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News » BREAKING DOWN THE WEST


BREAKING DOWN THE WEST


BREAKING DOWN THE WEST
NBA officials project the salary cap for the 2009-10 season will drop from $58.68 million to $57.3 million, the first decrease in decades.

The more significant number is the luxury tax threshold, where teams must pay dollar for dollar if they exceed the threshold. Next season's luxury tax is projected to drop to $68 or $69 million from $71.5 million this past season.

In tough economic times, several teams are trying to slash payroll. Free agents could be signed cheaply. Other teams will be looking to dump salaries this summer. Both issues will influence next year's playoff chase. A look at how the Western Conference teams stack up.

Dallas Mavericks

→Money committed for 2009-10: $68.8 million (nine players)

→Biggest decisions: Do they re-sign free agents Jason Kidd and Brandon Bass?

→Comment: Owner Mark Cuban knows it's a buyer's market and plans to buy. He doesn't mind paying the dollar-for-dollar penalty for going over the threshold. Cuban will try to cash in during tough economic times.

Denver Nuggets

→Money committed for 2009-10: $60.4 million (eight players)

→Biggest decisions: Qualifying offer of $2.7 million for Linas Kleiza.

→Comment: Ownership has said it will not go over the threshold tax, but the core is in place for another solid season. It's Kenyon Martin's $16.5 million player option in 2010-11 that could hamstring the future.

Golden State Warriors

→Money committed for 2009-10: $59.3 million (10 players)

→Biggest decisions: Can they trade a huge salary to free up cap space?

→Comment: The Warriors have a decent nucleus but have very little wiggle room. Monta Ellis ($11 million), Jamal Crawford ($9.4 million), Andris Biedrins ($9 million) and Corey Maggette ($8.9 million) might force the Warriors to stand pat.

Houston Rockets

→Money committed for 2009-10: $64.6 million (11 players)

→Biggest decisions: Re-sign Ron Artest? Unlikely.

→Comment: The Rockets are hampered by the final year of Tracy McGrady's $23.2 million contract. It's unlikely any team will absorb that type of financial hit for a broken down former all-star.

Los Angeles Clippers

→Money committed for 2009-10: $56.7 million (10 players)

→Biggest decisions: Can they unload a huge salary?

→Comment: The Clippers have $46 million tied up in Zach Randolph ($16 million), Baron Davis ($12.2 million), Chris Kaman ($10.4 million) and Marcus Camby ($7.7 million). In tough economic times, the Clippers have little hope.

Los Angeles Lakers

→Money committed for 2009-10: $74.1 million.

→Biggest decisions: Can they re-sign free agents Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza?

→Comment: The Lakers are built around Kobe Bryant ($23 million), Pau Gasol ($16.5 million), Andrew Bynum ($12.5 million) and Derek Fisher ($5.1 million), but it's Adam Morrison's contract ($5.3 million) that might make it difficult to keep both Odom and Ariza.

Memphis Grizzlies

→Money committed for 2009-10: $34.3 million (nine players)

→Biggest decisions: A $3 million qualifying offer for Hakim Warrick.

→Comment: The Grizzlies are one of few teams significantly under the salary cap. Attendance is horrible, but if the Grizzlies sign a bargain free agent or two in a buyer's market, they could be vastly improved.

Minnesota Timberwolves

→Money committed for 2009-10: $50.7 million (13 players)

→Biggest decisions: Do they pick up the team option on Shelden Williams ($4.3 million)?

→Comment: The Timberwolves have a good, young core. It will be interesting to see if they make a splash in a buyer's free agent market.

New Orleans Hornets

→Money committed for 2009-10: $76.4 million (10 players).

→Biggest decisions: Do they trade Tyson Chandler or Peja Stojakovic?

→Comment: Owner George Shinn has backed himself into a corner. He doesn't want to pay the luxury threshold tax and will be above the projected figure unless he unloads a huge salary or two.

Oklahoma City Thunder

→Money committed for 2009-10: $41.8 million (11 players)

→Biggest decisions: Do they re-sign free agent Desmond Mason?

→Comment: General manager Sam Presti has cap room to sign an impact free agent. But will he? Presti might save the money to use for his three young stars who aren't far away from getting major pay raises.

Phoenix Suns

→Money committed for 2009-10: $62.2 million (10 players)

→Biggest decisions: Do they trade Amare Stoudemire ($16.4 million) or Shaquille O'Neal ($20 million)?

→Comment: Grant Hill and Matt Barnes are free agents. Suns owner Robert Sarver's banks received a $140 million loan from the government. Most expect the Suns to shed salary and begin a re-building process.

Portland Trail Blazers

→Money committed for 2009-10: $50.5 million (13 players)

→Biggest decisions: Trying to keep team in place.

→Comment: The Trail Blazers have a bright future. LaMarcus Aldridge ($7.6 million) and Brandon Roy ($5.2 million) both have qualifying offers in 2010-11. This team is in position to contend for years to come.

Sacramento Kings

→Money committed for 2009-10: $52 million (10 players).

→Biggest decisions: Team option on Cedric Simmons ($2.6 million).

→Comment: The Kings aren't drawing well and don't want to go on a spending spree. Sacramento is re-building for the future and would love to dump salaries like Andres Nocioni ($7.5 million), Kenny Thomas ($8.5 million) or Shareef Abdur-Rahim ($6.6 million).

San Antonio Spurs

→Money committed for 2009-10: $66 million.

→Biggest decisions: Qualifying offer for Michael Finley ($2.5 million).

→Comment: Spurs majority owner Peter Holt recently cut work force by 12 percent at his company, a sign the Spurs might be frugal this off-season. A veteran team's core is still in place but aging. The only two key players under contract for 2010-11 are Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

Utah Jazz

→Money committed for 2009-10: $71.2 million (nine players)

→Biggest decisions: Can they afford to re-sign free agent Paul Millsap? Probably not.

→Comment: The Jazz has a solid nucleus but face cap issues due to huge contracts - Andrei Kirilenko ($16.5 million), Deron Williams ($13.8 million), Carlos Boozer ($12.7 million) and Mehmet Okur ($9 million).


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009

 

 
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