Hawks' salary cap situation heading into the offseason

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a breakdown of the salary cap situation the Atlanta Hawks have heading into the offseason.

Mark Deeks is an amazing human being. I say this because all of the following data on salaries have been blatantly lifted from his website ShamSports.com. Seriously, I cannot give him or his website enough praise.

Moving forward with an analysis of the offseason, one component that we know for certain is the contract status of all the player's related to the Hawks (i.e. those under contract, our Free Agents, and our draft picks). This will not change when current Basketball Related Income (BRI) is updated and the Salary Cap becomes official. So let's take a look.

Committed Salaries (10 players, 8 guaranteed contracts):

Total Committed: $48,716,058.

It is tempting to say that the Hawks could have ($63,200,000 - $48,716,058 =) $14,483,942 in Cap Space. This is not right for a couple of reasons. For one, this does not account for the unsigned 1st round draft picks of the Atlanta Hawks. This amount also ignores Cap Holds for the Hawks' current Free Agents. And even if we wanted to get silly and assume that the Hawks renounce the rights to all said before, we would still need to account for Cap Holds associated with minimum roster size.

For each unfilled roster spot below 12, a team is charged the rookie minimum salary ($507,336 for next season). Keeping all players listed above on the team (10), the Hawks could have $13,469,270 in Cap Space given the current projections for BRI. This is not likely to ever occur because draft picks are valuable as well as the rights' to Free Agents.

Let's run down the other information we know right now.

Draft Picks (2 Cap Holds):

While we do not know who the Hawks will draft this season, we do know that they are selecting 15th in this draft. In order to retain the rights to the draft picks, the Hawks will have a Cap Hold for both Lucas and the #15 draft pick at their rookie scale contract. This means we need to account for these values when discussing the Hawks Cap Space:

While these are the Cap Holds associated with the draft picks, they will have some leeway in their starting salary. Lucas and the #15 can sign a contract between 80 to 120% of their rookie scale. Last year, Dennis Schroeder signed for 100% of his rookie scale for the first year, and then 120% of his rookie scale for subsequent years. There is an added twist of paying a buyout, but that does not affect the Salary Cap so we will omit that discussion in this article.

If Atlanta was to renounce all Free Agents but keep their draft picks, then the Hawks would have $51,731,058 in Team Salary (the draft picks act as a placeholder for the incomplete roster charge). This would be approximately $11,468,942 in Cap Space. You can be the judge if this is enough to entice a player to sign with Atlanta.

Let's not forget about our Free Agents though.

Free Agents (5):

In order to close a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), all Free Agents have a Cap Hold that is defined by their previous contracts. We will elaborate on this with the next article, so for right now we ask you take our word on Cap Hold values.

The NBA has two different types of Free Agents: Restricted and Unrestricted. The latter is the norm, the former is a unique situation.  A Free Agent can be a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) if their previous team tenders a Qualifying Offer (QO) to said Free Agent.

The Hawks players eligible for a Qualifying Offer are: Gustavo Ayon, Shelvin Mack, and Mike Scott. Provided that the Hawks make an offer (they did not with Ivan Johnson last Summer), then that could change their Cap Hold. Currently, the Free Agent Cap Holds for the Hawks are as follows:

  • Elton Brand $4,800,000 (120% of previous $4,000,000 Salary)
  • Gustavo Ayon $2,850,000 $1,950,000 (190% 120% of previous $1,500,000 Salary) 
    • RFA with QO of $1,875,000, this does not change his Cap Hold
  • Shelvin Mack $915,243 (previously a minimum salaried player)
    • RFA with a QO of $1,148,163 which is greater than Cap Hold, so if QO offered this will replace
  • Mike Scott $915,243 (previously a minimum salaried player)
    • RFA with a QO of $1,115,243 which is greater than Cap Hold, so if QO offered this will replace
  • Cartier Martin $915,243 (previously a minimum salaried player)

Once accounting for all of these Cap Holds, the Hawks have between $61,226,787 and $61,659,707 in Team Salary to start the offseason. This depends on if the Hawks make Qualifying Offers, but one can do some simple math to figure out scenarios when the Hawks do not make Qualifying Offers.

This also implies that the Hawks will not actually have any Cap Space as they would prefer to retain a Mid-Level Exception, which would push them over the Cap.

Edit (4:33 PM ET May 20, 2014): Incorrect Cap Hold calculated for Gustavo Ayon

Edit (12:24 PM ET May 23, 2014): Updated for Mike Muscala.

Edit (4:09 PM ET June 21, 2014): Updated for typo in 2014 #15 Draft Pick Cap Hold.

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