Now that the NBA trade deadline has passed, it is a great time to look ahead to the 2024 offseason, as rosters will be significantly more stable between now and then.
There will be shifts based on possible extensions, June trades, the draft lottery and more. But here is how things look team by team as of now, grouped by the most likely amount of projected 2024 spending power. It is important to note, though, that some teams can easily shift their classification between now and July 1:
Cap space: Detroit Pistons ($58 million to $64 million), Orlando Magic ($47 million to $69 million), Philadelphia 76ers ($44 million to $64 million), Utah Jazz ($39 million to $44 million), Toronto Raptors ($23 million to $46 million), Oklahoma City Thunder ($35 million), Charlotte Hornets (up to $35 million, possibly over the cap), San Antonio Spurs ($21 million)
Full nontaxpayer midlevel exception available: Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings
Less than nontaxpayer MLE available: Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans
Luxury tax payers: Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks
Second-apron teams: Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers
That is a lot of money to spend by a credible number of franchises, but think a little bit about how limited things get after them: Only around five teams will be able to sign someone with the projected $12.9 million nontaxpayer MLE, while more than one-third of the league would not be even able to use the projected $5.2 million taxpayer MLE to add new talent.
It will be a fascinating offseason to be sure, even when narrowing the focus only to free agency. Here’s a little more on where each team stands:
The Hawks did not make any major moves at the deadline, so they are uncomfortably close to the luxury tax line even without their pending free agents. Expect to see them shed salary in the summer, but that could take a variety of different forms depending on how this season goes and what other teams offer for their players.
Boston is pretty clearly over the second apron for 2024-25 unless Jrue Holiday both opts out and leaves, which would be a big surprise.
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Retaining Ben Simmons and acquiring Dennis Schröder at the deadline made it clearer the Nets intend to function as an over-the-cap team this summer before potentially wielding significant cap space in 2025. They should be able to retain pending free agent Nic Claxton and use the nontaxpayer midlevel exception (projected to be worth $12.9 million this summer) while staying under the tax, though longer contracts would cut into their 2025 cap space.
While they had a successful deadline overall, the Hornets’ deals on Thursday took a significant chunk out of their 2024 spending power. The Hornets could have around $25 million in space, but retaining Miles Bridges would likely push them into being an over-the-cap team and using the nontaxpayer MLE instead even if they do not have as many free agents to retain after their moves.
A disappointingly quiet deadline kicked the can down the road, so the only way for the Bulls to have cap space is if both DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams leave as free agents this summer. Considering they hold Williams’ restricted rights, expect the Bulls to stay over the cap and use the nontaxpayer MLE even if it is not 100 percent certain just yet.
The hottest team in the NBA this calendar year did not change their roster at the deadline, so the choice is likely between retaining restricted free agent Isaac Okoro and using the full nontaxpayer MLE. If Okoro returns, they are unlikely to have even the $5.2 million taxpayer MLE available under the tax unless they can shed 2024-25 salary already on their books.
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An eventful deadline day did not change their 2024-25 books too much, as the Mavericks are still incredibly close to the tax line even before filling out their roster. Even using the smaller taxpayer MLE likely pushes them into the tax, so we will see what their ownership is willing to spend.
The Nuggets are right at the tax without even counting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has a player option for 2024-25. Denver is almost definitely over the second apron assuming he re-signs.
Sending Bojan Bogdanović to the Knicks along with some of their other moves pushed the Pistons into the $58 million to $65 million range, depending on the lottery results and decisions on non-guarantees for new additions Troy Brown Jr and Shake Milton.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were quiet at the deadline, so the story is largely the same as it was before: They are about $30 million under the tax with nothing for Klay Thompson or Chris Paul, who has a $30 million non-guarantee for next year. The Warriors could be very expensive again or even avoid the tax entirely, depending on what happens with Thompson in particular.
Adding Steven Adams shortly before the deadline made it significantly more likely the Rockets stay over the cap this summer, which allows them to use the nontaxpayer MLE but also retain Jeff Green and/or Jock Landale if desired, though they have high price tags for 2024-25 if the front office decides to keep them around.
Acquiring Pascal Siakam made it clear the Pacers will function as an over-the-cap team if he re-signs, but trading Buddy Hield raises the question of what the Pacers will actually do with that wiggle room between the cap and the tax. They could use the nontaxpayer MLE, retain restricted free agent Obi Toppin or likely both without pushing into the tax.
This was another quiet team at the deadline, but their big factors are Paul George and James Harden. Harden will hit unrestricted free agency, but George could still extend at any point between now and July 1 or hit free agency himself to either stay with the Clippers or head elsewhere. Still, Kawhi Leonard extending functionally closed the door on an already unlikely cap-space scenario this summer. The question is how much luxury tax Steve Baller pays moving forward.
