Odds Each NBA Team Lands a Top Free Agent in 2013
Free agency in the NBA nowadays is like a Hollywood plot, with plenty of drama, suspense and betrayal to go around.
With high profile players flocking to big markets in hopes of increasing their endorsement opportunities and team up with other high profile players looking to do the same, it's rare when a star chooses to re-up with his current team.
So what are the chances some of the little guys could land a big free agent this summer? With players like Chris Paul, Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard set to hit the market, what teams have the best chance at landing one or even two of these stars?
Here is where every team's projected cap room* currently stands heading into the free agency summer of 2013, with odds that each team can actually land one of the biggest stars on the market.
*All salary numbers courtesy of HoopsHype.com.
Atlanta Hawks: 60 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $41 million
Thanks to Danny Ferry, the Hawks now have a future brighter than simply floundering in the first round.
With Joe Johnson shipped to the Brooklyn Nets, the Hawks have a massive amount of cap room to sign not just one, but possibly two of the biggest names this summer.
Priority number one should be to re-sign Josh Smith, who just seems to get better and better every year. He'll likely want a max contract or close to it, and could very well get it from a number of teams.
Atlanta is an attractive place to play, even if it's not considered a major market. With Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Lou Williams to build around, another big free agent or two could push this team to the top of the conference.
Boston Celtics: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$10 million
The Boston Celtics saw their cap room come and go last season with the re-signing of Kevin Garnett and additions of Jeff Green, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.
Looking at a projected payroll of $70 million, the Celtics currently don't have any room to pull in any standout free agent.
The most realistic way for Boston to free up some cap space would be to decline the team option on Paul Pierce for the 2013-14 season when he's owed $15.3 million. Since Pierce is still playing at a high level, they would likely only do this to rework a multi-year deal with a lower average yearly salary.
If Boston can somehow work out a deal with Pierce to do this, they could end up with some cap space but not enough to bring in a star unless they move another contract.
Brooklyn Nets: 0 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$25 million
The Nets went all-in in their move to Brooklyn by dealing for the poisonous contract of Joe Johnson.
What's almost worse is the max contract they gave to Brook Lopez who can't seem to stay on the court and the $40 million they dished out to the aging Gerald Wallace.
By doing so they basically signed their fate as a very good but never great team for the foreseeable future.
Sorry Brooklyn, there will be no outside help coming your way.
Charlotte Bobcats: 5 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $20 million
The Bobcats fooled everyone earlier this season into thinking they were a decent team with a 7-5 record, but have since lost 15 straight games and counting in regular Bobcat fashion.
Still, this is an improved team from last season with some legitimate young talent that other players would want to play with.
That, and the uniforms look better.
Charlotte has the cap space to sign a star, but won't be the first, second, or even third destination the top free agents will have in mind.
The best thing the Bobcats can do for now is continue to build around Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and their next high draft pick while keeping the payroll low.
In a few years star players may want to flock to Charlotte. For now, expect more Brendan Haywood-esque signings.
Chicago Bulls: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$13 million
Like the Celtics, the Bulls are an attractive team to sign with, yet will have no cap room unless they swing a deal or use their amnesty clause.
Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose are all owed north of $12 million in 2013-14 with Taj Gibson beginning his four year, $40 million extension.
While there's been whispers for years now it seems, the Bulls have decided thus far to keep Boozer instead of amnestying him and freeing up $15 million from their annual cap space.
Should they finally pull the trigger and let Boozer go, Chicago would be back under the cap limit, albeit not by much.
Deng's deal will be up in 2014 and Boozer's in 2015, but until then it doesn't appear the Bulls will have any significant cap room to bring in a star.
Cleveland Cavaliers: 30 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $32 million
Believe it or not, the Cavs could be a major player in the 2013 free agent market.
While Cleveland hasn't been able to put together any kind of success in 2012, they do feature the game's best young point guard in Kyrie Irving and the NBA's leading rebounder in Anderson Varejao.
These two, combined with Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller offer a lot of promise to whatever big free agent is looking for a team that could emerge as a perennial contender.
