NBA Player Salaries, Team Payrolls, and Team Salary Cap Space For 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015
For 2010 a full scale User Guide has been produced for the annual NBA Salaries and Payrolls Report. It follows immediately and then the spreadsheet showing the salaries and payroll numbers themselves follows the Guide. Also, the following User Guide is being added to the Quest for the Ring Reference page.
The User Guide is useful for everyone up to including NBA players, coaches, managers and owners. Section headers are used and although we recommend reading the whole guide, those who don’t have the time to read the whole thing can use the headers to choose sections to read.
NBA SALARIES AND PAYROLLS REPORT USER GUIDE
“NBA Salaries and Payrolls” is an annual Quest for the Ring (QFTR) report scheduled for September. All of the information in this year’s version is correct as of September 1, 2010. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to update and revise this report during the season. If traffic to QFTR were higher, we would increase the time available for producing QFTR in which case the Salaries and Payrolls Report could and would be updated at least once every two or three months.
If this database were updated continuously, it would show among many other things which free agents were available (unsigned) at any point in time. There are a very small number of places in the Internet which track unsigned free agents, but if you could do that at this database you could see the salaries that are going to the signed players in the same place.
SOURCE OF THE MULTI-YEAR PLAYER SALARIES
Current year ONLY salaries are available on some of the big corporate sites including ESPN. They are shown at team rosters and/or on player pages and not all in one place, however. And I and other high level basketball people need more than just current year salaries. What is needed for a high level look at this subject is salaries for the next several years as well. After all, most contracts are multi-year, and what matters when you are considering how a team will be changing in the future is how much total payroll has already been contracted for in those future years, which in turn determines how much cap space (room) there is available for new players to be brought on to the team.
Future year player salaries and especially certain contract details are apparently “supposed to” remain secret. For this reason and/or because of perceived low interest, very high traffic Sites such as ESPN and most moderate traffic sites do not have multi-year player salary information or contract details anywhere on their Sites. But even though this information is relatively hard to come by, you can get it from at least a tiny number of sources if you look for it hard enough.
The everyday public doesn’t seem to be greatly interested in specific player salary information and in team payroll totals per se. There is more interest in next year’s scheduled cap space (for signing new players) than there is in the current team payrolls and in player salaries. The problem is, you have to know what the future year salaries are to be able to project out the cap space in those years.
Smart people and basketball insiders (and they are often not the same thing, laugh out loud) are going to need and be interested in both cap space projections and also in specific year by year salaries for NBA players (and some will be interested in other contract details).
One of the most important and interesting things you can do with the salary data is to find out who is relatively overpaid and overrated and who is relatively underpaid and underrated. (How did you guess, QFTR is doing this now; more details on this below.)
The root source of the multi-year pro basketball player salaries in this QFTR Report is an obscure Internet site. I slightly sarcastically call any very valuable Site that seldom if ever appears on page one of Google search results “obscure”. Such sites are obscure primarily due to Google’s failure to develop a more all inclusive search engine. QFTR is also “obscure although not as much as in the past because it does lately appear on page one for unusual searches where we have about the only Report out on the subject.
Our source is, very surprisingly, the only known place where the salary data is both multi-year and is currently being updated on at least a monthly basis. But even our source for the specific player salaries does not update on a daily or a weekly basis. It seems he updates once or twice a month. Although quite honestly I don’t know where the producer of our source gets the multi-year salaries (because he doesn’t say) I strongly believe that the information is mostly accurate and current.
By rights anyone should be able to get the multi-year salary information off ESPN or off NBA.com but both of those are examples of Sites which refuse to provide it. I would think they could provide it if they wanted to. But ESPN is better than USA Today, which roughly two years ago completely discontinued its reporting of even current NBA player salaries.
