Much was made of the Sixers’ historically low payroll last season, which floated around the inconsequential salary floor up until the deadline. This summer, even with their two additional lottery picks, they’ll have similar flexibility.
Although it won’t be made official until the NBA’s audit in July, projections for next year’s salary cap and tax threshold are out: the cap is expected to increase by 7.7 percent, to $63.2 million, and the threshold by 7.3 percent to $77 million, according to salary cap guru Larry Coon.
Accounting for the two lottery picks, that leaves the Sixers with about $34 million committed to nine players, and $29 million to fill out the roster while staying under the cap. Will they spend it? That much isn’t clear, but they have enough to bid on multiple big-name free agents (unlikely), and take on unwanted contracts for franchises looking to cut salary (likely).
How’d we arrive at the $34 million? Let’s break it down:
The Sixers have about $17 million committed to Thad ($9,410,869), Nerlens ($3,315,120), MCW ($2,300,040), Wroten ($1,210,080), and Moultrie ($1,136,160). Add in the player options for Jason Richardson ($6,601,125) and Byron Mullens ($1,063,384), and the $2,106,720 in dead money going to Eric Maynor, and that’s about $27 million committed to seven roster spots.
That doesn’t include their 2014 draft picks. The two first-rounders should get around $7 million combined, though their exact contracts will depend on the ’14-’15 rookie scale.
These are the base numbers on a first-round pick’s salary. But the numbers on the player’s actual contract tend to vary. Under the league’s CBA, the draftee can earn anywhere from 80-120 percent of the scaled salary according to his position.
This is where a good agent can come into play, as Forbes notes. Last season, both Nerlens Noel and MCW (picked #6 and #11) were signed to deals at 120 percent of their scaled contract, so let’s assume Player X at #3 and Player Y at #10 will ink their deals at similar rates. In that case, the likely salary for Player X next year will be $4,427,640. Player Y, $2,397,840. Adding that to the aforementioned $27 million gives the Sixers $34 million.
|Player X (3rd pick)||$4,427,640|
|Player Y (10th pick)||$2,397,840|
|Jason Richardson (Player option)||$6,601,125|
|Byron Mullens (Player option)||$1,063,384|
|Eric Maynor (bought out)||$2,106,720|
|Projected 2014-15 commitments
If this holds true, Hinkie will have about $29 million remaining for six roster spots (or more, if any contracts are bought out). Expect most of these will be filled second-rounders, Hollis Thompson, Brandon Davies-esque rookies, or James Anderson, Elliot Williams-type hopefuls. Even if they re-sign some of last year’s non-guaranteed players1 — Henry Sims and Thompson at least proved themselves worthy of tickets — that’s still $25-plus million, enough for a max contract and another top-notch free agent.
Hinkie will have flexibility this summer and though big name FAs are probably off the table at this stage in the game, there is reportedly interest in Greg Monroe, and Chandler Parsons could be available. With all this space to absorb money in the short and long-term, anything and everything is on the table.
1. Jarvis Varnado’s deal from March contains two team options for the next two seasons and some guaranteed money, but terms haven’t been disclosed.
Post was updated to include player options for Jason Richardson and Byron Mullens.