A Few NBA Teams In Salary Cap Hell: 2017-18

The salary cap projection figures for next year’s NBA season have been released. The good news is that the salary cap [tentatively] goes up $7 million to $101 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The tax level will rise $8 million whereas if you spend north of $121 million you have to pay up.

Teams, 23 of them, have money and will negotiate to add free agents to their rosters. But for those teams that lack fiscal discipline, are bad at contracts, have a lot of superstars or are trying to buy a title, all they can do is sign veterans for minimum deals and depend on their mini mid-level exception.

How good is a GM? If he can do fiscal gymnastics. Can he rob Peter to pay Paul? Can he figure out which veteran(s) don’t really care about how little money they make? They just want to win. Or prolong their career. And they still are skilled.

Here is a list of the we got money issues.


Los Angeles Clippers: $111,415,942 on the books. But Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have Early Termination contracts which can free the Clippers of $45 million. But only to re-sign them. Chris Paul and Blake for five more years may add to the Clippers payroll close to $70 million in 2017-18. Even if the Clippers don’t re-sign J.J. Redick they will once again have to scour the old man veteran market for help.

  • Largest contract: Chris Paul, $24,268, 960
  • Smallest contract: Diamond Stone, $905,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (Early Termination), Luc Mbah a Moute and Marreese Speights (Player Option), J.J. Redick and Raymond Felton and Brandon Bass and Alan Anderson (unrestricted)

Portland Trailblazers: $140,341,907 on the books. Neil Olshey compromised the Blazers with some signings he can’t take back even if he wanted to, the most egregious being $18 million to Allen Crabbe and $17 million to Evan Turner. The worst part is he can’t move either one of them because neither can produce to the value of their contact. No one on the Blazers roster is a free agent so help is not on the way.

  • Largest contract: Damian Lillard, $26,153,057
  • Smallest contract: Jake Layman, $905,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: None

Oklahoma City Thunder: $111,764,977 on the books. Sam Presti panicked before the season started and overpaid both Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams to the tune of $43 million dollars, money they wouldn’t have gotten from any other NBA team. The only movable contract is Jerami Grant whose million dollar contract is a team option. So this sixth seed is the team the Thunder are stuck with in a Russ Westbrook free agency year. Uh-oh.

  • Largest contract: Russell Westbrook, $28,530,608
  • Smallest contract: Semaj Christon, $905,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: Jerami Grant (team option), Taj Gibson and Nick Collison and Andre Roberson and Norris Cole (unrestricted)

Charlotte Hornets: $113,054,418 on the books. Michael Jordan cannot be accused of not spending money but it didn’t matter this year. His team couldn’t buy their way into the playoffs. Next season they have two team option contracts that are fluid, Ramon Sessions and Christian Wood, which only amounts to $7 million so….help!!

  • Largest contract: Nicholas Batum, $22,434,783
  • Smallest contract: Treveon Graham, $905,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: Ramon Sessions and Christian Wood (team option), Brian Roberts (unrestricted)

Milwaukee Bucks: $106,449,509 on the books. The Bucks have a superstar in training in Giannis Antetokounmpo and they are moving into a new arena. They can reduce $25 million of their cap if Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes opt-out, a likely possibility. All their important pieces are signed. They only need veteran perimeter shooting help so being at the cap line won’t hurt them.

  • Largest contract: Giannis Antetokounmpo, $22,471,910
  • Smallest contract: Malcolm Brogdon, $955,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes (player options), Tony Snell and Jason Terry and  Michael Beasley (unrestricted)

Detroit Pistons: $103,423,474 on the books. With the exception of Aaron Baynes $6 million player option, this is the same team returning next year, all are under contract, a team that couldn’t make the playoffs. They have to see what kind of talent they can reel in with the veteran minimum market but that solves nothing. Their pieces don’t fit starting with Reggie Jackson. Move Jackson and they will be vastly improved.

  • Largest contract: Andre Drummond, $23,775,506
  • Smallest contract: Michael Gbinije, $905,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock and Beno Udrih (unrestricted). Darrun Hillard (team option)

Cleveland Cavaliers: $129,012,439 on the books. According to Brian Windhorst upcoming book on the Cavs and LeBron James, James only had two demands from Dan Gilbert. He wanted a max deal and he wanted reassurance that Gilbert would spend money to build a championship team. Regardless what you feel about Gilbert, he kept his word. All the key players are still under contract for next year. The only cautionary tale is they will be another year older so when does fatigue come into play?

  • Largest contract: LeBron James, $33,285,709
  • Smallest contract: Kay Felder, $905,249
  • 2017 Free Agents: Kyle Korver and James Jones and Derrick Williams and Deron Williams (unrestricted)