Ranking Every NBA Team by Their Offseason Spending Power

Eric Pincus@@EricPincusLA Lakers Lead WriterApril 2, 2021

Ranking Every NBA Team by Their Offseason Spending Power

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    As the dust settles on an extremely busy NBA trade deadline, it's time to look ahead to the offseason. Which franchises will have the most spending power, be it via cap room, exceptions or even trade assets?

    The NBA won't announce its next salary cap until near August 1, but the initial projection from the league is a 3 percent raise to $112.4 million, which would result in the following:

    • A luxury-tax threshold in the neighborhood of $136.6 million.
    • Maximum salary for players with zero to six years of experience: $28,103,500
    • Maximum salary for players with seven to nine years of experience or the supermax for the 2017 draft class: $33,724,200
    • Maximum salary for players with 10-plus years of experience or the veteran supermax: $39,344,900
    • Non-taxpayer mid-level exception (NTMLE): $9,536,000
    • Taxpayer mid-level exception (TMLE): $5,890,000
    • Room mid-level exception (RMLE): $4,910,000
    • Bi-annual exception (BAE): $3,732,000
    • "Early Bird" exception at approximately $10.3 million

    Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a soft cap—no hard spending limit—but the league has a few triggers that will lock in a spending freeze (the NBA version of a hard cap) at a projected $143 million. Any team that acquires a player via sign-and-trade, uses its non-taxpayer mid-level exception or its biannual exception will be locked with a hard cap for the 2021-22 season. 

    With all that under consideration, which franchise will hit the offseason with the biggest war chest?

    The following is ranked by spending power, from least to most:

30. Brooklyn Nets

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Brooklyn Nets are heavily invested in a roster that features three All-Stars. They'll be well above the tax next season. That may or may not curtail their willingness to spend, though it will certainly limit the tools at their disposal.

    Brooklyn has been extremely active in recent years on the trade market and in free agency. The team could look to trade Spencer Dinwiddie after the season, provided he opts into the final year of his contract.

    Goals: Championship

    Projection: Tax team

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Landry Shamet

    Huge Decision(s): Dinwiddie's future

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Houston Rockets will get three of the Nets' next seven first-round picks and have the right to swap the other four. Brooklyn has no additional first-rounder to send out in a trade.

    2021 Draft: Own first (will swap with the Rockets if the Nets have the higher pick, but that's not happening)

    Guaranteed Contracts: James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Landry Shamet, Nicolas Claxton

    Player Option: Dinwiddie ($12.3 million)

    Free Agents: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Bruce Brown Jr. (restricted), Jeff Green, Tyler Johnson, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Reggie Perry (two-way, restricted), Chris Chiozza (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Harris, Jordan

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Claxton, Shamet

    Trade Kickers: Durant, Irving (both 15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE

29. Golden State Warriors

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Are the Golden State Warriors still a contender? If so, are they willing to sacrifice youth (notably James Wiseman and a first-round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2021 or 2022 drafts) for significant pieces to help the team get back to the top?

    The first step toward that answer will be getting Klay Thompson (Achilles) back on the court.

    A top prospect (via the Minnesota pick) paired with Wiseman might help the Warriors set up for a new, younger core. Or the pieces could be sacrificed for more star power (possibly with Andrew Wiggins' contract for salary-matching purposes).

    Goals: Championship—but maybe rebuilding on the sly?

    Projection: Tax team

    Huge Decision(s): The 2021 NBA lottery (decided by luck, but even if the Warriors don't get a first this year from the Timberwolves, the pick will just convey instead in 2022), Oubre's free agency

    Draft Assets: Strong but mixed—the Warriors owe the Oklahoma City Thunder their first-rounder in 2021 (top-20 protected) and a 2024 first to the Memphis Grizzlies (top-four protected and then No. 1 overall protected in 2025 and unprotected in 2026). The only first-rounder Golden State can send out is either the Minnesota first or its own in 2022, but not both.

    2021 Draft: The Warriors may have the Minnesota first-rounder (top-three protected) and their own pick. If they lose their first, they'll get the Timberwolves' second-rounder instead.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, Thompson, Wiggins, Wiseman

    Player Option: Kevon Looney ($5.2 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Damion Lee ($1.9 million), Alen Smailagic ($1.8 million), Mychal Mulder ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Kent Bazemore, Oubre, Nico Mannion (two-way, restricted), Juan Toscano-Anderson (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Wiggins, Green

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Wiseman, Poole, Paschall, Lee, Smailagic, Mulder

    Trade Kickers: Curry, Thompson, Green (15 percent each)

    Projected Spending power: $5.9 million TMLE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $2.3 million, $1.8 million

28. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Milwaukee Bucks gave up significant draft capital to acquire Jrue Holiday last offseason from the Pelicans. The veteran guard, who can opt out of his final year (valued at $26.8 million), should be Milwaukee's top priority. [Note: Holiday signed an extension on April 4, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.]

    Given the $74.8 million invested in just Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton for 2021-22, the Bucks project to be a tax team with Holiday. How deep into the tax are they willing to go?

    [Answer: Deep, now committed to Holiday.]

    Goals: Contender—buyer with limited resources

    Projection: Tax team

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Donte DiVincenzo

    Huge Decision(s): Extending DiVincenzo

    Draft Assets: Poor—the Bucks' first-round picks are tied up in obligations to the Pelicans and Rockets

    2021 Draft: First-rounder to the Rockets (top-nine protected), second-rounder from either the Philadelphia 76ers or Rockets (but only if Milwaukee's first goes to Houston)

    Guaranteed Contracts: Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, Jordan Nwora, Antetokounmpo, Middleton, DiVincenzo

    Player Options: Bobby Portis ($3.8 million), Bryn Forbes ($2.5 million)

    Team Option: Rodions Kurucs

    Partially Guaranteed Contracts: Sam Merrill ($1.5 million, $500,000 guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Thanasis Antetokounmpo (restricted), P.J. Tucker, Jeff Teague, Mamadi Diakite (two-way, restricted), Axel Toupane (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Lopez

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: DiVincenzo, Kurucs, Connaughton, Nwora, Merrill

    Trade Kickers: G. Antetokounmpo (15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $4.9 million, $1.6 million

27. Utah Jazz

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    The Utah Jazz have the NBA's best record, which presents an interesting dilemma this offseason. What's the right price for free agent Mike Conley, who'll be coming off his final year at $34.5 million?

