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As Of Now: Roster and Salary Cap Update

Inching closer to the dreaded luxury tax line


Things seem done.

I'm not the least bit confident in saying those words as Jason Levien, Robert Pera and John Hollinger are looking for the best ways to optimize the players they have on hand.

Which leads me to a roster update after a nicely played offseason. Here's a recap of all the things that have happened to get some up to speed:

  • Drafts Jamaal Franklin with the 41st overall pick
  • Trades Darrell Arthur and 55th overall pick Joffrey Lauvergne to the Denver Nuggets for Kosta Koufos
  • Drafts Janis Tiima with the 60th overall pick
  • Jerryd Bayless opts into player option worth $3.135 million
  • Withdraws qualifying offers on Austin Daye, Jon Leuer
  • Tony Allen re-signs for 4 years, $20 million
  • Jon Leuer re-signs for 3 years, $2.8 million
  • Claims Josh Akognon off waivers (Dallas Mavericks)
  • Trades future second-round pick to Dallas Mavericks for Nick Calathes
  • Signs Mike Miller (1-year, $884K) after being amnestied by the Miami Heat

The point is simple here: the Memphis Grizzlies got better without directly addressing their biggest need in perimeter shooting. Mike Miller is a huge pick-up in that field, but his body isn't built for heavy regular season play. Josh Akognon is regarded by some as the best shooter currently not in the NBA, but there's no guarantee he makes the roster.

There have been rumblings of other moves going forward. Moving Tayshaun Prince's heavy contract (rumors arose that the Minnesota Timberwolves turned down Prince for the minimum, so good luck with that), finding value in Zach Randolph, Tony Wroten on the move after a so-so Summer League, adding another point guard point guard, etc. but these moves may be more rumor than truth. After appearing in the Western Conference finals, would the front office be willing to cross the tax line for championship contention?

Based off what we saw last season I'd say no, but they're relatively close. Here's a list of the players currently on roster and their salaries for the 2013-14 season:

  • Zach Randolph - $18,238,333
  • Marc Gasol - $14,860,523
  • Mike Conley - $8,600,000
  • Tayshaun Prince - $7,235,955
  • Tony Allen - $4,494,382
  • Ed Davis - $3,153,860
  • Jerryd Bayless - $3,135,000
  • Kosta Koufos - $3,000,000
  • Quincy Pondexter - $2,225,479
  • Tony Wroten Jr. - $1,160,040
  • *Donte Greene - $1,027,424
  • Jon Leuer - $900,000
  • Mike Miller - $884,293
  • *Willie Reed - $788,872
  • *Josh Akognon - $788,872
  • Jamaal Franklin - $535,000

* = non-guaranteed

Total: $71,028,034

(All salary information via HoopsWorld and ShamSports)

The team also has many of their exceptions left including the mid-level ($4.6 million), the bi-annual exception ($2.016 million) along with several trade exceptions (Rudy Gay, Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, etc.) if the team feels the needs to acquire a talent that will put them over the cap during the season.

If you're keeping up that's a total of 16 players meaning someone is at risk of not making the team as the league limit for players is 15. Throw in the possibility that the team buys out guard Nick Calathes (deal reportedly for less than $2 million over the length of two years) and that pushes the total to 17. Out of the three non-guaranteed contracts, Greene and Reed seem the most expendable as the wing position has the most depth with the additions of Franklin and Miller.

Inching closer and closer to the tax-line ($71.748 million) any additions to the team will cause them to eek into the "forbidden territory". Unlike the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets of the world, a small-market team like Memphis can't afford to be hit with the repeaters tax. This became evident when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to 50 cents on the dollar. The subtractions of Greene and Reed would drop the team's total salary to $69.2 million, $68.4 million if they decide to cut Akognon also.

After missing out on Mo Williams (Portland) and Beno Udrih (New York), the market for a "veteran" point guard has been cut short though this may be a positive in disguise. Of all the free agent guards who would best fit this team (Daniel Gibson, Delonte West) they'll come at the veterans minimum, giving the team wiggle room if they feel the need to make a move later in the season.

Looking at the salaries, it's completely evident as to why the Griz are "looking" for a way to move Prince or Randolph. Paying $18 million to a player who is the third best on the team isn't an ideal situation, but no one blames that on Z-Bo as he earned every drop of the extension he received in 2011. Regarding Prince, there's a big chance that he could be earning his $7 million as a reserve player, depending on if Dave Joerger thinks it's time to thrust Quincy Pondexter into the starting lineup. Selling Prince on his own would be a tough way to get a deal done which is why some have hypothetically thrown in Tony Wroten when "creating" deals to move Prince.

But that's neither here or there. The new management has their print all over this roster and as we near closer to the beginning of the 2013-14, this seems like the group that will be starting it off.

Sidenote: As GBB participant BlueJoesCity reminded me, non-guaranteed salaries don't count against the roster limit which leaves the roster at 13, 14 if Calathes contract is fully-guaranteed.