I can right off the bat give you two reasons why salary and other contract information for at least the next five years should be by rights public information. (There must be more reasons than these but two will suffice here.) First, fans help pay players salaries when they go to games and buy merchandise and pay satellite TV bills and so on. So they have a right to see just what dollar amounts they are paying for. Second, you absolutely have to look at salary information to determine how well or how badly a team is being managed. Fans have a right to investigate whether a team is being well managed or not.
QFTR takes only the individual player salary numbers (which we do think should be completely public information) from our source. We don’t reproduce anything else from the source. To the contrary, we creatively mash up, reformat, and heavily customize the payroll numbers and include our own original narratives to go with them. Even many of the team payroll totals from the source were changed for our Report which unlike our source ignores many of the minute contract distinctions between players.
Where our source gets his information (the “ultimate source”) is completely a mystery. His source(s) is likely not another web Site because were there an ultimate source on the Internet I would have found it myself. As far as the Internet is concerned, and although there are a handful of other sources, his information is the best and the most often updated and so he is the “ultimate source”.
COMPANION REPORTS TO “NBA SALARIES, PAYROLLS, AND CAP SPACE”
The first companion Report is “Highest Paid NBA Pro Basketball Players”. This is a simple Report which is largely self explanatory. Shown alphabetically and also shown ranked by salary are the highest paid 100 players in the NBA. Along with the salaries, teams and positions are shown. Players making more than a million dollars a month (more than twelve million dollars a year) are highlighted. Separately, the highest paid players by position are shown. For example, you can see who the highest paid 15 point guards are.
The second new companion Report to the main Salaries and Payrolls Report is called “Summary of Team Payrolls and Cap Space”. Most of the information in this is embedded in the main Report, but you can not compare the overall team situations easily and quickly in that one, so a separate team summary is very useful. In the Summary, current team payrolls are shown by team both alphabetically and ranked by payroll. Both absolute payroll numbers, absolute differences from the real salary cap and the percentages by which team payrolls differ from the real salary cap are all shown. Also in the Summary of Team Payrolls and Cap Space Report I have the current projection of how much cap space there is for each team for next year, for in this case 2011-12.
You could just eyeball the salaries and make rough estimates of who is overpaid and who is underpaid. But you can’t determine who is overpaid and who is underpaid completely, accurately, and fairly unless you have some kind of a complete, accurate, and fair player rating system. QFTR has such a system: Real Player Ratings (RPRs). Since this is a great new way to make use of RPR, starting in September 2010, QFTR has scheduled the following annual Report: “Most Overrated and Overpaid Players and Most Underpaid and Underrated Players”. This is the third of three companion Reports to “NBA Player Salaries, Team Payrolls and Team Cap Space”.
The four September payroll Reports are all under the category Basketball Economics. There are two more important annual Reports under this category scheduled for December.
-- Annual Financial Report for NBA Franchises and Owners
-- Annual Owners, Managers, and Franchises Real Ratings Report
The first one covers the basic financial facts about the teams and the owners. In the second one we creatively mash, extend, and alter the presentation of basic underlying facts in order to reveal which teams, managers and owners are winning financially and to reveal which of them are doing what is needed to win the Quest for the Ring and which are not.
BASKETBALL ECONOMICS ANNUAL REPORTS SUMMARY
Beginning in 2010 there are six of these, four scheduled for September and two scheduled for December:
-- NBA Salaries, Payrolls, and Cap Space Report
-- Highest Paid NBA Pro Basketball Players
-- Summary of Team Payrolls and Cap Space
-- Most Overrated and Overpaid NBA Players and the Most Underpaid and Underrated NBA Players
-- Annual Financial Report for NBA Franchises and Owners
-- Annual Owners, Managers, and Franchises Real Ratings Report
THE SALARY CAP MYTH
It is common knowledge that the NBA has a salary cap. But a true salary cap means that any team violating it is kicked out the League. The NBA has what is known as a “soft cap” which is one of those goofy terms indicating a goofy reality. In fact, nothing at all bad happens to a team when its payroll exceeds the salary cap. In fact, a good thing usually happens when a teams’ payroll exceeds the salary cap: it becomes a better team! Currently about twelve million dollars higher than the salary cap is the “luxury tax threshold”. This is much more of a cap than the salary cap is because there is a penalty for going over it: the team must pay a penalty tax to the League equal to the amount by which its payroll exceeds the luxury tax threshold.
