Dec 17, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (right) celebrates with point guard Damian Lillard (0) after Lillard

How the NBA Salary Cap Increase Affects the Trail Blazers

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The NBA cap increase from $58.679M to $63.065M for the 2014-2015 season officially went into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET last night. It was designed to coincide with the end of July moratorium, so that teams can use the extra space to help sign free agents right away. Below is the official press release, including information about the figures, exceptions, and stipulations:

NEW YORK, July 9, 2014 – The National Basketball Association today announced that the Salary Cap has increased by 7.5% to an all-time high of $63.065 million for the 2014-15 season. The tax level for the 2014-15 season increased by 7.1% to $76.829 million.

The Salary Cap and tax level go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday, July 10, when the league’s “moratorium period” ends and teams can begin signing free agents and making trades.

The minimum team salary, which is set at 90% of the Salary Cap, is $56.759 million for the 2014-15 season.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for three different mid-level exceptions depending on a team’s salary level. The non-taxpayer mid-level for this season is $5.305 million, the taxpayer mid-level is $3.278 million and the mid-level for a team with room under the Salary Cap is $2.732 million.

Currently, the Trail Blazers have $54,068,980 in salary on the books. After they officially exercise the team options for Robin Lopez and Will Barton, they will be sitting at $60,324,452. Since they are still below the new salary cap, this makes things interesting for the Chris Kaman signing.

The mid-level exception is only $5.3M for teams without cap room. As is my understanding (which, admittedly, may be incomplete since this scenario arises so rarely), the Trail Blazers cannot sign Kaman to the agreed upon 2yr/$9.8M contract using their MLE.

If this is indeed the case, re-signing Williams first becomes extremely crucial. Using the non-Bird exception (which allows a team to exceed cap in order to re-sign their own free agent), the Trail Blazers could push themselves over the cap limit by the skin of their teeth, making the full MLE available for Kaman.

There is probably some facet here that I am missing, since the Trail Blazers were certainly anticipating a cap increase when the agreement with Kaman was met. If my interpretation of the capology is incorrect, everything is hunky-dory with Kaman and we can move on to the future implications that are far more exciting.

The cap increase will make it much easier for the Trail Blazers to keep the team intact after the 2014-2015 season. LaMarcus Aldridge intends to sign an extension then, while both Wesley Matthews‘ and Lopez’s contracts expire as well. The additional $4.5M of wiggle room will go a long way toward retaining talent. In fact, the salary cap is expected to increase again next year, so the Trail Blazers may be in even better position by then. They will still have to sell their players on re-signing, but hopefully they can keep up with the other bidders. The cap increase should help in the long term.

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Tags: Chris Kaman LaMarcus Aldridge Mo Williams Portland Trail Blazers Salary Cap

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