With the NBA postseason down to just 8 teams, most franchises are focusing on their summer draft and free agency plans. The 2019 free agency class is a good one, with MVP candidates and multiple All Stars. It’s so good, in fact, that some teams (Knicks, Clippers, Mavericks) made deadline moves with the sole purpose of opening cap space for this summer.
The Utah Jazz are another team that positioned themselves well in regards to 2019 NBA Free Agency. This might be the most important summer in franchise history. The core building blocks of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are in place. Will they be able to build a title contender around them successfully?
With that in mind, I decided to spend way too much time breaking down each team and how much cap space they are projected to have. This might get a little long. Sorry, not sorry. Thank you to basketball-reference.com and spotrac.com for the info on contracts. Disclaimer: there’s some personal opinion in a lot of these decisions and I probably made a mistake somewhere along the way.
- Biggest Free Agents: Dewayne Dedmon, Vince Carter
- Guaranteed Salary: $37,656,460
- Player Options: Kent Bazemore $19,269,662
- Non-Guaranteed: Omari Spellman ($1,620,480) and Jaylen Adams ($1,416,852)
- 1st round draft pick salary cap holds: 5th ($5,327,000) and 9th ($3,719,500)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Dedmon ($9,360,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $39,990,046
Bazemore will never get that much money in the open market, so he’s pretty much guaranteed to pick up that option. I also find it highly unlikely that the Hawks don’t keep their previous draft picks in Spellman and Adams. After their high 1st round picks, the Hawks still have a max salary slot if they care to use it. I’m assuming they don’t hang on to Dedmon’s rights, but I could be wrong.
- Biggest Free Agents: Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier (RFA)
- Guaranteed Salary: $56,843,750
- Stretch Provision Salary: $92,857
- Player Options: Al Horford ($30,123,015), Kyrie Irving ($21,329,750), Aron Baynes ($5,453,280)
- Non-Guaranteed: Jayson Tatum ($7,830,000), Robert Williams ($1,937,520), Semi Ojeleye ($1,618,520)
- 1st round cap hold: 14th ($2,878,400), 20th ($2,149,000)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Rozier ($9,151,170)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $3,340,688
Reports indicate that Kyrie might be headed elsewhere. I’m guessing Horford picks up his option and all the young players’ options are picked up as well. I anticipate Baynes opting out and looking for a little more money. I’ve got them holding onto Rozier’s cap hold here as well.
- Biggest Free Agents: DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley, D’Angelo Russell (RFA), Ed Davis
- Guaranteed Salary: $37,713,394
- Stretch Provision Salary: $5,474,787
- Team Options: Shabazz Napier ($1,845,301)
- Non-Guaranteed: Joe Harris ($7,670,000)
- 1st round cap hold: 17th ($2,467,500), 27th ($1,645,300)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Russell ($21,059,094), Ed Davis ($5,338,800)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $33,551,161
The Nets are a really interesting situation. I think they could be surprising players on the free agent market. They’ve got some really good pieces in place and could be an attractive option for a player wanting the big city but not with the Knicks. Joe’s option will obviously be picked up, leaving the Nets with the space to sign a max player and match any offer Russell receives. Davis was a decent role player, so they could decide to keep his cap hold and have less than the max. However, I find that unlikely.
- Biggest Free Agents: Robin Lopez
- Guaranteed Salary: $78,055,002
- Stretch Provision Salary: $3,000,000
- 1st round cap hold: 4th ($5,882,800)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $22,062,197
Per usual, I have no idea what the Bulls intentions will be this summer and how they’ll use their decent amount of cap space.
- Biggest Free Agents: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky (RFA)
- Guaranteed Salary: $71,237,779
- Player Options: Marvin Williams ($15,006,250), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13,000,000)
- Non-Guaranteed: Tony Parker (5,250,000), Miles Bridges ($3,755,400), Willy Hernangomez ($1,701,735), Dwayne Bacon ($1,168,520), Devonte Graham ($1,146,852)
- 1st round cap hold: 12th ($3,189,100)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Lamb ($14,227,907), Kaminsky ($10,883,526)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $3,246,616
Yikes. I’m assuming Kemba leaves at this point, which leaves the Hornets with little cap space and little talent. I project this becoming a fire sale at some point with the Hornets trying to recoup as much value for their veterans as possible. If they hold onto Lamb’s or Kaminsky’s rights, then they won’t have any cap space at all to work with.
