The NBA released its latest round of salary cap projections on Friday, and ESPN reports that the numbers are big. Next season's salary cap threshold is estimated to jump to $94 million while the luxury tax threshold is estimated at $113 million, compared to $70 million and $84.74 million respectively, this season. This is the year that the money from the much-discussed national TV deal kicks in, but business is booming for the league in general.
Player Contracts (2016-17)
- Russell Westbrook ($17,769,374)
- Enes Kanter ($17,145,838)
- Serge Ibaka ($12,250,000)
- Kyle Singler ($4,837,500)
- Nick Collison ($3,750,000)
- Anthony Morrow ($3,488,000 -- non-guaranteed until July 15th, 2016)
- Steven Adams ($3,140,517)
- Andre Roberson ($2,183,072)
- Cameron Payne ($2,112,480)
- Mitch McGary ($1,526,040)
- Josh Huestis ($1,191,480)
- Kevin Durant ($25,894,800)
- Dion Waiters ($12,846,075, restricted free agent)
- Randy Foye ($5,956,500)
- Nazr Mohammed ($980,431)
Total team salary: $115,071,607, plus Derek Fisher's $980,431 cap hold.
Maximum cap space (Durant leaves, all other free agents renounced, Morrow waived): $28,093,699
Durant's decision is, ah, noteworthy. His maximum contract would start at roughly $26 million in the first year (his max is technically defined as 30 percent of the cap, but it uses a different cap calculation that leads to a slightly lower amount). I imagine Durant goes the LeBron James route of signing a one-plus-one contract with a player option for next season, allowing him to opt out and re-sign for a larger max contract worth 35 percent of the cap (tied to years in the league). A five-year max signed this summer would be around $150 million, while he'd likely make over $200 million if he signs a one-year deal this summer before inking a new five-year max next year.
The Thunder probably want Waiters back, too. That was less certain a few months ago, but after his play in the postseason where he really embraced the 3-and-D role's core tenets – grit, consistency and more refined shot selection – Waiters has cemented his importance as sixth man and an extra body to play small with. The Thunder have matching rights on any offer sheet he signs, and I imagine his next contract would be in the ballpark of $12 to $15 million per year. That would take them close to the luxury tax line, possibly impacting their ability to use the full Mid-Level Exception of $5.628 million without going over, even if they re-sign Randy Foye to a minimum-ish contract or just renounce him.
If the Thunder do need extra space under the luxury tax line, probably no one minds if Kyle Singler was shopped around or waived outright with the stretch provision, reducing his cap hit to about $2 million over the next seven years. (R.I.P. Pistons era Singler, we never knew ye.)
If Durant signs elsewhere, they mostly everything goes to shit, but the Thunder can still offer a max contract to anyone that they'd realistically want (say, Nicolas Batum or a cheaper max to Evan Fournier) if they renounce Waiters and waive Morrow. Otherwise, they can keep Waiters and still have $11,759,624 in cap space with Morrow or $15,247,642 without.
Andre Roberson and Steven Adams are eligible for contract extensions, but neither should have much incentive to commit to a contract now when they could play themselves into more money next season.
The Thunder don't have any draft picks in this year's draft, with their first round pick given up in the trade for Waiters (and now in the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers because Sam Hinkie is a good GM damnit) and their second round pick owed to the Nuggets from the trade for Foye. They do have the draft rights to 2015 pick Dakari Johnson, 2014's Semaj Christon and urban myth Alex Abrines.
The salary cap threshold is officially set during the NBA's July Moratorium, which means there's still time for this thing to eclipse the damn stars and shoot into the hunnid millions. (Just kidding, but I won't be surprised if $94 million is still lower than the actual salary cap when it's all said and done.)