General manger Chris Grant has opted to keep his cap room open the last two summers while developing the team's young talent.
If a talented big man like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Josh Smith or other is looking to pair up with a star on a young up-and-coming team, Cleveland may just be the place to do it.
Dallas Mavericks: 50 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $20 million
The Mavericks flopped early in free agency this season, but were to recover nicely with the signing of O.J. Mayo.
Mayo holds a player option for $4 million for next season, which he will almost certainly not pick up. Mayo's play so far this season has been well deserving of a new multi-year deal, one he'll happily sign in Dallas or somewhere else.
Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion will be entering the last year of their deal and will likely be shells of their early 2000's selves. Already struggling this season, Dallas desperately needs a few star signings to put themselves back into contention.
Lucky for them, Mark Cuban can be a pretty persuasive man. The Mavericks can quickly turn themselves into an attractive team to play for again, especially with a Dwight Howard or Chris Paul on board...
Denver Nuggets: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$8 million
Denver's cap space depends on Andre Iguodala and his player option.
Owed $15 million next season if he doesn't opt out and become a free agent, Iguodala could single-handedly change the Nugget's free agents plans.
If he opts out, the Nuggets risk losing a great player, but now have some financial flexibility.
With Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Farried, the Nuggets are one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA.
Free agents should find Denver an attractive destination, should they find cap space to sign one.
Detroit Pistons: 20 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $18 million
Detroit finally gets some breathing room in the cap department this summer.
With Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight and other young players to build around, Detroit needs a true star on their roster to elevate the entire roster.
The Pistons may not be the sexiest destination, but they do have enough talent on the roster to draw in a potential star. With their core now, adding one more big name would push them into a perennial playoff spot.
Stuck in neutral for some time now, the Pistons needs to be smarter with their spending and avoid any more Charlie Villanueva type mistakes.
Golden State Warriors: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$14 million
Golden State is quickly becoming an attractive place to play.
With the uniforms, talent, coaching, and a future move to a beautiful bayfront arena, who wouldn't want to be a part of the W's future?
The cap situation depends a lot on the player options held by Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. Together that's $28 million owed to the four players should all decide to pick up their options.
Given that Biedrins and Jefferson won't get anything close to what they're owed next season on the open market, it doesn't look as if GS will have any free cash to spend. Their best bet will be to resign Jack and Landry who have performed so well off the bench for them this season.
The future is bright, just not for incoming stars.
Houston Rockets: 60 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $26 million
The Rockets are a team just begging for another star.
With $26 million available to spend, they could certainly add one.
With James Harden on board, the Rockets already have one established star to build around. Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons and others are nice, but how good would a Dwight Howard look in that starting lineup?
Houston has proven they aren't shy when it comes to making big moves, something they'll certainly be looking to do this free agency.
Indiana Pacers: 15 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $11 million
The Pacers are another team with a nice young core that could really be brought together with one elite player.
Roy Hibbert, Paul George, Danny Granger and crew make for a strong supporting cast to any potential signee, as do George Hill and Gerald Green.
David West has been a nice veteran signing for them, but will see his contract run up at the end of this year. Indiana pushed the Miami Heat to six games in the playoffs last season, and could be a dark horse to make it to the Eastern Conference finals this year.
Some extra cap space will be needed to dish out another max contract, but Indiana does have enough cash to make a small free agent splash.
Los Angeles Clippers: 90 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $12 million
The Clippers are the hottest team in basketball right now, thanks to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and an exciting, productive bench.
Griffin has already been locked into an extension, now it's Paul's turn.
Able to sign a maximum five-year, $100 million contract with the Clippers should he choose to stay in L.A.,Paul will no doubt have a plethora of teams after him although he would make more money staying put.
While teams like the Mavericks and Hawks will likely go hard after Paul, it's the Clippers that represent the best fit and financial security for him.
Expect Paul to re-sign, and the Clippers to keep their star.
Los Angeles Lakers: 90 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$18 million
Due to their financial situation, the only star the Lakers can afford to sign is their own starting center.
