The new look Toronto Raptors are dangerous
Don't sleep on Toronto.
There are very few teams with cap space this summer and even fewer are playoff contenders. With a salary cap set at $101 million, teams are going to be treading very carefully this summer and the free agent market is going to suffer because of it.
Remember in 2016 when the NBA had a salary cap explosion due to their new TV deal? Well yeah that summer the salary cap went from $69 million to a whopping $91 million overnight. The problem is since then the salary cap has slowly crawled up to $99 million and $101 million respectively. When the market exploded nearly every team had a huge amount of cash to throw around and players who didn't really deserve it.
This section is going to hurt a lot of people and I'd like to apologize ahead of time. Teams were throwing away money in 2016 and just look at some of these horrible contracts.
Joakim Noah: 4 years and $72 million; signed with the Knicks
Hassan Whiteside: 4 years and $98 million; signed with Miami
Chandler Parsons: 4 years and $94.8 million; signed with Memphis
Marvin Williams: 4 years and $54.5 million; signed with Charlotte
Miles Plumlee: 4 years and $52 million; signed with Milwaukee
Timofey Mozgov: 4 years and $64 million; signed with LA Lakers
Dwight Howard: 3 years and $70.5 million; signed with Atlanta and traded twice
Loul Deng: 4 year and $72 million; signed with LA Lakers to warm the bench
Allen Crabbe: 4 years and $75 million; signed by Brooklyn, matched by Portland, then traded to Brooklyn anyway
Ryan Anderson: 4 years and $80 million; signed by Houston who has had buyers remorse ever since
That summer was proof that it pays to be average or slightly above average in the NBA. Due to the huge spending spree though, it's made this summer a dry one since so many teams are lacking space to sign anyone. This lack of cap space is why guys like Lou Williams settled for a small deal in February and why Thad Young opted into his contract in Indiana. The NBA has even gone as far as raising the debt limit for teams to a crazy $325 million, just to help owners deal with the huge payrolls and dreadful luxury tax coming their way.
The salary cap is expected to be $108 million come the summer of 2019 and that's when there will be plenty of teams with cap space for max contracts and even mid level players. The books will be cleaned of the 2016 spending spree soon and hopefully teams have learned their lesson.