(Philadelphia, PA)— If you're a fan of the Philadelphia 76'ers, you should know the dire salary cap restraints that the team is under. The team underpreformed last season, and out of the bottom dwelling teams in the NBA, they were one of the only ones without a shot at a free-agent summer.
In the last few years, there have been missteps in contract signings, over speculation of talent, and a front office that treats salaries like a fledgling fantasy team (and a losing one at that).
Even with the NBA raising the salary cap to $58.04 million, the team is still dipping into the luxury tax realm. The Sixers 13 man roster is sitting at a little over $67.2 million on opening night.
That puts Philadelphia over $8 million above the salary cap. And for a team coming off a 27-55 record, that does not bode well for progress.
If You Noticed, I Said a 13 Man Roster. This is Contingent on a Few Factors
The team hit a bit of a bailout with guard Willie Green choosing to opt out with his early termination option, thus becoming a free agent. Green still falls under the team's cap because he could technically stay put, but chances are someone will want his services and his expiring contract.
Green made $3.68 million last season and if he returns to the club he will make just under four million this year ($3.97). Hopefully, some team will like the services of a solid bench player with an expiring deal. Green had one of the best seasons of his career in 2009-10 when he averaged 8.7 points per game in 73 games, starting in 18 of them.
Another factor to the Sixers salary crunch is the still unsigned rookie, Evan Turner.
According to the NBA rookie salary structure, Turner should make somewhere around $3.8 million in his first season as the No. 2 pick.
Say the best case scenario for the team is that someone is willing to take on Green's expiring deal, taking him off the Sixers books. That would put the team somewhere around $59.46—still not good, but at least we're making some progress.
Also, let's take the best case scenario regarding Turner.
Say the Sixers and Turner get a deal made for a rookie salary of $3.8. This gets you back up to the original $63.3. Turner could get a little more in the deal but should remain around the initial rookie deal.
As you can see, there is not a lot of room for the Sixers to work; unless there is a trade, today the team will be sitting with the following 12 players and their contracts:
Elton Brand ($15.9), Andre Iguodala ($12.3), Andres Nocioni ($6.8), Jason Kapono ($6.6), Lou Williams ($5.4), Spencer Hawes ($2.9), Thad Young ($2.9), Jason Smith ($2.1), Marreese Speights ($1.7), Jrue Holiday ($1.6), Jodie Meeks ($762,000).
Green ($3.9) free-agent , Turner ($3.8) rookie.
The team only has two expiring contracts (Green and Kapono) that could be solid trade bait; if a deal with a team looking for relief is made, these players would most likely be those pieces.
With the free-agent market coming and going, the team will have to look towards next season to become players again. Still not that reassuring, but with players like Carmelo Anthony coming into the free-agent market, things are looking a bit more positive.
Once the Sixers free up the space from Green and Kapono following this year, they also have the option to free themselves around $11.5 million if they choose not to make qualifying offers to Thad Young, Spencer Hawes and Jason Smith.
With the three on the roster, the team salary will sit somewhere around $46.8 million, finally under that cap and looking positive.
The team will most likely make an offer to Young as their small forward of the future (once Iguodala's deal ends) and could keep Hawes depending on his performance this season.
Even if they keep both of these players, the team will still have around $43 Million and put themselves in the realm to sign a max player type deal.
The sad thing you notice when you look at the Sixers salary cap future is the back loaded contract they have to fork out to Brand and Iguodala.
Each player is coming into the final three years of their contracts, and each subsequent year they will make around $1.7 more for every year they stick around.
The team will finally free themselves of Brand in 2013 and most likely won't loose Iguodala till 2014, unless he opts out of his player option of $15.9 million for 2013-14 (not likely).
If the Sixers teach us anything about the way basketball operations work, it's that even one bad deal can handcuff a team for years and potentially drive the way an organization functions to a stalemate. These failures are haunting this team and their fans through multiple coaches and hopefully multiple GMs .