Our newest estimate of cap space puts the Nets number at a max of $45.3 million, probably one of the league's seven or eight highest.
That number doesn't include second year options for Wayne Ellington ($1.57 million), Shane Larkin ($1.5 million) or Thomas Robinson ($1 million). Nor does it include a $1.18 million qualifying offer for Markel Brown, who the Nets reportedly want to keep. It doesn't include rookie salaries (lucky us!) or cap holds, which should be minimal.
It does include $6.3 million in "dead money" -- Deron Williams $5.75 million stretch payment, Andrea Bargnani's $323,000 buyout or Jarrett Jack 's $500,000 guarantee on a $6.3 million salary.
It's based on a projected cap of $92 million, which is the latest number the NBA has sent to teams. The actual figure won't be released until the first week of July. The projected figure is fueled by the 30 percent jump in national TV rights this coming season. Last season, the number was $70 million.
Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders estimates starting max contracts under a $92 million cap at roughly $21.6 million for players with up to six years experience; $25.9 million for players with seven to nine years experience; and $30.2 million for playes with 10 or more years. Kevin Durant, Mike Conley Jr. and Rajon Rondo would fit into the middle category while LeBron James would command the $30+ million deal. Hassan Whiteside and Bradley Beal, on the other hand, would "only" qualify for the $21.6 max.
The Nets have revealed little if anything on either their targets this summer or their strategy. The assumption has long been that the Nets will focus their efforts on a starting point guard, an assumption Kenny Atkinson added to at his press conference when he described the point as "a huge, huge position, so that's going to be a big decision for us on who we get at that position." They also need help at the wing and on the bench, at the very least.
As for strategy, the Nets could go a number of different ways: would they, for example, overpay restricted free agents and hope to scare off players' current teams rather than get into a competition for the top names? They could also marshal their resources for 2017, when the cap is expected to go up again, this time to $107 million ... and the free agent pool will be deeper and better. (If they went that route, they might not reach the CBA's salary floor, the minimum teams are forced to spend, which this season could be as high as $82.8 million. But even if a team doesn't reach that number, there's no real penalty. The difference between the team payroll and salary floor would be distributed among the team's players.)
Also, expect a lot more trade speculation in the new TV rights-infused cap era. With all but a very few teams having cap space --only the Clippers, Cavaliers and Warriors are likely to be over the cap-- GMs won't have to balance trades. It will be more wide open. And unbalanced trades are ideal for salary dumps that would increase a team's cap space.
It's all speculation, of course, and the Sean Marks regime has been quite closed-mouth on most subjects. Don't expect serious speculation until the NBA Draft, still more than three weeks away.