- Guaranteed Salary: $118,541,452
- Partial Guarantee: JR Smith ($3,870,000 of $15,680,000)
- 1st round cap hold: 2nd ($7,265,800), 26th ($1,694,300)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$22,371,552
Yes even without JR’s awful contract one of the leagues worst teams has absolutely no space to work worth. I sense a complete tear-down and rebuild in the works.
- Biggest Free Agents: Kristaps Porzingis (RFA), Courtney Lee, JJ Barea, Devin Harris, Trey Burke
- Guaranteed Salary: $43,290,532
- Player Option: Dwight Powell ($10,259,375)
- Non-Guaranteed: Ryan Broekhaff ($1,416,582)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Porzingis ($17,100,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $36,906,251
Will Luka Doncic and crew have free agency pull already? We’re about to find out because Mark Cuban has too much money to spend. Oh and Powell will almost certainly opt in.
- Biggest Free Agents: Trey Lyles, Isaiah Thomas,
- Guaranteed Salary: $88,989,098
- Team Option: Paul Millsap ($30,500,000)
- Non-Guaranteed: Jarred Vanderbilt ($1,633,861)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Lyles ($10,092,747)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $18,347,041
A young team could easily get better with a decent chunk of change this offseason, assuming the Paul Millsap option is not picked up. Lyles could easily be a sacrifice to the cap if they decide to splurge on another role player. I have them revoking his rights here.
- Biggest Free Agents: Ish Smith, Wayne Ellington
- Guaranteed Salary: $105,908,434
- Stretch Provision Salary: $5,331,729
- Team Option: Glenn Robinson III ($4,150,000)
- Non-Guaranteed: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk ($1,416,852)
- 1st round cap hold: 15th ($2,734,100)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Ellington ($2,859,691)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$13,400,806
The Pistons don’t really have cap space to work with due to still paying Josh Smith. I assume they’ll pick up Glenn Robinsons’ option and hope a younger-ish player makes some progression next season. I also have them maintaining Ellington’s rights.
- Biggest Free Agents: Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
- Guaranteed Salary: $80,187,010
- Player Option: Kevin Durant ($31,500,000)
- Partial-Guaranteed: Shaun Livingston ($2 million of $7,692,308)
- Non-Guaranteed: Alfonso McKinnie ($1,588,231)
- 1st round cap hold: 28th ($1,635,000)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Thompson ($28,483,088), Cousins ($6,404,400), Looney ($1,618,486)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$12,916,215
The good news: Kevin Durant appears to be leaving town this summer. The bad news: the Warriors will still be really good. I mean, this team already broke the record for most wins in an NBA season before Durant got here. I’m guessing they don’t fully guarantee Shaun Livingston’s contract. If Durant leaves, I’ve also got them keeping Cousins rights as they could grow his role next season.
- Biggest Free Agents: Kenneth Faried, Gerald Green, Austin Rivers
- Guaranteed Salary: $118,995,133
- Stretch Provision Salary: $122,741
- Non-Guaranteed: Isaiah Hartenstein ($1,416,852)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$11,411,985
There’s a LOT of money tied up with not a lot of players on the Rockets roster. How Daryl Morey navigates the next offseason or two will be very interesting.
- Biggest Free Agents: Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph
- Guaranteed Salary: $54,915,369
- Stretch Provision Salary: $2,245,400
- Non-Guaranteed: Edmond Sumner ($1,588,231), Alize Johnson ($1,416,852)
- 1st round cap hold: 18th ($2,344,400)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Bogdanovic ($13,650,000), Young ($20,646,068), Collison ($13,000,000), Joseph ($15,095,500)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $32,839,748
Honestly the Pacers might be the most interesting team to watch come July. They have a ton of key free agents they are hoping to resign. This allows them flexibility to potentially add a max guy next to Victor Oladipo and then bring back their guys on bird rights contracts. Bogdanovic will likely be an especially sought-after player. The only cap hold I’ve got them hanging onto in my projection is Bogdanovic at this point, but I could see this entire crew coming back and them having not cap space at all.
