The Biggest Salary-Cap Problem Every NBA Team Needs to Solve

Eric Pincus@@EricPincusLA Lakers Lead WriterApril 9, 2020

The Biggest Salary-Cap Problem Every NBA Team Needs to Solve

0 of 30

    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Predicting the future in the NBA is never easy. Under normal circumstances, a list of possibilities can be culled, even if the final decision remains a mystery.

    For instance, Kawhi Leonard was expected to sign with one of the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers last offseason. Anthony Davis wanted a trade to the Lakers, and the New Orleans Pelicans were eager to move him. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were going to team up in New York, be it the Knicks or ultimately the Brooklyn Nets.

    The answers weren't clear until the decisions were made, but at least the options weren't difficult to see.

    Now, the league is suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, and there’s no clear resolution in sight. The 2019-20 campaign may be canceled outright or completed several months from now. The 2020-21 season may be delayed. The financial losses will certainly impact next year's salary cap, which was projected to be $115 million.

    Meanwhile, every team needs to plan for the offseason, including the draft and free agency. If the salary-cap and luxury-tax thresholds drop significantly, teams won't have nearly the spending power for the summer. Trades will be more difficult.

    This is new territory, but in the hope that normalcy eventually returns, the following list represents each team's biggest decisions once the NBA is back in business.

Atlanta Hawks

1 of 30

    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Hawks made moves at the February trade deadline to build around All-Star Trae Young. They'd love to get a look at Clint Capela—who came over injured from the Houston Rockets—before the offseason, but that may not be possible.

    The big decision ahead is John Collins' extension availability.

    He'll be looking for a lucrative long-term deal likely over $20 million a season. If Collins can flourish next to Capela and Dewayne Dedmon, he's a talented player worthy of a hefty investment. The challenge is putting that money into a team that has just 20 wins this season. The Hawks may be better off waiting until Collins is a restricted free agent in 2021, which would let them take advantage of his relatively low cap hold ($12.4 million).

    Meanwhile, Jeff Teague will be a free agent this summer, as will DeAndre' Bembry (restricted), Skal Labissiere (restricted), Damian Jones (restricted), Treveon Graham and Vince Carter (who may finally retire after a Hall of Fame-caliber career). Brandon Goodwin's minimum contract has only $100,000 guaranteed.

Boston Celtics

2 of 30

    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    The Boston Celtics are heavily invested in their current roster, assuming Gordon Hayward opts into his final year at $34.2 million. The state of the economy suggests he will, giving Boston three players at a high rate, including Kemba Walker at $34.4 million and Jaylen Brown at $23.9 million.

    Boston may find it difficult to retain Hayward long-term, given that Jayson Tatum is extension-eligible this offseason and is arguably more valuable to the franchise than Brown. Look for Tatum to get a near-max deal, though it’s harder to say how much that will be given the circumstances.

    Other questions include Enes Kanter's $5 million player option, Semi Ojeleye's $1.8 million team option and Javonte Green's non-guaranteed minimum salary. Perhaps the easiest decision will be keeping Daniel Theis another year at $5 million (non-guaranteed). The Celtics will also have Brad Wanamaker as a restricted free agent and probably three first-round picks (including selections from the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies).

Brooklyn Nets

3 of 30

    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Before the shutdown, the Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson, installing Jacque Vaughn in the interim. If the league completes the campaign late enough, the Nets could get Irving and Durant back from injury. Vaughn may or may not get a chance to coach the team—currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference at 30-34—through the postseason, but the franchise obviously needs to lock in a coach long-term.

    Shooter Joe Harris (47.1 FG%, 41.2 3P%) is the biggest question as an unrestricted free agent this summer. The team will also need to decide on team options for Garrett Temple ($5 million) and Theo Pinson ($1.7 million), free agent Wilson Chandler and the non-guaranteed salary ($1.8 million) of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

    Another serious question is what to do with center Jarrett Allen, who is extension-eligible. But the team has roughly $10 million a season invested in DeAndre Jordan, a veteran who remains close with Durant. The Nets are already heavily invested in their roster, with luxury taxes on the horizon.

    If Brooklyn has to choose, Harris should be the clear priority.

