If the NBA’s salary cap takes a dip in relation to COVID-19, the San Antonio Spurs are amongst the teams best prepared to deal with that conundrum.
Expectations for the 2020-21 NBA season must be tempered and quite frankly, it may be a tame offseason around the league. No one knows what next season will look like or if the league can get fans back in stands, so there’s a decent chance that the San Antonio Spurs run it back next year with the same players give or take a few low-risk deals.
However, this might not be such a bad thing considering what the rest of the league is looking like. During this 2019-20 season, all but six NBA teams are operating above a -$10 million threshold in active cap space. Considering the amount of money invested in the Orlando restart, estimated at north of $150 million by ESPN, and revenue lost from fan attendance, one would have to suspect the NBA’s salary cap is going to take a dip.
Most teams are unprepared for this shift, but it’s seeming like the San Antonio Spurs are set to tackle this issue better than almost any other team.
How do the San Antonio Spurs fare if the NBA’s salary cap drops?
Including their cap holds for the free-agents entering this offseason, the San Antonio Spurs are only about $6 million over the NBA’s soft salary cap. All things considered, that’s not bad compared with some of the competition. The expectation is that the team will cut its losses and proceed with the team as-is unless chairman Peter J. Holt informs the front office that they need to make a trade to get under the tax.
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Even so, the Spurs have all of their future first-round picks to maneuver and their glut of veterans on tradeable contracts should draw interest from competing teams. What’s even more interesting is that the San Antonio Spurs have just $24.8 million on the books for the 2021-22 season. That means they’ll have $108,498,993 in open cap space in next summer’s flourishing free-agent class.
This is unprecedented for a Spurs franchise that usually has a loaded cap sheet looking ahead. They’re known for giving loyalty contracts to veterans to ensure they remain in San Antonio, help the team build and get their piece of the pie. So long as they refrain from doing that again this offseason, they’ll be in a position to change with the times. Even if the salary cap reduces drastically and they sign both Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl to fair contract extensions this offseason, the Spurs could reasonably go out and sign a max free agent next year — Even in a collapsing NBA economy.
We may also see other teams look to strike deals with San Antonio to get some of their larger contracts off the books. That could mean that players who are talented and appreciated but overpaid could come on the market in the near future. If team governors aren’t happy with their group’s trajectory with a player on a super-max contract, San Antonio could swoop in and land a star-caliber player without having to give up all of their assets.
Ultimately, money talks and the Spurs are managing theirs well up to this point.