- Biggest Free Agents: Patrick Beverly, Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green
- Guaranteed Salary: $43,766,630
- Non-Guaranteed: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($3,952,920), Sindarius Thornwell ($1,618,520)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Beverley ($9,551,353)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $59,661,930
They may decide to cut ties with Thornwell just to open up a little more space. I wouldn’t be shocked by a Gallinari trade either this summer. I think the Clippers plan to try and use 2 max salary slots. Can they get Kawhi and talk someone else into it as well? Holding on to Beverley and signing 2 marquee free agents looks pretty difficult at this point, so I have them renouncing his rights to get that 60 million in space.
- Biggest Free Agents: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Mike Muscala, Lance Stephenson
- Guaranteed Salary: $61,057,804
- Stretch Provision Salary: $4,990,000
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 11th ($3,357,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $39,595,196
The Lakers have another max slot to go and get a guy. But will they get a guy? Other than LeBron James, who was going to LA no matter what it would seem, they haven’t landed a marque guy for a while. Will they up the ante on the Anthony Davis sweepstakes via trade instead? I have them renouncing all of the FA’s rights so that they have the max amount of space to work with.
- Biggest Free Agents: Justin Holiday, Delon Wright
- Guaranteed Salary: $85,380,194
- Stretch Provision Salary: $459,414
- Player Option: Jonas Valanciunas ($17,617,977)
- Partial Guaranteed: Avery Bradley ($2 million of $12,960,000)
- Non-Guaranteed: Dillon Brooks ($1,618,520), Bruno Caboclo ($1,845,301)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 8th ($4,046,500)
- Potential Cap Holds: Wright ($7,610,694)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$22,538,600
Twelve million is too much for Avery Bradley, but I feel like they’ll keep him and either use him as an expiring at the deadline or decide if he’s worth keeping at the end of the season. I don’t see Valanciunas turning down over 17 million at this point. Will a new GM and new coach finally decide to #FreeMikeConley. If they keep Wright’s rights, then they won’t have any space.
- Guaranteed Salary: $81,271,365
- Player Options: Hassan Whiteside ($27,093,018), Goran Dragic ($19,217,900)
- Non-Guaranteed: Adebayo ($3,454,080), Jones ($1,645,357)
- 1st Round Draft Pick: 13th ($3,029,600)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$26,711,320
No way Dragic and Whiteside give up that much money on their options because they wouldn’t come close to that on the open market. The Heat have a lot of money towards goo-not-great players.
- Biggest Free Agents: Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon (RFA), Nikola Mirotic, Brook Lopez
- Guaranteed Salary: $65,727,474
- Player Option: Khris Middleton ($13,000,000)
- Partial Guaranteed: George Hill ($1 million of $18,000,000)
- Non-Guaranteed: Pat Connaughton ($1,719,000), Sterling Brown ($1,618,520)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 30th ($1,611,700)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Brogdon ($3 million), Middleton ($19,500,000), Mirotic ($18,750,000), Lopez ($4,058,400)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $10,764,906
The Bucks worked in some trades like magic to find the cap space to keep their impressive core together. I don’t expect anything too exciting to happen here. They’ll pay Middleton and likely match anything that comes Brogdon’s way that isn’t outrageous. Mirotic is definitely looking like the odd man out. I have the Bucks keeping Lopez’s rights but not Mirotic’s.
- Biggest Free Agents: Taj Gibson, Jerryd Bayless, Tyus Jones (RFA), Derrick Rose
- Guaranteed Salary: $108,479,948
- Stretch Provision Salary: $685,340
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 10th ($3,533,500)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Jones ($7,332,159), Rose ($1,618,486)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$12,649,433
I doubt they cut Tyus Jones loose at this point, which means the Timberwolves will be looking at exceptions to add talent to this young roster. Rose’s cap hold is small, so I bet they hang on to those rights.
- Biggest Free Agents: Stanley Johnson (RFA), Elfrid Payton, Ian Clark
- Guaranteed Salary: $76,766,359
- Player Option: Julius Randle ($9,073,050)
- Team Options: Jahlil Okafor ($1,702,486), Dairis Bertans ($1,416,852)
- Non-Guaranteed: Christian Wood ($1,645,357), Kenrich Williams ($1,416,852)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 7th ($4,417,000)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Johnson ($11,821,206), Payton ($3,600,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $6,213,888
I’ll be watching the Pelicans closely as well. Could they somehow end up convincing Anthony Davis to stay after a good summer? If not, how will they build around Jrue Holiday? They could open up another $15 million without the cap holds of Johnson and Payton. I believe Randle will be looking for bigger, long-term money after a one-year prove it deal.
