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Atlanta Hawks Salary Cap Update

After reports that John Salmons has been waived by the Atlanta Hawks, we now know a bit more about the Hawks standing this offseason. ($20 says if John Salmons stayed with the Hawks he would have moved up to John's Creek)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Per our own Jason Walker, John Salmons has been waived. Although he technically never played a game for the Hawks, he had a longer tenure than former Hawks Antawn Jamison, Gary Payton, and Rasheed Wallace combined! More importantly, the team's position with respect to the Salary Cap becomes a bit clearer as well as potential moves available. So let's review.

In terms of committed Salary for the Hawks, this has actually changed slightly. At the moment, the Hawks have 7 players under guaranteed contracts. The new change is that John Salmons is not  and we can now slide the $1,000,000 owed to John Salmons:

  1. Al Horford $12,000,000
  2. Paul Millsap $9,500,000
  3. Jeff Teague $8,000,000
  4. Kyle Korver $6,253,521
  5. DeMarre Carrol $2,442,455
  6. Dennis Schroder $1,690,680
  7. John Jenkins $1,312,920
  8. John Salmons Guaranteed Salary $1,000,000 (Zombie payment, he's not on the team)

This is a total of $42,199,576 committed to 7 players. Let's not forget about our two favorite non-guaranteed (for the moment) contracts:

  1. Pero Antic $1,250,000; fully guaranteed if not waived before July 15th
  2. Mike Muscala $816,482; $408,241 guaranteed and fully guaranteed if not waived before January 7th

This puts the Hawks at either $42,607,817 if they waive both1, but more realistically at $44,266,058 in salaries and payments on the books. But now we need to account for the Cap Holds for the Hawks 1st round pick (Adreian Payne), their Free Agents (Ayon, Brand, Mack, Scott)2, and the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (NTMLE) and Bi-Annual Exception (BAE):

  1. Adreian Payne $1,546,100 (can sign between 80% and 120% of this amount)
  2. Shelvin Mack $1,148,163
  3. Mike Scott $1,115,243
  4. Gustavo Ayon $1,950,000
  5. Elton Brand $4,800,000
  6. Bi-Annual Exception $2,077,000
  7. Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception $5,305,000

Accounting for all of these capholds (up to $17,941,506 in total) puts the Hawks currently at $62,207,564 in Team Salary. This would imply that under any realistic scenario the Hawks have Cap Space of at least $857,436 at the moment. But this also does not imply that the impending signing of Thabo Sefolosha (reportedly somewhere between $3,809,524 and $4,188,482) will occur via Cap Space. It most likely will, but let's go through a few potential scenarios where the Hawks may not:

Status Quo Woes

I'll start off with the most bizare of scenarios and state that the Hawks could bring back some combination of their current Free Agents to deals that start in excess of their Cap Hold. For the Free Agents, they all have a maximum amount that the Hawks can sign them for. This depends on their standing with the team. Since the Salary Cap was announced two days ago, we now know the maximum amount that the Hawks can exceed the Cap in order to resign Ayon, Mack, and Scott. This is based off of the Average Salary, which can be seen below:

  • Gustavo Ayon, Early Bird Rights, up to $5,389,000
  • Elton Brand, Non-Bird Rights, up to $4,800,000
  • Shelvin Mack, Early Bird Rights, up to $5,389,000
  • Mike Scott, Early Bird Rights, up to $5,389,000

So if one of the above combinations pushes the Hawks over the Cap, then Thabo will be signed with the NTMLE.

Sign-and-Trades (S&T)

I mention this in the plural because a Sign-and-Trade could facilitate different mechanisms to acquire Thabo.

On the one hand, the Hawks could acquire Thabo through a S&T with Oklahoma City3. If acquiring Thabo leaves the Hawks over the Cap, then the Hawks would need to send away at least $2,473,016 in Salary (based off of Thabo's low end Salary). This would need to be an attractive contract from OKC's perspective. A curosry look at the Hawks list would involve some combination of DeMarre/Dennis/Jenkins/Pero/Muscala or could involve the Hawks S&T-ing one of their free agents back. While a double S&T is rare, it is permitted. This option could be attractive to the Hawks if they decide to renounce a few Free Agents, sign someone with Cap Space and then trade away some contracts for Thabo.

Another scenario of acquiring Thabo and involving a S&T involves the Hawks going the other direction. If the Hawks were to S&T away one of their current free agents, this could be a mechanism that keeps the Hawks over the Cap. Similar to the Status Quo Woes, the Hawks would need to bring back more in contracts than what their current FA capholds total. Is there a market for Ayon/Brand/Mack/Scott for teams over the Cap? Or potentially teams concerned that an offer sheet to Mack or Scott would be matched? If this happens, then that leaves Thabo to sign with the NTMLE.

Keep in mind, I place no probability on these events happening or provide any insight as to what is best for the team. I leave that up to you to decide. I only want the readers to know what paths the Hawks have available.

1. Keep in mind that by waiving either Pero or Mike, the Hawks may need to add in more incomplete roster charges. In the case of Mike, if waiving him adds on an incomplete roster charge of $507,336 then the Hawks would actually lose $99,095 in Cap Space because Mike is guaranteed $408,241.

2. At this moment, Cartier Martin has not been renounced by the Atlanta Hawks. So to be precise, his cap hold should be included. I choose to ignore this as Cartier will eventually sign with the Detroit Pistons and the Hawks can renounce him at anytime.

3. If the trade does not put the Hawks over the Salary Cap, then they do not need to send away any salary. This would be extremely strange to do and poses no benefit for the Hawks.