    Utah is a taxpayer for 2021-22, but the numbers work because Donovan Mitchell is earning just $5.2 million this year. His extension kicks in next season at approximately $28.1 million. If the Jazz bring Conley back at too high a price, it could push them deep into the tax.

    Even with a viable compromise, Utah may need to find ways to trim salary, perhaps making reserve center Derrick Favors expendable.

    Goals: Championship—manage the tax bill

    Projection: Tax team

    Huge Decision(s): How much for Conley?

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Jazz's firsts are tied up in their obligation to the Memphis Grizzlies for Conley. The next available first-rounder isn't until 2026

    2021 Draft: Own first (would go to the Grizzlies if somehow the Jazz drop to the Nos. 8-14 pick range). No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Royce O'Neale, Udoka Azubuike, Elijah Hughes, Mitchell, Favors

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Matt Thomas ($1.8 million), Miye Oni ($1.8 millon)

    Free Agents: Georges Niang, Ersan Ilyasova, Juwan Morgan (restricted), Conley, Jarrell Brantley (two-way, restricted), Trent Forrest (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Favors, Ingles, O'Neale

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Oni, Azubuike, Morgan, Hughes, Thomas

    Trade Kickers: Mitchell (15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE (with or without Conley)

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $5 million, $3.5 million

26. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers need to be mindful of massive luxury taxes with several key pieces hitting free agency. For some, they have the rights to re-sign (Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker), but others will be more problematic (Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell).

    Finding the right price for Schroder may prove challenging, but the Lakers can give him a maximum contract. Harrell, who can opt out of his final year ($9.7 million), can get up to $11.1 million via his non-Bird rights.

    Drummond can only earn up to $2.9 million with his non-Bird rights. To get to the cap space needed to pay out even $16 million in starting salary, the Lakers would need to dramatically pare down their roster (by letting free agents walk and trading several players under contract).

    The best case for Drummond would be a willingness to stay on at the $5.9 million TMLE, but that's well below market value. The Lakers could try to get to the $9.5 million NTMLE, but then they would be hard-capped at $143 million, necessitating similar cuts/trades (letting Schroder walk, perhaps sending Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Kyle Kuzma out in a trade).

    Goals: Contender—find a path to keeping the roster's core together.

    Projection: Tax team

    Huge Decision(s): Drummond, Schroder, Harrell, Horton-Tucker, Caruso

    Draft Assets: Poor—the Lakers are limited with their obligations to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis

    2021 Draft: Own first (unless the Lakers fall out of the playoffs and finish with a top-seven pick). No second-rounder

    Guaranteed Contracts: LeBron James, Davis, Marc Gasol, Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope

    Player Option: Harrell ($9.7 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Alfonzo McKinnie ($1.9 million)

    Free Agents: Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris, Jared Dudley, Drummond, Schroder, Caruso, Horton-Tucker (restricted), Ben McLemore, Devontae Cacok (two-way, restricted), Kostas Antetokounmpo (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Caldwell-Pope, Gasol

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Kuzma, McKinnie

    Trade Kickers: James, Davis (15 percent each)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE (but $9.5 million NTMLE if Schroder and others depart)

25. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    Everything about the Los Angeles Clippers' offseason focuses on Kawhi Leonard. He can opt out of his final year ($36 million), and while he may do so to re-sign with the Clippers on a new long-term deal that could start at a projected $39.3 million, he could also move on as an unrestricted free agent. Any other decision surrounding the franchise pales in comparison.

    Should Leonard depart, the Clippers will not have cap room to replace him.

    Goals: Contender—above all keeping Leonard

    Projection: Tax team

    Huge Decision(s): Kawhi, Kawhi, Kawhi. Also, do the Clippers have enough at point guard in Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo?

    Draft Assets: Poor—the Clippers have limited draft picks because of their obligations to the Thunder for Paul George

    2021 Draft: Lower first between the Knicks and Clippers (can be traded after the draft). No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, Daniel Oturu, George, Beverley, Rondo

    Player Options: Leonard ($36 million), Serge Ibaka ($9.7 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Jayden Scrubb (two-way), Terance Mann ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum, Patrick Patterson, Amir Coffey (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Beverley ($14.3 million expiring), Rondo ($8.3 million expiring)

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Zubac, Mann, Kennard, Oturu

    Trade Kickers: Leonard, Ibaka (15 percent each, provided they opt in)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE (but $9.5 million NTMLE and $3.7 million BAE if Leonard departs)

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $2.1 million, $2 million

24. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Timberwolves' offseason hinges on the June 22 draft lottery. If the team is lucky enough to get through the night with a top-three pick, it will have a shot at Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green or Jonathan Kuminga. If not, the selection will go to the Golden State Warriors as part of the D'Angelo Russell trade.

    Meanwhile, the Timberwolves don't have much flexibility with a roster that's likely to be near or over the luxury-tax threshold (especially if they keep the pick). The team hasn't had much luck with health, but it just isn't formidable in the Western Conference, even at full strength,

    The franchise could look to blow up the Karl-Anthony Towns/Russell pairing, but instead may look to make a small move with players like Ricky Rubio or Malik Beasley.

    Goals: Rebuilding/growing around existing talent—buyer for long-term pieces

    Projection: Over the cap, close to the tax

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Josh Okogie

    Huge Decision(s): The lottery (an uncomfortable situation when you have no control over your most important decision)

    Draft Assets: Medium—if they survive the lottery, they can trade first-rounders starting with the 2023 draft (otherwise the next available pick is in 2024). Given the team's lack of success, Minnesota should be collecting, not trading, draft currency.