New York Knicks
- Biggest Free Agents: DeAndre Jordan, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay, Noah Vonleh
- Guaranteed Salary: $15,259,272 (no that’s not a joke)
- Stretch Provision Salary: $6,431,666
- Partial Guarantee: Lance Thomas ($1 million of $7,583,975)
- Team Options: Allonzo Trier ($3,551,100), Henry Ellenson ($1,645,357)
- Non-Guaranteed: Damyean Dotsori ($1,618,520)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 1st ($8,120,700)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $74,924,755
So... that’s a lot of money. Like a Kevin Durant and a Kyrie Irving lot of money. Will New York finally land a prized free agent after all these years? Time will tell.
- Biggest Free Agents: Raymond Felton, Markieff Morris
- Guaranteed Salary: $128,720,455
- Stretch Provision Salary: 999,200
- Player Options: Patrick Patterson ($5,711,200), Nerlens Noel ($1,988,119)
- Non-Guaranteed: Abdel Nader ($1,618,520)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 21st ($2,063,100)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Morris ($1,618,486)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$38,517,144
The tax bill for this team compared to post season results is quite astounding.
- Biggest Free Agents: Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross
- Guaranteed Salary: $83,499,728
- Stretch Provision Salary: $333,333
- Team Option: Wesley Iwundu ($1,618,520)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Vucevic ($19,125,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $4,423,419
It sounds like the Magic would like to bring Vucevic back if they’re able to. Obviously without him they'd have a significant chunk of change to spend
- Biggest Free Agents: Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, Boban Marjanovic
- Guaranteed Salary: $40,141,180
- Player Option: Jimmy Butler ($19,841,627), James Ennis ($1,845,301)
- Partial Guarantee: Johnathon Simmons ($1 million of $5,700,000)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 24th ($1,901,500)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Harris ($22,200,000), Redick ($15,925,000), Jimmy Butler ($29,762,441)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$1,930,121
Philly has made it clear that they’d like to bring everyone back, if possible. Doing so would put them well above the cap. Assuming Butler opts out, they’ll be able to resign him and use bird rights to bring the whole group back. But it is going to be EXPENSIVE. I’ve also got Ennis opting out because he can probably get a little more in free agency and the 76ers letting Simmons go. They have a lot of quasi space, but those caps holds take it all.
- Biggest Free Agents: Dragan Bender, Kelly Oubre, Richaun Holmes, Jamal Crawford
- Guaranteed Salary: $61,677,104
- Player Option: Tyler Johnson ($19,245,370)
- Team Option: Jimmer Fredette ($1,416,852)
- Non-Guaranteed: Ray Spaulding ($1,416,852)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 3rd ($6,524,900)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Oubre ($9,625,890)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $15,617,932
I imagine they traded for Oubre with the intent to keep him, so until he signs a new deal his cap hold will limit the Suns flexibility. Also, Johnson will obviously be picking up that option. I’ve go the Suns with over 15 million to spend in the summer.
- Biggest Free Agents: Al-Farouq Aminu, Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, Enes Kanter
- Guaranteed Salary: $120,909,045
- Stretch Provision Salary: $5,091,107
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 25th ($1,752,500)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Aminu ($13,218,500), Hood ($4,167,466)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$36,138,618
Aminu has been a key role player and Hood hit some big shots in the playoffs. With their limited ability well over the cap, they will likely be forced to keep those rights an go over the cap to keep most of these guys together. They clearly won’t be big players this summer.
- Biggest Free Agents: Alec Burks, Kosta Koufus, Willie Cauley-Stein (RFA)
- Guaranteed Salary: $39,776,434
- Stretch Provision Salary: $2,133,541
- Player Option: Harrison Barnes ($25,102,512)
- Non-Guaranteed: Yogi Ferrel ($3,150,000), Frank Mason ($1,618,520), B.J. Johnson ($1,416,852)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Cauley-Stein ($14,090,625)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $37,218,993
With a new coach in place and a team on the up-swing, could a big name free agent decide to take a chance on Sacramento? I’ll go out on a limb and say that Barnes picks up that option. They’ll certainly try to keep WCS and I’ve got them guaranteeing all of the other contracts as well.
