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A preseason look at the Atlanta Hawks salary cap

Let’s get into the weeds.

Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2017 NBA off-season is all but over as we are in the thick of the pre-season. Atlanta’s pre-season roster stands at 18 and it needs to be pared down to 15 at the start of the NBA Season on October 17th. Josh Magette will be moved from the team’s Active Roster List to their Two-Way Roster List. And at some point in time, Atlanta will likely waive Jeremy Evans and Tyler Cavanaugh and designated them as affiliate players with the Erie Bayhawks.

I have yet to give an update to Atlanta’s standing with the salary cap and a few interesting things to look for this season as it relates to the cap. Frankly, there are few things of interest to the fans with respect to the cap. The team only has one player that is extension eligible (Marco Belinelli), there is an October 31st deadline for picking up team options on rookie contracts (Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry), and a few trade restrictions. Outside of that, the biggest interest is the amount of cap space that the team can have at the beginning of the 2018 Off-Season (about $39 million, but that doesn’t include draft picks).

Let’s take a look at the current cap sheet, run through some of the issues that Atlanta will encounter if they want to make trades this season, and close with an eye towards the 2018 Off-Season.

Cap Sheet

The current sheet displays the full values of Tyler Cavanaugh and Jeremy Evans even though they will undoubtedly be waived and replaced with their guaranteed values -- which is $50,000 for each. If either of them had a dollar more guaranteed in salary, then they would not be eligible to join the Erie Bayhawks as they would run into the $50K rule.

Pre-Season 2017

Player 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Notes Cap Hold
Player 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Notes Cap Hold
Kent Bazemore $16,910,113 $18,089,887 $19,269,662 - 19-20 PO $27,134,831
Dennis Schroder $15,500,000 $15,500,000 $15,500,000 $15,500,000 performance bonuses $23,250,000
Miles Plumlee $12,500,000 $12,500,000 $12,500,000 - performance bonuses $18,750,000
Marco Belinelli $6,606,060 - - - $12,551,514
Dewayne Dedmon $6,000,000 $6,300,000 - - 18-19 PO, performance bonuses $7,200,000
Ersan Ilyasova $6,000,000 - - - no trade clause $11,400,000
Mike Muscala $5,000,000 $5,000,000 - - 18-19 PO, no trade clause $9,500,000
Malcolm Delaney $2,500,000 - - - restricted $3,250,000
Taurean Prince $2,422,560 $2,526,840 $3,481,986 - 18-19 and 19-20 TO $10,445,958
John Collins $1,936,920 $2,299,080 $2,686,560 $4,137,302 19-20 and 20-21 TO $12,411,907
DeAndre' Bembry $1,567,200 $1,634,640 $2,603,982 - 18-19 and 19-20 TO $7,811,946
Luke Babbitt $1,471,382 - - - actually paid $1,974,159, 50% gtd ($987,080) $1,499,698
Jeremy Evans $1,471,382 - - - actually paid $1,841,849, only $50,000 gtd $1,499,698
Nicolas Brussino $1,312,611 $1,544,951 - - 18-19 non-gtd, restricted $1,603,638
Quinn Cook $1,312,611 $1,544,951 only $100,000 gtd, 18-19 non-gtd, restricted $1,603,638
Tyler Dorsey $815,615 $1,378,242 - - restricted $1,603,638
Tyler Cavanaugh $815,615 $1,378,242 - - Only $50,000 gtd, restricted $1,603,638
Josh Magette - - - - Two-Way Player
- - - - -
Jamal Crawford (buyout) $10,942,762 $2,304,226 - -
Mike Dunleavy (waived) $1,662,500 - - -
Diamond Stone (waived) $1,312,611 - - -
Deandre Liggins (waived) $26,733 - - -
Total $98,086,675 $72,001,059 $56,042,190 $19,637,302 2017-18 Non-Tax MLE: $8,406,000
Total (Guaranteed) $94,202,765 $55,693,193 $28,000,000 $15,500,000 2017-18 Tax MLE: $5,192,000
Salary Cap $99,093,000 $101,000,000 $108,000,000 $113,400,000 2017-18 Room MLE: $4,328,000
Total (w/cap holds) $98,059,942 $100,702,271 $77,012,608 $73,022,187 2017-18 Bi-Annual: $3,290,000
Cap Space $1,033,058 $297,729 $30,987,392 $40,377,813 2017-18 Roster Charge: $815,615

