UPDATED: JULY 5, 9:52pm
As the Observer’s Rick Bonnell pointed out yesterday, the Charlotte Bobcats have entered the summer at or above the NBA salary cap. Once Raymond Felton is re-signed (expected to be around $7 million/season) and both draft picks’ deals are finalized, the ‘Cats should find themselves at around $60 million in total salaries for next season; about $3 million over the League’s projected $57 million cap.
Since the NBA has a “soft cap” the only way that the Bobcats could make a major free agent signing is through cap exceptions. Wikipedia has a concise definition of the cap exceptions most important to the Bobcats this season; the Mid-level and Bi-annual Cap Exceptions:
A team is allowed to sign one player to a contract equal to the average NBA salary, even if the team is over the salary cap already, or if the signing would put them over the cap. This is known as the Mid-level exception (MLE). The MLE may be used on an individual free agent or split among multiple free agents, and is available to any team that exceeds the salary cap at the beginning of the offseason. The Mid-Level Exception for the 2007-08 NBA season was $5.36 million. The MLE is $5.585 million for the 2008-09 NBA regular season.
An example would be the Toronto Raptors‘ acquisition of Jason Kapono during the 2007 off-season.
The bi-annual exception may be used to sign any free agent to a contract starting at $1.672 million in 2005-06, but cannot be used two years in a row (and if the $1 million exception from the previous CBA was used in 2004-05, the bi-annual exception cannot be used in 2005-06). Like the mid-level exception, the $1 million exception can also be split among more than one player, and can be used to sign players for up to two years, with raises limited to 8% per year. This exception was referred to as the “$1 million exception” in the 1999 CBA, although it was only valued at $1 million for the first year of the agreement.
An example of the $1 million exception was the Los Angeles Lakers‘ signing of Karl Malone to a contract before the 2003-04 season.
As the Full Mid-Level only allows the Bobcats to sign a player to a maximum ~$6 million/year salary, we can pretty much rule the ‘Cats out of some of the bigger name FAs like Lamar Odom, Paul Millsap or David Lee.
The Sporting News has a great free agent tracker that breaks down this summer’s top free agents by position. I’ll couple that with John Hollinger’s excellent “Bang for the Buck” list to put together some possible Bobcats Free Agent signings:
This list includes players who potentially could sign a 2-3 year deal with the Bobcats at the full mid-level exception (~$6 million/per).
- Allen Iverson SG
The latest news has Iverson interested in Memphis (???) and Bonnell reports that ‘Cats GM Rod Higgins has yet to contact AI’s agent. Iverson likely won’t command anything more than the full-midlevel and a one or two year deal for the vet makes a lot of sense for a team in desperate need of scoring.
UPDATE: Bonnell responded to my question, putting the chances of the ‘Cats signing AI at 5%, McDyess at 10%, Bass at 20%.
- Rasheed Wallace PF/C
Although ‘Sheed would be a great fit in Charlotte – first as a player and then later as a potential coaching successor to Larry Brown – it looks like the former Tar Heel will be signing with a contender like San Antonio or Boston this off-season.
UPDATE: Fox Sports is reporting that ‘Sheed just signed a 2-year full mid-level deal with the Celtics, taking him off of the market.
- Brandon Bass PF
Rod Higgins has apparantly contacted the agents for both Bass and Antonio McDyess, as the team looks to shore up the backup PF position. Bass is only 24 and has just come off of two quality seasons in Dallas backing up the 4-spot. He’s an excellent offensive option and a strong defender. Other teams are aware of this as well, so it’s likely that Bass will command a multi-year, full mid-level deal.
UPDATE: Bonnell reports that a team has apparently offered Bass the full mid-level over 5 years and that the team was probably not the Bobcats. He does however speculate that a sign-and-trade scenario could unfold involving Bass.
Sign and Trade deals are difficult and (for most NBA fans) extremely complicated to understand. Check out this link from the NBA Salary Cap FAQ and this one from Wikipedia for more information. I’m at a loss for the last time a double sign-and-trade was made. The last one I could remember involved Eddie Curry going to the Knicks for some other chunky contracts a few years back. Anybody have a more recent example?
These players shouldn’t and couldn’t command a full mid-level from any team this summer but would be quality additions to the team.
- Antonio McDyess PF
The 34-year old, former #2 overall pick can still bring it – he nearly averaged a double-double last season – and would be a great veteran presence in the locker room. Imagine Juwan Howard: EVOLUTION.
- Anthony Carter PG
Carter is the kind of veteran 3rd PG that Larry Brown loves and would be a great fit on a team with two young PGs like the Bobcats.
- Dahntay Jones SG
If the Bobcats conclude that the Gerald Henderson Experiment is not yet ready for primetime, then fellow Dookie Jones would offer a nice buffer until Henderson is ready to go.
- Leon Powe PF
Powe is a wiry PF who seems to be custom built to guard the new NBA PF prototype – long, rangy players who can shoot the three. Three years in Boston studying “D” under Tom Thibodeau isn’t bad on a resume either.
UPDATE: As I commented already below, Powe is on schedule to return around Feb ’10.
- Joe Smith PF
Doesn’t seem too long ago that Smith was being traded around the League as a playoff difference maker. Smith still has abilities and would be a solid alternative to McDyess or Bass if the ‘Cats can’t get a deal done with either one of their preferred FAs.
Bi-Annual/Minimum Salary Exceptions
These players probably won’t see anything above the League minimum but offer low-risk/high-reward potential.
- Ike Diogu PF
He’s put up numbers and shown potential wherever he’s gone. Work habits aside, he’d be a nice insurance policy at the 4-spot at or near the League minimum.
- Rodney Carney SF
Carney reeks of this year’s Shannon Brown. A guy coming off of a first-round contract, barely staying in the League. Like Shannon, Carney’s an atheletic defender and a decent finisher – and a poor shooter. Good get at this price.
- Sean May PF
If he signs at or near the League minimum, May would be a decent gamble backing up Boris Diaw. Next season would be his second coming off of micro-fracture surgury and May should be back to form. Jokes aside, there’s no denying that when he’s been healthy and in shape, he’s been effective.
UPDATE: According to May’s Twitter page, he just played in the NC PRO AM Tourney. I can’t believe I just referenced Sean May’s Twitter account.