With free agency kicking off today, many are jumping to speculate at whom the Cavaliers will sign to fill out the roster. However, before we do that, it’s important to figure out exactly how much cap space the team has to operate with and how many players need to be signed. Here are some cap-related questions to help us figure out what Chris Grant is working with this summer.
What is the salary cap for the 2013-2014 season?
This one is easy. According to projections, the salary cap for 13-14 is $58.5 million, and the luxury tax line is projected to be $71.6 million. The Cavs shouldn’t have to worry about the tax this season, luckily. Also of note is the salary floor, which is 90 percent of the salary cap. That number is $52.65 million.
How many roster spots are currently filled, and how much money is on the Cavs cap currently? (all data from hoopsworld.com)
Anderson Varejao-$9 million
Kyrie Irving-$5.6 million
Anthony Bennett-$5.3 million (likely)
Tristan Thompson-$4.1 million
Dion Waiters-$3.9 million
Alonzo Gee-$3.3 million
Tyler Zeller-$1.6 million
Sergey Karasev-$1.5 million (likely)
Carrick Felix’s contract will not be guaranteed, so he is not factored into this number. This means that the Cavs currently have an eight-player roster worth around $34.3 million.
What are the Cavs current cap holds?
The Cavs have yet to do anything involving C.J. Miles’ contract, who has a $2.2 million team option that the Cavs need to decide whether to exercise. Thus, he is on the books with a cap hold of $2.7 million, or 120 percent of his salary. Since the Cavs have renounced Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights opted out of his final year already, both are not included in the cap holds. Karasev and Bennett are currently cap holds for their rookie pay scale numbers as well, but once those contracts are signed, they’ll go on the books for the amounts above, so I’ve included the numbers in the guaranteed salary. The Cavaliers also have four empty roster spots, resulting in a cap hold of another $2 million, meaning the Cavs have roughly $39 million tied up in cap holds and salaries.
So how much cap space do the Cavaliers have?
$58.5 million salary cap – $39 million in obligations = $19.5 million in cap room.
Also, the Cavs have to hit that salary floor, so the team must spend at least $13.65 million more this offseason.
What kind of exceptions are available to the Cavaliers?
The Cavs have the Full Mid-Level exception, worth $5.15 million, and the bi-annual exception, worth $2.016 million. I do not foresee the Cavs using these exceptions this season. The Cavs do not have any outstanding trade exceptions.
Can the Cavs offer a max contract?
They can, although I don’t know why they would. Needing to sign two to three more players (I’m also assuming they leave a roster spot open for Carrick Felix or someone else on a non-guaranteed contract to make the team), offering a max to a player coming off his rookie deal (which would be in the ballpark of $14-16 million) would severely hamper the Cavs’ efforts to sign other free agents and tie up future cap space for when the time comes to re-sign all the guys on rookie deals (Kyrie, TT, Waiters, etc.).
The Cavs didn’t offer Wayne Ellington an offer sheet. What does this mean?
Basically, it makes things easier on the Cavs cap situation and makes Ellington an unrestricted free agent instead of a restricted free agent. Restricted free agency is a weird, fickle beast when it comes to cap room, and it’s easier for the Cavs to negotiate with other free agents without Ellington’s cap hold. Also, I don’t think the Cavs are bringing Ellington back, due to other needs, so that may be why they let Ellington walk.
What do the Cavs need in free agency?
In my opinion, the Cavs have three major needs; backup point guard, starting small forward and rim-protecting big. That’s where I see the Cavs’ money going. There are definitely players out there that the Cavs can sign to fill each of these needs on the market. Backup point guards to consider include Beno Udrih, Will Bynum and Earl Watson; Small forward candidates include Mike Dunleavy, Corey Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko; and rim-protecting bigs could be Brandan Wright, Chris Andersen and Sam Dalembert.
So in summary…….
The salary cap for 2013-14 is $58.5 million. The Cavaliers have $27.5 million committed to six players, with $6.8 million projected in rookie deals and $4.7 million in cap holds, for a total salary commitment of $39 million. This leaves them with roughly $19.5 million in cap space, with which they should be signing two to three new players this summer.