    2021 Draft: TBD. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Anthony Edwards, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarrett Culver, Jake Layman, Jaden McDaniels, Towns, Russell, Rubio, Beasley, Okogie

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Jaylen Nowell, Naz Reid

    Free Agents: Ed Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt (restricted), Jordan McLaughlin (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Towns, Russell, Rubio, Beasley, Hernangomez

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Layman, Okogie, Nowell, Reid, McDaniels, Culver

    Trade Kickers: Towns (Five percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE with a top-three pick, otherwise the $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE

23. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Portland Trail Blazers traded Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to the Raptors for Norman Powell before the deadline. Trent Jr. will be a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Blazers cast their lot with Powell, who can opt out of his final year ($11.6 million).

    How much will the Blazers pay, assuming Powell explores free agency?

    Goals: Championship

    Projection: Over the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Anfernee Simons

    Huge Decision(s): Depth at center, Powell

    Draft Assets: TBD—provided the Blazers make the playoffs, their 2021 first-rounder will go to the Rockets. If not, all of Portland's future first-rounders are tied up with protections.

    2021 Draft: First-rounder to the Rockets (top-14 protected). No second-rounder

    Guaranteed Contracts: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Nassir Little, CJ Elleby, Simons

    Player Options: Derrick Jones Jr. ($9.7 million), Powell ($11.6 million)

    Partially Guaranteed Contract: Jusuf Nurkic ($12 million, $4 million guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Zach Collins (restricted), Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony, Harry Giles, Keljin Blevins (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some appeal (by contract or talent): Covington, Nurkic

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Simons, Little, Elleby

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE, but that could drop to the $5.9 million TMLE if the Blazers reinvest enough into their own potential free agents

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $1.7 million, $1.7 million

22. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Next season, the Philadelphia 76ers have $100.6 million invested in just three players (Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid), so it's no mystery the team projects to be a taxpayer. The question will be how far into the tax will it go?

    Goals: Championship—buyer

    Projection: Tax team, with some flexibility if they move on from veterans like George Hill

    Huge Decision(s): How deep are Philly's pockets?

    Draft Assets: Medium—the Sixers can trade their 2021 and 2023 first-round picks but otherwise are tied up with their 2025 obligation to the Thunder

    2021 Draft: Own first. Second-rounder from the New York Knicks.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Isaiah Joe

    Team Option: Ignas Brazdeikis ($1.8 million)

    Non- or Partially Guaranteed Contracts: George Hill ($10 million, $1.3 million guaranteed), Paul Reed Jr. ($1.5 million)

    Free Agents: Danny Green, Mike Scott, Furkan Korkmaz, Dwight Howard, Rayjon Tucker (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Curry

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Thybulle, Maxey, Milton, Joe, Reed

    Trade Kickers: Simmons (15 percent), Harris (the lower of 5 percent or $5 million)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE (but $9.5 million NTMLE and $3.7 mil BAE without Hill, Green and others)

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $8.2 million

21. Boston Celtics

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    Garett Fisbeck/Associated Press

    With Jayson Tatum's extension starting with the 2021-22 season, the Boston Celtics are heavily invested in this roster. Evan Fournier came aboard at the trade deadline, using $17 million of the Gordon Hayward trade exception. Boston still has $11.1 million of the exception remaining.

    The team's key decisions this offseason will be finding the right price at which to re-sign Fournier and adding another piece via the trade exception, while minding how deep it goes into the tax. 

    Goals: Championship—a buyer

    Projection: Tax team

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Robert Williams III

    Huge Decision(s): Fournier, the trade exception

    Draft Assets: Solid—the Celtics have all their first-rounders

    2021 Draft: Own first and second

    Guaranteed Contracts: Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Tristan Thompson, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, Robert Williams III, Carsen Edwards, Tatum

    Free Agents: Luke Kornet, Moritz Wagner, Semi Ojeleye, Tacko Fall (two-way, restricted), Tremont Waters (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Smart, Thompson, Walker

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Grant Williams, Robert Williams III, Pritchard, Nesmith, Langford, Edwards

    Trade Kickers: Walker, Tatum (both 15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $5.9 million TMLE 

    Trade Exceptions: $11.1 million, $5 million, $4.8 million, $1.6 million

20. Denver Nuggets

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Denver Nuggets went for it at the deadline, acquiring Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic. On paper, the team is formidable. Offseason decisions may be determined by how far the squad goes in the playoffs, as it has eyes on a title.

    Goals: Championship

    Projection: Over the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Michael Porter Jr.

    Huge Decision(s): A long-term commitment to Porter

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Nuggets' first-rounders are primarily tied up in obligations to the Thunder and Magic. The 2021 first can be traded.

    2021 Draft: Own first. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Facundo Campazzo, Zeke Nnaji, Bol Bol, Monte Morris, Gordon, Porter

    Player Options: Will Barton ($14.7 million), JaMychal Green ($7.6 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Gary Clark ($2.1 million), PJ Dozier ($1.9 million), Vlatko Cancar ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Paul Millsap, JaVale McGee, Markus Howard (two-way, restricted), Greg Whittington (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some appeal (by contract or talent): Campazzo (a 30-year-old rookie)

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Porter, Nnaji, Bol, Clark, Dozier, Morris, Cancar

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $5.3 million, $2.2 million, $1.6 million

19. Washington Wizards

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Washington Wizards have shown no intention of trading Bradley Beal, but that won't stop speculation as he nears the last year of his contract (he can opt out after the 2021-22 season). Beal wants a reason to stay. The team wants to give it to him, so that's the task at hand in the offseason.

