The Brooklyn Nets came out on top Wednesday night, as the NBA announced the luxury tax line will be set at $84.7 million for the 2015-16 season, giving them more wiggle room than initially projected.
Nets general manager Billy King has said that the team would like to avoid paying the tax. While it's going to be difficult, it certainly becomes a little bit more feasible now.
The Nets currently have approximately $95.3 million committed to 12 players with guaranteed contracts: Joe Johnson ($24.9 million), Deron Williams ($21 million), Brook Lopez ($19.7 million*), Thaddeus Young ($11.3 million), Jarrett Jack ($6.3 million), Bojan Bogdanovic ($3.4 million), Steve Blake ($2.2 million), Sergey Karasev ($1.6 million), Shane Larkin ($1.5 million) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($1.3 million), Chris McCullough ($1.1 million) and Thomas Robinson ($1 million).
Earl Clark ($1.1 million), Markel Brown ($0.8 million), Cory Jefferson ($800,000) and Ryan Boatright ($500,000) all have non-guaranteed deals. Mirza Teletovic ($4.2 million qualifying offer) is a restricted free agent.
The Nets must eventually get down to the maximum of 15 players under contract by the start of the season, but for now they can have up to 20. As you can see, there is still work to be done.
The possibility of trading Johnson and Williams exists as a way to save money and create future financial flexibility. And the Nets have too many point guards, lack perimeter shooting and could use more depth up front. But they currently only have part of the taxpayer mini mid-level exception and the veteran's minimum with which to add players.
As we've written, avoiding the repeater tax with a roster that may or may not make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference makes a lot of sense. At the same time, the franchise must also weigh the potential embarrassment that would come if the Nets missed the postseason and the Boston Celtics obtained a high lottery pick in the draft as a result. The Celtics own Brooklyn's unprotected 2016 first-rounder as a result of the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade from 2013.
• Lopez's max deal should now be for three years and about $63.7 million based on the cap increase. With a 7.5 percent increases, Year 1 should be $19.7 million as previous noted, Year 2 should be $21.2 million and Year 3 should be $22.8 million.