You can read about the how the union’s decertification strategy “could signal the breakdown of collective bargaining talks,” would “be like taking a poison pill for the 2011-12 season” and take a look at the list of star players who are “leading the charge of decertification.”
Or you can just pretend that everything is going to work out and there will be NBA basketball soon. Unfortunately for my blog people, that leads to pondering the Hawks’ financial issues. . . .
The other day I assumed the salary cap would hover around $60 million and the luxury-tax level would stay at about $70 million. Cap expert Larry Coon, in a chat at hoopsworld.com, offers the first solid info I’ve seen on cap and tax levels:
It’s been said the salary cap for the 2012-2013 will be around $61 million. If that were the case, were would the tax threshold be?
The best info I have right now is that the cap will be frozen at $58 million and the luxury tax threshold will be frozen at $70 million for two years. After that they will be tied to average team spending levels — the cap about five BRI points below average team salary levels, and the luxury tax about three BRI points above.
Take a look at the Hawks’ committed salaries for the next two seasons and you can see their problem. The Hawks have roughly $65 million in guaranteed contracts committed to seven players in 2011-12. They will need to add six more players to get to the minimum of 13. I’m assuming the Hawks still don’t want to be a taxpayer–they didn’t want to do it under the old CBA and it’s doubtful they will be willing to do it in what’s certain to be a more punitive tax system.
Let’s say all six of of those players the Hawks sign are minimum-salaried vets that meet the requirements for their salaries to count as two-year players for cap purposes. That still would add roughly $5 million to Atlanta’s cap figure. And that would mean pushing up against the $70 million luxury-tax threshold while adding nothing but bargain-basement vets and sticking with a roster of 13. The situation gets a little better in 2012-13, when the Hawks have roughly $61.5 million in guaranteed salaries committed.
The Hawks could get a tiny bit more wiggle room this year by including younger, cheaper players like Pape Sy and Keith “Kito” Benson among those six players. But they can forget about (finally) using the mid-level exception if it will start at $5 million as most reports indicate. The bi-annual exception is probably out, too, if it still will start at around $2 million (and the owners reportedly want to get rid of it completely).
It’s possible that the new CBA would have mechanisms in addition to the amnesty and the “stretch provision” to help teams shed cap salary. But if the Hawks still do not want to be a taxpayer, they may have to use one of those provisions just to clear enough salary to make some real improvements.
Speaking of which . . .
Jovan Buha of ClipperBlog says Marvin would be the fourth-most desirable amnesty free agent:
Even though he’s only 25 years old, Williams’ productivity has regressed over the past two seasons. He’s been the odd man out in Atlanta, as he’s seen Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford eat away his minutes. But with loads of potential coming out of college, he might just need a change of scenery (just hope for the opposite of the Jeff Green effect).
And Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago says Marvin would be the most desirable amnesty free agent of the bunch:
Has he lived up to the expectations he had coming out of the draft? No. But he’s still just 25 and has more time to get better. This list is full of guys who are past their respective primes. Williams may not have hit his … whatever that may be.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat