Oh, how things have changed.
Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal reports Monday that the Nets go into the 2016-17 season as one of six clubs who have not reached the league's minimum spending limit,, the so-called salary "floor." The NBA told Mullen the league expects "all or virtually all of our teams will exceed the minimum team salary by season’s end," according to a league spokesman.
Mullen writes that in addition to the Nets, the 76ers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Suns and Jazz are all under the league minimum of $84.728 million, 90 percent of this season's salary cap. For the Nets, of course, that represents a huge change from their owner's wild spending sprees of a couple of years back.
According to Mullen...
The 76ers’ spending level was about $70 million, followed by Brooklyn at $77 million and Denver at about $77.5 million, by the NBPA’s numbers. Minnesota, Phoenix and Utah were both more than $3 million under the minimum salary number.
Although Michael Bass, the league spokesman, expects "all or virtually all" of the league's 30 teams to reach the floor, it seems unlikely that the Nets will add $7.million in salary before April 12, the last day of the regular season and the day the NBA will officially tally all salary figures. The Nets are trying to build up cap space for next summer's free agency, with half the team either on a one-year deal, an expiring contract, or a two-year contract with team options on the second year,
With that kind of flexibility, the Nets could be a player at the trade deadline as well as in July. One way the Nets could make the "floor" is take on a player with an expiring deal in a salary dump by a team wanting to get under the cap or luxury tax threshold. The price for such salary dumps is usually draft picks.
The only penalty for teams that don't reach the cap "floor" is they must redistribute the difference between the floor and the club payroll to players on the roster as of the last regular season game. Mullen reports two clubs gave money back to players last season: the Magic was $60,000 under the team minimum and the Trail Blazers were under by $840,000. Philadelphia began both of the last two seasons under the cap f"loor," but finished up above it by April.
Although none of the teams commented to SBJ, Sean Marks dismissed any concerns about the salary floor at the Nets introductory press conference.
"The floor is not important to us at all," said Marks. "That's the least of my concerns. The big thing for us is to have flexibility throughout the year. So we'll go into the season with flexibility. We'll potentially hit the trade deadline with flexibility and we'll see what comes up."