Though it may seem straightforward, the NBA salary can be very confusing. Teams far over the cap often have the flexibility to sign players, while teams that appear to have cap space are often far less flexible than expected. With the complexities of the CBA in mind, here is a look at the New Orleans Pelicans offseason salary situation.
As a result of last season’s trade with the Washington Wizards, the Pelicans only have five fully guaranteed contracts on the roster; those of Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, and Greivis Vasquez. The contracts of Robin Lopez ($5,119,761 in 2013-2013), Jason Smith ($2,500,00), Lance Thomas (844,293), Darius Miller (788,872), Brian Roberts (788,872) and Terrel Harris
(844,293) are not guaranteed for the 2013-2014 season. By waiving several of these players before specific dates in their contracts, the Pelicans could clear the majority of their salaries from their cap sheet.
Free agent cap holds often limit the financial flexibility of teams with several free agents. Here is a detailed explanation of cap holds. Fortunately, the Pelicans prior maneuvers leace the Pelicans with very few significant cap holds. Al-Faroq Aminu and Xavier Henry both carry cap holds of around 3 million dollars, the equivalent of the salaries of their 4th year options, had they been exercised. Louis Amundson and Roger Mason have cap holds of $884, 293, and the currently unsigned 6th pick has a cap hold of $2,643,600, 100 percent of the rookie scale salary for that pick. A draft pick can be signed for up to 120 percent of the scale salary. Though some teams attempt to negotiate lesser contracts, it is typical for rookies to sign for the highest allowed salary.
Including cap holds, the Pelicans have a salary of $54,786,581. The 2013-14 salary cap is expected to be around 58 million dollars, lower than was originally projected, meaning including cap holds, the Pelicans only have around 4 million dollar in cap space. However, this is easily increased by renouncing the bird-rights to several of their free agents. Aminu and Henry can likely be resigned without bird rights, as can Almundson and Mason. If the Pelicans renounce those four players, they should have around 12 million dollars in cap space, and could greatly increase that number by waiving several of their un-guaranteed contracts.
Whether they act on it remains to be seen, but the Pelicans have the flexibility to make significant additions this offseason.