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For the Amateur Capologists ...

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Since we're all throwing around salary numbers in our discussions of Beno Udrih and the other point guard options, it helps to have the most accurate picture of the salary cap, luxury tax and mid-level numbers as possible. I asked around at the APBRmetrics board, and was pointed to this May piece on DraftExpress, which has some estimates of those figures:

The most interesting thing to come out of the seminar might have been the insight that was revealed about next year’s cap figures and the NBPA’s plans regarding the upcoming CBA. Next year’s salary cap is currently being estimated at 58.5 million dollars, up from 55.63 million dollars. The luxury tax threshold is projected to rise to 71 million dollars, up from 67.865 million this year, and the Mid-Level Exception is expected to rise to 5.55 million dollars, up from 5.36 million. These are not final or official numbers at this point, but rather the NBPA’s estimations, as they were told to us.

The important ones for Sacramento's purposes are the luxury tax and mid-level. We had been estimating a five-year mid-level would cost about $32 million. Here's what would actually be, based on these estimates from the Players Association:

2008-09: $5.55 million
2009-10: $5.99 million
2010-11: $6.44 million
2011-12: $6.88 million
2012-13: $7.33 million
TOTAL: $32.19 million

(Holy crap that was a good guess!)

Beno will turn 26 years old next week, so this deal would expire before he turns 31. Chauncey Billups is 31 years old. Derek Fisher is almost 34. Both are shooter-points, and both got free agent contracts last summer. Barring catastrophic injury or rampant suckitude, Beno should be worthy of minutes all the way through this contract.

But is he worthy of the salary? section214 has done the comparisons several times, and the mid-level salary seems well within Beno's wheelhouse. So the question becomes: is he good enough to be the starting PG in 2011, 2012, 2013 with the team where we'd like it to be? Is he a contender-level starting PG?

The jury's out. Some people think he's the next Gail Goodrich, after all. Some think he's a career back-up. Obviously, the truth is out there. The Kings could win or lose either way.

One more cap-related glance: how close are the Kings to the luxury tax, assuming both possible Ron Artest scenarios?

With Artest, without Beno: $64 million -- $7 million under the tax
Without Artest, without Beno: $56.6 million -- $14.4 million under the tax
With Artest, with Beno: $69.5 million -- $1.5 million under the tax
Without Artest, with Beno: $62 million -- $9 million under the tax

If Artest stays and Beno gets his full mid-level from the Kings, Sacramento will be flirting with the luxury tax. The best case salary-wise would probably see Artest opt out and Beno stay -- there'd be plenty of breathing room for potential expiring contract trades, and we'd have a point guard not named Francisco Garcia.

I know most hope Artest stays in so that the Kings can "get something" for him. While he's a hell of a talent and possibly a decent chip, I'd be fine if he opted out: it allows Petrie that much more flexibility this summer.

I'll have my personal thinking on Beno tomorrow morning. In the meantime, new featured poll.