Dwight Howard will be on the free agent market, but for how long?
L.A. has more talent to surround Howard with than any other team with the available cash, and has the advantage of offering a five year deal.
In two years, essentially almost all of the current Lakers contracts will be up, giving L.A. the financial flexibility it's been lacking for years.
While it's not a certainty, Howard would be wise to re-sign with the Lakers now and avoid going to yet another new team for less money.
Memphis Grizzlies: 5 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$12 million
The Grizzlies blessing is also their curse.
Locking up their core players has left Memphis with a great on court product but no financial room to improve it.
Tony Allen, one of the league's best perimeter defenders, will be a free agent and likely want one more big contract before he gets too old.
While he's not considered a true star like some of the other big names, there should be quite a market for Allen.
For now, the Grizzlies have to be considered the front runners for Allen but out of the race for any of the big stars.
Miami Heat: 0 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$25 million
The Heat are tied up in salaries and won't see any potential relief until, at the earliest, 2014.
The Heat are wayyy over the salary cap, have already used their mid-level exceptions, and at this point are stuck offering the veterans minimum as compensation.
It's a good thing they've got some stars already.
While speculation of where they may go can be discussed later, it's safe to say no superstars will be signing with the Heat in 2013.
Milwaukee Bucks: 95 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $20 million
As talented as the Bucks backcourt may be now, things could look very different for them after this summer.
Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent and has yet to agree to an extension with the team. Monta Ellis holds a player option for $11 million that he could very well increase should he choose to go on the market.
Both should be considered stars in the NBA today, and it would be devastating for Milwaukee to lose both Jennings and Ellis in the same offseason.
Gut feeling says Ellis will opt out and leave Milwaukee while the Bucks match whatever offer Jennings gets so he stays in town.
The Bucks keep one star for sure, but hopefully both.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 25 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $10 million
For Kevin Love's sake, let's hope Minnesota brings somebody in.
While Love is going on his fifth year of not making the playoffs for the Wolves, a solid young core has begun to develop around him.
Ricky Rubio returning from ACL surgery will be a huge help when they get him, as will Derrick Williams when he figures out how to play basketball.
If Brandon Roy retires, again, the Wolves will have enough space to bring in another big name alongside Love.
If Minnesota wants to keep him, I suggest they do.
New Orleans Hornets: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $20 million
How cool would it be to see Chris Paul sign with the Hornets?
Could it all be part of his master plan? Let himself get traded, let the team rack up a bevy of valuable players and high draft picks, then return two years later to a much better roster than the one he left.
Genius Mr Paul, genius.
Ok, so well that's not likely to happen, getting another star could.
Anthony Davis would be great to play next to, as would Eric Gordon if he was ever on the court.
New Orleans has the cap room, but a name like the Pelicans won't exactly be a major free agent draw.
New York Knicks: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$16 million
Like most other contenders we've seen, the Knicks have virtually no money to work with.
And like most other contenders we've seen, that's ok because, well, they're pretty darn good.
They've already used the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups and have even reportedly tried to give Amar'e Stoudemire up for nothing, but to no avail.
The Knicks have talent, yes, but cap space, not so much.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 5 Percent
Projected Cap Room: -$6 million
Money is starting to become an issue for the small market Thunder.
With contract extensions dished out to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, OKC has suddenly been looking like NYC.
While they still have their amnesty clause, the only possible candidate would be Perkins who looks light years away from his former self in Boston.
The Thunder never went after big free agents and instead opted for the draft.
Now with no cap room and still with the strategy of developing young talent, don't expect the trend to change.
Orlando Magic: 5 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $9 million
Thank goodness for the NBA amnesty clause or the Magic would still have the over $22 million paid to Gilbert Arenas counted against their cap space in 2013-14.
As it stands, Orlando is somewhere between "Ok, I think we can do this" and "crap, let's just rebuild".
Still with some high priced veterans on their team, it's unclear what Orlando's future plans are. Traditional wisdom says that Orlando would have traded off who they could after trading Dwight Howard and went into full rebuilding mode.
