The six tiers of cap space for all 30 teams

The six tiers of cap space for all 30 teams post thumbnail image

With the NBA draft complete, as the 2022 offseason continues, teams will turn to free agency for the opportunity to reshape their rosters.

To illustrate what to expect this offseason, we’ve separated all 30 teams into six tiers, ranging from teams that can easily generate salary-cap space to those already in the luxury tax for next season. We’ve also highlighted which prospects teams can sign while addressing the challenges that lie ahead.

As a reminder, the salary cap for the 2022-23 season is projected to be $122 million, and the luxury tax line is projected to be at $149 million.

Will teams such as Detroit, Indiana, Orlando or San Antonio make a splashy signing? Or can title contenders finagle a way to acquire another cornerstone player? Here’s the latest intel on what each franchise could do.

Tier 1: Cap-space teams

Since COVID-19 altered the economics of the NBA, a total of just nine teams have entered the past two offseasons with cap space. That trend is expected to continue this summer, as just five teams — Detroit, Indiana, New York, Orlando and San Antonio — are projected to have significant financial flexibility.

However, despite the limited cap space leaguewide, that does not mean players like restricted free agents Deandre Ayton or Miles Bridges are out of options if they want to sign with a team that does not have cap space. Last year, we saw Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan orchestrate separate sign-and-trades to join the Chicago Bulls despite Chicago not having cap space.

A total of 16 free agents in the past two offseasons have been signed and were eventually traded to a team that did not have cap space.

Zach LaVine and the more expensive free agents face obstacles, however, in that the acquiring team would trigger the hard cap, and the mechanics of the NBA’s complicated base-year compensation rules make executing a trade more difficult.

The cap-space free agents: Jalen Brunson, Tyus Jones, Zach LaVine, James Harden (player option), Bradley Beal (player option), Donte DiVincenzo (restricted), Anfernee Simons (restricted), Collin Sexton (restricted), Lonnie Walker IV (restricted), Miles Bridges (restricted), Deandre Ayton (restricted), Mo Bamba (restricted), Bobby Portis, Marvin Bagley III (restricted), Mitchell Robinson and Jusuf Nurkic

Note: The above list of cap-space free agents is based on those players not re-signing with their current team.

Detroit Pistons

Projected room: $23 million

Note: The room does not factor in the free agent hold of Marvin Bagley III. The Pistons tendered Bagley III a $7.2 million Qualifying Offer.

Who returns/joins: Kelly Olynyk, Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Cory Joseph, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Kemba Walker, Saben Lee, Isaiah Livers, Hamidou Diallo, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren

Who might be gone: Carsen Edwards (non-guaranteed), Frank Jackson, Luka Garza, Marvin Bagley III and Rodney McGruder


Indiana Pacers

Projected room: $25 million

Who returns/joins: Malcolm Brogdon, Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, TJ McConnell, Tyrese Haliburton, Goga Bitadze, Chris Duarte, Isaiah Jackson, Oshae Brissett (team option exercised), Terry Taylor (contract guaranteed), Duane Washington Jr. (contract guaranteed) and Bennedict Mathurin

Who might be gone: Ricky Rubio, T.J. Warren, Jalen Smith and Lance Stephenson


New York Knicks

Below the cap: $30 million

Who returns/joins: Julius Randle, Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Taj Gibson (non-guaranteed), Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride

Who might be gone: Ryan Arcidiacono

Key free agent: Mitchell Robinson


Orlando Magic

Projected room: $27 million

Note: Room does not factor in the $22.7 million free-agent hold of Mo Bamba

Who returns/joins: Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr., Terrence Ross, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke, R.J. Hampton, Moritz Wagner (contract guaranteed), Devin Cannady (non-guaranteed) and Paolo Banchero

Key free agent: Bamba

Who might be gone: Gary Harris, Robin Lopez and Bol Bol


San Antonio Spurs

Projected room: $31 million

Note: Room does not include the $13.3 million free agent hold of Lonnie Walker IV

Who returns/joins: Dejounte Murray, Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson, Jakob Poeltl, Romeo Langford, Devin Vassell, Josh Primo, Keldon Johnson, Zach Collins, Keita Bates-Diop (contract guaranteed), Tre Jones (contract guaranteed), Jock Landale (contract guaranteed), Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley

Key free agent: Walker

Who might be gone: Devontae Cacok and Joe Wieskamp


Tier 2: Cap space, but at a cost

There is a significant cost associated with Memphis joining the above group of teams that have financial flexibility. The Grizzlies could create up to $18 million in room, but at the expense of two key backups: Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson. If Memphis elects to stay over, the Grizzlies will have access to their $10.5 million midlevel and $4.1 million biannual exception.

