NBA Roundtable

2010 Cap Space: Atlanta

In Free Agency, General NBA, Trade Talk on December 13, 2009 at 7:22 am

Atlanta Hawks Salaries

Contracts above $5 million

  • Josh Smith – $11.6 million
  • Jamal Crawford – $10.8 million
  • Marvin Williams – $6.71 million
  • Mike Bibby – $5.56 million
  • Al Horford – $5.44 million

Marvin Williams has four years on his contract. Josh Smith has three years left on his deal. Mike Bibby has two years. Al Horford (big extension on the horizon) and Jamal Crawford are both expiring contracts.

These five players total $40.11 million.

Rest Of Team’s Salaries

  • Zaza Pachulia – $4.25 million
  • Jeff Teague – $1.48 million

Zaza Pachulia and Jeff Teague (rookie contract) both have three years remaining on their contracts.

Those contracts amount to $5.73 million and take the Hawks total up to $45.84 million.

Other Costs

  • Draft Picks — The Hawks will have a pick somewhere in the 20s so that will require a cap hold of $850k to $1.1 million.
  • Player Option — Mo Evans has a player option worth $2.5 million. It’s hard to tell on whether he plans to stick with that contract or not.
  • Open Roster Spots — The Hawks will have an open roster spot charge of between $1.5-to-$1.9 million.

Okay, so the Hawks additional costs range from $2.75 to $5.1 mainly depending on whether Mo Evans opts out of his contract or not.

That takes the Hawks total payroll up to $48.59 to $50.94.

Edit: The Hawks still hold the rights to Josh Childress. His cap hold is $10.89 million (300% of $3.63 million, his final year’s pay). That cap hold takes the Hawks well over next year’s salary cap ($59.5 million to $61.8 million). If the Hawks rescind their rights to Childress then they’ll be back to the above figures. I don’t want the Hawks to re-sign Childress so I’m going to ignore the cap hold for the rest of the post (rather than changing the post) but be aware that it exists. More on Childress + the cap hold in the comments section.

The Cap

The league sent out a memo at the beginning of free agency this year citing these numbers as possible cap figures for 2010

The NBA’s ballyhooed free-agent summer of 2010 might have quietly taken another hit late Tuesday night.

In a memo announcing next season’s salary cap and luxury-tax threshold, sent out shortly before the league’s annual July moratorium on signings and trades was lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, NBA teams also received tentative projections from the league warning that the cap is estimated to drop to somewhere between $50.4 million and $53.6 million for the 2010-11 season.

2010 Cap Space

So, the Hawks do not have substantial cap space. A maximum of $5 million which is less than the MLE … so they’ll use their exceptions in free agency next summer.

Hawks Free Agency Options

#1 — How nice would it be if …

  • Atlanta had their expiring contracts of Speedy Claxton and Acie Law instead of that $10.8 million in Jamal Crawford. That alone would have given the Hawks $11-to-$17 million in cap space.
  • Atlanta hadn’t re-upped the aging Mike Bibby to that $5.55 million deal. Now they’re up to $16-$22 million in cap flexibility.
  • Both were short term moves that provide little end result. The cost of those moves is greater than the benefits.

#2 — Joe Johnson + Cap Space

This whole talk of free agency, and possible cap space, is a non-issue if Joe Johnson decides to stay with the Atlanta Hawks. His cap hold would take up whatever cap space the Hawks would have had anyway … so it’s only an issue if JJ left Atlanta.

If Joe Johnson does leave Atlanta … the Hawks have no way of replacing him through free agency. They have too much money tied up.

#3 — Crawford expires a year later

That money will be heading right to Al Horford and his new contract extension.

Atlanta’s best opportunity to add a difference maker to their team will be when shopping Jamal Crawford’s expiring contract during the 2010 summer + 2010/11 season.

If they fail to acquire that difference maker at that point, then the Hawks will be facing an uncertain and difficult task of turning a very good team into a legitimate contender. At that stage, player development will be a better option than new acquisitions for taking that next step.

#4 — Joe Johnson re-signs

If Joe Johnson sticks with the Hawks and signs a new contract … he’s likely looking at a maximum deal considering the amount of interest he’s likely to garner once Wade/James/Bosh decide their own futures.

So that will be another $16 million to the Hawks payroll taking them up to $64.6 to $67 million in salaries for 9/10 players. Atlanta will be right around, if not above, the luxury tax threshold at that stage.

Which likely means the Hawks spending on their remaining roster spots will be limited … which in turn means that the Hawks will likely struggle to upgrade their remaining open roster spots + will fail to upgrade their talent base in terms of player acquisitions (unless they hit a home run with their late first round pick). Which again has Atlanta left relying on internal development for continued progress.

  1. They’ll also have Josh Childress’s cap hold if they tender him a qualifying offer to retain his rights.

  2. Hey Hoopinion,

    Good catch. I’d forgotten about Josh Childress.

    Childress will cost 300% of his final year’s pay which was $3.63 million. So his cap hold will cost $10.89 million. That cap hold takes Atlanta over the salary cap regardless of whether Joe Johnson stays or leaves.

    Edit: Is that final year salary for Josh Childress correct? It’s what has for the 2007/08 season but I have a different number on a post I made last season. One of those figures is a mistake. Anyway, the end number doesn’t alter the situation, it puts Atlanta well over the salary cap.

    Josh Childress

    I want to see Atlanta part ways with Josh Childress. I don’t think he’s worth the money he’ll be asking for (MLE or above) and I don’t think he adds as much to the Hawks as a Mo Evans does.

    I never really been a fan of Childress’ game. I’ve always wanted to see more … (1) more defensive impact (2) better go-to scoring or more prolific scoring (3) better jump shooting prowess … I’ve always wanted to see more in at least one of those three areas for Childress to be a high level role player. I think those limitations detract a lot of his positive contributions (rebounding, interior scoring, scoring efficiency). Consequently, I don’t view Childress as much of a difference maker for any team + not worth the money he’ll be asking for.

    I prefer the Hawks with a player like Mo Evans who is a solid defender + decent rebounder + very good perimeter shooter. I think he’s a better complementary piece to the puzzle.

    Thus, I think Atlanta is best off letting Childress go elsewhere so I’m hoping the Hawks don’t re-sign him in the offseason.

    Childress is a positive asset in a potential sign and trade though … that trade possibility should be their priority with Childress. The Hawks could bring back a quality role player or possibly a future draft pick in return for Childress. The Hawks should onto his rights for that possibility … especially since they won’t have, and won’t try to create additional, cap space this summer.

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