Charlotte Hornets

4 of 30

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Charlotte Hornets have some solid young pieces in Devonte' Graham, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington. Graham was such a nice surprise this season that he all but made Terry Rozier somewhat expendable. Rozier is a solid player, but Charlotte should gauge the trade market this summer, ideally for additional size and skill in the frontcourt.

    Malik Monk was playing his best basketball before a drug suspension in February that might make Charlotte reluctant to give him an extension before the start of next season.

    Nicolas Batum will undoubtedly opt in to the final year on his deal at $27.1 million, but even if he does, the Hornets could have as much as $27 million in cap room this summer (if the cap somehow stays at $115 million). Charlotte isn't a typical free-agent destination, so that cap room may be better used in trade than overpaying free agents.

    The team also has a few free agents in Bismack Biyombo, Willy Hernangomez and Dwayne Bacon (restricted). Graham's $1.7 million non-guaranteed deal is a bargain. The team also has Jalen McDaniels and Caleb Martin on minimum non-guaranteed contracts.

Chicago Bulls

5 of 30

    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bulls may be a challenge to predict as they change over their front office, reportedly hiring Arturas Karnisovas as their new executive vice president of basketball operations, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Karnisovas is currently an executive with the Denver Nuggets, but if he is officially hired by the Bulls, he "will be tasked with reshaping the totality of an organization … including hiring a new general manager and additional basketball operations and scouting positions."

    Karnisovas has been an integral part of Denver's recent success.

    Assuming Otto Porter Jr. opts in to the final year on his contract at $28.5 million (he's unlikely to get anywhere close to that as a free agent), the Bulls would have $106 million in committed contracts.

    That's the existing core of Zach Lavine, Thaddeus Young, Porter and nine others, not including a high draft pick. Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine and Shaquille Harrison can all be restricted free agents.

    Is Lauri Markkanen a long-term part of Chicago's future? As Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported, Markkanen was "unhappy enough that if the direction of the organization was going to stay unchanged, he'd rather be elsewhere."

    Will Karnisovas be the change the young forward/center is looking for? Markkanen is eligible to sign a contract extension at the start of the 2020-21 season. He should be a keeper, but the Bulls will go through several changes in the coming months before making that decision.

Cleveland Cavaliers

6 of 30

    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, the expectation was he'd opt out of the final year of his deal at $28.8 million, presumably to re-sign on a new long-term pact. That's still a possibility, but if the salary cap does drop far enough, Drummond may be better off opting in and extending.

    At a $95 million cap, Drummond's option would be about $252,000 above the max. If he chose to opt in and take an extension, he'd earn $34.5 million starting with the 2021-22 season. That's about $3 million below what he'd earn if he signed as a free agent in 2021, but that's only if the cap stays at the last projection of $125 million.

    At this point, it's far too early to know what impact the hiatus will have on the coming years' caps.

    Cleveland also has free agents in Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, Ante Zizic and Sheldon Mac (still on a long 10-day contract). Alfonzo McKinnie's minimum deal is non-guaranteed.

Dallas Mavericks

7 of 30

    Glenn James/Getty Images

    If the season doesn't restart, that's a disappointment for young star Luka Doncic and the rest of the Mavericks, who had climbed to the seventh seed in the Western Conference. It's fair to assume Tim Hardaway Jr. will opt into his final year at $19 million unless he can work out a long-term deal with Dallas.

    Most of the team will be back, barring trades, with just a few free agents, including Courtney Lee, J.J. Barea and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Willie Cauley-Stein has a $2.3 million player option, which he'll probably decline, even if he chooses to re-sign with the Mavericks.

    Justin Jackson is extension-eligible, but he may not have proved himself enough for Dallas to commit beyond next season.

Denver Nuggets

8 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Denver Nuggets are one of the best teams in the Western Conference, but they may not get a chance to prove they're on par with the two squads in Los Angeles.

    Jamal Murray begins a sizable extension next season at 25 percent of the salary cap. He's expected to earn $166.8 million over five years, but that could drop significantly. If the cap plummets to $95 million, so would Murray's deal to about $137.8 million.