Quest for the Ring calls the official NBA salary cap the “Base Cap” and it calls the luxury tax threshold the “Real Cap”. These terms, although major improvements over how the general public describes these amounts, are still a little misleading. Again, what the general public thinks of as the salary cap and what QFTR calls the base cap is not really a cap at all since there is no penalty for exceeding it. As of Sept. 1, 2010, 22 out of the 30 NBA teams are over the base cap (or salary cap to the general public).
Instead of being a real, legal cap, the base cap is actually one of the most important accounting numbers used for maintaining compliance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (the CBA, which governs relations between owners and players). There must be hundreds of rules and regulations embedded in the CBA and a good number of them involve the base cap.
In dollars the 2010-11 Base Cap is $58,044,000 and the 2011-11 Real Cap is $70,307,000.
TEAMS BELOW THE BASE CAP
Teams whose payrolls do not exceed the base cap are mostly rebuilding teams who are working on a multi-year plan to become competitive in The Quest for the Ring. Although it is theoretically possible to be competitive while being below the base cap, it is very very difficult. In order to be competitive with a team payroll less than the base cap, a team would have to have both several very low paid outstanding rookies and second year players AND it would have to have at least three superstar or higher veteran players who were making less money than you would expect them to be making. Plus it would have to have outstanding coaching.
Most likely, the best possible result a team whose payroll is under the base cap can achieve is be to win two playoff series. Winning a conference final would be next to impossible and winning a Championship would be just about literally impossible.
TEAMS BELOW THE BASE CAP AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
Shown from higher to lower and rounded to the nearest million
--New York Knicks, about 12 million dollars below the real cap
--Washington Wizards, about 13 million dollars below the real cap
--Chicago Bulls, about 14 million dollars below the real cap
--New Jersey Nets, about 15 million dollars below the real cap
--Oklahoma Thunder, about 16 million dollars below the real cap
--Los Angeles Clippers, about 17 million dollars below the real cap
--Minnesota Timberwolves, about 21 million dollars below the real cap
--Sacramento Kings, about 26 million dollars below the real cap
Of these there are two teams who realistically have a chance at achieving the miracle of outstanding performance and achievement despite having a low, below the base cap payroll: The Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma Thunder. These two teams have to some extent very young, surprisingly good superstars and they also have a few underpaid and underrated veterans (or at least veterans who are recognized as being better than expected). The other six teams are in rebuilding mode and are not seriously contending for the Championship in 2010-11. Note that there are other rebuilding teams than these six; teams in rebuilding do not automatically have to have payrolls below the base cap although they often do.
THE LUXURY TAX TRESHOLD IS THE REAL CAP
QFTR calls the luxury tax threshold the “Real Cap”. If and when the team payroll goes above this level, the owner must pay the amount of the overage as a tax to the League. The tax money collected can be and apparently often is substantially distributed back to teams but mostly to or exclusively to teams who did not go over the Real Cap and who did not pay the tax. Therefore, approximately speaking, when a team goes over the Real Cap, the owner of that team must financially assist, to a limited extent anyway, the owners who were more financially conservative and did not go over the Real Cap.
TEAMS ABOVE THE BASE CAP BUT BELOW THE REAL CAP
In general, the odds that a team whose payroll is above the base cap but below the real cap can win the Quest for the Ring are low. Although teams in this payroll category do not need as great a miracle to win the Quest as teams operating below the base cap, they do generally need, just as with those teams operating below the base cap, a combination of at least two solid starter-rated or better low paid rookies and at least two superstar veterans who are paid less than they could be paid if they demanded every dollar they could get on the open market.
