This is a rather bad summer for free agents, as we have agreed. There's Carlos Boozer. There are a handful of restricted free agents like David Lee, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress.
But there's another benefit of cap space. The 2009-10 luxury tax line could be much lower than anticipated, according to ESPN.com's John Hollinger. If every team had been plotting for $70-72 million, and the tax line comes out at, say, $67 million, then a whole lot of teams will be looking to pawn off salary to teams under the tax line. You don't need to be under the cap to do this -- but that makes it 100% easier.
I considered the situation, with some recent history thrown in, at FanHouse:
[I]n 2007, Phoenix gave Seattle two first-round picks to take Kurt Thomas off their hands so that the Suns could get under the tax line. Now increase the number of teams trying to shave salary, since the tax line will be lower. That necessarily decreases the number of teams that will be under the tax line, since NBA teams represent a finite population.
How many draft picks will Robert Sarver fork over next January to get some team under the cap to take on Shaq's 2009-10 salary cap figure? I must say, it's going to pay big dividends to be under the cap for the next 18-24 months.
Losing contracts like Brad Miller, Kenny Thomas -- even John Salmons -- could put the team in position to grab free assets this summer and next winter. But of course, we cannot delay the rebuild too long. At some point, you need to compete. And we've all been beaten to a pulp by this season's losing. There's no Durant in this draft, and almost assuredly not the next.
But keep this in mind if we trade for nothing but cap space this week.