2013 NBA Free Agents: Atlanta Hawks Cap Status

USA TODAY Sports

How much money do the Atlanta Hawks have left to spend in free agency? How do the rumors impact what the Hawks can do under the cap? Jason Walker tries to answer the questions.

Disclaimer: Author is a Liberal Arts graduate of the University of Florida and thereby cautions all to check his math, monitor his theories and most of all give him a break.

(All salaries per Hoopsworld and salary cap explanations from CBAFAQ.com)

With the announcements of the agreements of Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll to join the Atlanta Hawks, questions abound about the Hawks cap space and what do these signings mean?

Let's start out with the current guaranteed contract count. This will not include the agreed upon deals with Millsap and Carroll.


BASIC CAP FIGURING SCENARIO:

GUARANTEED CONTRACTS

Al Horford: 12.0M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

ROOKIE HOLDS:

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

NON-GUARANTEED DEALS:

DeShawn Stevenson: 2.24M

Mike Scott: 800K

Shelvin Mack: 900K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

INCOMPLETE ROSTER HOLDS (needed to fill salary slots):

1 spot = 490K

For those 12 slots, the cap hit is 32.726M.

The cap is ~58.5M estimated -- won't be official until July 10th.

So it looks, from the appearance of the cap, that the Hawks are well underneath the cap, right?

Here come the holds

ROSTER CAP HOLDS:

Jeff Teague: 6M

Teague is a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer of 4.3M. His cap hold, however is 6M until he either signs the QO or signs an offer sheet with another team or signs a contract outright with the Hawks.

As none of those scenarios have occurred, we'll keep the cap hold at 6M. Teague hold takes the place of the incomplete roster hold and now makes the Hawks cap hit 38.2M

Let's look at the whole roster with Teague in place:

Al Horford: 12.0M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

DeShawn Stevenson: 2.24M

Mike Scott: 800K

Shelvin Mack: 900K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

Jeff Teague: 6M

OK, so 38.2M is still well under 58.5M, so the Hawks are still in the clear, right?

Time for the unrestricted free agent cap holds.

These are the cap holds in place to protect the Hawks so they can go over the cap to sign their free agents. These rights are called Bird Rights. To prevent a loophole to be worked where team would sign outside free agents right up until the last penny and then sign all their free agents, these holds were put into effect to close that loophole.

These holds, like the cap hold for Jeff Teague above, are in place until the Hawks sign this FA, another team signs them, or the Hawks renounce those Bird Rights, taking the cap hold away but also removing the ability to go over the cap to re-sign them without using an exception or remaining under the cap.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT CAP HOLDS:

Josh Smith: 16.4M

Devin Harris: 12.75M

Zaza Pachulia: 7.9M

Johan Petro: 6.66M

Dahntay Jones: 5.5M

Ivan Johnson: 1.25M

Anthony Tolliver: 800K

The total amount of those cap holds is a whopping 51.26M, so you can see that the Hawks would have to do some renouncing as the total cap number for the Hawks, with all contracts and holds now adds up to 89.46M, well over the 58.5M cap by over 30M. Remember this does NOT include the Paul Millsap/DeMarre Carroll agreements, which will add another 11M to the pile.

So let's start at 89.46M. We know that Petro, Jones and Tolliver do not fit the plans moving forward.

So let's recalculate:

89.46 subtract (6.6M+5.5M+.8) = 76.56M

Ok, so that's a little better, but you see that we're still a far way from getting under the cap to accommodate Millsap/Carroll.

Moving on, Devin Harris' number is quite high, so you can renounce him at 12.75M and recalculate:

76.56 - 12.75 = 63.81M

Hey, hey! Getting closer. Let's recap where we are:

Al Horford: 12.0M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

DeShawn Stevenson: 2.24M

Mike Scott: 800K

Shelvin Mack: 900K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

Jeff Teague: 6M

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT CAP HOLDS:

Josh Smith: 16.4M

Zaza Pachulia: 7.9M

Ivan Johnson: 1.25M

63.81M dollars

Ok, so 63.81M and the Hawks need to get to 58.5 - ~11M to get Millsap and Carroll under.


So this is where the Hawks are right now. The hard part about renouncing is that you can't use your rights to do a sign and trade, like with Willie Green last year where the Hawks got a second rounder for facilitating that deal to the Clippers.

The Hawks could easily renounce their remaining free agents, get the almost 25.5M in cap room back. That would look like this:

63.81M - 25.55M = 38.26M

Then, you could take Millsap + Carroll, add them in and you have 38.26M + 11M = 49.26M.

The Hawks would have renounced everyone, except for Jeff Teague, who is at a modest 6M, signed Millsap and Carroll, have a roster full of players, and still have ~9M left under the cap to spend on a FA.

Here is what that final roster would look like:

Al Horford: 12.0M

Paul Millsap: 9M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

DeMarre Carroll: 2.5M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

DeShawn Stevenson: 2.24M

Mike Scott: 800K

Shelvin Mack: 900K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

Jeff Teague: 6M

What about signing a player like Nikola Pekovic?