Generally speaking, at this payroll level the very best a team can possibly hope for is to win a Conference Final (but then lose the Championship). It would be an “exception to the rule” if a team above the base cap but below the real cap won The Quest for the Ring.
TEAMS ABOVE THE BASE CAP BUT BELOW THE REAL CAP AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
Shown from higher to lower and rounded to the nearest million
--Atlanta Hawks, less than a million dollars below the real cap
--Phoenix Suns, less than a million dollars below the real cap
--Golden State Warriors, about 3 million dollars below the real cap
--Miami Heat, about 3 million dollars below the real cap
--Toronto Raptors, about 4 million dollars below the real cap
--Detroit Pistons, about 4 million dollars below the real cap
Well, there on that list is a plausible exception to the rule that you have to go over the Real Cap in order to actually win the Quest. The 2010-11 Miami Heat, who are clearly prime contenders due to superstars Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh literally conspiring to combine together and accept less money than they might get separately elsewhere, are a textbook example of an exception to the rule.
However, anyone reading this has just come upon what will be one of the biggest reasons why the Miami Heat do not win the 2011 Quest assuming they don’t: that teams generally can not and do not win the Quest unless they violate both the base cap and the real cap. In other words and generally speaking, a team has to exceed the real cap and pay the luxury tax by at least a few million dollars in order to have a real shot at winning the Quest. Specifically, although the Miami Heat obviously has the superstar veterans working on the cheap, do they have the other necessity? Does the Miami Heat have at least a couple of star or at least very good solid starter type rookies or early year players who automatically are working on the cheap (because in general most players in their early years get paid relatively little regardless of whether they are stars or not)? If they don’t have at least a couple of stars or rock bottom minimum very good solid starters to go along with their three conspiratorial superstars, it will be very difficult for the Miami Heat to beat the Los Angeles Lakers which has the sky high mother of all payrolls, in 2011.
TEAMS ABOVE THE REAL CAP
According to economics theory but generally speaking and subject to exceptions, teams need to violate both the base cap and the real cap in order to maximize their chances to win The Quest for the Ring. If a team lives behind the fiction that there is a real, legal salary cap in the NBA, it may very well never ever win the Quest.
Economically speaking, the more you invest in something the greater the returns are supposed to be and often are. In basketball the return for investing in payroll is supposed to be not so much more regular season wins (you can get a lot of those even with a payroll slightly below the real cap) but more playoff wins and a greater probability of winning one or more Championships.
Summary, rough rules of thumb for team classification based on payrolls are as follows. Teams with payrolls less than the base cap are rebuilding. Teams with payrolls greater than the base cap but less than the real cap are out to win as many regular season games as possible but probably won’t be winning many playoff games to speak of. And teams with payrolls greater than the real cap are the ones in the hunt for a good number of playoff wins and possibly for one or more Championships. In case you need a reminder, what this means is that in reality there is no real, true, full scale salary cap in the NBA. What there is in instead is a penalty to be paid by the most aggressive owners regarding payroll. So the luxury tax is ultimately sort of a tax on “sparing no expense and going all out to win the Quest”. But its a tax, its not getting kicked out of the League as it would be if there was a hard cap.
The owners of the following teams, as of September 1, 2010, are willing to pay a tax up to about nine million dollars to try to get a competitive edge over owners not willing to go over the real cap (and not willing to pay any luxury tax).
