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Atlanta Hawks salary cap update: 2018 pre-NBA Draft

Checking in on the particulars.

Atlanta Hawks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It has been a while since there has been a compelling reason to give an update to the Atlanta Hawks salary cap situation. The last update I provided was in (...rummaging through notes...) October, before the 2017-2018 season even began. Throughout this past season there was, frankly, no compelling reason to provide an update to the cap as no moves affected the 2018-19 cap sheet beyond minimum salaries.

But here we are less than a month before the NBA Draft and Atlanta is in a position to make trades prior to (or on) draft day specifically because of their salary cap standing. So let’s get caught up with whether or not the Hawks have cap space (no) or will in the future (very likely).

Current Cap Sheet

At this point in time, Atlanta has no cap space, although there are avenues for opening some up. Their current cap sheet shows them $2,079,476 over the salary cap, although $1,471,382 of space is taken up by a Luke Babbitt trade exception that can easily be renounced and is of limited use. It is probably more realistic to say that Atlanta is over the cap by $608,094.

If the Hawks make a trade that leaves them below the salary cap, then they could turn around and aggregate the hypothetical player(s) they received with others to bring on additional salaries. But this avenue is only useful for teams trying to compete by adding on higher paid players, so cool to note, but Atlanta isn’t going down this avenue anytime soon so it is safe to ignore for the time being.

Atlanta Hawks Salary Cap Pre-Draft 2018

Player 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 Notes Cap Hold
Player 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 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
Dewayne Dedmon $6,000,000 $7,200,000 - - - 18-19 PO, performance bonuses $7,200,000
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
Isaiah Taylor $1,312,611 $1,544,951 - - - 18-19 partial-gtd ($300K on 6/22/2018), restricted $1,603,638
Tyler Dorsey $815,615 $1,378,242 - - - restricted $1,603,638
Antonius Cleveland $133,632 $1,378,242 - - - 18-19 non-gtd $1,603,638
Jaylen Morris $101,376 $1,378,242 - - - 18-19 non-gtd $1,603,638
Damion Lee $46,080 - - - - rest of season contract, restricted $1,499,698
Josh Magette - - - - - Two-Way Player
Andrew White - - - - - Two-Way Player
- - - - - -
#3 Draft Pick - $6,504,619 $6,829,778 $7,155,097 $9,044,042 20-21 and 21-22 TO $27,132,126
#19 Draft Pick - $2,231,754 $2,343,374 $2,454,993 $3,780,690 20-21 and 21-22 TO $11,342,070
#30 Draft Pick - $1,606,717 $1,687,013 $1,767,468 $3,190,280 20-21 and 21-22 TO $9,570,840
- - - - - -
Luke Babbitt (trade exception) $1,471,382 - - - - Expires 2019-02-08
Jamal Crawford (buyout) $10,942,762 $2,304,226 - - -
Dead Money (not including Jamal) $22,012,226 - - -
Total $99,701,094 $83,077,440 $66,902,355 $31,014,860 $16,015,012 2017-18 Non-Tax MLE: $8,406,000
Total (Guaranteed) $99,701,094 $69,332,489 $38,860,165 $26,877,558 $0 2017-18 Tax MLE: $5,192,000
Salary Cap $99,093,000 $101,000,000 $108,000,000 $113,400,000 $119,070,000 2017-18 Room MLE: $4,328,000
Total (w/cap holds) $101,172,476 $86,327,440 $83,602,355 $52,828,471 $28,426,919 2017-18 Bi-Annual: $3,290,000
Cap Space -$2,079,476 $14,672,560 $24,397,645 $60,571,529 $90,643,081 2017-18 Roster Charge: $815,615

There really is not much to talk about with the current season’s cap situation for Atlanta. They have a lot of dead money on the cap ($32,954,988 to be exact) but most of that goes away on July 1st. Jamal Crawford’s dead money will still be on the cap, but it is for only $2,304,226 next season. Probably the only bit of importance is the players that can be traded by Atlanta right now.

After the regular season ends, only players who cannot be free agents in the upcoming off-season can be traded. This group for Atlanta would be Kent Bazemore, Dennis Schröder, Miles Plumlee, Taurean Prince, John Collins, DeAndre’ Bembry, Isaiah Taylor, Tyler Dorsey, Antonius Cleveland, and Jaylen Morris. However, both Dewayne Dedmon and Mike Muscala could be traded but that would require the exercise of the player option on their contracts. And under no circumstance could Malcolm Delaney or Damion Lee be traded prior to the 2018 off-season.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has a few rules related to trades that we have yet to see in action that are slightly related to Atlanta. One new aspect is that only the guaranteed portion of salaries count towards trades -- but this only applies to contracts signed after July 1, 2017. This currently does not apply to any member of the Hawks because all contracts for the 2017-18 season have been guaranteed at this point.

