NBA Free Agents 2011: Power Ranking Every Team in the League by Salary Cap Room
As we all know, the NBA is currently in the midst of an intense lockout brought on by several disagreements between the league's players and team owners.
One of the biggest issues that the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on was the salary cap. The owners not only want it lowered, but they want it to be a "hard" cap as well. Right now, the cap can be circumvented to a degree because of "Bird Rights" and other loopholes.
There's no way next year's cap will be the same as it was for the 2010-11 season. But for the purposes of this article, we'll assume it is. Last year, the number was right above $58 million.
Obviously, the teams with the most cap space have the best shot of making some noise in the free-agent market. So here are all 30 teams, ranked by cap space...
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30: Los Angeles Lakers: -$33.3 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $91,311,749
Worst Contract: Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol
The contracts of Bryant and Gasol will be absolutely crippling under the new CBA. For the 2013-14 season, they'll make just under $50 million between the two of them (they'll both be well past their primes at that point).
29: Orlando Magic: -$16.8 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $74,816,623
Worst Contract: Gilbert Arenas
Arenas's salary over the next three years will average over $20 million a season. As a member of the Magic, he averaged eight points and three assists a game while shooting 34 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point range. This is probably the worst contract in the league.
28: San Antonio Spurs: -$15.2 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $73,181,595
Worst Contract: Tony Parker
Unless they can trade him, San Antonio is stuck paying a point guard who doesn't want to be there $12.5 million a year through the 2014-15 season.
27: Boston Celtics: -$14.5 Million
26: Portland Trail Blazers: -$8.3 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $66,343,649
Worst Contract: Brandon Roy
Roy is in the same unfortunate situation Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady once found themselves in. Right after getting a huge deal, he suffered a bunch of injuries. He'll be making almost $18 million a year over the next four seasons (the last season is a team option though).
25: Atlanta Hawks: -$7.8 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $65,846,237
Worst Contract: Joe Johnson
Johnson will already be overpaid next season when he makes over $18 million. Things will get real tricky for Atlanta when he's making nearly $25 million during the 2015-16 season.
24: Miami Heat: -$7.3 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $65,313,758
Worst Contract: Chris Bosh
It had to be one of the "big three," and Bosh is the most "expendable" member of the trio. Their salaries will average right around $20 million a year for the next five seasons.
If the league gets a new "hard" salary cap, Miami will be in an awful situation.
23: Dallas Mavericks: -$5.2 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $63,184,541
Worst Contract: Brendan Haywood
The Mavs have made some big mistakes on centers over the last several years. They signed Erick Dampier, DeSegana Diop and now Brendan Haywood to some huge contracts that didn't really make sense. Haywood will be making nearly $10 million in the 2014-15 season.
22: Chicago Bulls: -$3.7 Million
21: New York Knicks: -$2.6 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $60,612,189
Worst Contract: Carmelo Anthony/Amare Stoudemire
Stoudemire and Anthony are both fantastic players, but their salaries alone may put New York over any new cap figure. They're both set to make over $23 million during the 2014-15 season.
20: Utah Jazz: $2.4 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $55,614,192
Worst Contract: Al Jefferson
With the exception of Jefferson, the Jazz don't have a single player whose contract is going to be tough to deal with under the new CBA. He'll be making $29 million over the next two years and may be difficult to trade.
19: Cleveland Cavaliers: $2.5 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $55,457,657
Worst Contract: Anderson Varejao
Most people would go with Baron Davis here because he's paid more per year, but I have to go with Varejao because he's on a longer deal and doesn't provide much more than a couple flops a game when he's healthy.
18: Memphis Grizzlies: $3.1 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $54,863,810
Worst Contract: Mike Conley/Rudy Gay/Zach Randolph
Memphis's "big three" will put the team in the same unfortunate situation the Knicks, Lakers and Heat will be in under the new CBA.
17: Philadelphia 76ers: $3.1 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $54,858,763
Worst Contract: Elton Brand
They only have to pay him for two more years, but over $18 million dollars is a lot for a guy who will give you 15 and 10 on a good night.
