NBA Free Agency 2013: Teams on the Tightest Budgets

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIJuly 1, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics controls the ball against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on November 15, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Nets defeated the Celtics 102-97.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The 2013 NBA offseason is in full swing, as the draft is behind us and free agency is looming. While every franchise hopes to haul in the big-name free agents, only a select few have the financial flexibility to achieve such a dream.

Unfortunately for fans of some of the most high-profile franchises, their teams are on airtight budgets.

A majority of these teams have already invested in superstars, making cap space rather obsolete in 2013. Others have taken risks that have tied their hands financially, resulting in a lack of financial flexibility.

One way or another, these teams are in tight financial binds.

Team Projected Cap Space Team Projected Cap Space
Atlanta Hawks $35,504,580 Miami Heat None
Boston Celtics None Milwaukee Bucks $20,167,540
Brooklyn Nets None Minnesota Timberwolves None
Charlotte Bobcats $21,858,088 New Orleans Pelicans $12,432,977
Chicago Bulls None New York Knicks None
Cleveland Cavaliers $19,072,384 Oklahoma City Thunder None
Dallas Mavericks $13,615,538 Orlando Magic None
Denver Nuggets None Philadelphia 76ers None
Detroit Pistons $28,843,182 Phoenix Suns $8,519,710
Golden State Warriors None Portland Trail Blazers $11,858,202
Houston Rockets $16,181,453 Sacramento Kings None
Indiana Pacers None San Antonio Spurs None
Los Angeles Clippers None Toronto Raptors None
Los Angeles Lakers None Utah Jazz $27,722,692
Memphis Grizzlies None Washington Wizards None

Data provided by

Contenders on a Tight Budget

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics made franchise-altering trades when they sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets and head coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers. Unfortunately, the Celtics did nothing in the form of freeing up cap space.

If this truly proves to be a rebuilding process—and the talent Boston still possesses suggests it's a low seed in the Eastern Conference—it'll be an expensive and drawn-out procedure.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, two of the most notable pieces the Celtics will receive in return are Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace. Humphries may have an expiring deal, but in terms of moves they can make in 2013, they simply aren't there.

2014 won't be much prettier.

Humphries is set to make $12.0 million in 2013-14, which is a lofty price tag for a player who will likely come off of the bench behind rising stars Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger. Wallace will see roughly $10.1 million in 2013-14 and more than $30 million over the next three seasons.

The hope here is that Boston will become a lottery team and thus fall in line for a top draft pick, but in a weak Eastern Conference, Rajon Rondo and company look more like a postseason team—unfortunately, they can't add many players to improve in that regard.

Brooklyn Nets

Much like the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets are stuck in a financial bind due to their recent trade. Fortunately for the Nets, they clearly believe that their current core is not only strong, but also capable of winning a title.

For the price they're paying, they better be.

The Nets are preparing to pay their starting lineup right around $82 million during the 2013-14 NBA season. There is depth with sharpshooter Jason Terry, rookie Mason Plumlee and rebounding specialist Reggie Evans, but one thing is clear.

Brooklyn needs Mirza Teletovic, Tornike Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor to earn their money.

The Nets aren't just low on cap space; they simply don't have any left after their recent trade. For that reason, Brooklyn must feel comfortable moving forward with its current core, barring any signings for the bare minimum.

Value can always be found, but right now, Brooklyn is on a tight budget.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers boast a star-studded starting lineup, own the Bird rights to an unrestricted free agent superstar and lack any form of perimeter athleticism. In other words, the Lakers are a dream team on paper and in a dangerous position on the court.

Throw in the fact that their captain, Kobe Bryant, is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon, and Lakers nation is left anticipating the acquisition of players who can help bring it all together. Unfortunately, those fans will have to keep on waiting.

L.A. has no cap space to make a move.

The Lakers have more than $30.0 million locked up in Kobe alone, with an additional $19,285,850 going to Pau Gasol. Add roughly $9.3 million headed to Steve Nash and more than $7.7 million invested in Metta World Peace, and you have monstrous financial obligations.

At this point, cheap signings and the potential re-signing of Dwight Howard are L.A.'s only options for improvement.

Miami Heat

The Miami Heat have more than $60 million invested in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony are in line to receive more than $15.0 million combined.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, there will be no cap space for Miami to add players of significance.

The Heat don't need to shake things up, as they are the two-time defending champions, but they were rather inconsistent down the stretch. While winning the title despite inconsistent play is far from reprehensible, there is reason to believe Miami must change something.

Barring players signing for the veteran's minimum, it's quite unlikely Miami will be able to make any alterations.

New York Knicks

According to Howard Beck of The New York Times, the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors have agreed to a trade centered around Andrea Bargnani. In return, the Knicks will send Marcus Camby and Steve Novak to the Raptors, as well as multiple draft picks.

Most importantly, the Knicks took on Bargnani's massive contract.

Bargnani is set to make $22.55 million over the next two seasons, which limits New York's flexibility in 2013 and 2014. For a player that has gone from a 20-point-per-game scorer to one that averaged 12.7 points in the course of one season, that's declining value for an increasingly costly contract.

Not what the Knicks needed.

Both Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire possess base salaries above $21.0 million. Tyson Chandler makes more than $14.1 million, but that's not the true issue here.

Iman Shumpert will become a restricted free agent in 2014, thus resulting in teams inevitably making offers for his defensive value. With Bargnani's recently added contract, the Knicks will not only be tied up in 2013, but 2014 as well.

With 'Melo, Stoudemire and Shumpert all potentially becoming free agents, New York will have many decisions to make—some of which it may not be able to afford.


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