Ken Berger has some great details from the NBA collective bargaining agreement negotiations, and there's finally a number we can work with. The preliminary number for a salary cap, or "target salary" as they're calling it, is $62M. Where does that leave the Sixers?
The general idea, as Berger explains it, is that the league will have a target salary, a ceiling and a floor. This is sort of like a hard cap in that teams will only be able to use exceptions to go so far above $62M and there would presumably be no need for a luxury tax. Teams would have the same exceptions available to them (the MLE, Larry Bird Rights, etc.), but they'd have to be judicious in how they use those exceptions, or at least judicious to a point because there's a hard ceiling. Teams couldn't run their payrolls up to $100M by stringing exceptions together every year.
Obviously, these talks are still ongoing and there's absolutely nothing certain about this, but I thought since we have a number, we should take a look at how the Sixers salary structure would look if the final number was $62M.
- 2011-2012: Currently, the Sixers have $55.5M committed to Brand, Iguodala, Nocioni, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Marreese Speights, Jrue Holiday, Craig Brackins, Jodie Meeks and the #16 pick in the draft. If both Thad and Spencer Hawes wind up signing their qualifying offers, that number jumps up to $63.5M, or slightly above the "target." If Thad is extended, you can add every penny above his $3.99M QO to that total. If Hawes is also extended, I suggest you become a fan of hockey.
- 2012-2013: Nocioni is the only major contract to come off the books unless Lou or Brand elect to opt out of the final years of their contracts. Currently, they have $49.2M committed to Brand, Iguodala, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Craig Brackins and this year's #1 draft pick. Marreese Speights would be a restricted free agent, his qualifying offer is $3.8M. Jodie Meeks is an unrestricted free agent and you'd also have the guaranteed contract for next year's first-round pick. This also doesn't take into account an extension for Thad Young or Spencer Hawes, if either is extended this summer. Basically, if they don't extend Thad and they cut ties with all of their other free agents between now and then, they could have somewhere north of $10M in cap space next summer, if $62M is the number.
- 2013-2014: This year Brand and Lou Williams are both gone and the team has some serious decisions to make. Currently, they'd have $26M on the books for Iguodala (unless he opted out of the final year of his contract), Evan Turner, Craig Brackins and this year's #1 pick. They'd also have next year's #1 pick and the following year's as well. Jrue would be a restricted free agent.
All told, if this is how the salary cap is going to work, the Sixers really aren't in terrible shape right now. That could all change if they decide Thad is worth $10M/year, or more, but if they're patient and smart in how they spend their money/make trades in the next 24 months, they could have a nice young core to go along with expiring contracts in 2013 and/or a boatload of cap space the following year.