    Goals: Playoffs

    Projection: Over the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Chandler Hutchison

    Huge Decision(s): How to best complement the Russell Westbrook and Beal tandem

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Wizards can trade their 2021 first-rounder, but because they owe a 2023 first to the Rockets in the Westbrook-John Wall swap, Washington can't trade any other firsts

    2021 Draft: Own first. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Chandler Hutchison, Westbrook, Beal

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Daniel Gafford ($1.8 million), Anthony Gill ($1.5 million)

    Free Agents: Robin Lopez, Ish Smith, Jerome Robinson, Isaac Bonga (restricted), Raul Neto, Alex Len, Cassius Winston (two-way, restricted), Garrison Mathews (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Beal, Bertans

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Bryant, Hachimura, Hutchison, Gafford, Gill

    Trade Kickers: Beal (15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE, but how willing will the Wizards be to go into the luxury tax, both to pay their own free agents and acquire talent?

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $2.1 million, $1 million

18. Sacramento Kings

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    With De'Aaron Fox's extension beginning in the 2021-22 season, the Sacramento Kings are heavily invested in the trio of Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and Fox. Several teams around the league had interest in Barnes at the trade deadline, but Sacramento wasn't willing to let him go.

    If one of the three is moved, look for the Kings to shop Hield, especially with the emergence of rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton. Another key decision will be on center Richaun Holmes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The team only has his Early Bird rights, which caps the team's offer at about $10.3 million (below Holmes' expected asking price which could be near $20 million).

    Goals: Rebuilding—or retooling around Fox and Barnes with designs on the playoffs

    Projection: Over the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Marvin Bagley III

    Huge Decision(s): Starting center, if not Holmes. Bagley III extension

    Draft Assets: Solid—the Kings have all of their own first-rounders

    2021 Draft: Own first and second

    Guaranteed Contracts: Delon Wright, Robert Woodard II, Jahmi'us Ramsey, Hield, Barnes, Bagley III, Fox, Haliburton

    Team Option: Chris Silva ($1.8 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Justin James ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Maurice Harkless, Hassan Whiteside, Holmes, Kyle Guy (two-way, restricted), Chimezie Metu (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Barnes, Heild, Wright

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Bagley III, Ramsey, Woodard II, Silva, Jeffries, James

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $3.6 million, $2 million

17. Indiana Pacers

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    Elsa/Associated Press

    The Indiana Pacers are invested in a roster that may not be good enough to win in the Eastern Conference. They can add another piece and hope they're improved when T.J. Warren returns next season from a foot injury, or they can go in another direction with their core via trade.

    The Pacers have issues to resolve at point guard. Aaron Holiday is eligible for an extension before the start of next season, but he's fallen behind T.J. McConnell (who will be an unrestricted free agent) in the rotation.

    Goals: Grow as a contender—or shake things up?

    Projection: Over the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Holiday

    Huge Decision(s): Direction

    Draft Assets: Solid—have all of their first-rounders

    2021 Draft: Own first. Second-rounders from the Jazz and Bucks.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Caris LeVert, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, Goga Bitadze, Aaron Holiday and Warren

    Team Option: Edmond Sumner ($2.3 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contract: Kelan Martin ($1.7 million)

    Free Agents: Doug McDermott, JaKarr Sampson, McConnell, Brian Bowen II (two-way, restricted), Cassius Stanley (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Brogdon, Turner, Lamb, Warren, Justin Holiday

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Aaron Holiday, Bitadze

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE, but the Pacers have been reluctant to pay luxury taxes. Unless the team sheds money elsewhere, those resources could go into retaining McConnell instead of an additional free-agent signing.

    Notable Trade Exception: $4.8 million, $2.8 million

16. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Cavaliers are finally getting out of heavy contracts dating back to the LeBron James era, yet they gave Kevin Love an extension in 2018 that hasn't proved a worthy investment. Love is still owed another $60.2 million over the next two seasons. That's a contract that may take some work to move.

    Meanwhile, Cleveland needs to decide on the right price for restricted free-agent center Jarrett Allen. Without him, the Cavaliers could near $18 million in cap space, but the team may choose instead to keep Allen and operate above the salary cap.

    Goals: Rebuilding—a seller

    Projection: Over the cap, although that could change on Allen's fate

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Collin Sexton

    Huge Decision(s): Allen, Love, Sexton extension

    Draft Assets: Solid—have all of their first-rounders

    2021 Draft: Own first. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Taurean Prince, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Dylan Windler, Love, Sexton

    Player Options: Isaiah Hartenstein ($1.8 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Damyean Dotson ($2 million), Dean Wade ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Matthew Dellavedova, Allen (restricted), Lamar Stevens (two-way, restricted), Brodric Thomas (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Love, Prince, Nance, Osman, Dotson

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Okoro, Sexton, Garland, Wade

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE, but up to $18 million-plus the $4.9 million RMLE without Allen

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $4.2 million, $1.7 million

15. New Orleans Pelicans

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Pelicans have significant decisions to make with restricted free agents Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, both key components from the Lakers in the Davis trade. The team has already invested in the third piece from L.A., Brandon Ingram, who is on a five-year, $158.3 million contract.

    Unsigned, Ball will take up $27.5 million of the Pelicans' cap space. Hart's number is more manageable at $10.5 million. With either, the franchise will be over the salary cap, only getting to about $15 million by renouncing them both.

    Goals: Growing with existing talent—buyer for long-term pieces but still with short-term playoff aspirations

    Projection: Over the cap

    Huge Decision(s): Ball, Hart

    Draft Assets: Strong—in addition to all of their own first-round picks, the Pelicans have two apiece from the Lakers and Bucks

    2021 Draft: Own first (only receiving the Lakers' pick if L.A. misses the playoffs and earns a top-seven selection) and four second-rounders, including their own (although that will swap with the Chicago Bulls if the Pelicans finish with a higher pick) and selections from the Dallas Mavericks, Cavaliers and Wizards.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Wesley Iwundu, Ingram

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Wenyen Gabriel ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: James Johnson, Willy Hernangomez, Ball (restricted), Hart (restricted), Naji Marshall (two-way, restricted), Will Magnay (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Adams, Bledsoe

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Hayes, Lewis, Alexander-Walker, Iwundu, Gabriel

    Trade Kickers: Ingram (15 percent), Adams (7.5 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $15.4 million in cap space plus the $4.9 million RMLE, but only if Ball and Hart depart. Otherwise, $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $3.9 million

14. Houston Rockets

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Houston Rockets went from Harden and Westbrook to Wall and Victor Oladipo. Then they dumped Oladipo on the Miami Heat, with a clear eye on a rebuild.

