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The Kings Cap Situation post-Rudy Gay

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Breaking down the salary numbers

NBA: Sacramento Kings-Press Conference Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay was the highest-paid player on the Sacramento Kings. Getting his situation resolved cleared up the waters somewhat regarding the Kings’ cap situation. So, to fuel your wild fantasies about who the Kings can sign in free agency, we first need to figure out how much capspace the Kings will have.

Guaranteed Salaries

Name 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
Name 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
Arron Afflalo $1,500,000
Kosta Koufos $8,393,000 $8,739,500
Garrett Temple $8,000,000 $8,000,000
Anthony Tolliver $2,000,000
Langston Galloway $5,434,000
Willie Cauley-Stein $3,704,160 $4,696,875 $6,265,631
Buddy Hield $3,675,480 $3,833,760 $4,861,208
Georgios Papagiannis $2,301,360 $2,400,480 $3,430,286
Malachi Richardson $1,504,560 $1,569,360 $2,581,597
Skal Labissiere $1,312,611 $1,544,951 $2,338,847
Caron Butler (stretched) $517,220 $517,220
Matt Barnes (stretched) $2,133,542 $2,133,542 $2,133,541
8th Pick cap hold $2,537,000 $2,651,200 $2,765,300
10th Pick cap hold $2,215,400 $2,315,100 $2,414,800
Total Guaranteed $45,228,333
Estimated Salary Cap $102,000,000
Total Estimated Capspace $56,771,667

This is the absolute bare-bones numbers the Kings can run with going into free agency, meaning after renouncing all of their free agents. Keep in mind the salary cap number right now is the latest estimate from USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt; the actual number is decided after the league concludes its audits in July.

There’s also the issue of the minimum salary amount mandated by the league, which hasn’t been set yet. There are penalties if the Kings don’t reach that number, but they are admittedly pretty light: the team would only have to pay out the amount they are under the minimum amount in equal portions to the current roster. But historically, teams are allergic to doing this.

So, lets get down to the real numbers. First we have to break down cap holds from the Kings’ free agent crop.

Cap Holds

Free Agents Cap Hold
Free Agents Cap Hold
Rudy Gay $20,000,000
Tyreke Evans $15,991,931
Ben McLemore $10,022,205
Darren Collison $9,935,963
Ty Lawson $980,431
Total $56,930,529

Yup, that’s right: because of cap holds, the Kings currently do not have any cap space. Rudy Gay, even though he’s opting out, is technically still a free agent that the Kings can sign with the Larry Bird exception; him and Tyreke Evans, as players whose salary last season was above the league’s average salary, have a cap hold of 150% of their salary on the books. Darren Collison’s salary last season was less than the league’s average salary, so his cap hold is 190% of his last salary. Ben McLemore is a restricted free agent coming off of the fourth year of his rookie deal, so his cap hold is 250% of his previous season’s salary. And Ty Lawson’s cap hold is the portion of his minimum salary not reimbursed by the NBA under its veteran’s minimum program.

The Kings can free up space by renouncing free agents. Renouncing a free agent doesn’t mean that you can’t re-sign them or sign-and-trade them; it just means that they can’t be re-signed over the salary cap by using Bird or Early Bird rights. You would have to use capspace to re-sign a renounced free agent.

Gay is a sure bet to be renounced; opting out pretty much signaled Rudy’s desire to end his time in Sacramento, so there’s no need to keep his Bird rights. Evans is probably going to be renounced as someone with no future with the Kings. The Kings can make McLemore a restricted free agent by offering a $4.1 million qualifying offer by June 30th, but given the Kings’ depth at the shooting guard spot and Ben’s inability to play multiple positions, the Kings will probably decline to do that and just renounce him. There’s no reason not to renounce Ty Lawson since the Kings don’t have his Bird or Early Bird rights, although that doesn’t do much for the Kings’ cap space.

Collison is the most likely free agent on the Kings to escape being renounced. He’s not going to be horribly expensive and could reasonably be a stopgap at the position until the point guard of the future is ready to take over. The Kings could opt to do the same with the cheaper Lawson, although Lawson has far more baggage.

Either way, as soon as the Kings start signing (or re-signing) players, their salaries start counting towards the cap.

Non-Guaranteed Players

Player Guaranteed Amount 2017-18 Salary Cost in Capspace to Keep
Player Guaranteed Amount 2017-18 Salary Cost in Capspace to Keep
Arron Afflalo $1,500,000 $12,500,000.00 $11,000,000
Anthony Tolliver $2,000,000 $8,000,000 $6,000,000

Because of some clever maneuvering last offseason, the Kings have the option to waive Arron Afflalo and/or Anthony Tolliver to reduce their 2017-18 salaries to small guaranteed amounts. There’s no way the Kings keep Afflalo especially at that cost, but there’s a good chance Tolliver could be back. He’s the kind of veteran mentor you look for when developing young players.

The last thing to consider is that there is a $815,615 cap hold for every open roster spot under 13 under the newly signed CBA. If the Kings waive both Tolliver and Afflalo, and don’t sign their second rounder, they only have 10 roster spots filled and thus have an extra hold of $2.45 million.

Overall, the Kings cap situation looks pretty good for a young, rebuilding team. The veterans they have signed long term like Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos are good values to their deals and solid vets you want in the locker room. They have plenty of cap space, and options to bring back any of their own free agents if they’d like. The only real blemish is the dead money related to waiving Matt Barnes and Caron Butler via the stretch provision. Otherwise, this is a cheap, flexible roster with plenty of room to maneuver around