By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Entering this offseason, it was no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers had more than its share of cap space at their disposal. It’s one of the reasons why Bryan Colangelo went hard after veteran guards on short-term deals in free agency; the Sixers offered Manu Ginobili between $16-17M for the upcoming season, and may or may not have made a significant offer to Jamal Crawford, before both players returned to their incumbent Western Conference player teams.
It’s also why the Sixers traded for, and subsequently waived, Sasha Kaun over the weekend (shipping out the rights to Chu Chu Maduabum while receiving cash considerations). Cleveland was able to free up cap space in order to sign Chris Andersen, while Philadelphia essentially sold its cap space in the purest sense possible. That $1.33M owed to Kaun is now money that Cleveland has provided to Philadelphia, rather than something the Sixers might have to potentially disperse to its players in order to reach the salary floor later on.
Still, there remains a long way to go before the salary floor even comes into view for the Sixers.
Per Spotrac, the Sixers currently have 20 players under contract for a total of $64.3M (the 3 free -agent signees, Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless, and Sergio Rodriguez, have all surpassed Carl Landry as the highest-paid Sixer!). Just over $6M of that total is in the form of non-guaranteed contracts for Kendall Marshall, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, T.J. McConnell, James Webb III, and Shawn Long. Marshall, Webb, and Long combine for a little more than $3M, and all seem like inevitable roster cuts.
Update: It was announced late Monday night that the Sixers have signed Brandon Paul to a partially guaranteed deal. The team clearly likes Paul, but it’s hard to see a roster spot for him as things currently stand. He may wind up with the 87ers this season.
Therefore, currently, Colangelo and the Sixers are looking at around $21M in cap room to work with before they even reach the floor of $84.73M. Colangelo can’t do more than maybe one or two deals similar to the Kaun move, as Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ explains teams have just $3.5 total for the year in total cash considerations which they can receive as part of trades.
Certainly, you might expect the Sixers to add salary in a trade involving either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, as both of those players are still under their rookie contracts. Any swap involving them for a veteran plus a pick would seemingly involve Philadelphia bringing in a player making more money than either of their young big men.
Another option for Colangelo could be to acquire draft considerations for larger, burdensome contracts, as the Sixers had done in recent years with JaVale McGee and Gerald Wallace. However, given the ballooning salary cap, other teams have much less of a need to shed dead-weight contracts for cap space, so those opportunities would not seem to be as readily available.
Thus far under Bryan Colangelo’s tenure in Philadelphia, the consensus seems to be that he drafted well, and wisely remained prudent in free agency. Other than the big question of the Nerlens Noel/Jahlil Okafor to-trade-or-not-to-trade situation, how to most effectively use all of this leftover cap space is the next challenge for Colangelo moving forward.