The team has dead salaries for Jamal Crawford, Mike Dunleavy, Diamond Stone, and DeAndre Liggins that cannot be removed. Technically, the team has $1,033,058 in cap space plus their full Room MLE of $4,328,000 to spend on free agents. But the team is likely going to waive Cavanaugh and Evans, which will give Atlanta $3,193,322 in cap space. While this amount is fairly small, there is still the possibility that Atlanta could use the cap space to acquire a contract worth up to $3,193,322 and immediately flip it with another one of their existing contracts to acquire a larger contract. This is how Houston acquired Chris Paul, but I would not expect to see something like that happen for Atlanta.

Player Issues

First and foremost, Prince and Bembry have an October 31st deadline to pick up their Team Option for the 2018-19 Season. This is a no-brainer to pick up for the team, but there is no reason for them to pick up the option prior to the deadline. Deadlines exist for a reason and it has been Atlanta’s style to wait until the last minute for picking up team options or extending qualifying offers. Expect this trend to continue.

Next, a player that is signed as a free agent is not allowed to be traded for 3 months or December 15th (whichever is later). This implies that Atlanta cannot trade Luke Babbitt, Quinn Cook, Dewayne Dedmon, Ersan Ilyasova, or Mike Muscala until December 15th. In addition, Atlanta cannot trade Nicolas Brussino until November 16th because he was claimed off of waivers and they must wait 30 days after the start of the NBA season.

Technically, Marco Belinelli is eligible for an extension. He has a restriction due to being traded for 6 months (it goes away on 12/20). Marco is eligible for a $14,219,545 two-year extension of $6,936,363 in 2018-19 and $7,283,182 in 2019-20. The extension will increase to the “Josh Richardson Special” of $42,166,656 over four years after 12/20.

And finally, there are a few trade restrictions for players. Both Belinelli and Plumlee cannot be traded to Charlotte because a team cannot reacquire a player they trade away for one season. Both Ilyasova and Muscala hold implicit no-trade clauses in their contracts. This is because each signed for a one-year contract where at the completion they will have Bird or Early Bird Rights (Dedmon will not have these rights; he cannot block a trade).

I know someone might try and say that Muscala signed a two-year contract where the player option is the second year. This is true, except in the CBA lingo his contract is treated as a one-year contract with a player option to extend. If either Ilyasova or Muscala is traded, then they will lose their Bird Rights -- this is an oddity in the CBA although Muscala can avoid this issue if he picks up his Player Option. This may make Ilyasova or Muscala not want to be traded away and lose their Bird Rights, keep that in mind if you are spit-balling trade ideas.

What to look for in 2018

Atlanta will have Belinelli, Ilyasova, Malcolm Delaney, and Babbitt as free agents in 2018. It is possible that Dedmon and Muscala decline to exercise their Player Options and join the set of free agents.

Atlanta will hold Bird Rights on Belinelli, Ilyasova, and Muscala. Atlanta will only have Early Bird Rights on Delaney, although they would have the option to make Delaney a Restricted Free Agent by extending him a Qualifying Offer (for him it would be $3,125,000). Delaney is also Arenas Provisioned meaning that his first year’s starting salary in an offer sheet is limited to the Non-Taxpayer MLE. Atlanta will only hold non-bird rights on Babbitt and Dedmon.

Outside of these players, the main thing to keep track of is how much the draft picks will cost Atlanta. Right now, they have their own draft pick as well as Houston’s (top-3 protected) and Minnesota (top-14 protected). The best guess at the moment for what draft picks will earn is roughly detailed in the CBA.

The most costly situation would be for Atlanta to hold the #1, #4, and #15 draft picks and that is roughly $14,324,500 in salary added on. That would make it so the team could not have a maximum salary slot in the Off-Season, but I think fans would be OK with that.

At the other end, the least costly situation would be for Atlanta to only hold the #30 draft pick which is slated at $1,379,300. I think Atlanta fans would be completely fine with that situation because it would mean the team had the best regular season record and would easily have max slot.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got for y’all. There’s not much interesting things going on with this team from a cap perspective at the moment but we’ll be here to analyze it all.