HIGH, PAYROLL TEAMS AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
Shown from higher to lower and rounded to the nearest million
These teams are up to about nine million dollars above the Real Cap (luxury tax threshold)
--Portland Trailblazers, about 9 million dollars over the real cap
--Utah Jazz, about 7 million dollars over the real cap
--Memphis Grizzlies, about 6 million dollars over the real cap
--Philadelphia 76’ers, about 3 million dollars over the real cap
--Cleveland Cavaliers, about 2 million dollars over the real cap
--New Orleans Hornets, about 1 million dollars over the real cap
The owners of the following teams, as of September 1, 2010, are willing to pay a tax of ten million dollars or more in order to maximize the odds they can win the Quest with the extremely important asset of a large payroll:
HIGHEST PAYROLL TEAMS AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
Shown from higher to lower and rounded to the nearest million
These teams are about 10 million dollars and more higher than the Real Cap (or luxury tax threshold)
--Los Angeles Lakers, about 51 million dollars over the real cap
--Orlando Magic, about 40 million dollars over the real cap
--Boston Celtics, about 32 million dollars over the real cap
--Indiana Pacers, about 26 million dollars over the real cap
--Dallas Mavericks, about 19 million dollars over the real cap
--Charlotte Bobcats, about 16 million dollars over the real cap (see note below)
--Denver Nuggets, about 16 million dollars over the real cap
--Houston Rockets, about 11 million dollars over the real cap
--San Antonio Rockets, about 10 million dollars over the real cap
--Milwaukee Bucks, about 10 million dollars over the real cap
Note, the Charlotte Bobcats in the spreadsheets (which are as of September 1 2010 with absolutely no update from that date to avoid inconsistency) are shown as being about 16 million dollars over the real cap. But later in September the Bobcats got rid of Erick Dampier and his 13.1 million salary to avoid most of the luxury tax.
See the Report called “Summary of Team Payrolls and Cap Space” for more including the percentages by which the teams are over or less than the real cap.
NBA SALARIES, PAYROLL AND CAP SPACE SPREADSHEET DETAILS
The extensive formatting we have done in the worksheet means that many, probably most aspects of the spreadsheet are self explanatory. We will naturally cover only the tricky stuff here.
Players who are injured and may not play some or all of the season are included in the real actual pay column for 2010-11 (and any future contract years) if and only if they have not been waived or put on the inactive reserve status. It is not possible to accurately predict how much a player currently injured will play, so their pay is included in full. If you know that a certain player is not playing due to injury, you can subtract that player's pay to determine the actual, effective real team payroll.
PLAYERS “SHADED IN GREY”
Players shaded in white are for the most part players who are definitely going to be on the roster when the season starts and most of them are definitely going to be playing.
Players shaded in grey are for some reason not going to be playing for the team they are listed under. They may have been waived, they may have retired, or in some cases they are likely to be soon on another team because another team has signed an offer sheet for them. The reason they are shown at all is that in most cases the team they are departing from still (at the moment at least) has to count their salary under the salary cap rules. In other words, under the rules a team must sometimes count pay from a year of a players’ contract in its salary cap accounting.
SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS OF PLAYERS SHADED IN GREY
Some players shaded in grey have numbers in one or more salaries by year columns and others do not have a number in any of them (but only in the salary cap accounting column). I am thinking that both types are going to be a mix of very different players. Some of them will be young players who are trying to earn a spot on the team. Some of them are going to be waived players that our source has not yet removed. Given the time of the year, there are going to be a good number of players who are going to be waived between September 1 and when the season starts. Some others of them are going to be retired players. A small number of them are going to be players who do in fact have signed contracts but are refusing to play until some uncertain future date. I think Point Guard Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves is in this category.
Only a few teams are showing any players shaded in grey who have no salaries showing in any of the salaries by year columns: the Bulls, the Clippers, the Heat, the Timberwolves, the Nets, the Knicks, the Thunder and the Wizards. Among those, the Clippers and the Knicks have ONLY players shaded in grey with no salary numbers at all. Whereas with all the other teams, ALL players shaded in grey ALL have salary numbers showing in at least one year.
Quite honestly, I can not explain these inconsistencies. If I had to guess, I’d say the main reason is that different teams are reporting players who are trying out for the team differently and/or the source of our source is inconsistently reporting this information. It would seem logical too that as of September 1 some teams will already be close to set on what their opening day rosters will be whereas other teams are trying out numerous players. How many players are welcome to try out for a team and how many are still actively trying out as of September 1 is going to vary a lot from one team to another.
