The off-season is always a difficult time to talk about the NBA Salary Cap during the July moratorium. This is because there are so many moving parts that go into the calculation of Team Salary and because the Salary Cap number is not yet known. So we are always left with a clouded picture of the current State of the Cap for the Atlanta Hawks because, well, it could be in different places at the moment. But have no fear, I will try to sort out a few things that we can deduce based upon reports.
Reported Acquisition of Tiago Splitter
According to multiple sources, the Hawks have acquired Tiago Splitter in a deal involving non-roster pieces. I've talked about the non-roster pieces before and they include the rights to Marcus Eriksson and Dimitrios Agravanis (2015 NBA Draft), Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson (2014 NBA Draft), Sergey Gladyr (drafted in 2009), Giorgos Printezis (part of the Thabo sign-and-trade), Alain Digbeu (drafted in 1997), and Augusto Binelli (drafted in 1986). So the Hawks will be sending the rights to one or more of these players in exchange for Tiago.
This necessarily implies that the Hawks will use Cap Space to absorb Tiago Splitter's contract.
UPDATE: Tiago Splitter has a 15% Trade Kicker, which implies that 15% of the remainder of his contract ($16,750,00) will be paid to him by the San Antonio Spurs upfront for a bonus of $2,512,500. This amount is applied equally to the remaining years of Tiago's contract which implies that his contract will have a cap hit of $9,756,250 this Season and $9,506,250 next even though the Hawks will only pay him $8,500,000 and $8,250,000.
We do not know what the Salary Cap is set at yet, but with a reasonable guess of somewhere between $66 million and $70 million we know that the Hawks will have to renounce Cap Holds. The obvious candidates are to renounce Antić, Ayón, Brand, and Jenkins. Along with reports that DeMarre Carroll has signed with Toronto, his Cap Hold will disappear as well. This clears up the necessary Cap Space for the Hawks to acquire Tiago. This also leaves the Hawks with the following cap sheet:
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||$1,304,520||$2,281,605TO||$5,704,013||$3,586,125|
|Only Guaranteed (Roster Charges added)||$51,387,501||$30,943,455||$6,749,916||---|
|Total (Under Contract)||$52,231,867||$38,332,973||$0||$90,564,840|
|Only Under Contract (Roster Charges added)||$52,231,867||$39,963,386||$6,749,916||---|
|Free Agents:||Rights held by Hawks:|
|Paul Millsap||$12,350,000||(Early Bird)||up to $16,625,000|
|Total w/ Cap Holds (likely)||$64,581,867||---||---||---|
|Salary Cap Projections||$67,100,000||$89,000,000||$108,000,000||---|
|Luxury Tax Projections||$81,600,000||$108,000,000||$127,000,000||---|
Notes: Red denotes cap hold; TO-Team Option; NG-Nonguaranteed.
Mike Muscala and Austin Daye are minimum salaried players, their salaries count as 2-year vet minimum but are paid more based on years experience (except for Mike in 2015-16 when he is a 2-year vet).
There are conflicting interpretations of the waiver wire process and how it relates to the rights that the Hawks hold for Gustavo Ayón. This is why I list two different cap holds for him.
So what we have right now is that the total Cap Holds for the Hawks is sitting around $64,581,867. This would appear to indicate that the Hawks have somewhere around ~$2.5 to $4.6 million in Cap Space with projected Salary Cap between $67.1 and $69 million.
How Does This Affect Paul?
The reports on Paul Millsap indicate that he has a 4 year offer of around $80 million. If we take this literally, then this implies that Paul has a contract starting at $18,735,363 with 4.5% raises each year ($843,091):
(I'll chip in the remainder of $2 if that is a deal breaker)
Because Paul has a Cap Hold of $12,350,000 the Hawks would need to have at least $6,385,363 in Cap Space to offer Paul this exact contract. Uh-oh, what we calculated above is not going to cut it.
If the Salary Cap comes in above $68,663,704 (there's a $100,000 buffer there) then the Hawks can waive Austin Daye in order for this Salary to fit. If the Salary Cap is not higher than the roughly $68.7 million, then this means that either the Hawks are not offering this exact contract or the Hawks will be moving another piece. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: There is pretty much no reasonable level for the Salary Cap in which the Hawks can offer said contract to Paul and not make a roster move (it needs to be $70,867,230 to make things work). At this point in time, it is too soon to make a suggestion of who the Hawks will try to move since we have no firm idea of what the Salary Cap will be. But we do know that the Hawks will need to shed some salary if they want to bring Paul back at said contract.
Is Tiago Here to Stay?
It is possible. However, I would be remiss to not mention that Tiago Splitter can be packaged along with other Hawks on the roster for a different piece. This is all because the Hawks acquired Tiago through Cap Space and not through the Traded Player Exception.
Typically, when a player is acquired through the Traded Player Exception (that pesky 150% + $100K rule), the player's contract cannot be aggregated with other contracts in a trade. The Hawks did not use this exception, and are thus free to trade away Tiago. If the Hawks trade away just Tiago, then they can absorb
$12,850,000 $14,734,375 in Salaries.
It gets a bit trickier when the Hawks trade away $9.8 to $19.6 million in salary, which would imply trading Tiago along with another player. The Hawks can absorb the outgoing salary plus $5 million within this range. So a potential trade of Tiago and Shelvin (totaling $12,189,583) would mean that the Hawks could acquire
$15,933,333 $17,189,583 in Salary.
You can fiddle with the numbers above to see what players you would hypothetically trade. All are eligible to be traded and aggregated (presumably, the Hawks acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. through Cap Space but this has not been confirmed).