NBA Roundtable

Where Teams Stand With Their MLE

In Free Agency on August 16, 2009 at 3:37 am

Quick Checkup

Who has spent their MLE?

  • Boston Celtics — Rasheed Wallace
  • Cleveland Cavaliers — Jamario Moon + Anthony Parker
  • Los Angeles Lakers — Ron Artest
  • Orlando Magic — split between Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes
  • San Antonio Spurs — Antonio McDyess

Who has spent part of their MLE?

  • Dallas Mavericks — the Mavs spent $4.5 million to $5 million on Drew Gooden.
  • Toronto Raptors — the Raps spent $4.5 million or so of their MLE on Jarrett Jack, leaving $1.3 million on the table for other signings.
  • Milwaukee Bucks — the Bucks spent $3 million on Hakim Warrick so they have a little less than $3 million remaining on their MLE.
  • Indiana Pacers — spent about $2.5 million of their MLE on Dahntay Jones. Some of their other signings haven’t been disclosed financially, but are expected to be minimum contracts, and thus wouldn’t eat into their MLE. So they at the most $3.3 million left in the coffers.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves — the Wolves spent a little over $2 million of their MLE on Ryan Hollins, leaving up to $3.8 million leftover.

Quick Analysis

A total of five teams have spent their entire MLE, while four others have partially spent their MLE. Of those four teams, two have spent the majority of their MLE, with the final three spending somewhere between a third and three fifths of their MLE.

That brings us to a total of ten teams (a third of the league) who have used their MLE this summer.

The five teams who spent their MLE are all luxury tax paying teams and are widely considered the five best teams in the league at the moment.

Who’s Left?

Who still has their whole MLE leftover?

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Charlotte Bobcats
  • Chicago Bulls — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.
  • Denver Nuggets — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rocketsthe Rockets used the disabled player exception (Yao’s injury) to sign Trevor Ariza, and thus, still have the MLE available to them.
  • Los Angeles Clippers — the Clippers have about $2.2 million worth of cap space following the Zach Randolph salary dump, but the MLE is worth more than that so they’ll be using that instead of their cap space.
  • Miami Heat — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.
  • New Jersey Nets
  • New Orleans Hornets — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.
  • New York Knicks
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Phoenix Suns — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.
  • Utah Jazz — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.
  • Washington Wizards — due to luxury tax concerns, they’re unlikely to spend their MLE.

Quick Analysis on those teams

That’s 15 teams who still hold their entire MLE … although almost half of those teams aren’t even considering spending their MLE due to luxury tax concerns.

That leaves eight teams — Atlanta, Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, LA Clippers, New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia.

Only three teams out of eight have shown interest in spending their MLE money — Clippers, Knicks and Rockets — and the Rockets no longer appear to be actively considering using their cash, so it’s only really two teams.

Cap Space

Which teams are still under the cap?

  • Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team with substantial cap space — $7-8 million

Which teams used up most or all of their cap space already?

  • Memphis Grizzlies — the Zach Randolph acquisition, as well as taking on two salary dumps — the Grizzlies have about $3.6 million left in cap space, enough to facilitate another small trade.
  • Portland Trailblazers — Andre Miller signing used up most of their cap space. They have around $1 million leftover.

Anybody else worth noting?

  • Sacramento Kings — the Kings have $5.5 million worth of cap space, roughly the same as the MLE.

Final Thoughts

There are still a lot of teams with the MLE available to them, but very few who actively appear to be trying to use it, and that’s very bad news for the few remaining free agents.

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