The Portland Trail Blazers are over the cap with 14 players on their books for 2021. Here’s a salary cap update on the team for 2021.
The Blazers started the season over the cap, but fractionally under the luxury tax line. If a team is in the tax for three of the past four years, the way the luxury tax works, they have to pay a higher tax penalty.
Because the Blazers were in the tax the last few years, they don’t want to trigger this extra penalty by going into the tax this year.
This is also part of the reason that they only have 14 players on the books. By sitting just $2 million under the tax line, they can only sign a player of that value or less, and still stay under the tax. By keeping one spare roster spot though, the Blazers could trade one player and bring two back, or trade two players and bring three back.
If the Blazers suffered an injury, then they would have enough space under the tax to sign someone, as the salaries are pro-rated. If the Blazers wanted to sign someone tomorrow, then the salary would be based on the amount of time left in the season, not a full salary that a player would get if signed before the season.
The Blazers can now sign players to ten-day contracts as well. The rules with ten-day contracts are that a player can sign two consecutive ten-day contracts with a team, but after that, they have to be signed to a full contract for the rest of the season.
As far as this year goes though, unless the injury situation gets significantly worse, I cant see the Blazers signing a 15th player.
More importantly, are the players’ salaries for the 2021/22 season, and their impact on future decisions. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have new contracts that kick in next year, meaning that the Blazers may need to move someone this year to stay under the tax line for next season. With both of those new deals for Dame and CJ, the Blazers will be just $7 million under the tax line.
If they want to avoid the repeater tax, while also paying Gary Trent Jr, then they will need to move Rodney Hood this season, or cut him next season before his contract guarantees.
I assume that Trent will get around $10 million a year at least, so they need to clear around that amount, or bring in a whole bunch of role players on the cheap. Trent is a key piece moving forward for this team, so paying him is of the highest importance.
The other key point before the start of next season, is an extension for Zach Collins. His market is likely to be on a one-year deal where he could prove himself. If he can get healthy, the Blazers could bring him back on something small.
This leaves an extension for Anfernee Simons, that can be negotiated before the 2021/22 season, but this wouldn’t kick in until the following season anyway, so it doesn’t impact next year’s salary cap.
Outside of new contracts being signed, there is also a guarantee that needs to be made on Jusuf Nurkic‘s contract before next season. This is straight forward though, Nurkic has been awesome and deserves every cent of his $12 million deal.
The main thing to watch for, is a potential Hood trade this year, or before next season.