    The Nuggets would like to know how much they've invested in their young guard. They will also need to decide on big men free agents Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee, along with Noah Vonleh, Torrey Craig (restricted) and Troy Daniels. Jerami Grant has a player option at $9.3 million. Monte Morris and Keita Bates-Diop have non-guaranteed deals at roughly $1.7 million each.

    At Morris' figure, he is a lock to keep. Millsap and Plumlee are both valuable but should be looking at pay cuts (especially Millsap, who won't near the $30.4 million he's currently earning).

Detroit Pistons

9 of 30

    Brian Sevald/Getty Images

    The Pistons are a team in transition with a sizable investment in Blake Griffin ($36.8 million for next season), who has knee problems. Most of the roster can turn over, with a long list of free agents that includes Brandon Knight, John Henson, Langston Galloway, Thon Maker (restricted), Christian Wood and Jordan McRae.

    Tony Snell can opt into his final year at $12.2 million (he probably will, given the market relative to his 8.0 points a game). Svi Mykhailiuk is a steal on a team option of $1.7 million. Bruce Brown Jr. and Khyri Thomas are both worth keeping on minimum deals. Luke Kennard could be worth keeping on an extension this summer, though the Pistons may be better waiting until he's a restricted free agent in 2021.

    The team could have over $30 million in cap space this offseason (less if the cap drops), but just about everyone on the roster should be available in a trade as Detroit finds direction.

Golden State Warriors

10 of 30

    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    The Warriors have made a significant investment in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. They'll add a high-level lottery pick to their cause and will certainly be a taxpayer next season.

    They nimbly managed to get under the tax at the trade deadline, which will help reset their repeater clock. That will make going back over the tax a little easier to manage in the coming years.

    Otherwise, the team has just one free agent in Dragan Bender, and he's on a 10-day contract that never expired with the league shutting down. The rest are players on minimum contracts like Damion Lee, Marquese Chriss, Ky Bowman, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Mychal Mulder. Both Lee and Chriss are near-locks to return.

    Looking ahead, keep an eye on Giannis Antetokounmpo. If he wants to leave the Bucks, the Warriors are hoping to get a chance to make a trade offer before he ever hits free agency.

Houston Rockets

11 of 30

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The Houston Rockets have several issues to resolve long term, including the status of head coach Mike D'Antoni, whose contract expires after the 2019-20 season.

    There was also general manager Daryl Morey's tweet that supported democracy in Hong Kong, which prompted team owner Tilman Fertitta to condemn his comments and China to cut ties with the organization.

    There's a lot to sort out behind the scenes before moving forward.

    Meanwhile, the team has several free agents, including Bruno Caboclo, Tyson Chandler, Thabo Sefolosha and Jeff Green. Austin Rivers could opt out of his final year at $2.4 million. Ben McLemore, Isaiah Hartenstein and Chris Clemons all have non-guaranteed minimum contracts for next season.

Indiana Pacers

12 of 30

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Pacers are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference even though Victor Oladipo missed much of the season. They're locked in to most of their roster as is for next season.

    Indiana will undoubtedly look to stay below the luxury-tax threshold (which should work, provided the NBA shutdown doesn't dramatically lower that line), but that might limit how aggressive the team will be to sign players. Justin Holiday, JaKarr Sampson and Alize Johnson (restricted) are the team's only notable free agents.

    TJ McConnell has a team-friendly $3.5 million salary, with only $1 million guaranteed. The Pacers have the luxury of Aaron Holiday and McConnell in addition to Malcolm Brogdon and Oladipo. They can look to make a trade if they desire, but on their terms. TJ Leaf is extension-eligible but is unlikely to get a deal.

    Several executives around the league remain skeptical of the Myles Turner/Domantas Sabonis pairing, but the Pacers have been happy with their big-man combo to date.

Los Angeles Clippers

13 of 30

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Clippers have a huge decision to make on Montrezl Harrell. They'll have his Bird rights this offseason, but how much should they invest in a 6'7" center?

    A postseason run against teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and Nuggets would have given the Clippers more information on how their undersized inside scorer can fare in physical playoff matchups. They may not get that chance.

