Wanted to make sure that a paragraph in my last post about the new salary cap doesn’t give off the wrong impression.
“For Oklahoma City it means that teams might not unload high-dollar contracts as quickly as many once thought they would with a lower tax line. The tax dropped only $1.23 million and might not scare off owners who feel their teams are championship contenders. Oklahoma City still could prey on mediocre teams pushing the tax line, but, by and large, a small dent in the new tax line could prevent the Thunder from landing a quality player simply because a team is looking to dump a bad contract.”
The Thunder still could greatly benefit from teams looking to shed salary for 2010-11. Opposing teams just might not unload players this summer. The main contenders — Boston, Denver, San Antonio, Cleveland, Orlando, the Lakers — surely won’t. But because the cap and luxury tax are expected to take another, perhaps even bigger, hit next summer, teams likely will be looking to get further under the cap and tax line before the summer of 2010.
That means the Thunder could unload expiring deals — Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins and, to a lesser extent because of his partially guaranteed deal, Chucky Atkins — in exchange for a player with a hefty contract that has two or even three years remaining. While OKC could reach a deal this summer, a more likely scenario is the Thunder waits until teams become a little more eager at the mid-February trading deadline or desperate next July.
As an example, Orlando already is in a world of trouble financially. The Magic have more than $68 million tied up in just eight players. The new tax threshold is $69.9 million, and the Magic, under league rules, must sign at least four more players. But 2010-11 is where things get interesting for Orlando. The Magic will have more than $66 million committed to just six players in 2010-11, with an even lower tax line. The Vince Carter trade essentially has severely limited what Orlando is able to do from here without paying a boatload of tax. It could lead to the Magic being forced to dump a talent like Mickael Pietrus and his $5.3 million contract for peanuts.
Similar examples of long-term issues also could play out with Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Dallas, Golden State, Indiana, the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Toronto, Utah and Washington, with some cases being dependent which of those teams re-sign their players to extensions.