Why will that vary? First, notice that support for this theory is provided by the fact that most of the teams showing very few players trying out for the team have older coaches who are well known for being stingy toward and doubtful about the potential contributions of young and of inexperienced players, for example, Jerry Sloan of the Jazz and George Karl for the Nuggets. Whereas the teams that are showing a far larger number of players trying out are coached by and/or managed by folks who are not as negatively disposed toward young and inexperienced players. The bottom line is that some teams are much more interested than others in trying out free agents of various ages who are trying to get a contract, including young, undrafted players who are trying to get their first NBA contracts. There are some good NBA players who were never drafted but worked their way into a teams’ roster nevertheless and went on from there.
Is it better for coaches and managers to try out as many players as they can fairly or is it better for coaches and managers to settle on their rosters many weeks before the season starts? That is a simple question. The former is much better than the latter for everyone involved.
WHAT’S UP WITH PLAYERS SHOWING FUTURE YEAR SALARIES BUT NONE THIS YEAR
If you are a detailed oriented person you might notice that some of the players shaded in grey don’t have a salary showing for 2010-11 but they do have a salary showing for one or more future years. I am thinking that these numbers are in many cases going to “fall away” before those years actually get here under the complicated salary cap accounting rules. Don’t quote me on that because that is really just an educated guess and that subject is one of those arcane salary cap accounting rules. In any event, those numbers do NOT mean that those players are going to be paid those amounts of money in those years whereas players not shaded in grey ARE going to be paid the amounts shown unless somehow the contract is terminated early.
IF THEY AIN'T PLAYING THEY AIN'T GETTING PAID
Very few if any players who are not going to be playing but whose pay is being counted toward the team payroll total under the rules are actually going to be paid anything in the coming year. This is true regardless of whether there are salary numbers showing for them in the actual salary by year columns or not. On the other hand, a few such players are going to be paid for this or that special, detailed reason.
THE CURRENT SITUATION IS SHOWN BY THE FIRST TWO COLUMNS
The first salary number column is labeled “Actual Pay--Contract for
2010-11” and it shows you all the actual salaries of all the players who are currently on the roster and very likely to actually play in the coming year. In other words all the salary cap and other legal rules and regulations are stripped away to yield a “plain English” reporting of who is playing and what they are getting paid.
Since as previously explained the players shaded in grey are not going to be playing their salary amount never shows up in this first column. We modified what our original source shows for this. The original source includes the pay of some players who are not going to be playing. Perhaps the original source is showing in its 2010-11 column the players who are actually going to be paid. QFTR chooses to ignore the distinction regarding who is actually going to be getting paid here and is showing salaries only for players who are going to play.
The second column shows the actual, official “cap hit” of each player under the relatively complicated salary cap rules. Both the salaries of the active players and the salaries of the players who have just left the team but whose salaries have to still at the moment count against the salary cap under the rules show up in this second column.
THE DARK GREY VERTICAL BAR AND COLUMNS TO THE RIGHT OF IT
To the right of the first two columns with numbers is a dark grey vertical bar. To the left of this bar is the current situation and to the right of the bar are future years. By looking to the right of the bar you can see how long any players’ contract runs and you can therefore find out approximately when that player will become eligible to go to another team without being traded. There are early termination clauses in some contracts, however, most of which I believe make the final year of the contract optional for the player, the team, or both.
For the current year (2010-11) the salary cap number is shown in the second column and in the first column the numbers for actual pay of actual players are shown. For all future years, in effect actual pay as determined by the contracts is considered to be equivalent to salary cap numbers. Whether this is exactly true or not is not known; only an expert on all the rules and regulations could say so for sure. But certainly those two amounts should be very, very close even if not exactly the same.
