The San Antonio Spurs came into this offseason with an abundance of cap space and plenty of intriguing candidates to pursue. We quickly learned they had other plans in mind -- mainly to avoid free agent frenzy in the hopes of partaking in a blockbuster trade for assets instead to build through the draft.
We still aren't sure if or when such a trade will take place, but the feeling I get is there will be at least one team that gets desperate by next year's deadline, and the Spurs will be waiting to facilitate a star-studded deal when that happens.
For now, though, the Spurs are sitting on their extra cap space to punt some over into next year. Unfortunately, many other teams will be joining the mix and be competitors in the free agency market as well.
In his latest column for ESPN (subscription required), Bobby Marks gave his projections for which teams will have cap space next season, and his estimation includes 12 other teams being in the mix with San Antonio. One important note: some of these projections come with conditions on how the team handles certain players currently on their rosters, so many aren't set in stone.
Los Angeles Lakers
Marks doesn't have a numerical projection for the Lakers since much of that depends on what happens with LeBron James, but he does predict they'll be under the cap for the first time in four seasons.
Teams projected to have $20-$30 million
The Sacramento Kings figure to have about $24 million in cap space next season, according to Marks. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies could free up $27 million. Given Miles Bridges' recent charges, the Charlotte Hornets renouncing his cap hold could leave them in a position to free up $27 million also.
The Cleveland Cavaliers could have up to $28 million free next season if they move on from Collin Sexton and Caris LeVert. As Marks points out, the Indiana Pacers could have around $30 million in cap space next offseason, but that figure could go up to approximately $60 million if Myles Turner isn't extended.
Teams projected to have $31-$40 million
The Oklahoma City Thunder will continue to have significant cap space next offseason, estimated to have about $34 million to spend.
Depending on what happens with Donovan Mitchell, who has been widely rumored to be on the market in a trade, the Utah Jazz could be very rich with cap space next summer if he departs. Even if he stays, Marks predicts they'll still have up to $36 million.
The Timberwolves could still free up around $37 million next summer despite their recent expensive acquisition of Rudy Gobert.
Teams projected to have $41 million and above
The four richest teams in terms of cap space next summer will likely be the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs. At minimum, they all should have about $60 million in cap space next year.
Of course, that could go up and down for San Antonio based on what the Spurs do with certain guys on the current roster. Signing Tre Jones to a longer deal could bring that figure down while waiving someone like Zach Collins could bring it up.
I expect San Antonio to continue biding their time to facilitate a trade for more future draft picks this season or even move someone like Jakob Poeltl or Josh Richardson near the deadline. Either way, they should still have substantial cap space ahead of what will be another huge summer for the franchise.