Los Angeles Lakers
While they did not trade future assets for present talent, the Lakers still are not looking at functional cap space unless both LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell opt out and leave, which feels very unlikely. Instead, it seems more realistic the Lakers will have the taxpayer MLE than the full nontaxpayer MLE considering their current obligations.
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Shipping Adams to the Rockets opened up some breathing room under the tax, but the Grizzlies will still likely have to choose between picking up their team option on Luke Kennard or having the nontaxpayer MLE. They do not even have much non-essential salary on the books at this point, and remember, they traded both Adams and Xavier Tillman at the deadline, so their center spot is stunningly shallow.
After adding Terry Rozier, the Heat are well over the tax even if Caleb Martin picks up his player option rather than declining it for a larger payday. This is looking like a surprisingly expensive team in 2024-25, though this front office is one of the best in the league at navigating complicated financial situations.
It looks as if the Bucks will be over the second apron even if they only add minimum salaries this summer, so the only way to open up any spending power would be by moving existing salary like Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton.
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Swapping Milton and Brown for Monté Morris provides some insurance for Mike Conley in both the present and future, but the Timberwolves are over the 2024-25 tax line even without anything for either point guard, so it would take a big sacrifice in talent for them to avoid a big price tag next season.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pels likely have to choose between re-signing Jonas Valančiūnas or using the nontaxpayer MLE, which would presumably go to a starting center to replace Valančiūnas unless David Griffin engineers a larger overhaul.
New York Knicks
Adding Bogdanović after bringing in OG Anunoby makes the math a little trickier for the Knicks, as they are roughly $47 million under the tax without anything for Anunoby, assuming they retain Bogdanović. That is likely not enough to retain Precious Achiuwa and use the nontaxpayer MLE, and possibly not enough for either, though Leon Rose also will be eyeing even bigger moves.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have arguably the most interesting ripple effects of any team from Thursday, as moving three non-expiring contracts for Gordon Hayward at least opened up the possibility of up to $35 million in cap space. That could be huge for a new addition via signing or trade, but Sam Presti could also re-sign Hayward on a short-term deal to shore up their rotation and potentially use as salary ballast for an in-season trade, depending on what players appear to be available and how the Thunder fare this postseason.
Orlando did nothing at the deadline, so the question is still how much cap space the Magic will actually have available because each player they retain out of Markelle Fultz, Mortiz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac, Gary Harris, Joe Ingles and Chuma Okeke reduces their spending power.
Trading for Buddy Hield did not change their cap-space plans in 2024, though he could absolutely be a use of that potent spending power. Instead, offloading Jaden Springer opened up some space, so expect Daryl Morey to have $44 million to $64 million to spend, though they could even choose to stay over the cap to re-sign free agents like Hield, Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton since that would open up the nontaxpayer MLE rather than the $8 million room exception. Still, I expect them to be a cap space team because of the flexibility that provides to build around Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
Amazingly, the Suns are $6 million over the tax even with just their top six salaries for 2024-25, so it is almost impossible to avoid the second apron without a major departure, which seems very unlikely.
Portland Trail Blazers
Retaining both Jerami Grant and Malcolm Brogdon puts the 2024-25 Trail Blazers close to the luxury tax line, though there will be plenty of opportunities for them to cut salary during the offseason. Still, that and a strong lottery pick may make it tight for them to function financially without shedding salary unless ownership is more willing to spend than expected.
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The Kings are still well clear of the luxury tax, but $22 million might not be enough to re-sign Malik Monk and use the full nontaxpayer MLE, so Monte McNair will have some tough decisions to make that will be informed by how this season turns out.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are still looking at around $21 million in space, but that would require saying goodbye to Cedi Osman, Julian Champagnie and others, so there is an outside chance the Spurs will stay over the cap, though I’d rather have even a modest amount of space and the room exception to build the best possible team for 2024-25 and beyond.
Toronto clarified its future by trading both Siakam and Anunoby, but the Raptors’ $23 million team option on Bruce Brown is a huge variable that will clarify whether they will have space for a max contract offer or a more modest $22 million or so, depending on what happens with their own draft pick.
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The Jazz are looking at around $40 million in space, but expect Danny Ainge to use a vast majority of that to renegotiate and extend Lauri Markkanen, giving him an immediate raise to secure a longer commitment similar to what the Kings did with Domantas Sabonis last summer.
Taking on Marvin Bagley III’s guaranteed money for next year makes it reasonably possible the Wizards just stay over the cap and use the larger nontaxpayer MLE. Their path depends on the lottery results but also what happens with Kyle Kuzma and Tyus Jones. A Kuzma trade could open up or decrease their spending power, while re-signing Jones (for themselves or a sign-and-trade) may complicate them using the nontaxpayer MLE, though they should still be able to have it available.
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(Top photo of 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey: Bill Streicher / USA Today)