Commentary

Teams with the worst cap situations

For Lakers, Celtics, Mavs and others, budgets could be tight this offseason

Originally Published: June 30, 2011
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
LakersLayne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Lakers are facing a challenging salary cap situation this offseason.

This is the second part in our two-part series on NBA teams' cap situations heading into the 2011 offseason. Today, we are looking at the teams with the least room to maneuver. For a look at the teams with the most cap room, click here. Editor's note: The numbers here were compiled and organized completely by ESPN Insider.

The cap is complicated. Just consider all the factors that actually determine a "team salary" for each year. It's no wonder teams have to hire resident capologists to keep it all square. You can't simply add it all up. And dissecting a cap situation can feel like being handed a complex dish and asked to peg the ingredients, and amounts used. Consider some variables:

• The total includes salaries to veteran players on the current roster and money owed to players who have been waived.
• There are cap holds used to replace veteran free agents until they are signed or renounced; there are unsigned past and current first-round picks.
• A rookie minimum cap hold is also included when a roster falls below a combination of 12 players that are under contract and those that have cap holds. For example: A team with just nine players counting against the cap will get three rookie minimum salary cap holds. Those will be eliminated each time a player is signed and the roster gets back to 12.
• Then there's an offer sheet: A team's salary total also will include an offer sheet that has been signed by a restricted free agent.

Easy, right?

The new CBA is bound to have new rules moving forward and will partly determine who will have the most salary cap room. But for now, we'll use the old rules, meaning the same salary cap number ($58,044,000) for 2011-12 that was used for 2010-11. The new collective bargaining agreement will have new criteria for determining salary cap room, but regardless of what changes take place, here are the six teams that have the worst payroll situations entering the 2011-12 salary cap year. They will be able to improve only via trades or cap exceptions -- if they exist in the new collective bargaining agreement.

The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks just miss the cut and are in the next group with the high team salaries for next season. Listed are the likeliest scenarios for each team. Note that free agents that could be renounced by each team are not listed.