    Initially, Houston does not project to have significant cap space, but a few additional trades (perhaps D.J. Augustin and Danuel House Jr.) could give the franchise flexibility.

    Goals: Rebuilding—seller

    Projection: Over the cap

    Huge Decision(s): Direction

    Draft Assets: Solid but complex—they owe and are owed various first-rounders. Given the team's trajectory, it should be collecting picks, not sending any out

    2021 Draft: If Houston finishes with a top-four pick, it will keep it; otherwise the team will get the lowest (translates to “worst”) first-rounder from the Thunder, Heat and Rockets. Also, firsts from the Bucks (top-nine protected) and Blazers (top-14 protected). If the Pistons climbed precipitously in the standings, the Rockets would get their first-rounder as well (top-16 protected). No second-rounder, assuming the Rockets get Milwaukee's first.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Eric Gordon, Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., Wall, Augustin, House

    Team Options: Avery Bradley ($5.9 million), DaQuan Jeffries ($1.7 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Jae'Sean Tate ($1.5 million), Kenyon Martin Jr. ($1.5 million)

    Free Agents: Kelly Olynyk, Dante Exum, D.J. Wilson (restricted), David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, Anthony Lamb (two-way, restricted), Armoni Brooks (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Gordon, Augustin, House, Bradley (if opted in)

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Tate, Martin, Porter

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $14 million in cap space plus the $4.9 million RMLE, but the Rockets may be better off staying over, allowing them to use their various trade exceptions plus the $9.5 million NTMLE and $3.7 million BAE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $8.2 million, $5 million, $2.2 million, $1.8 million

13. Orlando Magic

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Orlando Magic were bold at the trade deadline, dealing several of their best players in Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. The team is rebuilding, which will certainly extend into the offseason.

    Terrence Ross is likely the next to go. It's unclear how invested the Magic are in Gary Harris, who came over from the Nuggets for Gordon. Orlando could end up with significant cap room, but the team might use it strategically instead of in free agency.

    In trading Fournier, the Magic generated a $17.2 million trade exception, which could help keep the team add needed talent.

    Goals: Rebuilding

    Projection: Over the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr.

    Huge Decision(s): Rebooting

    Draft Assets: Solid—the Magic have all of their own first-rounders

    2021 Draft: Own first and second; Chicago Bull's first (5-30)

    Guaranteed Contracts: Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Michael Carter-Williams, Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke, R.J. Hampton, Harris, Ross, Bamba, Carter

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Dwayne Bacon ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Otto Porter Jr., James Ennis III, Khem Birch, Chasson Randle (two-way, restricted), Karim Mane (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Carter-Williams, Harris, Ross

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Bamba, Carter, Hampton, Okeke, Fultz, Isaac, Anthony

    Projected Spending Power: $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $17.2 million, $4.3 million, $2 million

12. Detroit Pistons

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Detroit Pistons have some offseason flexibility, but with Griffin's waived $29.8 million salary on the books, they won't have a ton of cap space.

    Initially, they'll start the offseason over the cap, with Cory Joseph's final year at $12.6 million, but since only $2.4 million is guaranteed, he could be on the move either by trade or waiver.

    Detroit is rebuilding. That process will likely continue for at least another season.

    Goals: Rebuilding

    Projection: Roughly $16 million in cap room, if the Pistons clear their books

    Huge Decision(s): General direction

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Pistons owe a first-rounder to the Rockets (part of the Wood deal that brought in Isaiah Stewart) that has protections through 2027. Detroit has no available first-rounders to trade.

    2021 Draft: Own first (would go to Rockets if somehow the Pistons earn a playoff berth and No. 17 or lower). Multiple second-rounders (from the Raptors, Hornets and Lakers).

    Guaranteed Contracts: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Sekou Doumbouya, Saddiq Bey, Jahlil Okafor, Deividas Sirvydis, Stewart

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Rodney McGruder ($5 million), Joseph ($12.6 million, $2.4 million guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Dennis Smith Jr. (restricted), Hamidou Diallo (restricted), Wayne Ellington, Frank Jackson (two-way, restricted), Saben Lee (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Grant, Plumlee, Okafor

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Hayes, Doumbouya, Jackson, Stewart, Bey

    Trade Kickers: Plumlee (10 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $16 million plus the $4.9 million RMLE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $2 million (lost if the Pistons go under the cap)

11. Atlanta Hawks

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    Hector Amezcua/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Hawks have a big decision to make on restricted free agent John Collins, who will be looking for a sizable raise over his $4.1 million salary. If the sides can't reach a deal, Collins could sign an offer sheet elsewhere, but Atlanta has the right to match. Another option could be a sign-and-trade to another franchise.

    That answer will dictate where the Hawks put their resources, as they would have cap space without Collins.

    Goals: Playoff push, continued growth around star guard Trae Young

    Projection: Over the cap with Collins, under without

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Young, Kevin Huerter

    Huge Decision(s): Young's extension, Collins' restricted free agency

    Draft Assets: Strong—the Hawks have all of their first-rounders, plus a protected 2022 first-rounder from the Thunder

    2021 Draft: Own first. Miami's second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, De'Andre Hunter, Onyeka Okongwu, Cam Reddish, Kevin Huerter, Bruno Fernando, Young

    Player Options: Kris Dunn ($5 million)

    Free Agents: Tony Snell, Lou Williams, Brandon Goodwin (restricted), Solomon Hill, Collins, Skylar Mays (two-way, restricted), Nathan Knight (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some appeal (by contract or talent): Gallinari, Bogdanovic, Capela

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Reddish, Huerter, Hunter, Okongwu, Fernando

    Trade Kickers: Bogdanovic (15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $19 million if Dunn opts out and Collins leaves, plus the $4.9 million RMLE. With Collins, the Hawks will stay over the cap, armed with the $9.5 million NTMLE and $3.7 million BAE.

10. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Memphis Grizzlies have almost their entire roster under contract. The only significant question, outside potential trades, is the team option on Justise Winslow at $13 million. If Memphis wants to have cap room, it will need to either decline his option or trade him. Without him, the franchise can get to about $23 million in cap space.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. is extension eligible but hasn't been healthy all season (knee). That didn't stop the Orlando Magic from extending Jonathan Isaac in a similar situation last offseason.

    Goals: Emerging contender—cautious buyer

    Projection: Versatile

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Jackson, Grayson Allen

    Huge Decision(s): Winslow, Jackson extension

    Draft Assets: Strong—the Grizzlies have all of their own firsts, plus protected firsts in 2021 (Jazz) and 2024 (Warriors).

    2021 Draft: Own first (unlikely to get Utah's first, unless the Jazz somehow fall to the 8-14 range). Up to two second rounders (from the Blazers and possibly the Phoenix Suns if in the 56-60 range).

    Guaranteed Contracts: Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks, De'Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Ja Morant, Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, John Konchar, Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman, Jackson, Allen, Sean McDermott (two-way)

    Team Option: Winslow ($13 million)

    Partially Guaranteed Contract: Jontay Porter ($1.95 million, $300,000 guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Killian Tillie (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Valanciunas, Winslow (if opted in), Brooks, Anderson, Jones

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Melton, Clarke, Allen, Konchar, Bane, Porter, Tillman

    Projected Spending Power: $23 million in cap space and the $4.9 million RMLE without Winslow. Or with Winslow, the $9.5 million NTMLE and $3.7 million BAE.

    Trade Kickers: Anderson (15 percent)

9. Toronto Raptors

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Toronto Raptors almost traded Kyle Lowry at the deadline but chose to let their veteran point guard finish out his contract. Toronto could bring Lowry back or move into the future with its young core of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.

    Will Gary Trent Jr. be a part of that group? The Raptors traded Powell to the Blazers to land the impending restricted free agent (and Hood). Expect for Toronto to bring back Trent as well as Chris Boucher (whose $7 million contract is non-guaranteed).

    The Raptors could get to $23 million in cap space by clearing its books, or stay over the cap by keeping Lowry.

    Goals: Adding pieces to their core—selective buyer/seller

    Huge Decision(s): Lowry's fate

    Draft Assets: Solid—the Raptors have all of their own first-rounders.

    2021 Draft: Own first. Two second-rounders (from the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors)

    Guaranteed Contracts: Malachi Flynn, Siakam, VanVleet, Anunoby

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Hood ($10.9 million), Aron Baynes ($7.4 million), Boucher ($7 million), DeAndre' Bembry ($2 million), Paul Watson ($1.7 million)

    Free Agents: Patrick McCaw, Stanley Johnson, Lowry, Trent (restricted), Jalen Harris (two-way, restricted), Yuta Watanabe (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Hood, Baynes, Bembry

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Flynn, Boucher, Watson

    Projected Spending Power: $23 million and the $4.9 million RMLE, or if the team keeps Lowry, $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $1.6 million (two)

8. Charlotte Hornets

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Charlotte Hornets are one of the unexpected successes of this season, even with LaMelo Ball out for an extended stretch because of a wrist injury. Look for Charlotte to add pieces that will further the team's playoff cause in the offseason.

    Also expect the team to go under the salary cap, which likely means parting with Malik Monk and Cody Zeller, unless those players are willing to return at discounted rates. If there's a need on the floor, it's at center, but that may be filled in free agency.

    Goals: Continued growth with an eye on the playoffs, but not at the expense of the team's future. A selective buyer.

    Projection: $22 million to $28 million under the cap (most notably depending on the fate of Devonte' Graham)

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Miles Bridges

    Huge Decision(s): Finding taker(s) for the team's cap space, Bridges extension

    Draft Assets: Solid—have all of their first-rounders

    2021 Draft: Own first. Two second-rounders (from the Nets and Clippers)

    Guaranteed Contracts: Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Vernon Carey Jr., Nick Richards, Ball, Bridges

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, Jalen McDaniels

    Free Agents: Bismack Biyombo, Brad Wanamaker (restricted), Zeller, Monk (restricted), Graham (restricted), Grant Riller (two-way, restricted), Nate Darling (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Rozier

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, Bridges, Washington, McDaniels, Carey, Richards

    Trade Kickers: Hayward (15 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: $22 million and the $4.9 million RMLE if the team keeps Graham, McDaniels and the Martin twins, but as much as $28 million if the Hornets clear their books.

7. Phoenix Suns

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Phoenix Suns are one of the best rags-to-riches stories in the NBA over the past few years. The young core of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges is well complemented by veteran point guard Chris Paul.

    But what is Paul's future? Will he opt into the final year of his deal at $44.2 million? He may not, even with a figure that staggering—not if he can find a lucrative multiyear deal. Hayward made a similar gamble this past season that paid off when he opted out of his Celtics deal and got a large payday from the Hornets.

    Goals: Starting to think championship—cautious buyer

    Projection: Up to $27 million in cap space but none if Paul returns

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Ayton, Bridges

    Huge Decision(s): Extensions for Ayton and Bridges. Paul's future.

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Suns' first-rounders are tied up in an obligation to the Thunder from the Paul trade. The Suns can trade their 2021 and 2023 first-round picks but otherwise are tied up with their 2025 obligation to the Thunder. The only first they can trade is in 2027, unless the Suns can convince Oklahoma City to adjust the protections on the 2022 first (perhaps costing a second-rounder).

