Interesting read for number crunchers

Spending Power Dwindling

By Eric Pincus

Senior NBA Writer

Free agency is generally quiet through August and even much of September. The top free agents have landed and while a few stragglers remain, most teams have used their spending power.

The following table breaks down how much each franchise has spent on the coming 2012/13 NBA Season, remaining cap space or tax burden and available exceptions. Note that not every contract is fully guaranteed and trade exceptions have been omitted from the list (for now).

Franchise Total Salary MLE/Room BAE Over Tax Cap Room
Atlanta Hawks $65,551,227 $1,957,000
Boston Celtics $72,533,029 $1,957,000* $2,226,029
Brooklyn Nets $81,802,948 $11,495,948
Charlotte Bobcats $56,853,129 $2,575,000-R $1,190,871
Chicago Bulls $73,548,450 $1,059,000 $3,241,450
Cleveland Cavaliers $46,885,575 $2,575,000-R $11,158,425
Dallas Mavericks $59,314,713 $2,575,000-R
Denver Nuggets $63,496,618 $3,325,359 $1,957,000
Detroit Pistons $67,725,875 $2,026,396 $1,957,000
Golden State Warriors $71,155,896 $150,000 $1,957,000 $848,896
Houston Rockets $56,594,939 $2,575,000-R $1,449,061
Indiana Pacers $65,350,015 $2,575,000-R
Los Angeles Clippers $69,012,215
Los Angeles Lakers $99,981,237 $1,590,000 $29,674,237
Memphis Grizzlies $74,915,772 $90,000 $4,608,772
Miami HEAT $82,653,251 $12,346,251
Milwaukee Bucks $61,708,159 $4,350,000 $1,957,000
Minnesota Timberwolves $60,360,017
New Orleans Hornets $62,994,507 $2,575,000-R
New York Knicks $79,827,520 $9,520,520
Oklahoma City Thunder $67,063,298 $3,326,396 $1,957,000
Orlando Magic $63,210,888 $4,211,128 $1,957,000
Philadelphia 76ers $63,341,044 $2,575,000-R
Phoenix Suns $50,649,834 $2,575,000-R $7,394,166
Portland Trail Blazers $56,786,970 $2,575,000-R $1,257,030
Sacramento Kings $57,924,381 $2,575,000-R $119,619
San Antonio Spurs $69,157,865 $500,000 $557,000
Toronto Raptors $60,245,621
Utah Jazz $66,596,786 $2,500,000 $1,957,000
Washington Wizards $55,405,413 $5,000,000 $1,957,000

Note: Donte Green has agreed to terms with the Brooklyn Nets at the league minimum but hasn’t been added yet. The salaries of Jeff Green of the Boston Celtics and Carlos Delfino of the Houston Rockets are temporary estimates.

Teams under the Cap

The Cleveland Cavaliers currently have more spending power than any team in the league ($11.2 million). Reportedly the Cavaliers are near a deal with forward Alonzo Gee, who is currently a restricted free agent with a cap hold of $2.7 million (which is included in their team salary computation). With Gee, Cleveland would have 17 players under contract (a limit of 15 for opening night) although Daniel Gibson, Samardo Samuels, Donald Sloan, Jon Leuer and Michael Eric are all on partial/non-guaranteed contracts.

The Phoenix Suns have $7.4 million in room with 13 players under contract, making the Suns the second of two teams with any true cap flexibility left to spend.

Technically the Houston Rockets, who have 20 players under contract, can waive partial/non-guaranteed players to near $6-7 million in space.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats can be out-spent by teams who still have their Bi-Annual Exceptions (BAE) of $1.957 million.


After using their Amnesty Clause to waive Andray Blatche, the Washington Wizards are in range of cap room. It would take a few clerical moves to open up $2.7 million in cap.

Conversely, if they stay over they have more spending power with their Mid-Level Exception (MLE), BAE, and a $1.9 million trade exception (TPE) from the Rashard Lewis deal. If the Wizards renounce all three they slip under the cap and add on their Room Exception.

Room Exception Teams

Ten teams still have access to their Room Exceptions of $2.575 million. The extra spending power is afforded to teams that have gone under the cap but have used their room. Technically the Cavaliers and Suns don’t actually gain it until they climb within $2.575 million of the $58 million cap.

The Room Exception teams include the New Orleans Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Bobcats, Blazers and Rockets.

Mid-Level Exception

The Wizards, as the only team with their full $5 million MLE, can spend more than almost any other team. The Milwaukee Bucks are right behind with $4.35 million left of their MLE along with their BAE.

Originally the Orlando Magic were a tax team but after the Dwight Howard trade, their spending power increased ($4.2 million of MLE remaining along with BAE).

The Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder have about $3.3 million left followed by the Utah Jazz ($2.5 million) and Detroit Pistons ($2 million).

Technically the San Antonio Spurs have $500k of their MLE left and $557k of their BAE but each is only enough to add on at slightly above the rookie minimum of $474k.


Teams over the tax apron of $74.3 million are limited to their Mini Mid-Level Exception of $3.09 million.

The Los Angeles Lakers have $1.59 million left after using part on Jodie Meeks.

Bi-Annual Exception Only

The Atlanta Hawks still have their BAE although they may need to save that to re-sign Ivan Johnson, should they chose to do so.

The Golden State Warriors technically have $150k left of their MLE but it’s unusable, leaving just the BAE and minimum contracts (although the team is already at 15 players on the roster).

Technically the Boston Celtics might be able to squeeze out a partial/full BAE while staying under their hard cap of $74.3 million, depending on the exact Jeff Green figure and what they do with their partial/non-guaranteed players.


Once teams use their spending power, they can always sign players at the veteran’s minimum. Technically trade exceptions can be used in sign and trade but only during the offseason.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors are no longer under the cap and have used their Room Exceptions (Greg Stiemsma and Aaron Gray, respectively).

The Chicago Bulls are so close to their hard cap at $74.3 million, the most they can add (without subtracting) is a single player at the rookie minimum. The remaining $1.1 million of their MLE and the $5 million TPE (Kyle Korver) will go unused through the season (barring trade/buy-out reducing salary).

The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami HEAT and New York Knicks are also spent. It’s just minimum contracts and/or trades from here.

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