Of the 30 NBA teams, only three are projected to have salary cap space in 2022, as relayed by Bobby Marks of ESPN.
Those teams, per Marks, are the Pistons, Spurs and Magic.
This despite the fact the salary cap is expected to increase from $112 million for the upcoming season to $119 million for 2022-23.
But this is the NBA, where players tend to switch teams more than the late Larry King switched wives. So while the free agency class isn’t expected to be anything to write home about, you can still expect moves — and perhaps, the changing of teams that have space under the cap because of those moves.
“Because next offseason is average at best in talent, I am expecting the trade market to be extremely active during the regular season,” a Western Conference general manager told Marks.
As for free agency specifically, teams are already referring to the 2022 class as “The Offseason of the Rotational Players,” Marks reported.
Some of the biggest names expected to hit the market next summer are all restricted free agents. That means their teams can match opposing offers and keep them.
That list includes Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, Hawks shooting guard Kevin Huerter, Nuggets forwards Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr., Grizzlies power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges and center Deandre Ayton.
Of those, Sexton seems the most likely to be on the move, though the Cavs could merely allow them market to determine his next deal, and then match. And as we saw this offseason, sign-and-trade deals are always a possibility when it comes to restricted free agents.
“No team signed a restricted free agent to an offer sheet this offseason, but that is likely going to change next year,” Marks wrote. “Although cap growth is projected to be limited (more on that below), expect front offices to take an aggressive approach with restricted free agents.”