    2021 Draft: Own first. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Jae Crowder, Dario Saric, Jalen Smith, Cameron Johnson, Jevon Carter, Booker, Ayton, Bridges

    Player Option: Paul ($44.2 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Ty-Shon Alexander (two-way)

    Free Agents: Cameron Payne, Abdel Nader, Frank Kaminsky, Langston Galloway, E'Twaun Moore, Torrey Craig

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Crowder, Saric

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Johnson, Carter, Smith

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $27 million in cap space and the $4.9 million RMLE without Paul, or if he stays, the $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE. The Suns have not shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax, which might temper their appetite for using those additional exceptions if Paul opts in.

6. Miami Heat

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    AJ MAST/Associated Press

    In acquiring Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline from the Rockets, the Miami Heat received the rights to re-sign the former All-Star guard with his Bird rights. Unsigned, those rights take up $31.5 million of their cap space. Oladipo is obviously the crux of Miami's offseason.

    The team also has two productive young players hitting restricted free agency in Duncan Robinson, 26, and Kendrick Nunn, 25. The question for the franchise may be appetite. How much is Miami willing to spend to keep the roster together?

    Could Tyler Herro, along with expiring contracts, help the Heat land another key player via trade?

    Goals: Contender—potential buyer in trade

    Projection: TBD

    Huge Decision(s): Oladipo

    Draft Assets: Poor—the Heat have no first-round picks to offer because they owe a couple to the Thunder. If Miami can get the Thunder to remove protection on the 2023 obligation by sending another second-round pick, the Heat would be able to send out their 2025 and 2027 firsts.

    2021 Draft: First-rounder to either the Thunder or Rockets. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, Herro

    Team Options: Goran Dragic ($19.4 million), Andre Iguodala ($15 million)

    Free Agents: Trevor Ariza, Nemanja Bjelica, Udonis Haslem, Oladipo, Robinson (restricted), Nunn (restricted), Max Strus (two-way, restricted), Gabe Vincent (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some appeal (by contract or talent): Dragic, Iguodala

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Herro, Achiuwa, Okpala

    Trade Kickers: Butler (15 percent), Iguodala (7.5 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: The Heat could near $28 million in cap space if they clear their books. They'd have about $20.5 million if they keep both Robinson and Nunn but not Oladipo. As a team under the cap, Miami would also gain the $4.9 million RMLE. Should the Heat stay over (perhaps keeping Oladipo), they would have $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE, but that could drop to just the $5.9 million TMLE if Miami spends deep enough into the tax.

5. Dallas Mavericks

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The primary concern for the Dallas Mavericks will be locking in Luka Doncic to a long-term extension before the 2021-22 season, but Dallas also has an opportunity to add a key piece around its duo of Kristaps Porzingis and Doncic.

    That's assuming the team keeps Porzingis, as Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported before the deadline that Dallas was "quietly gauging" his trade value.

    The Mavericks project to reach about $35 million in cap space, although that's assuming Josh Richardson opts out of the final year of his deal ($11.6 million). If not, that number would reach roughly $24 million. 

    Look for significant changes in Dallas this offseason.

    Goals: Continued growth with an eye on a championship—a buyer and potential seller

    Projection: Under the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Doncic

    Huge Decision(s): Doncic's extension, Porzingis' future

    Draft Assets: Weak—the Mavericks' picks are tied up with their obligations to the Knicks. Only the 2027 first-rounder can move.

    2021 Draft: First-rounder to the Knicks. No second-rounder.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Trey Burke, Josh Green, Tyrell Terry, Doncic, Porzingis

    Player Option: Richardson ($11.6 million)

    Team Option: Willie Cauley-Stein ($4.1 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Jalen Brunson ($1.8 million)

    Free Agents: Tim Hardaway Jr., JJ Redick, Nicolo Melli (restricted), Boban Marjanovic, Tyler Bey (two-way, restricted), Nate Hinton (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Porzingis, Powell, Kleber, Cauley-Stein, Burke

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Brunson, Green, Terry, Finnney-Smith

    Trade Kickers: Porzingis (5 percent), Burke (7.5 percent)

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $34.4 million and the $4.9 million RMLE. If Dallas chooses to keep players like Hardaway and stay over the cap, the team should have the $9.5 million NTMLE.

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $1.7 million

4. Chicago Bulls

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bulls made a major move at the deadline, acquiring All-Star Nikola Vucevic from the Magic. Can Lauri Markkanen, an impending restricted free agent, play alongside Vucevic, or does the trade signal the end of Markkanen's run with Chicago?

    If so, and if Al-Farouq Aminu opts out (or is traded), Chicago can look to go under the salary cap. Both Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky have small guarantees in their contracts and could be waived to help the Bulls maximize their space to $37 million.

    First-time All-Star Zach LaVine is only eligible for a veteran's contract extension starting with the 2022-23 season at $23.4 million, which is below market value. That could lead to LaVine hitting unrestricted free agency after next season, even if he wants to stay with Chicago. 

    That uncertainty could be problematic, which is why the Bulls might want to use roughly $14.2 million of their cap space to renegotiate and extend LaVine's contract up to the maximum (starting with the 2021-22 season). That would immediately reward LaVine while taking away the risk he'll leave the team.

    If so, that would leave Chicago with about $12.1 million to $26 million in cap space, assuming the Bulls can shed Aminu's $10.2 million (player option) and renounce Markkanen, who will take up $20.2 million of the team's cap room as a restricted free agent.

    Goals: Playoffs, judging by their Vucevic trade

    Projection: Under the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Troy Brown Jr.

    Huge Decision(s): Markkanen, LaVine, Young

    Draft Assets: Poor—Vucevic cost the Bulls two protected first-rounders. The next available first they can trade is in 2027.

