Front-Office Insider: A look at team salary situations

The Vertical
Yahoo Sports
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry will alter the Warriors’ salary situation. (AP)
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry will alter the Warriors’ salary situation. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the final salaries and average age for each team.

The $100 million club

The salary cap rising to $94.1 million this season saw a shift in economics.

The NBA will conclude the 2016-17 season with 14 teams having total salaries of $100 million or more, which is the highest total in history.

Previously, Brooklyn in 2013-14 and Cleveland last season were the only teams to have salaries of $100 million or more since the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement was put in place.

The average team salary rose from $78.2 million in 2015-16 to $98.2 million this season; total salaries rose from $600 million to $2.9 billion this season.

The luxury tax

The luxury tax became a non-factor this year.

In past seasons, the NBA would see an average of six luxury-tax teams, but this year only the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers are tax teams.

But the offseason spending last summer could have non-tax teams Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Portland, Toronto and Washington join the Cavaliers and Clippers as tax teams in 2017-18.

Golden State will start the summer under the salary cap, but will likely be a tax team once Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are re-signed to max contracts.

Dead cap space

Over $160 million is listed under the heading of “dead money.”

The money is a combination of waived players who were signed for training camp, 10-day contracts during the season and players obtained at the trade deadline who were eventually waived.

Players such as Deron Williams, Josh Smith, Larry Sanders and Anderson Varejao, waived in previous seasons, combined for more than $14 million in salary that teams are not only paying this season but for future years.

Philadelphia and Brooklyn represent 25 percent ($40 million) of dead cap space, while Utah and Toronto combined for less than $500,000.

The impact of age

There is a direct correlation between playoff teams and the average age of teams with players who play at least 12 minutes per game.

Oklahoma City (No. 2), Portland (No. 5) and Boston (No. 9) enter the playoffs as three of the league’s youngest teams; perennial powers Golden State (No. 28), Cleveland (No. 29) and San Antonio (No. 27) are some of the league’s oldest rosters.

The Clippers are the league’s oldest team and are hoping their veteran starting unit and bench can have a lengthy playoff run.

The salary-cap floor

Some teams were willing to pay a financial penalty instead of risking long-term cap space when it came to reaching the minimum team salary-cap floor.

Brooklyn ($1.3 million), Denver ($2.1 million), Minnesota ($3 million) and Utah ($4.2 million) will distribute a total of $10.9 million to players that were on their roster during the season because they didn’t reach the minimum team salary-cap floor.

Last year, Portland and Orlando were a combined $1 million below the minimum team salary floor.

Next season

Do not expect to see teams flush with cap space this summer.

Because of the record-setting contracts signed last summer, less than half the league will have cap space.

Outside of Cleveland, Toronto and the Clippers last summer, every other team used cap space to fill out its roster.

The teams that could have cap space, such as Golden State, the L.A. Clippers, Indiana and Utah, will focus on re-signing their own players.

While the salaries of Stephen Curry and Chris Paul will represent the largest contracts in NBA history at more than $200 million, and Kevin Durant, Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin are sure to receive max offers, the summer of 2017 could put the league at a standstill when it comes to how teams use cap space.

Expect this summer to resemble that of years’ past, when teams would rely on their full mid-level exceptions and look to retain their own free agents while paying close attention to the luxury tax.

A GLANCE AT TEAM SALARY SITUATIONS

Eastern Conference playoff teams

No. 1 Boston
Average age (rank): 26 (9)
Guaranteed salary: $91.5 million
Dead salary: $1.6 million
Total cap hit (rank): $93.0 million (20)
Cap space: $1.1 million

No. 2 Cleveland
Average age: 29.9 (29)
Guaranteed salary: $125.1 million
Dead salary: $1.5 million
Total cap hit: $126.7 million (1)
Luxury tax bill: $24.8 million

No. 3 Toronto
Average age: 26.4 (15)
Guaranteed salary: $108.4 million
Dead salary: $206,500
Total cap hit: $108.6 million (5)

No. 4 Washington
Average age: 26.4 (16)
Guaranteed salary: $100.8 million
Dead salary: $1.6 million
Total cap hit: $102.3 million (11)

No. 5 Atlanta
Average age: 29.1 (26)
Guaranteed salary: $92.9 million
Dead salary: $2.6 million
Total cap hit: $95.6 million (17)

No. 6 Milwaukee
Average age: 26.6 (18)
Guaranteed salary: $89.6 million
Dead salary: $3.1 million
Total cap hit: $92.7 million (21)
Cap space: $1.5 million

