2018 NBA Free Agent Class to Face Soft Market, Reckless Spending Decimated Salary Caps

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Reckless spending by NBA teams during the summers of 2016 and 2017 has turned nearly half the league into “sellers”, franchises looking to offload player contracts to remain under the luxury tax threshold next season. Just 5 teams are slated to pay the luxury tax this season (the average since ’12), but that number is expected to jump to 12+ in 2018-2019 (depending on how many teams re-sign their own free-agent players). While there are plenty of sellers, the league lacks buyers capable of taking on these bad contracts; just 7 teams are expected to have $10 million+ to spend this summer, down from 25 in the summer of 2016. The salary cap grew from $63 million in 2014-2015 to $99 million this year, but with it only projected to rise by $2 million in 2018-2019 and so much money already committed to player contracts ($3.02 billion or 99.6% of next season’s cap), this summer’s free-agent class can expect a particularly soft market.

Howie Long-Short: NBA players earn +/- 50% of all basketball-related revenue and are splitting the dollars between just 15 guys, so this isn’t a case of there not being enough money to go around; it’s a case of poor cap management. Money is going to be tight the next 2 summers, so it would be wise for players in those free agent classes to sign one or two year deals. By the time the summer of 2020 rolls around, expect the market to become bullish again; the cap is expected to rise to $113.4 million and most of the bad contracts Fan lists below, come off the books.

Fan Marino: NBA GMs had money burning holes in their pockets during the summers of 2016 and 2017. It’s the only reasonable explanation for the following contracts:

  • Joahkim Noah (4 years, $72 million)
  • Bismack Biyombo (4 years, $72 million)
  • Chandler Parsons (4 years, $94 million)
  • Luol Deng (4 years, $72 million)
  • Kent Bazemore (4 years, $70 million)
  • Nic Batum (5 years, $120 million)
  • Mike Conley (5 years, $153 million)
  • Hassan Whiteside (4 years, $98 million)
  • Evan Turner (4 years, $70 million)
  • Evan Fournier (5 years, $85 million)
  • Otto Porter (4 years, $104 million)
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. (4 years, $71 million)
  • Harrison Barnes (4 years, $94 million)
  • Allen Crabbe (4 years, $75 million)

Every player on that list is making $70 million+ and not one of them made an all-star appearance in the 3 seasons prior to signing the deal or during the 2 seasons since. It’s not a coincidence that of those 14 players, not one plays on a team that remains in the playoffs.

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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

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