THE TEAM PAYROLL SUMMARY ROWS
For each team the total of all salaries (according to all the signed contracts) in future years is at the bottom of each column in the row labeled “TOTALS” which is below all the names of the players. As in the case of the current year, the lower the number in the totals row, the higher the salary cap space available. For example, if the real salary cap for a year is 60 million and the amount for that year shown in a column is 24 million dollars, the “cap space” is 36 million dollars. “Cap space” is the difference between the cap and the team’s “salary cap number”.
The row just under the TOTALS row is labeled REAL CAP (Projected after 2010). This is the projected luxury tax threshold projected out to all years shown. Remember that QFTR calls that threshold the Real Cap for reasons discussed previously. I can assure you that the projections shown are going to be very close to what the actual real caps turn out to be.
The last of the payroll summary rows (and also the last row in each team section) is labeled “REAL CAP SPACE”. As the name implies, this is how much cap space there is in each of the future years based on all contracts in effect as of September 1, 2010. This is what even everyday fans always seem to be interested in. This shows you how much money each team has in future years for acquiring new players by trade and in less dramatic ways. If the number is negative it means that the team has already contracted out more than all available cap space, in other words, the team is already over the cap.
There is always next year, right? What if you want to know how much firepower there is to change the team for next year? You can do that easily with this Report. You go to the column labeled Actual Pay--Contract for 2011-12 and you go down that column to the bottom, to the row labeled “REAL CAP SPACE,” where you see how much money is available for changing the team for next year (not counting any early contract terminations).
The eventual real cap space can be greater than what is showing in this Report due to early contract terminations, early retirements, contract buyouts, and any other early contract terminations. Because of this, and because there is no absolute hard payroll cap in the NBA, even the teams showing no cap space at all do theoretically have some room to make trades and straight up acquisitions. But the teams with actual cap space have more potential to make big changes in their rosters.
REMEMBER THOUGH THERE REALLY IS NO CAP
Since the NBA salary cap is not a hard legal cap, the cap space showing in the future years is much less than the most aggressive and serious teams will think of as their salary budget. Remember, if a team goes higher than real cap for payroll, it does not get kicked out of the League. All it has to do is pay the League the amount of the difference. For example, a team with a 90 million dollars payroll must pay the League about 20 million dollars as a penalty for going over the real cap (luxury tax threshold).
Since NBA owners have net worths between 100 million and 20,000 million (20 billion) dollars, for some of them paying a 20 or 30 million dollar luxury tax is not really much of a burden. For some of them it is a burden though obviously, so clearly the NBA has not achieved parity with its “soft cap”. Its better than no salary cap at all, but if you think that the NBA salary cap is a true cap or that it really evens things out between owners of very different net worths, I have a bridge to sell you in Mongolia.
In other words and to emphasize, since going over the salary cap AND for that matter going over the luxury tax threshold is both permitted and very, very common, the cap space showing on the QFTR spreadsheet is not the only amount available for new contracts (unless the team voluntarily keeps its payroll below the real cap aka the luxury tax threshold). In fact, the richest NBA owners and the ones that are most serious about winning the Quest for the Ring will not only have a payroll above the real cap, they will have a payroll more than 25% above the real cap (and they will voluntarily pay a luxury tax of more than 20 million dollars). The Los Angeles Lakers, this years Quest winners, have the biggest payroll and pay a luxury tax of about 50 million dollars!
In order to view everything on the worksheet on the Site, you most likely have to use BOTH the vertical scroll and the horizontal scroll both of which are of course embedded in the worksheet.
OTHER CONTRACT DETAILS
To me the only important contract details are salaries (but for all the years, not just the current year which is all you can get at ESPN). I don’t yet know all of the details about contracts and nor am I much interested in them. When you get to that level you are too far away from basketball for QFTR to be all that worried about it. Maybe if you are writing for a specific team you will want to know about why such and such a players’ salary has to count toward the payroll calculated under the salary cap rules. But I personally as a League writer have no need to know and tell you about all of those arcane and complicated rules, regulations, and details.