Well the Hawks made a few moves in the past months that need a little clarification. The Hawks had two significant signings with Cartier Martin for the remainder of the season and Mike Muscala signing a rookie contract. We also saw Dexter Pittman make a pit stop and lose a friend in the Disabled Player Exception. So how do these work out and what can we learn about them?
This season has been quite the ride for Cartier. He started off with Wizards in training camp and was waived. Then he signed with the Hawks for training camp on a one-year deal. The deal was non-guaranteed and he made it until the guarantee date before he was waived by the Hawks. After that he signed two 10-day contracts with the Bulls, then two more with the Hawks, and finally ended his income speculation on the year with a rest-of-the-seasoncontract with the Hawks.
What a ride. And all in all, Cartier only missed out on one day out of 170 at the 5-year veteran minimum of $1,027,424. I doubt Cartier is too upset about losing $6,043.
The important insight we can gain from this is that Cartier did not sign a multi-year deal with the Hawks. This is different from the past as last year the Hawks signed Shelvin Mack to a 2-year deal midway through last season. Shelvin's deal was for the rest-of-season plus a non-guaranteed 2nd year at the veteran's minimum. The benefit for the Hawks to do that deal was that they could bring Shelvin back this year without giving him a defacto no-trade clause. This occurs because any one-year contract that gives Bird or Early Bird rights to a player at the end of said contract allows a player to veto a trade in order to keep their Bird or Early Bird Rights.
Going into the off-season, the Hawks will have a caphold of $915,243 for Cartier. Since Cartier was waived last season, he is not granted any specific rights for the Hawks to exceed the cap to sign him except for the Veteran's Minimum, Biannual Exception, or Mid-Level Exception. Of course, signing him with capspace is always an option.
We can be fairly certain the Hawks will not sign Cartier to a one-year deal. If the Hawks sign Cartier to a one-year deal, then they give him veto rights to a trade and that would hurt roster flexibility. If the Hawks do resign Cartier to a contract in the off-season, then look for a multi-year deal, possibly with non-guaranteed years.
As previously reported by Jason Walker, Mike Muscala signed a four-year minimum salaried contract with the Hawks. His salary is guaranteed for the remainder of this season and at 50% of next season ($816,482). His third and fourth years are non-guaranteed with the added twist of his fourth year also a Team Option. If Muscala makes it to the 2016 offseason without being waived, then the Hawks will need to pick up the Team Option that off-season if he is to remain with the team. However, this does not guarantee his contract which oddly enough happened to Gustavo Ayon this past offseason.
This is a great deal for the Hawks with limited downside. They are only on the hook for $408,241 next season, which is less than the rookie minimum of $507,336. This rookie minimum is also used to account as a caphold for each roster spot under 12, so with 10 players under contract (including Mike) going into the off-season this also gives incentive for the team to keep Mike through the off-season. If the Hawks waive Mike in the off-season, they incur the $408,241 as well as a roster charge of $507,336 (not actual money, but it does eat up cap space). So don't expect the Hawks to cut ties with Mike anytime soon.
As for Mike, well, he had little leverage in contract negotiations and it shows with his contract. The potential amount he can earn across the life of the contract is the lowest amount possible. His only saving grace is the 50% guarantee for next season, as this could have been fully non-guaranteed. Such is the life of a second round draft pick in the current CBA.
Other Loose Ends
For the Hawks, they also had two minor moves occur since we last updated their cap situation. One was the signing of Dexter Pittman to a 10-day contract. This added $52,017 in salary for the Hawks. At the time, that did not matter as the Hawks were over the cap due to the Disabled Player Exception. However, on March 10 the Disabled Player Exception expired for the Hawks. This triggered the Hawks to move under the Salary Cap of $58,679,000 as their Team Salary is now $58,368,439.
Being $310,561 under the Salary Cap is of little importance except for the ability for Danny Ferry to claim the Hawks made the playoffs while operating below the Salary Cap. No other team can say this currently, but if the Suns can sneak into the Western Conference Playoffs then they would share this distinction.