16: Oklahoma City Thunder: $4.4 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $53,605,750
Worst Contract: Kendrick Perkins
Talk about a no-brainer. Perkins may be the most overrated player of my lifetime, and he'll be making over $9 million for the 2014-15 season.
15: Milwaukee Bucks: $6.2 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $51,849,140
Worst Contract: Drew Gooden
This was kind of a hard team to make a selection for. Bogut is on a huge deal, but good centers are so hard to come by now. I have a hard time seeing Gooden being worth nearly $7 million a year for the next four seasons under a new CBA.
14: Phoenix Suns: $8.8 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $49,182,654
Worst Contract: Josh Childress
Childress averaged five points and three rebounds a game in his return to the NBA, and he's locked in for around $7 million a year through the 2014-15 season.
13: Golden State Warriors: $8.9 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $49,105,952
Worst Contract: Andris Biedrins
This one was a toss-up between Biedrins and David Lee. While Lee's contract is bigger and longer, I still think he can be a 20 and 10 guy if he gets the touches (which he might if Monta Ellis gets traded). With Biedrins, you really don't get much for $9 million a year.
12: Minnesota Timberwolves: $9.6 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $48,355,542
Worst Contract: Darko Milicic
The Timberwolves are another team that doesn't really have any terrible contracts. Darko's is the worst because the perennially underwhelming center will be making nearly $6 million a year during the 2013-14 season.
11: Detroit Pistons: $9.7 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $48,263,032
Worst Contract: Ben Gordon
Gordon and Richard Hamilton are both on terrible deals, but Gordon's will last one year longer (assuming he picks up a player option worth over $13 million dollars for the 2013-14 season).
10: Charlotte Bobcats: $10.5 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $47,481,490
Worst Contract: Tyrus Thomas
This one was a no-brainer. Outside of Thomas's contract (which will pay him nearly $10 million a year for the next four seasons), Charlotte's in great shape heading into the new CBA.
9: Houston Rockets: $10.7 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $47,306,218
Worst Contract: Luis Scola
The 31-year-old Scola will be paid around $10 million a year through the 2014-15 season. Hard to believe a 35-year-old power forward will be worth that kind of money under the new CBA.
8: Toronto Raptors: $11.1 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $46,879,433
Worst Contract: Andrea Bargnani
Bargnani's a solid perimeter player, but it's hard to justify paying a five-rebound-a-game center over $10 million for each of the next four seasons.
7: Los Angeles Clippers: $13.1 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $44,919,031
Worst Contract: Mo Williams
The Clippers don't really have a terrible contract. Chris Kaman is making the most next year, but he's on an expiring contract (which is actually an asset). Williams will make nearly $9 million a year but isn't guaranteed beyond 2012-13.
6: New Orleans Hornets: $15.9 Million
5: Washington Wizards: $17.3 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $40,682,282
Worst Contract: Rashard Lewis
I was seriously tempted to go with Andray Blatche this year, but I couldn't get past the fact that Rashard Lewis will make nearly $46 million dollars over the next two years. Next season, he'll account for over half of the Wizards payroll. That's pretty wild for an 11-point-per-game guy.
4: New Jersey Nets: $18.2 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $39,814,161
Worst Contract: Travis Outlaw
Outlaw is scheduled to make $7 million a year over the next three seasons, and he's the only guy on a guaranteed deal for New Jersey up to that point.
3: Indiana Pacers: $21 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $36,957,444
Worst Contract: Danny Granger
The Pacers are actually in pretty good shape for whatever the new CBA will look like. Granger is the only significant contract on the books.
2: Sacramento Kings: $28.1 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $29,903,965
Worst Contract: John Salmons
Much like the Bobcats, the Kings have one decent-sized contract that could last through the 2014-15 season. He's set to make around $8 million a year.
1: Denver Nuggets: $29.1 Million
2011-12 Payroll: $28,883,142
Worst Contract: Al Harrington
With a good amount of decent players on small contracts, the Nuggets are in great shape right now. The only bad deal is Harrington's (around $7 million a year through the 2014-15 season).