As signings and trades continue to be made by teams around the NBA, there’s one constant: The San Antonio Spurs have the most cap space. As they are in the early stages of a rebuild, one option remains to use their flexibility by being compensated with draft capital to accept unfavorable contracts.
As calculated by Spotrac’s Keith Smart, the Spurs have by far the largest remaining salary cap space in the NBA at an estimated $38.5 million. Next are the Indiana Pacers with $27.9 million, with no other team currently hitting the $10 million mark.
Since Spurs don’t have much use for salary caps in the traditional sense when it comes to signing players to improve their roster, using it to compensate for taking a poor salary is a good option. There will be no shortage of opportunities to do so.
If the Spurs wanted to completely rip this thing down to the cleats in terms of their roster construction, they’re using some of their veteran roleplaying trades to add extra value in a trade pack. A top candidate is Jakob Pöltl, who has completed his professional year and is entering his contract year. Other options to consider are Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson.
The move of veteran players would not only help Spurs capture even more value at a trade return, but also allow them to take full ownership of their young players. There would be more minutes to walk around and have opportunity during their time on the floor. For a Spurs team that just added three rookies in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft and already has two current homegrown lottery picks, this could be an attractive option.
There are many teams in the NBA that would certainly like to reduce their spending ahead of the 2022-23 season. If a team is close to the luxury tax threshold, taking on a housing contract is another option. Like any business owner, NBA team owners tend to save money when they can.
Another type of team to monitor is one that is attempting to create a cushion before confronting potential hard cap impacts when attempting to complete a complex trade. A sign-and-trade for a player who is already moving to a team above the luxury tax limit is an ideal example. To get the money working, the Spurs could take contracts and be compensated with draft capital.
A few restricted free agents like Deandre Ayton or Collin Sexton stand out as players who could sign-and-trade elsewhere. Many of their potential landing spots would benefit from getting creative by including the Spurs as a third team.
If a blockbuster trade needs to clarify where players on unfavorable contracts go, Spurs could step in. The Brooklyn Nets will dictate a lot of that, considering they have the free agency market on hold while navigating the trading landscape for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
For example, consider the scenario where the Los Angeles Lakers are the only team with a legitimate trade offer to take on Irving. If the Nets decide they don’t want to take Russell Westbrook’s contract back, Spurs could be a prime target then both sides could quickly engage in talks to take over the contract. There are many variations on these types of possible outcomes, to say the least.
Even if the Spurs aren’t able to make a big hit for a superstar or make big free-agent acquisitions, they can still pride themselves on having the NBA’s biggest cap berth.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.
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