While signings and trades continue to be made by NBA teams, there’s one constant: the San Antonio Spurs have the most cap space. Given that they are in the early stages of a rebuilding effort, leveraging their flexibility by being compensated with a capital project to accept unfavorable contracts remains an option.
As calculated by Spotrac’s Keith Smart, the Spurs have by far the largest remaining salary cap in the NBA at around $38.5 million. Next are the Indiana Pacers at $27.9 million, with no other team currently reaching the $10 million threshold.
With Spurs not having much use of the salary cap space in the traditional sense in terms of signing players to improve their roster, using it to get compensated for taking bad pay is a great option. The opportunities to do so will not fail.
If Spurs wanted to completely tear this thing down at the posts in terms of building their roster, they’re using some of their role veterans in the trades to add some extra value in a trade package. A prime candidate is Jakob Poeltl, who has just completed a career year and is entering a contract year. Other options to consider include Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson.
Moving on from veteran players would not only help Spurs gain even more value in a commercial comeback, but it would also allow them to fully embrace their younger players. There would be more minutes to go around and opportunities 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 recent local lottery selections, this could be an attractive option.
There are plenty of teams around the NBA that would surely like to cut spending ahead of the 2022-23 season. If a team is close to the luxury tax threshold, taking a contract to help them get under is another option. Like any business owner would, NBA team owners tend to appreciate saving money when possible.
Another type of team to watch is one that seeks to create a cushion before facing potential hard cap implications when attempting to complete a complex trade. A sign and trade for a player going to a team already above the luxury tax line is an ideal example. To make the money work, Spurs could accept contracts and be compensated with draft capital for doing so.
A few restricted free agents like Deandre Ayton or Collin Sexton stand out as players who could play elsewhere using a sign and trade. Many of their possible landing spots would benefit from getting creative with involving Spurs as a third team.
When a hit trade needs to resolve where players signed unfavorable contracts end up going, Spurs could step in. The Brooklyn Nets will dictate much of that given they have the free agency market pending as they navigate the trade landscape for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Take the scenario where the Los Angeles Lakers are the only team with a legitimate trade offer to acquire Irving for example. If the Nets decide they don’t want to take over Russell Westbrook’s contract, Spurs could be a go-to destination as the two sides could then quickly engage in contract buyout talks. There are many variations of these types of potential results, to say the least.
Even if the Spurs aren’t in a position to take a major swing for a superstar or make major free agent acquisitions, they can still find value in having the most cap space in the NBA.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.
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