The following post is a taste of things to come from the HP Basketball Network. We’ll soon launch a cap and business blog called Mid-Level Exceptional, where we discuss all things related to the business of the NBA. This post comes from one of our upcoming regular contributors to Mid-Level Exceptional, Bryan Toporek. Enjoy. -Ed.
Thanks to general manager Sam Hinkie, the Philadelphia 76ers have one of the cleanest cap sheets in the NBA.
Heading into the NBA draft tonight, the Sixers are set to have more than $30 million in cap space this summer, assuming a cap of $63.2 million. With a plethora of cheap, non-guaranteed contracts, Hinkie and Co. will be well-positioned to absorb salary from a squad looking to free cap space for a marquee free agent.
Here’s a look at the Sixers’ current cap situation going into draft night:
|Player||Money owed||Contract status|
|Eric Maynor||$2,016,000||Dead money (bought out)|
|Tony Wroten Jr.||$1,210,080|
|B.J. Mullens||$1,063,384||Player option|
Come July 1, however, Philly won’t have that full $30.6 million at its disposal. Assuming the Sixers retain both of their top-10 draft picks, those two rookies will gobble up a healthy portion of that available cap space.
According to Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ, the first-year scale salary is $3,689,700 for the third overall pick and $1,998,200 for the No. 10 pick. Add those together and you get $5,687,900, or just under 20 percent of Philly’s total available cap space.
If the Sixers sign both picks to their scale amount, they’ll enter free agency with just under $25 million available ($24,942,984, to be exact).
In all likelihood, the Sixers won’t stop there. Last offseason, they signed Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams to the maximum amount allowed under the rookie scale (120 percent). Since head coach Brett Brown has openly admitted that the squad is “not going to be pursuing free agents for a while,” per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers could very well reward their two top-10 picks with similarly inflated rookie contracts.
Assuming they do sign both first-rounders to the 120-percent maximum, the third overall selection would have a first-year salary of $4,427,640 and the No. 10 pick would start at $2,397,840. Combined, that adds up to $6,825,480, leaving the squad with just under $24 million of cap room this offseason ($23,805,404).
That still leaves copious amounts of cap space for any wicked machinations Hinkie can concoct this summer. He could call his old boss in Houston, Daryl Morey, and attempt to wrangle away a future first-round pick in exchange for absorbing the final year of Jeremy Lin’s bloated salary. (Perhaps the protected 2015 first-rounder Morey just received from New Orleans in the Omer Asik deal?) Likewise, he could capitalize on Jerry Reinsdorf’s notorious penny-pinching ways and convince the Bulls to send over one (or both) of their two top-20 picks along with Carlos Boozer’s corpse. We’re only scraping the surface of the possibilities here. (In both of these scenarios, the Sixers could ship out a top-55-protected second-round pick—one that has zero chance of actually being conveyed—to make the trades legal.)
The point being: With two top-10 picks and somewhere between $25-30 million in cap space, Hinkie will have the opportunity to leave his imprint on this draft one way or another. (We haven’t even discussed the five second-round picks that he has at his disposal.) And draft night may only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Philly’s involvement in major moves this offseason.