The projected NBA salary cap and tax threshold numbers have been released.
NBA teams being told PROJECTED luxury-tax threshold for next season:$71.6 million. Reminder: Projections not binding until full July audit— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 3, 2013
Confirming @espnsteinline tweet -- league's projected cap/tax for 2013-14 is currently $58.5M & $71.6M. For 2014-15 it's $62.1M & $75.7M.— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) June 3, 2013
As the tweets indicate, these numbers aren't final until July but they don't often change much. Basically this means that the cap and tax lines are relatively flat and that puts more pressure on teams to keep salary costs down. Specifically it means that the Celtics will have to watch their spending closely.
Without drastic measures, the Celtics will be well over the salary cap and if they make no changes at all they are looking at paying the tax.
If the current luxury tax threshold projection of $71.6 million holds when a July audit makes the number official, the Celtics would be about $4.6 million over the threshold, according to numbers from terrific resource ShamSports.com. Add the $1.419 million Boston will have to pay its first-round pick (if president of basketball operations Danny Ainge decides to hold onto the selection), and the Celtics will have to cut about $6 million in salary to get under the projected tax level next season.
Paul Pierce's money comes off the books next year (provided he isn't cut or traded) and Kevin Garnett's deal has a similar option in it that would allow the Celtics to release him next year for just $6M. So there's a chance that the Celtics could elect to pay the tax and run it back another year and still make sure to get under the tax next year (when the harsher repeater penalties would start kicking in).
Or perhaps the team will want to get below that tax line this year by cutting Paul Pierce and making additional moves this year. Or of course there's the trade route. But you know all that by rote by now.
Last summer we used up all of our cap space to bring guys like Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, and Brandon Bass back and add guys like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. It seemed like a reasonable move at the time and there's still time for that strategy to pay off. With that said, the cost of making those moves is less flexibility and more pressure to work with confined budgets and looming tax penalties.
Bonus Links (for all you amateur capologists out there)