    Harrell is believed to be looking for around $20 million per season. The Clippers would need to go into the tax, and they probably should to keep their potent core together. Both Leonard and George can opt out after the 2020-21, so the Clippers shouldn't make decisions just to save money. They can always look to make trades (in the short- or long-term) if they find they've over-invested.

    The Clippers will also have to decide whether to re-sign Marcus Morris, whom they can pay up to $18 million via his non-Bird rights. JaMychal Green will likely pick up his $5 million player option. Reggie Jackson, Patrick Patterson and Joakim Noah (currently on a very, very long 10-day contract) will also be free agents.

Los Angeles Lakers

14 of 30

    Harry How/Getty Images

    The league shutdown was brutal for the Lakers, who had just defeated their greatest competition this season in back-to-back games against the Clippers and Bucks. Their championship aspirations now might be extinguished because of almost unimaginable factors.

    Looking ahead, retaining Anthony Davis is their primary goal this offseason. The Lakers are in a similar situation as the Pistons are with Andre Drummond, in that it might not make as much sense for Davis to opt out as initially thought. If the cap drops far enough, Davis may want to maximize his income by opting in and then either signing an extension or re-signing in 2021.

    Meanwhile, the Lakers have several players with team options such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8.5 million), Avery Bradley ($5 million), JaVale McGee ($4.2 million) and Rajon Rondo ($2.7 million). Most if not all of them could pick up those options given the economic uncertainty ahead. Quinn Cook only has $1 million of his $3 million deal guaranteed for next year. Kyle Kuzma is extension-eligible, but the Lakers may want to wait for him to hit restricted free agency in 2021.

    Otherwise, Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris, Jared Dudley and Dion Waiters will be free agents. The Lakers would be wise to retain both Howard and Morris if they can, though they still need to upgrade at point guard and defensively at the wing.

Memphis Grizzlies

15 of 30

    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    The Grizzlies have been one of the most active teams on the trade market over the last year or two. They have the presumptive Rookie of the Year in Ja Morant and a talented, young roster. Justise Winslow came over injured from the Miami Heat at the trade deadline. Memphis would love to get him in the rotation this season if the NBA can start back up.

    Josh Jackson was a surprise contributor after spending much of the season in the G League. Because the Grizzlies declined his 2020-21 team option, they can pay him no more than $8.9 million in free agency this offseason.

    Their only other free agent of note is point guard De'Anthony Melton (restricted), although Jontay Porter has a minimum-salary team option.

Miami Heat

16 of 30

    Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

    The Heat will protect their cap space to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021. That's why Andre Iguodala took an extension with a team option in 2021-22, and Miami didn't acquire Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari at the trade deadline because he wasn't open to a one-year extension.

    With that in mind, will the Heat extend Bam Adebayo this summer? The All-Star big man will be looking for a hefty raise, but the Heat would be better off waiting until he's a restricted free agent with a $15.3 million cap hold in 2021 instead of locking in a higher extension.

    Miami will also have to decide on free agents Goran Dragic, Solomon Hill, Meyers Leonard, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr. and Udonis Haslem. Kelly Olynyk has a $13.2 million player option, and the Heat are unquestionably going to keep both Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, whose minimum contracts are non-guaranteed.

Milwaukee Bucks

17 of 30

    Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

    There's only one decision that matters for the Bucks this offseason: Giannis Antetokounmpo and his forthcoming supermax offer. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the salary-cap projection for 2021-22 was $125 million. Only the Bucks will be able to pay their All-Star the 35 percent max (an estimated $253.8 million over five years), while other teams can give Antetokounmpo only $161.3 million over four seasons.

    Those numbers may shrink considerably if the cap declines over the coming years, but the dilemma remains. Others like Anthony Davis, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard weren't concerned about losing out on a supermax when they demanded to relocate. Antetokounmpo might sign off on a long-term stay in Milwaukee, but what if he doesn't? The Bucks will have to risk losing him in free agency, much like the Oklahoma City Thunder lost Kevin Durant in 2016.

    Meanwhile, the Bucks do have other several other considerations this offseason, including the free agency of Pat Connaughton, Marvin Williams, Kyle Korver and Sterling Brown, the player options of Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews, and Ersan Ilyasova's non-guaranteed $7 million salary for 2020-21. Ilyasova is the likely casualty to help reduce the team's potential luxury-tax burden. DJ Wilson is extension-eligible.