    2021 Draft: Owe first-rounder to the Magic (top-4 protected) and can swap their second-rounder with the Pelicans'

    Guaranteed Contracts: Patrick Williams, Coby White, Vucevic, LaVine, Brown

    Player Option: Aminu ($10.2 million)

    Team Option: Ryan Arcidiacono ($3 million)

    Partially Guaranteed Contracts: Young ($14.2 million, $6 million guaranteed), Satoransky ($10 million, $5 million guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Cristiano Felicio, Daniel Theis, Garrett Temple, Denzel Valentine, Javonte Green (restricted), Markkanen (restricted), Adam Mokoka (two-way, restricted), Devon Dotson (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Young, Satoransky, Aminu (if he opts in)

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: White, Brown

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $37 million and the $4.9 million RMLE

3. San Antonio Spurs

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The San Antonio Spurs moved on from LaMarcus Aldridge via buyout. Is DeMar DeRozan next, or will he re-sign?

    Unsigned, DeRozan will take up about $39.3 million of the Spurs' cap space. Rudy Gay is right behind him at $21.8 million. If the Spurs want to use their spending power for other purposes, they'll need to renounce them.

    San Antonio has a solid young contingent of players, including Derrick White, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl, who have all gotten extensions over the past year or so. Will San Antonio look to add high-level veteran talent with cap space or choose instead to add slowly as the team retools?

    Goals: Rebuilding—or pushing to be more competitive quickly?

    Projection: Up to $51 million in cap space

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Lonnie Walker IV

    Huge Decision(s): Where should they invest their cap space?

    Draft Assets: Solid—the Spurs have all of their own firsts but may be looking to add more—rather than trade draft currency.

    2021 Draft: Own first and second

    Guaranteed Contracts: Devin Vassell, Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, Murray, White, Poeltl

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Drew Eubanks ($1.8 million, $500,000 guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, Trey Lyles, Gorgui Dieng, DeRozan, Quinndary Weatherspoon (two-way, restricted), Keita Bates-Diop (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): None

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: The entire list of guaranteed contracts

    Projected Spending Power: $51 million and the $4.9 million RMLE

2. New York Knicks

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    One of the New York Knicks' easiest decisions will be locking in Julius Randle's final year at $19.8 million, which is currently only $4 million guaranteed. The team has until late July but might want to consider picking up that money early for Randle.

    The Knicks have about $13.5 million in cap space, which they can use to add free agents for a playoff run or wait to use that to facilitate trades near the draft. With Randle's salary, the franchise will have up to $53 million in cap space at the start of the 2021-22 calendar year.

    To get to its maximum cap position, New York will need to renounce its impending free agents, but New York can do so selectively. Who stays and who goes may depend on what opportunities the Knicks can generate this offseason.

    Goals: Continued growth—buyer for right pieces

    Projection: Under the cap

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Kevin Knox

    Huge Decision(s): The free-agent and trade markets

    Draft Assets: Strong—the Knicks have all their own first-rounders plus two from the Dallas Mavericks (2021 and 2023)

    2021 Draft: Own first (although New York can swap with the Clippers, provided L.A. falls out of the playoffs and wins a top-four pick in the lottery) plus the Mavericks'. Two second-rounders (from the Pistons and the Rockets).

    Guaranteed Contracts: RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Knox

    Team Options: Mitchell Robinson ($1.8 million)

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Randle ($19.8 million, $4 million guaranteed)

    Free Agents: Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, Theo Pinson (two-way, restricted), Jared Harper (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): None

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Barrett, Toppin, Knox, Quickley, Robinson (if option picked up)

    Projected Spending Power: Up to $53 million, assuming the team keeps its All-Star in Randle, and the $4.9 million RMLE.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Mark Black/Associated Press

    The Oklahoma City Thunder are a perplexing team, as they build a massive cache of draft picks during a full-on rebuild. The team already has some solid starting pieces in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort, and will give significant minutes throughout the rest of the season to younger, developing prospects.

    In the offseason, Oklahoma City could easily drop under the salary cap to reach roughly $55 million in space but may be better suited to operate above the cap with its several large trade exceptions, including one for Steven Adams at $27.5 million.

    Gilgeous-Alexander is eligible for an extension before the start of the 2021-22 season, and the team may choose to reward him with a sizable contract. The other option is to let him hit restricted free agency in the summer of 2022.

    Goals: Rebuilding—seller, wheeler and dealer

    Projection: Any which way they want…

    Rookie-Scale Extension Eligible: Gilgeous-Alexander

    Huge Decision(s): Gilgeous-Alexander's potential extension

    Draft Assets: Elite—The Thunder have picks all over the map, including firsts from the Warriors, Clippers, Suns, Nuggets, Heat, Rockets and Sixers

    2021 Draft: Own first (which would go to the Atlanta Hawks if the Thunder make the playoffs). Either the Rockets' first (5-30) or Miami's. Also, either the Warriors' first (21-30) or the Timberwolves' second-rounder.

    In addition to their own second-rounder (which would go to the Celtics if 56-60), the Thunder will get Denver's second.

    Guaranteed Contracts: Al Horford, Aleksej Pokusevski, Darius Bazley, Ty Jerome, Theo Maledon, Gilgeous-Alexander, Dort

    Non-Guaranteed Contracts: Kenrich Williams ($2 million), Isaiah Roby ($1.8 million), Moses Brown ($1.7 million)

    Free Agents: Darius Miller, Tony Bradley (restricted), Mike Muscala, Svi Mykhailiuk (restricted), Josh Hall (two-way, restricted), Jaylen Hoard (two-way, restricted)

    Veterans with some trade appeal (by contract or talent): Horford

    Young (potentially attractive) talent: Pokusevski, Bazley, Jerome, Maledon

    Projected Spending Power: The Thunder could eclipse $55 million in cap space with the $4.9 million RMLE, but if they stay over the cap, OKC would have more than $61.5 million in trade exceptions to make deals, plus the $9.5 million NTMLE and the $3.7 million BAE.

    Notable Trade Exceptions: $27.5 million, $12.8 million, $10.1 million, $9.6 million, $1.5 million