However, another aspect is that in-between the regular season and off-season the salary for a traded player is the lower of their 2017-18 salary and their 2018-19 salary (only guaranteed portion counts). No one on Atlanta’s roster has a salary which declines, which partly makes this rule moot except that Isaiah Taylor, Antonius Cleveland, and Jaylen Morris all count as $0 in a trade because their salary in 2018-19 are non-guaranteed at this point.

Player Issues Upcoming

For the upcoming off-season, Atlanta has four potential free agents which is a shockingly low number. Two of those have player options that must be decided by June 29 while the other two are definitely free agents. So let’s dive into these players a little bit more.

Dewayne Dedmon

Dewayne Dedmon signed a two-year contract last off-season with a player option for this upcoming year. His base salary is for $6.0 million this season and $6.3 million the next. Both seasons have incentives built into them totaling up to $900,000. To trigger his bonuses Dedmon needs to start at least 41 games.

If he does this, then his bonus depends on the amount of combined points, rebounds, and assists per game with his maximum $900K bonus occurring if he averaged more than 16 of those combined. He averaged over 19 while starting 46 games in 2017-18 and earned his bonus.

Prior to this season, his bonuses were counted as unlikely and therefore Dedmon’s contract counts as $6.0 million for the 2017-18 season even though he ended up earning $6.9 million. Next year, these bonuses will be considered likely and he will count towards the 2018-19 season as $7.2 million even though his base salary is only $6.3 million. Kinda interesting! (not really)

What is interesting with Dedmon is that he can potentially control a trade. Since Dedmon holds a player’s option, he cannot be traded without his approval by opting into his contract. He has until June 29 to opt-in to his contract -- which will count as $7.2 million towards next salary cap but for salary matching purposes he counts as $6.0 million for a trade right now.

Dedmon controls the trade process because he needs to opt-in, which gives incentive to Atlanta to allow him to currently pursue a trade. But all of this might be moot if Dedmon wants to test free agency. He would have a benchmark for starting salary related to the non-taxpayer MLE, which is projected to be about $8,567,770.

The non-taxpayer MLE is about $5,291,918 while the room MLE is around $4,411,290 which are all well below what he could make by opting in, but he should still take those into account. Does this mean he will opt-in? No idea, I’m not here to make predictions just to lay out the options.

Mike Muscala

Similar to Dedmon, Muscala holds a player’s option and can control a trade although Muscala’s is considerably less complicated. He does not have any bonuses in his contract, he signed a flat $5 million contract for each year last off-season. His contract came with the added benefit of an implicit no-trade clause for the 2017-18 season and also holds considerable leverage over any potential trades because he cannot currently be traded unless he opts-in.

Will Muscala want to push for a trade? His agent really should, if only to get Atlanta’s explicit permission to talk to other teams. Muscala could open up potential channels for a trade but also get a good sense of what he might be able to earn on the open market. Unlike Dedmon, his option is for less than the non-taxpayer or taxpayer MLE. Muscala has a larger market of teams that would offer him better contracts than what he is currently scheduled for.

Again, I’m not making predictions here or even suggesting that Muscala leave Atlanta. But he would be wise to explore his alternatives and gain more information in deciding if he should pick up his option or decline it to test free agency.

Malcolm Delaney

Atlanta currently needs to account for a $3,250,000 cap hold of Malcolm Delaney which will remain on the cap sheet until he either signs with another team or Atlanta decides to renounce their Early Bird rights to him. Aside from this, Atlanta still needs to consider whether or not they want to extend him a qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent. His qualifying offer would be an offer of a fully guaranteed one-year contract of $3,125,000.

From Atlanta’s perspective, is the team comfortable with the possibility of having Delaney on their roster at $3,125,000 next year? And unable to trade him without his permission? He appears to be well liked by players on the team and a hard worker. Simply put, Atlanta should extend the qualifying offer if they feel he is worth it while also engaging in contract discussions with Delaney.

On the other side of the coin, would Delaney want to be back in Atlanta? He has already expressed his desires to have a more expanded role for the next team he plays on. Would that occur in Atlanta? It would have been hard to imagine Delaney’s role changing much if Budenholzer was still the coach, but he might have a different role with Lloyd Pierce as coach. Then again, maybe not.

Atlanta has until June 29 to extend Delaney his qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent. This will be an interesting story to keep tabs on.

Damion Lee

He might be a restricted free agent. It depends on whether or not Atlanta wants to extend him a qualifying offer of his upcoming minimum salary plus $200,000 (which is projected to be $1,699,698 at this moment). Atlanta has until midnight on June 29 to extend the offer which would make Damion Lee a restricted free agent.

Similar to Malcolm Delaney, one needs to consider if Atlanta would like to have Damion Lee on a fully guaranteed one-year contract. Just like Malcolm Delaney, Damion Lee would have an implicit no-trade clause in his contract because he would have Early Bird rights at the end of a hypothetical one-year contract. Does Atlanta want to be saddled with that sort of restriction?

Maybe, but maybe not. We will find out soon enough if Damion Lee will head into restricted or unrestricted free agency this off-season.