Minnesota Timberwolves

18 of 30

    Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

    The Timberwolves wanted to sign D'Angelo Russell last offseason, but he ended up with the Warriors. It took significant work to get Russell to Minnesota before the February trade deadline, but the T-Wolves got it done. They now have $58.1 million invested in him and Karl-Anthony Towns in 2020-21, for better or worse.

    Assuming James Johnson picks up his $16 million player option, the Wolves won't have significant cap room. They'll need to decide whether to re-sign Evan Turner, Juancho Hernangomez (restricted) and Malik Beasley (restricted) in free agency. Beasley is the keeper if they have to choose, but that might take a contract north of $10 million per season.

    The Wolves are still a few pieces away from a title contender, but Russell, Towns, Beasley and Jarrett Culver are an interesting launching point for the franchise.

New Orleans Pelicans

19 of 30

    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    The Pelicans need to re-sign restricted free agent All-Star Brandon Ingram. He'll be seeking out a maximum deal like the ones Jamal Murray, Ben Simmons and Pascal Siakam signed this past fall. New Orleans will probably give it to him considering how well the team played together once healthy.

    Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball and Ingram are all vastly different players both in physical makeup and style. Keeping free-agent big man Derrick Favors, a rock-solid, low-maintenance veteran, would help the Pelicans' continuity, even if the price is near $10 million per season.

    The more complex question will be whether to extend Lonzo Ball, and to a lesser extent, Josh Hart. Are the Pelicans willing to lock in their core long-term, or does the front office need more time to decide? Both Ball and Hart will be restricted free agents in 2021 if they don't sign extensions before the start of next season.

    Other questions include free agents E'Twaun Moore, Jahlil Okafor, Frank Jackson (restricted) and Kenrich Williams (restricted). Darius Miller, who missed the season with an Achilles tear, has a non-guaranteed year at $7 million.

New York Knicks

20 of 30

    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The Knicks recently hired Leon Rose as their new team president. What is his personality as an executive? It's too early to tell, but the Knicks are one of many teams that have lined up their contracts to have a shot at signing Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021.

    If they hold to that, the franchise won't invest heavily this offseason beyond 2020-21, unless the Bucks All-Star inks an extension to stay in Milwaukee.

    If the Knicks are standing pat for a year, they should keep most of their players on short-term deals, including Bobby Portis ($15.8 million team option) and four players on deals with only $1 million guaranteed: Taj Gibson ($9.5 million), Wayne Ellington ($8 million), Elfrid Payton ($8 million) and Reggie Bullock ($4.2 million).

    Mo Harkless, Allonzo Trier (restricted) and Damyean Dotson (restricted) will also be free agents. Mitchell Robinson's $1.7 million salary isn't guaranteed, but he's one of the most valuable pieces the Knicks have on their roster. Both Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. are extension-eligible, but neither appears likely to get a deal this offseason.

Oklahoma City Thunder

21 of 30

    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Thunder were expecting to convert two-way player Luguentz Dort to a standard contract to make him playoff-eligible (he was starting for the team). But if the season doesn't return, he'll be a restricted free agent this offseason who's all but certain to return.

    Danilo Gallinari will be a much bigger question in free agency. Considering the Thunder engaged in trade talks with several teams for Gallinari, most notably the Miami Heat, they may not be inclined to invest heavily in him moving forward. Gallinari has been a valuable part of the team's impressive regular-season run. Unless the 2020-21 salary cap plunges, taking away other suitors, Gallinari may move on.

    That might be best for the Thunder, who don't have many long-term fixtures on the roster outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Chris Paul is still one of the best point guards in the league, but he's almost 35 years old. Look for Oklahoma City to shop the $85.6 million he's owed through the next two seasons (the final year is a player option).

    Andre Roberson's time is probably up in Oklahoma City as well. Free agent Nerlens Noel has been a solid role player, while Mike Muscala has a player option. The Thunder also need to decide on the team options for Abdel Nader, Hamidou Diallo and Deonte Burton. Terrance Ferguson is extension-eligible, too.