Memphis Grizzlies

Below the tax: $45 million

Who returns/joins: Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams, Dillon Brooks, Ja Morant, Danny Green, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane, Killian Tillie, Santi Aldama, Xavier Tillman, John Konchar (contract guaranteed), Jake LaRavia and David Roddy

Key free agents: Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson

Who might be gone: Jarrett Culver


Tier 3: The wild cards

Minnesota and Washington are right at the salary cap but have the financial flexibility with expiring and non-guaranteed contracts to create room if needed. Each team has a pressing need for a point guard with Jalen Brunson and Tyus Jones as the best available free agents (unless Kyrie Irving opts out).

The Wizards’ path to a player like Jones is complicated because they are $10 million over the cap when factoring in a new contract for Bradley Beal.

Washington does have the $14 million partially guaranteed salary of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and $4.7 million non-guaranteed Ish Smith contract to work with, but it would have to trade multiple players to create $14-15 million in room.

Sacramento has $110 million in guaranteed salary and $40 million in expiring contracts that could be traded to create more space.

Each team will have access to the $10.5 million midlevel exception if they bypass creating room.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Below the tax: $18 million

Who returns/joins: Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, Jaden McDaniels, Jordan McLaughlin, Taurean Prince, Naz Reid (team option exercised), Jaylen Nowell (team option exercised), Walker Kessler and Wendell Moore Jr.

Who might be gone: Josh Okogie, Jake Layman and Greg Monroe


Washington Wizards

Below the tax: $16 million

Note: The room below the tax factors in a $43.3 million contract for Bradley Beal

Trade exceptions: $5.3M and $4.0M

Who returns/joins: Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, Daniel Gafford, Vernon Carey Jr., Isaiah Todd, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (contract guaranteed), Ish Smith (contract guaranteed) and Johnny Davis

Key free agent: Bradley Beal

Who might be gone: Thomas Bryant, Anthony Gill, Raul Neto and Tomas Satoransky


Sacramento Kings

Below the tax: $36 million

Trade exceptions: $4.1M and $1.7M

Who returns/joins: De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes, Justin Holiday, Davion Mitchell, Maurice Harkless, Terence Davis, Alex Len, Trey Lyles (team option exercised), Chimezie Metu (contract guaranteed) and Keegan Murray

Key free agent: Donte DiVincenzo

Who might be gone: Jeremy Lamb, Josh Jackson and Damian Jones


Tier 4: The midlevel exception club

These teams are not in a position to have cap space but can use all of their $10.3 million midlevel exception and still avoid the luxury tax. That will be valuable in this constricted market.

The Raptors can retain their key free agents — Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher — and have enough room to use the full midlevel.

The $6.5 to $10.5 million midlevel free agents: Patty Mills (player option), Gary Harris, Gary Payton II, Dennis Schroder, Ricky Rubio, Bruce Brown, Malik Monk, Victor Oladipo, T.J. Warren, Kyle Anderson, Nicolas Batum, Joe Ingles, P.J. Tucker, Thaddeus Young, Chris Boucher, Kevon Looney, Nic Claxton (restricted), Ivica Zubac (team option), Montrezl Harrell and Jalen Smith

Houston Rockets

Below the tax: $30 million

Who returns/joins: Eric Gordon, Christian Wood, Jalen Green, David Nwaba, Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr., Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, Daishen Nix, Sterling Brown, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss, Garrison Mathews, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason and TyTy Washington Jr.

Who might be gone: Dennis Schroder and Bruno Fernando

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Bobby Marks breaks down the trade between the Mavericks and Rockets that has Christian Wood headed to Dallas.


Oklahoma City Thunder

Below the tax: $17 million

Who returns/joins: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Derrick Favors, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, Ty Jerome, Aleksej Pokusevski, Tre Mann, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Aaron Wiggins, JaMychal Green, Mike Muscala (team option exercised), Kenrich Williams (contract guaranteed), Luguentz Dort, Isaiah Roby (team option exercised), Theo Maledon (contract guaranteed), Vit Krejci (contract guaranteed), Chet Holmgren, Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams

Who might be gone: None


Portland Trail Blazers

Below the tax: $45 million

Note: The Trail Blazers are over the cap because of the free-agent holds of Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic. The amount below the tax factors in waiving the partially guaranteed contract of Eric Bledsoe.