While that wasn't the case, the sting of Howard wanting out and the limited cap space means no big free agent signing anytime soon in central Florida.
Philadelphia 76ers: 20 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $13 million
The Andrew Bynum experiment in Philly has gone over about as well as Caddyshack 2 went with movie critics.
Bynum, who has yet to play a game while dealing with injuries, may serve his best value to the team when his contract runs up this offseason.
At this point, there's no reason for the Sixers to want to bring him back unless he can somehow work his way back to the court before the end of the year.
The Sixers last big contract was given to Elton Brand, a deal they ended up using the amnesty clause on.
Philly should be wary, and see what kind of Bynum they'll be getting before talking extension.
Phoenix Suns: 10 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $16 million
The look on Luis Scola's face can tell you everything you need to know about how the season is going for the Suns.
Dipping into the free agent pool last year for Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic and Scola has been met with disappointing results thus far.
Looking ahead to next summer, it's unlikely any big name would be drawn to Phoenix due to their overall poor play and fact that Steve Nash is no longer in town.
The Suns have the money, getting the interest will be the problem.
Portland Trail Blazers: 25 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $16 million
The Rose City is beginning to smell quite nice once again.
With Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and company leading the way, the Blazers may only be a max contract player away from being a real player in the Western Conference.
While the bench has also been an issue for the Blazers, landing a big man like Al Jefferson would look real nice next to Aldridge down low.
Portland has some decisions to make, what with J.J. Hickson facing free agency himself and the lack of a reliable second string.
$16 million should help to make those decisions a little easier.
Sacramento Kings: 2.5 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $17 million
There aren't a lot of nice things to say about the Kings franchise, but they do have some cash to spend if they need to.
With Tyreke Evans facing free agency and other young players looking for extensions in coming years, it will be interesting to see how Sacramento chooses to spend their money.
Might I suggest adding a point guard, as the King's can't seem to find a reliable one to feed the ball to their talented post players.
The Kings are and have been a mess, but someone like Chris Paul would help clean up a whole lot of problems for Sacramento.
Until they get some chemistry and attitude issues worked out with players, Sac-Town is not an attractive destination.
San Antonio Spurs: 100 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $19 million
When calculating the odds to determine if the Spurs will land a star player depends entirely upon your opinion if Manu Ginobili is a star or not.
If you believe he is, than yes, by all means the Spurs will come away with a star this summer.
San Antonio has never been one to play the free agent market despite a few calculated signings every now and again. Choosing instead to build through the draft and re-sign their own talent, no one can argue with their strategy based on their results.
If you consider Ginobili a star player, which I still do, than the Spurs can guarantee themselves a star.
Toronto Raptors: 5 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $3 million
Times are tough in Toronto.
When you have to pay Landry Fields $18 million for a handful of average basketball years and consider that your free agent prize, times are tough.
The Raptors main concern should be getting Kyle Lowry under contract long term and forget about bringing in more average players for above-average money.
Toronto has some nice pieces, but not enough at this point to lure a big name across the border.
Worry about locking up Lowry now, and about outside free agents later.
Utah Jazz: 30 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $35 million
Utah has control over two of the biggest upcoming free agents, and could feasibly trade one or both before the February deadline.
With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, you have two premier big men who fly under the radar yet always seem to get the job done.
Unfortunately for them, age and cost may force them out of Utah this season, what with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings.
What Utah really needs is an elite guard to complement their talented bigs. Years ago they passed on Chris Paul in the draft. Will this summer's free agency be different?
Washington Wizards: 0.1 Percent
Projected Cap Room: $0
The Wizards have no cap space, very few wins, and have yet to get John Wall on the court this season.
Lucky for them, nobody in the nations capital watches basketball anyways.
Ok, so maybe that's a little harsh but the reality is the Wizards are a rebuilding team giving good minutes to veterans instead of young talent. They're stuck in an Orlando Magic-type situation except for the occasional win.
One day John Wall and Bradley Beal will form a deadly backcourt and the Wizards will have cap space galore to bring in a star big man to compliment the two.
Unfortunately, today is not that day.