Orlando Magic

22 of 30

    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    The Magic (30-35) were the No. 8 seed in the East when the season shut down. That isn't great, and the team reportedly "tried hard" to trade Aaron Gordon at the February trade deadline, per Sean Deveney of

    If Orlando follows through on that move over the offseason, it will be a huge deal. Gordon will earn $18.1 million and $16.4 million over the next two years, respectively, which is a reasonable contract for the athletic forward. The return would dictate how the Magic proceed with the rest of their roster.

    Both Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Issac are extension-eligible. Orlando should eventually pay both players, but the franchise may be better off waiting until they become restricted free agents in 2021.

    The team will also need an answer from Evan Fournier on his $17.2 million player option. Other free-agent questions include D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams. James Ennis has a $2.1 million player option, while Melvin Frazier Jr. has $1.7 million team option. Wesley Iwundu and Gary Clark will be restricted free agents as well.

Philadelphia 76ers

23 of 30

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Like Denver's Jamal Murray, the value of Ben Simmons' extension is yet to be determined. The Sixers are heavily invested in their roster, with $143.6 million locked in if Simmons does earn the full $28.8 million next season (based on a $115 million cap). Regardless of where Simmons' starting salary lands, the Sixers are going to be in luxury-tax territory.

    As such, it's concerning that they were only in sixth place in the East when the NBA suspended the season. Injuries were partially to blame, but the Sixers would clearly benefit by adding more shooting to the roster. If they're concerned that Embiid and Simmons aren't natural fits with one another, there may be a blockbuster to be had.

    Outside of any potential trades, the team won't look too different next season. Their key free-agent decisions are role players such as Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks, Raul Neto and Kyle O'Quinn. Both Furkan Korkmaz and Norvel Pelle are keepers on non-guaranteed minimum salaries.

Phoenix Suns

24 of 30

    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    The Suns seemed to turn a corner this year before injuries derailed their run.

    Aron Baynes proved to be an important fit as a stretch big and experienced defender. He'll be a free agent this summer and will have several suitors among playoff contenders. Phoenix may need to offer near the non-taxpayer's mid-level exception, which was projected to start at around $9.8 million this summer. A lower salary cap might drop that to around $8 million.

    Phoenix also has a $5 million team option for Frank Kaminsky, who is probably worth keeping at that price. Dario Saric will be a restricted free agent and a potentially difficult decision for the team if he gets any significant offers. Cheick Diallo has a $1.8 million team option, while Elie Okobo's $1.7 million salary is non-guaranteed. Jevon Carter will also be a restricted free agent.

Portland Trail Blazers

25 of 30

    Cameron Browne/Getty Images

    If the season does resume, the Blazers need to hope it isn't only for the playoffs. At 29-37, they're 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Grizzlies.

    Portland should get Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Rodney Hood ($6 million player option that he's all but certain to pick up) back healthy next year. They may let Hassan Whiteside leave in free agency unless he's willing to return at a more reasonable price. Collins is extension-eligible before the start of next season.

    Big-picture, the Blazers need to decide whether they can win with the core of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Other than speculation and buzz around the league, there's no real reason to believe they're actually ready to change course.

    In the meantime, they'll have to weigh whether to re-sign Carmelo Anthony, Caleb Swanigan and/or Wenyen Gabriel (restricted). Mario Hezonja has a $2 million player option, and only $1.8 of Trevor Ariza's $12.8 million salary is guaranteed.

    The Blazers may be able to stay out of the luxury tax if they let Whiteside go, but either way, they should keep Ariza. He's a valuable, experienced, lengthy defender to complement Lillard and McCollum.

Sacramento Kings

26 of 30

    Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images

    The Kings spurned offers for Bogdan Bogdanovic at the trade deadline with the intention of retaining him in restricted free agency. Under normal circumstances, Bogdanovic would probably be seeking over $18 million per season.

    It could prove to be an expensive summer for Sacramento with De'Aaron Fox extension-eligible. A new contract wouldn't start until the 2021-22 season, but the Kings (28-36) are looking at a sizable investment in Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Bogdanovic and Fox, the core of a team that sat 3.5 games out of the playoffs at the time of the shutdown. Hield could be the sacrifice if Sacramento needs to make a trade to clear money off its books.

