The Brooklyn Nets gained roughly $4 million in space under the salary cap after settling the buyout with center Dwight Howard.
Dwight Howard’s brief tenure with the Brooklyn Nets came at a cost of nearly $20 million, but the trade to get the former All-Star from the Charlotte Hornets will pay dividends in cap space for 2019-20.
The Nets made the previously reported trade of Timofey Mozgov and two second-round picks to the Hornets for Howard official Friday afternoon once the NBA moratorium was lifted, then waived Howard after negotiating a buyout of the one year and $23.8 million remaining on Howard’s deal.
Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post reported the Nets got back $5 million in the arrangement with Howard.
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However, Jeff Siegel at Early Bird Rights has numbers that indicate that number was closer to $4 million — his dead money calculation for the Nets this season is nearly $25.3 million, which would include $5.47 million for the stretched contract of Deron Williams and $19.8 million and change for Howard.
According to Siegel, the Nets are one of just eight NBA teams with cap space available at this point, with a current figure of slightly less than $8.4 million (that includes holds for draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs and two non-guaranteed contracts).
The Sacramento Kings have about $19.5 million available and the Atlanta Hawks are at roughly $16.9 million. Those are the only teams with more space that Brooklyn at this point. One of the teams with space, the Indiana Pacers, have just $117,631 available.
The others with room available include the Dallas Mavericks ($5.7 million), the Los Angeles Lakers (roughly $5.7 million), the Philadelphia 76ers ($1.4 million) and the Phoenix Suns ($1.3 million).
Musa’s cap hit will be around $1.63 million based on his draft slot, but the Nets are reportedly going to exceed the $838,000 roster hold for Kurucs — his deal is reportedly for four years and near first-round money.
David Pick, one of Europe’s top basketball reporters, said on June 22 that Kurucs’ buyout with FC Barcelona was already done, but Kurucs has been held out of Summer League play thus far amid reports that transfer from Barcelona is not yet complete.
While many Nets fans are dreaming of a stretch big to fill that remaining cap space, the reality of the market may dictate otherwise.
Blue Man Hoop
Luke Babbitt of the Miami Heat is still out there. A career 40.2 percent 3-point shooter, Babbitt played in only 50 games between the Hawks and Heat last season and couldn’t find minutes in Miami.
Davis Bertans of the San Antonio Spurs is a restricted free agent who shot 37.3 percent from deep as a reserve last season and has hit 38.4 percent in his two-year career.
Older options include Channing Frye and Mirza Teletovic (but we’ve been down that road before) So it’s not exactly a buyer’s market for teams looking for sharp-shooting bigs.
There are some deadlines for this season that are still out there, some that affect this year’s cap and some with broader implications.
The deadline to guarantee Isaiah Whitehead’s $1.54 million salary for this season was just extended to July 31. Spencer Dinwiddie’s deal becomes guaranteed for $250,000 if he remains on the roster on Oct. 31, which is also the deadline to exercise the 2019-20 third-year option for Caris LeVert.
The day before the regular-season opener is the deadline to offer rookie-deal extensions to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and D’Angelo Russell, both of which would be significant deals into the 2019-20 cap space.
Dinwiddie’s full $1.66 million salary becomes guaranteed if he remains on the roster on Jan. 10.
General manager Sean Marks said the amount of Howard’s buyout would help dictate the strategy for the rest of the offseason, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
"Yeah, yeah, there’s definitely a bit of that we’ll have to factor in. We’ll figure out how much cap space we have and, when that’s fully determined, we’ll move forward with how we use it."
Whether that means signing another free agent (or two, if the price is right) or negotiating with other clubs to add future draft picks while taking on a bad contract remains to be seen.
Currently, the Nets have up to three picks in next year’s NBA draft — their own first-rounder (and, yeah, it feels like forever since that’s been the case, the New York Knicks’ second-round pick and a second-rounder from the Pacers that is protected 45-60.
In any event, Dwight Howard is officially someone else’s problem, reportedly the Washington Wizards, who are set to sign the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year to a two-year, $11 million deal that includes a player option once Howard clears waivers.