Trade exceptions: $6.6M and $3.3M

Who returns/joins: Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant, Nassir Little, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, Didi Louzada, Greg Brown III, Trendon Watford, Josh Hart and Shaedon Sharpe

Key free agents: Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic

Who might be gone: Eric Bledsoe (waived), Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, CJ Elleby and Ben McLemore


Toronto Raptors

Below the tax: $36 million

Trade exceptions: $5.3M and $3.1M

Who returns/joins: Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, Khem Birch, Precious Achiuwa, Malachi Flynn, Svi Mykhailiuk, Dalano Banton (contract guaranteed) and Armoni Brooks (non-guaranteed contract)

Key free agents: Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher

Who might be gone: Yuta Watanabe and Isaac Bonga


Tier 5: Watching their own free agents

The availability of the full $10.5 midlevel exception for these teams is still to be determined.

Although each franchise is positioned below the luxury tax, that could change depending on the cost of their own free agents, including Miles Bridges (Charlotte), Zach LaVine (Chicago), Collin Sexton (Cleveland), P.J. Tucker (Miami) and Victor Oladipo (Miami).

The Suns will join the list of teams with only the $6.5 million tax midlevel exception if a new Deandre Ayton contract exceeds $20 million.

Note: The hard cap triggers only if a team uses more than the $6.5 million of its midlevel exception, the $4.1 million biannual exception or by acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade. A team can sign its own free agents using the Bird, early Bird or non-Bird exceptions and not trigger the hard cap.

Charlotte Hornets

Below the tax: $38 million

Who returns/joins: Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, LaMelo Ball, P.J. Washington, James Bouknight, Kai Jones, JT Thor, Kelly Oubre Jr. (contract guaranteed), Mason Plumlee, Jalen McDaniels, Nick Richards (contract guaranteed) and Mark Williams

Key free agent: Miles Bridges and Cody Martin

Who might be gone: Montrezl Harrell


Chicago Bulls

Below the tax: $47 million

Trade exception: $5M

Who returns/joins: DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, Coby White, Tony Bradley (player option exercised), Javonte Green, Marko Simonovic, Ayo Dosunmu and Dalen Terry

Key free agent: Zach LaVine

Who might be gone: Troy Brown Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Matt Thomas and Tristan Thompson


Cleveland Cavaliers

Below the tax: $23 million

Who returns/joins: Kevin Love, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Lauri Markkanen, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, Dylan Windler, Dean Wade (non-guaranteed), Lamar Stevens (non-guaranteed) and Ochai Agbaji

Key free agent: Collin Sexton

Who might be gone: Moses Brown, Rajon Rondo and Ed Davis


Miami Heat

Below the tax: $22 million

Trade exception: $1.8M

Who returns/joins: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Max Strus (contract guaranteed), Gabe Vincent (contract guaranteed), Omer Yurtseven (contract guaranteed), Haywood Highsmith (non-guaranteed) and Nikola Jovic

Key free agents: P.J. Tucker, Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin

Who might be gone: Markieff Morris and Udonis Haslem


Phoenix Suns

Below the tax: $22 million

Who returns/joins: Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet, Dario Saric, Cameron Payne, Cameron Johnson and Torrey Craig

Key free agents: Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee

Who might be gone: Aaron Holiday, Elfrid Payton, Bismack Biyombo and Ish Wainright


Tier 6: The tax midlevel teams

Outside of signing their own free agents, these teams will have only the $6.5 million midlevel, veteran minimum and trade exceptions available to add to their roster.

A team like Brooklyn, which has multiple trade exceptions, is not allowed to acquire a free agent in a sign-and-trade because of the hard cap restriction. Teams are not allowed to pass the $157 million apron when acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade deal.

The Pelicans are $3.7 million below the luxury tax, and using more than $6.5 million of their midlevel exception not only pushes them into the tax but also triggers the hard cap.

The Hawks will go under the tax if they waive forward Danilo Gallinari but using the $10.5 million midlevel exception pushes them back in the tax.