    Other questions include free agents Kent Bazemore, Alex Len, Yogi Ferrell and Harry Giles. Jabari Parker has a $6.5 million player option, which he may be inclined to take at this point. Nemanja Bjelica's $7.2 million salary is non-guaranteed.

San Antonio Spurs

27 of 30

    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    The Spurs were 12th place in the Western Conference at the time of the shutdown, which is still difficult to believe given how long they've been a playoff fixture. However they're only four games behind the Grizzlies if play resumes.

    The Spurs should always be in the postseason mix with coach Gregg Popovich and the veterans they have on the roster, but they're far from a true contender. With that in mind, they may have a significant decision to make with DeMar DeRozan, their primary return in the Leonard trade with the Raptors.

    If DeRozan declines his $27.7 million player option for 2020-21, he'll become a free agent this offseason. The Spurs may prefer he opts in so they can hit the 2021 free-agent market with minimal salary on their books. Making a large investment in DeRozan might be short-sighted.

    Other questions include free agents Jakob Poeltl (restricted), Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes. Trey Lyles is probably worth keeping on his $5.5 million contract (with only $1 million guaranteed). Chimezie Metu has a non-guaranteed minimum season left on his deal. Derrick White is extension-eligible.

Toronto Raptors

28 of 30

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Raptors are a potential front-runner for Antetokounmpo if he decides to leave the Bucks, so they need to remain mindful of their cap room in 2021. Pascal Siakam, who has a strong relationship with Antetokounmpo, signed a four-year max extension before this season. Like Jamal Murray and Ben Simmons, he won't know the actual value of his deal until the 2020-21 salary cap is set.

    In the meantime, the Raptors need to re-sign Fred VanVleet to a multi-year contract, perhaps in the $15-18 million per year range. Re-signing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol would be ideal if they're on inflated one-year deals or reasonable long-term contracts.

    Other decisions include Stanley Johnson, who may opt into his final year at $3.8 million (likely making him trade bait), along with free agents Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher (restricted) and Malcolm Miller (restricted). Three players have minimum deals: Matt Thomas ($725,000 guaranteed), Dewan Hernandez ($500,000 guaranteed) and Terence Davis (non-guaranteed). OG Anunoby is extension-eligible.

Utah Jazz

29 of 30

    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    While Mike Conley hasn't been a perfect fit in Utah, he appears certain to ignore his early termination option and stay with the team for one more year at $34.5 million. If he does, the Jazz could look to move Conley's expiring contract or try to make him work more naturally on the court next season.

    Jordan Clarkson will be a free agent and would be an important piece for the Jazz to retain as a vital bench scorer. Their midseason trade for him was huge in keeping them competitive. Under normal circumstances, Clarkson might be looking for $15-16 million per year, but all free agents may be signing for less than they had hoped if the cap plunges because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Utah's front office also needs to look closely at the summer of 2021, which is when Rudy Gobert and Conley's contracts expire. Donovan Mitchell is extension-eligible before the start of next season. He'll be expecting a massive payday that would start in the 2021-22 season.

    Tony Bradley can also be extended, while Emmanuel Mudiay will be a free agent this offseason. Utah also has five players on non-guaranteed minimum contracts next season: Georges Niang, Nigel Williams-Goss, Miye Oni, Juwan Morgan and Rayjon Tucker ($340,000 guaranteed).

Washington Wizards

30 of 30

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Wizards should finally get John Wall back next season. Given that he's set to earn $41.3 million, they can only hope he'll be back to his old self after he missed most of the past two seasons because of injuries.

    Washington's top offseason priority appears to be Davis Bertans, who has proved himself to be a vital piece both as a shooter and team defender. He could end up back in the $10-12 million per year range.

    Ian Mahinmi's ill-advised 2016 contract will finally expire this offseason. Other free agents include Shabazz Napier and Gary Payton II. Both Isaac Bonga and Anzejs Pasecniks have non-guaranteed minimum deals.

    The Wizards shouldn't be in a rush to make any big moves until they can get a feel for Wall's impact. The team has an All-Star in Bradley Beal and a solid, young roster. Re-sign Bertans and call it a day.


    Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter, @EricPincus.