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NBA Cap Space Rules: Atlanta Hawks Facing a Hard Cap

<strong>Capalicious and worth it!</strong>
Capalicious and worth it!

Not that it is likely to come into play, but the Hawks have a hard cap of approximately 74 million dollars this season. The reason why Atlanta has a limit while some GMs spend like they found daddy's Platinum card is the signing of Louis Williams. Not because of him personally, but because of the exception that used to enable signing him. Louis Williams came home to Atlanta using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception which starts at 5 million dollars per season. As part of the new CBA restrictions exist for this exception involving the luxury tax and the apron. The apron is a 4 million dollar buffer above the luxury tax limit which is approximately 70 million dollar. If you sign a player to this 5 million dollar mid-level exception it cannot cause your team salary level to exceed the apron level. That rule by itself wouldn't be good enough as General Managers would use the exception and then resign their own players or fill out the roster with veteran minimum contracts. Timing is everything. To close this obvious timing loop hole of using the MLE before resigning other players the cap becomes hard until next year. The Hawks cannot exceed the limit until July of 2013 by any means.

This new rule has already come into play this season for the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets wanted to sign Euroleague star Mirza Teletovic using the MLE. Initial reports had it as the full 5M exception. If that had been true it would have caused a hard cap that could not be exceeded to sign Lopez and Humphries or by trading for Dwight Howard. The report was corrected and Teletovic was signed for the Taxpayer mid-level exception of 3.09M and subsequent deals have Brooklyn's total salary level over $80M. Starting next summer the rules get expanded to affect trades for taxpaying teams as well.

Atlanta Hawks 2012-2013 on the books so far.

Player Salary
Josh Smith $13,200,000
Al Horford $12,000,000
Devin Harris $8,500,000
Zaza Pachulia $5,248,750
Kyle Korver $5,000,000
Louis Williams $5,000,000
Anthony Morrow $4,000,000
Johan Petro $3,500,000
Jeff Teague $2,433,077
DeShawn Stevenson $2,240,450
John Jenkins $1,204,560
Jordan Williams $762,195
Jordan Farmar (not on roster) $1,500,000
Total $64,589,032