With the report that the Nets will sign Jason Collins for the rest of the season, let’s take a quick look at the salary the Nets have committed this year and beyond.
2013-2014: Once the Nets sign Collins, they’ll have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, with Jorge Gutierrez on a ten-day contract. If they sign Gutierrez for the rest of the season, their total salary commitment — including the $4 million they owe Travis Outlaw due to amnesty — will tip just over $200 million after the luxury tax.
Assuming the Nets sign Gutierrez and Collins through the end of the season, the Nets have four players coming off the books — Collins, Gutierrez, starting guard Shaun Livingston, and starting forward Paul Pierce. The Nets own Pierce’s full bird rights and can sign him to any contract up to the maximum salary. They only own Livingston’s non-Bird rights, allowing them to sign him to a contract slightly above the minimum.
Alan Anderson, Andray Blatche, and Andrei Kirilenko all have player options, if all three exercise their option to stay, the Nets will have a salary commitment of $90.9 million to 11 players. If Blatche declines, they’ll own his early Bird rights, allowing them to sign him to a maximum four-year deal at the league average salary with 7.5 percent raises, defined in 2013-14 as $5.565 million. It’s expected to go up slightly.
There’s also a possibility that Kevin Garnett retires after this season, which would give the Nets one less forward, but also take $12 million off their books. If the Nets lose Garnett, Kirilenko, Blatche, and Anderson, they’ll have $73 million committed to seven players.
Exceptions: Barring a lot of unexpected, salary-gutting movement, the Nets will have the taxpayer midlevel exception, meaning they can sign a player for up to three years at with a starting salary of $3.278 million and 4.5 percent raises. They can also split that salary among multiple players. Livingston is a potential option for the Nets to use their exception if he can’t get a better deal elsewhere. Eurostash Bojan Bogdanovic is another.
Expectations: Kirilenko indicated earlier this year that he’d pick up his option, but things could change. The Wizards are still on the hook to pay Blatche $8.4 million, and due to a unique “offset formula” clause, he may take less money to screw over Washington again.
As of today (March 12, 2014), the Nets only have two hard commitments for the 2015-2016 season: Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who will take up about $46 million in cap space. Brook Lopez has a player option for $16.7 million, which he’ll almost assuredly accept. Mason Plumlee and Marquis Teague have team options. Mirza Teletovic will be a restricted free agent, and the Nets can choose to extend him a qualifying offer worth a little over $4.2 million. If Teletovic accepts that offer, he’ll have a one-year contract with the team. If he declines, he’s technically a restricted free agent, but the Nets will have limited options to re-sign him.
Expectations: This one is harder to project, because we don’t know what the Nets will do this offseason yet. But, presuming they’re sticking to a plan to keep their options for 2016 open, the Nets will most likely play it safe, signing veterans to one-year contracts. If Blatche signs another one-year deal, thus “playing out” his amnestied contract with Washington, the Nets will have his full bird rights and the ability to sign him to any contract.
Bonanza? As of right now, the Nets have zero guaranteed contracts, though Deron Williams has an option for $22.3 million that he’ll almost assuredly pick up. Mason Plumlee will also be on the last year of his rookie scale contract. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez come off the books, and the Nets will likely have more than exceptions to use to spend on players.
Why is that important? Because of this right here.