- Biggest Free Agents: Rudy Gay
- Guaranteed Salary: $92,674,881
- Stretch Provision Salary: $5,100,000
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 19th ($2,238,700), 29th ($1,623,300)
- Potential FA Cap Hold: Gay ($13,113,360)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$5,750,241
If Gay or the Spurs decide to go a different direction then the Spurs will have some room to work with under the cap, but not much. Are the Spurs ever going to rebuild?
- Biggest Free Agents: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Jeremy Lin
- Guaranteed Salary: $80,318,115
- Stretch Provision Salary: $1,000,000
- Player Option: Leonard ($21,329,752), Gasol ($25,595,700)
- Non-Guaranteed: Malcolm Miller ($1,588,231), Chris Boucher ($1,588,231)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Green ($15,000,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$1,090,277
This is assuming that they decide to renounce Danny Green’s rights, Kawhi opts out, and Gasol opts in. If Kawhi opts out we could see them go full on rebuild mode and trade whoever has positive value outside of Siakam. If Kawhi decides to stay then obviously they go even more over the cap, which I’m sure they wouldn’t complain about.
- Biggest Free Agents: Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh
- Guaranteed Salary: $62,406,026
- Team Option: Derrick Favors ($16,900,000)
- Partial Guarantee: Kyle Korver ($3,440,000 of $7,500,000)
- Non-Guaranteed: Royce O’Neale ($1,618,520), Raul Neto ($2,150,000), Georges Niang ($1,645,357)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 23rd ($1,901,500)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Sefolosha ($6,825,000), Udoh ($4,368,000)
Projected Salary Cap Space: $33,680,097
Favs is the tipping point here. Without the cap holds, the Jazz could open up a max slot by letting Favors go. His non-guarantee date is relatively later into free agency, giving Utah the flexibility to get commitments from players before having to make such a painful move. Or they have around 17 million to spend to upgrade the roster elsewhere. Cutting Korver or having him retire could give the Jazz several extra million in funds as well.
- Biggest Free Agents: Trevor Ariza, Tomas Satoransky (RFA), Thomas Bryant (RFA), Bobby Portis (RFA)
- Guaranteed Salary: $89,166,400
- Team Option: Jabari Parker ($20,000,000)
- 1st Round Cap Hold: 6th ($4,838,500)
- Potential FA Cap Holds: Satoransky ($7,285,005), Bryant ($3,021,354), Portis ($7,483,058)
Projected Salary Cap Space: -$2,794,317
Even without picking up Parker’s rather large option the Wizards won’t have any cap space to work with this summer. Boy does that Wall contract look bad in retrospect. And it only starts kicking in next season.
In summary, a LOT of money will be handed out this summer. It won’t be as crazy (nor should it be as stupid) as 2016, but this is shaping up to be a very active and landscape-changing free agency. Here are my projections for each team in a simple list, in order of most to least amount of space:
- New York Knicks $74,924,755
- LA Clippers $59,661,930
- Atlanta Hawks $39,990,046
- Los Angeles Lakers $39,595,196
- Sacramento Kings $37,218,993
- Dallas Mavericks $36,906,251
- Utah Jazz $33,680,097
- Brooklyn Nets $33,551,161
- Indiana Pacers $32,839,748
- Chicago Bulls $22,062,197
- Denver Nuggets $18,347,041
- Phoenix Suns $15,617,932
- Minnesota Timberwolves $12,649,433
- Milwaukee Bucks $10,764,906
- New Orleans Pelicans $6,213,888
- Orlando Magic $4,423,419
- Boston Celtics $3,340,688
- Charlotte Hornets $3,246,616
- Toronto Raptors -$1,090,277
- Philadelphia 76ers -$1,930,121
- Washington Wizards -$2,794,317
- San Antonio Spurs -$5,750,241
- Houston Rockets $-11,411,985
- Golden State Warriors -$12,916,215
- Detroit Pistons -$13,400,806
- Cleveland Caveliers -$22,371,552
- Memphis Grizzlies -$22,538,600
- Miami Heat -$26,711,320
- Portland Trail Blazers -$36,138,618
- Oklahoma City Thunder -$38,510,144
Hopefully this is useful for everyone in terms of summer planning and getting excited about free agency! I’ll do a follow up article or two on what these numbers might mean for the Jazz and what their chances are of landing a big name! In the mean time, enjoy the painful number crunching!