When Chasing A Star Means Cleaning House

A handful of big-market teams have a shot at LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, but no money to offer them. For now.
by June 23, 2014


The five teams we just covered are the heavy-hitters to keep an eye on every day this summer. That doesn’t mean they’re the only teams that can make noise.


The Warriors are basically a ‘We’ll Give You Harrison Barnes If You Pay David Lee or Andrew Bogut’ trade away from having intimidating money. If they think they can land a player like Anthony or maybe even Bosh, they could get to $17-19 million in a flash. Renouncing restricted free agent Jordan Crawford’s rights and moving Bogut, Barnes, Marreese Speights and Festus Ezeli elsewhere (you listening, Philly?!) would put them about $17.7 million under the cap. Dealing Lee instead of Bogut would allow them to offer a free agent nearly $20 million. It doesn’t look like this is the direction they’re heading, but I have a weird feeling they’re a team that wouldn’t be afraid to shift gears. For starters, they made a similar decision last summer, and might be thinking about doing it again. More importantly, they could move all of those pieces and run out a starting lineup featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Davindrew Logut (whichever half they don’t deal) and Max FA X, while still having Draymond Green come off the bench. They could re-sign Crawford with the Mid-Level Exception if they like him, or replace him with a similar guy—Ramon Sessions and Rodney Stuckey will be out there, for instance.


The first order of business for the Mavs will be re-signing Dirk Nowitzki. I’ll pencil him in for the ‘I’m Retiring Here’ contract that KG signed with Boston (whoops) — 3 years, $34 million. At that rate, Dallas will open the summer with upwards of $20 million in room, assuming they let Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Bernard James walk. Last offseason, they shrewdly brought in two good players—Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon—when everybody was busy pursuing great ones. They could take the same approach this time around, and bring in a pair of guys like Deng and Gortat for deals in the ballpark of 4-years, $40 million. They’ll likely swing for Melo or LeBron, and even Bosh or Gasol would be interesting targets, but I think they’ll ultimately fill out a more balanced lineup. Calderon, Ellis, Deng, Dirk and Gortat would be a strong starting five, even in the West. Sam Dalembert, Brendan Wright, Wayne Ellington, Jae Crowder and Shane Larkin are already in place off the bench, and more help could come via free agency. That team would be tough to dispose of in the Playoffs. It’s worth noting that by waiving Dalembert and moving Wright and Ellington’s expiring deals, Dallas could open up nearly $10 million more in space. That’s a big number.


Atlanta could get its payroll down to below $46.5 million by dealing Lou Williams away and letting Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott walk. That’d give them about $17 million to play with—probably not enough to lure a player of Anthony’s caliber to a team without a superstar. Still, though, keep your eye on Atlanta. They have a smart front office and real dough in their pockets. They somehow landed Paul Millsap on a two-year $19 million deal last summer, right around the same time Kevin Martin got 4 years and $28 million from Minnesota. They have room to make two Millsap-level signings this time around.


It’s hard to write about the Heat because there is just so much uncertainty surrounding the team. If Miami picks up Norris Cole’s option and Udonis Haslem opts in, it will have those two guys under contract for about $6.6 million, and that’s it. Beyond that, nobody knows anything. If LeBron, Bosh and Wade opt in to their deals, Miami will be capped out. If they opt out but then ink new max contracts, Miami will be capped out. If they each take $15 million next year to stay with the Heat, Miami will have about $8 million remaining to sign a fourth-fiddle. If LeBron leaves but Wade and Bosh opt in, Miami will have about $15 million left to replace the game’s greatest player. If only Wade opts in and his two buddies leave, the future will be bleak for Miami. But at least they’ll have about $35 million in cap room, whatever that’s worth.

h/t to Larry Coon for his CBA FAQ, and ShamSports for salary information.