The $2.5 million to $6.5 million midlevel free agents: Bryn Forbes, Cory Joseph (player option), Dennis Schroder, Goran Dragic, Lou Williams, Delon Wright, Hamidou Diallo (team option), Wesley Matthews, Cody Martin (restricted), Caleb Martin (restricted), Josh Okogie (restricted), Jeremy Lamb, Ben McLemore, Taurean Prince, Carmelo Anthony, Trey Lyles (team option), Amir Coffey (restricted), Derrick Jones Jr., Troy Brown Jr. (restricted), Otto Porter Jr., Oshae Brissett (team option), Tristan Thompson, Isaiah Hartenstein, Dewayne Dedmon, Serge Ibaka, Naz Reid (team option), Mike Muscala (team option), JaVale McGee, Bismack Biyombo, Gorgui Dieng, DeMarcus Cousins, Thomas Bryant and Robin Lopez

Atlanta Hawks

Below Above the tax: $6.2 million

Note: The Hawks will go $10.2 million below the tax threshold if Danilo Gallinari is waived.

Trade exceptions: $1.8M and $1.7M

Who returns/joins: Trae Young, John Collins, Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Onyeka Okongwu and AJ Griffin

Who might be gone: Danilo Gallinari (if waived), Kevin Knox II, Delon Wright, Lou Williams, Gorgui Dieng and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot


Boston Celtics

Below the tax: $49K

Trade exceptions: $17.2M, $7M, $5.9M, $2.2M and $1.8M

Who returns/joins: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Robert Williams III, Daniel Theis, Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard

Who might be gone: Nik Stauskas (waived), Malik Fitts (waived), Sam Hauser (team option declined), Juwan Morgan (team option declined) and Luke Kornet


Brooklyn Nets

Over the tax: $9 million

Who returns/joins: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe

Key free agents: Patty Mills (player option), Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton

Who might be gone: Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Kessler Edwards (team option declined), LaMarcus Aldridge and Goran Dragic


Dallas Mavericks

Over the tax: $7 million

Trade exception: $10.9M (expires on 6/27)

Who returns/joins: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, Reggie Bullock, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber (contract guaranteed)

Key free agent: Jalen Brunson

Who might be gone: Frank Ntilikina (non-guaranteed contract)


Denver Nuggets

Over the tax: $2.1M

Who returns/joins: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Monte Morris, Jeff Green, Zeke Nnaji, Bones Hyland, Christian Braun and Peyton Watson

Who might be gone: Bryn Forbes, Facundo Campazzo, Austin Rivers, DeMarcus Cousins and Vlatko Cancar


Golden State Warriors

Over the tax: $23 million

Trade exception: $1.8M

Who returns/joins: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Jordan Poole and Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Key free agents: Gary Payton II and Kevon Looney

Who might be gone: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala and Damion Lee


Los Angeles Clippers

Over the tax: $18 million

Trade exception: $9.8M and $8.3M

Who returns/joins: Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, Jason Preston, Brandon Boston Jr. and Ivica Zubac

Key free agents: Amir Coffey, Nicolas Batum and Isaiah Hartenstein

Who might be gone: Rodney Hood


Los Angeles Lakers

Over the tax: $222K

Trade exceptions: $2.7M and $1.7M

Who returns/joins: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook (player option exercised), Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Stanley Johnson (team option exercised), Wenyen Gabriel (team option exercised) and Austin Reaves

Who might be gone: Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore, Malik Monk, Carmelo Anthony, and Avery Bradley


Milwaukee Bucks

Over the tax: $4.4 million

Who returns/joins: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, George Hill, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Luca Vildoza, Rayjon Tucker and MarJon Beauchamp

Key free agents: Wesley Matthews and Bobby Portis (player option declined)

Who might be gone: Serge Ibaka, Jordan Nwora and Jevon Carter


New Orleans Pelicans

Below the tax: $3.7 million

Trade exceptions: $6.4M and $1.8M

Who returns/joins: Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas, Zion Williamson, Devonte’ Graham, Larry Nance Jr., Jaxson Hayes, Garrett Temple, Kira Lewis Jr., Trey Murphy III, Willy Hernangomez, Herbert Jones, Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado and Dyson Daniels

Who might be gone: Tony Snell


Philadelphia 76ers

Over the tax: $3.7 million

Trade exception:$1.7M

Who returns/joins: James Harden (player option exercised), Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, Jaden Springer, Shake Milton (team option exercised), Isaiah Joe, Charles Bassey, De’Anthony Melton and Paul Reed

Who might be gone: Paul Millsap and DeAndre Jordan


Utah Jazz

Over the tax: $5 million

Trade exceptions: $9.7M and $1.6M

Who returns/joins: Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gay, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Juancho Hernangomez (contract guaranteed), Udoka Azubuike and Jared Butler

Who might be gone: Eric Paschall, Danuel House Jr. and Trent Forrest



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