No. 7 Indiana
Average age: 27.3 (23)
Guaranteed salary: $85.6 million
Dead salary: $8.4 million
Total cap hit: $94 million (19)

No. 8 Chicago
Average age: 26.1 (11)
Guaranteed salary: $92.1 million
Dead salary: $494,500
Total cap hit: $92.6 million (22)
Cap space: $1.6 million

East lottery teams

Miami
Average age: 26.2 (12)
Guaranteed salary: $96.5 million
Dead salary: $5.3 million
Total cap hit: $101.8 million (13)

Detroit
Average age: 26.3 (13)
Guaranteed salary: $102.5 million
Dead salary: $5.4 million
Total cap hit: $107.9 million (7)

Charlotte
Average age: 26.7 (19)
Guaranteed salary: $100.2 million
Dead salary: $1.8 million
Total cap hit: $102 million (12)

New York
Average age: 27.3 (22)
Guaranteed salary: $96.6 million
Dead salary: $6.2 million
Total cap hit: $102.8 million (10)

Orlando
Average age: 26 (10)
Guaranteed salary: $102.4 million
Dead salary: $1.7 million
Total cap hit: $104.1 million (8)

Philadelphia
Average age: 24.4 (1)
Guaranteed salary: $61.7 million
Dead salary: $23.4 million
Total cap hit: $85.1 million (25)
Cap space: $9 million

Brooklyn
Average age: 25.9 (7)
Guaranteed salary: $65.4 million
Dead salary: $18 million
Total cap hit: $83.4 million (27)
Cap space: $10.8 million
Below cap floor: $1.3 million

Western Conference playoff teams

No. 1 Golden State
Average age: 29.8 (28)
Guaranteed salary: $97.5 million
Dead salary: $2.5 million
Total cap hit: $99.9 million (15)

No. 2 San Antonio
Average age: 29.7 (27)
Guaranteed salary: $104.9 million
Dead salary: $3.5 million
Total cap hit: $108.4 million (6)

No. 3 Houston
Average age: 26.4 (14)
Guaranteed salary: $87.6 million
Dead salary: $3.4 million
Total cap hit: $91 million (24)
Cap space: $3.1 million

No. 4 L.A. Clippers
Average age: 30.1 (30)
Guaranteed salary: $113.3 million
Dead salary: $1.4 million
Total tax hit: $114.7 million (2)
Luxury tax bill: $3.6 million

No. 5 Utah
Average age: 26.8 (20)
Guaranteed salary: $80.2 million
Dead salary: $275,000
Total cap hit: $80.5 million (30)
Cap space: $13.6 million
Room below floor: $4.2 million

No. 6 Oklahoma City
Average age: 24.5 (2)
Guaranteed salary: $87 million
Dead salary: $4.4 million
Total cap hit: $91.3 million (23)
Cap space: $2.8 million

No. 7 Memphis
Average age: 28 (25)
Guaranteed salary: $108.7 million
Dead salary: $2.6 million
Total cap hit: $111.3 million (4)

No. 8 Portland
Average age: 24.8 (5)
Guaranteed salary: $110.4 million
Dead salary: $2 million
Total cap hit: $112.9 million (3)
Below the tax: $4,462

West lottery teams

Denver
Average age: 25.9 (8)
Guaranteed salary: $78.4 million
Dead salary: $4.2 million
Total cap hit: $82.6 million (28)
Cap space: $11.6 million
Room below floor: $2.1 million

New Orleans
Average age: 27 (21)
Guaranteed salary: $94.3 million
Dead salary: $6.7 million
Total cap hit: $101 million (14)

Dallas
Average age: 27.9 (24)
Guaranteed salary: $92.1 million
Dead salary: $11.5 million
Total cap hit: $103.6 million (9)

Sacramento
Average age: 26.4 (17)
Guaranteed salary: $87.9 million
Dead salary: $7.8 million
Total cap hit: $95.7 million (16)

Minnesota
Average age: 24.7 (4)
Guaranteed salary: $71.6 million
Dead salary: $10.1 million
Total cap hit: $81.7 million (29)
Cap space: $12.4 million
Room below floor: $3 million

L.A. Lakers
Average age: 25.2 (6)
Guaranteed salary: $85.6 million
Dead salary: $8.6 million
Total cap hit: $94.2 million (18)

Phoenix
Average age: 24.6 (3)
Guaranteed salary: $72.5 million
Dead salary: $12.6 million
Total cap hit: $85.1 million (26)
Cap space: $9.1 million

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