Pekovic, a restricted free agent himself, is a top player whose offer could start at 13M. In this scenario, the Hawks can only start around 9M, which is where Portland was when looking at Spurs restricted free agent center Tiago Splitter and Pekovic.

To get more room in this scenario, the Hawks would have to renounce Jeff Teague, claim that 6M in cap space to add to the 9M, and they would have enough to make a max offer for Pekovic.

Here is what that would look like:

Nikola Pekovic: ~13M

Al Horford: 12.0M

Paul Millsap: 9M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

DeMarre Carroll: 2.5M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

DeShawn Stevenson: 2.24M

Mike Scott: 800K

Shelvin Mack: 900K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

This would equal 56.726M, less than 2M under the cap.




OTHER SCENARIOS:


The Asik Maneuver


The Hawks have talked about doing a sign and trade w/Josh Smith to a team like the Rockets and take back less salary than Smith's cap hold like the Omer Asik rumors.

Let's see how the Hawks payroll would look with Smith gone and Asik in at his 8.37M cap hold. We'll show the cap holds for Pachulia and Johnson also.

Al Horford: 12.0M

Omer Asik: 8.37M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

DeShawn Stevenson: 2.24M

Mike Scott: 800K

Shelvin Mack: 900K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

Jeff Teague: 6M

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT CAP HOLDS:

Zaza Pachulia: 7.9M

Ivan Johnson: 1.25M


The total of this payroll is 55.336M. To add in Millsap and Carroll, though, it needs to be 58.5 - 11M = 47.5M

So the Hawks, in this scenario, would need to shave 7.836M, which is exactly what Zaza Pachulia's cap hold is.

(sad face)

This would also put the total roster spots at 15, so you can bet that the Hawks would start looking to knock off those non-guaranteed spots like Stevenson's quick.

What if the Rockets added Jeremy Lin?


Now, let's look at if Jeremy Lin were to come over in the Smith deal with Asik. This would add another 8.37M to that 55.336 number, making it necessary to eliminate 16.206M.

Pachulia + Johnson + Stevenson + Mack = 12.29M. That's not enough. Well, what if the Hawks renounced Jeff Teague?

Pachulia + Johnson +Stevenson + Mack + Teague = 18.29M. Now the Hawks might pull back Ivan Johnson, leaving the number at 17.04M, which is more than enough to accommodate both Asik and Lin, but little else.

If they did these, the roster would look like this, with Millsap and Carroll included:

Al Horford: 12.0M

Paul Millsap: 9M

Omer Asik: 8.37M

Jeremy Lin: 8.37M

Kyle Korver: 5.4M (assumed starting point of reported 4 year, 24 million dollar deal)

Lou Williams: 5.22M

DaMarre Carroll: 2.5M

John Jenkins: 1.258M

Jared Cunningham: 1.208M

Lucas Nogueira: 1.4M

Dennis Schroeder: 1.3M

Mike Scott: 800K

Mike Muscala: ~500K (based on Mike Scott 2012-13)

That would be 14 players @ 57.436M, just under the cap.

EXCEPTIONS:

From the CBAFAQ -- Please read it to understand each of the different exceptions --

If a team is below the cap, then its Disabled Player, Bi-Annual, Mid-Level (either the Taxpayer or Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level, whichever applies to the team) and/or trade exceptions are added to their team salary, and the league treats the team as though they are over the cap1. This is to prevent a loophole, in a manner similar to free agent amounts (see question number 38). A team can't act like it's under the cap and sign free agents using cap room, and then use their Disabled Player, Bi-Annual, Mid-Level and/or trade exceptions. Consequently, the exceptions are added to their team salary (putting the team over the cap) if the team is under the cap and adding the exceptions puts them over the cap. If a team is already over the cap, then the exceptions are not added to their team salary. There would be no point in doing so, since there is no cap room for signing free agents.

So being under the cap does not necessarily mean a team has room to sign free agents. For example, assume the cap is $58 million, and a team has $51.5 million committed to salaries. They also have a Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception for $5 million and a trade exception for $5.5 million. Even though their salaries put them $6.5 million under the cap, their exceptions also count toward their team salary, increasing their total to $62 million, or $4 million over the cap. So the team actually has no cap room to sign free agents, and instead must use its exceptions to sign players.

Teams have the option to renounce their exceptions in order to reclaim their cap room. So in the example above, if the team renounced their Traded Player and Mid-Level exceptions, then the $10.5 million is taken off their team salary, which then totals $51.5 million, leaving them with $6.5 million of cap room which then can be used to sign free agent(s).

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

The Hawks could save 1.4M if Lucas Nogueira plays overseas this year due to a clause where the Hawks can send a letter guaranteeing Nogueira would not play in the NBA next year and this money would immediately go onto the cap.

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