Iman Shumpert is worth $40 million, Demare Carroll netted $20 million more bills than that, and even Al-Farouq Aminu will cost a franchise (the Portland Trail Blazers) $30 million big ones in the open market. The impending TV deal will bump the cap from $67 million this year to $90 million next year, and then another spartan-like leap in 2017-2018 to around $108 million.
And what has this madness led to??
DeMarre Carroll is now the highest paid player on an NBA team.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 1, 2015
However, $60 million for Demare Carroll is a great deal for the Raptors with the influx of cap space coming every team’s way. Next year Carroll, a player who contributes on both ends of the floor, and plays 30-35 minutes a game will only represent around 15% of Toronto’s cap room. AS MANY AS 28 NBA TEAMS COULD AFFORD A MAX LEVEL CONTRACT NEXT YEAR!!!! 28!!! This raises some interesting questions that have already begun to be answered on day 1 of free agency. Which teams will aggressively look to lock up their superstar(s) before the impending free agency pandemonium? Which superstars will sign long-term deals now, and which will gamble on their future and sign short-term contracts with an eye for re-entering the market looking to join the all-NBA cashing checks team? Finally which teams will get cap creative this year to avoid the free-for-all that the next two seasons will bring? The final question means the San Antonio Spurs take front-and-center stage.
On paper it seems almost unfathomable? How could a team with Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Splitter, an out of contract Danny Green, and I need to get paid Kawhi Leonard, add a max-level player into that mix? How in the Sam Hinkie are the Spurs the front-runners to land LaMarcus Aldridge? First, LaMarcus wants to come to Texas. Reports today stated that Aldridge was less than impressed with Los Angeles. (Earlier reports that stated he was were incorrectly reported) Second, Texas has no state tax! Texas and Florida and the teams within those states are always going to represent the most attractive destinations for free-agents this year, and especially for the next few years as contract money increases and players want to keep more and more of it in their pockets. Los Angeles and New York will always be attractive destinations no matter what, but the Portlands and the Bostons of the world will not be. That’s exactly why Danny Ainge has stockpiled draft picks as trades will be how the Celtics land a superstar, not through free agency. Also, the Isaiah Thomas contract is arguably the biggest bargain in all of basketball.
Still, San Antonio has only emerged as an attractive destination recently. Mark Stein, of ESPN, commented on Zach Lowe‘s The Lowe Post Podcast yesterday referring to how enamored he has been with how the Spurs have positioned themselves as a place players want to play for. No state tax, great coaching, and selfless superstars who have no problem letting someone else be the guy has evolved San Antonio’s basketball culture. LaMarcus wants to be the guy, and in San Antonio he will always be “The next Timmy D”, and the fact that the Spurs do not have to do a multiple year rebuild means the fan-base is more than accepting of the Texan.
So Aldridge wants to play in San Antonio, but he wants a max deal, and a few shrewd cap moves as well as Nowitzki-like unselfishness from San Antonio’s big three means Aldridge is going to the bank. First, the Spurs dumped Tiago Splitter and his $9 million cap-hit to the Spurs-in-training Atlanta Hawks. He will slot perfectly as a three-man rotation with Al Horford (I’m wagering he’s a member of the Spurs in 2017), and the newly signed Paul Milsap, another $80 million beneficiary of the influx of NBA TV money.
Next, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker all have sacrificed for the team. Tim Duncan who Floyd “Money” Mayweather eclipsed in lifetime salary in 36 minutes of action has taken the biggest pay cuts throughout his career for the organization. This is a perfect time to echo Bill Simmons’ thoughts that there should be a designated player who does not count against the cap. Why should Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitizki have to take less money to stay under the cap when they are deserving of a big pay-day. Have one player that does not count against the cap so these guys can get their due. It would sure help Dwayne Wade who is understandably mad.
The Heat just agreed to give Dragic 75% of what they've paid Wade in his ENTIRE CAREER.
— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) July 1, 2015
However, not all is done for the Spurs to have the chance to land another franchise cornerstone big. Danny Green, who reportedly was set to be offered over $15 million a year from multiple teams settled on $10 million a year. (Danny Green, an all-NBA defense talented player who shoots 45% from three is criminally underrated) Also, Kawhi’s extension will not be locked up until after Aldridge signs. Kawhi decided to take the long-term security as some other superstars have elected not to due to his injury history.
LeBron is the prime example of a player banking on his own ability and lac of injury history to continue to cash in on the expanding market year after year. Kevin Durant will do the same when he is a free agent. Andre Drummond took the same gamble signing only a qualifying offer last season, and lucky enough for him it worked as even in an inflated bigs market it appears the Knicks or even a return to the Pistons is going to make the big-man richer than he would’ve been on a longer, more secure deal. The Pelicans payed an enormous amount to keep Anthony Davis in town, but it was still a shrewd move for the organization to avoid a free-agency bidding war when he would become available. The Bulls locked up Jimmy Butler on a 5 year, $90 million contract that is an absolute steal if he keeps putting up MVP type numbers and stays healthy. Now if only they would trade D-Rose for Lawson they would be a serious contender, but that’s an article for another time.
However, not all teams have been as cap-savvy as the Spurs. Some teams have decided to just go all in and pay an enormous luxury tax to hoard talent and take a run at a title. The Cavs managed to spend $240 million without even resigning Lebron. Oh, and do not forget…
Dellevedova looking for that max
— JakeyBrackets (@jakeybrackets) July 1, 2015
Kevin Love signing a 5-year deal was HUGE for the Cav’s ability to continually challenge for a title. Love is still a top-10 NBA talent who does more than one thing well and is absolutely deserving of his pay day. However, one can question the Cavs investing $80 million in LeBron’s boy Tristian Thompson. Thompson is an unparalleled rebounder, but Asik, Lopez, Wright, Bass, Chandler, and influx of other less-talented, but monumentally cheaper bigs were available.
The NBA Free-Agency period has already plunged into anarchy, and the cap-rise has not even taken effect yet. Take these big pay checks that role players are receiving with a grain of salt as in two years they will become assets. Anyway, a lock-out is on the horizon again as the players union pushes for the elimination of what max-deals can be capped at. So, 24 hours into Free Agency what have we learned? Never, ever, sleep on the Spurs.
Agree, Disagree? Don’t understand the Cap?!!! Who Does?!!!! Hit me @jakeybrackets, or comment below. Feedback always appreciated.