time spent as lottery losers likely won’t be very long.
Looking at Minnesota it’s hard to find much positive, though Kevin Martin (three years, $21 million) and Pekovic (five years, $60 million) deals aren’t…as bad…as they were before. Ricky Rubio turned down a four-year, $48 million extension in light of the recent TV deal, and he seems destined for restricted free agency—though there’s still time for them to strike a deal. What does look promising for the Wolves—apart from Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, and the newfound optimism in the post-Love era—is their chance of re-signing Thaddeus Young, who has already expressed interest in remaining with Minnesota, and if they can ink to him to a reasonable deal they’ll be looking good going forward.
Detroit and Sacramento
Andre Drummond is about to get paid big time, and the cap rising might be enough to convince the Kings to look past Josh Smith’s three year, $40.5 million contract to try to pair DeMarcus Cousins with a defensively capable power forward. The Kings might also be more likely to re-sign Rudy Gay next summer. Whatever the immediate effect this has on Detroit and Sacramento, they’ll both have plenty of cap room by the time the 2016-17 season rolls around.