The Myth of The Minimum Team Salary: The NBA Collective Barging Agreement requires all teams to spend at least 90 percent of the salary cap. This season the NBA salary cap was set at $63.065 million, with the luxury tax set at $76.829 million. The NBA minimum team salary is $56.759 million.
This becomes materially relevant to the Philadelphia 76ers ($39.988 million), Milwaukee Bucks ($56.357 million) and Phoenix Suns ($51.834 million).
As of today, all three franchise are under the so called “floor.” The Suns likely get above it when they sign Eric Bledsoe and the Bucks likely get above it at some point before the trade deadline.
The one that creates the most conversation is the 76ers because they are roughly $16.777 million under the “floor.”
In previous Collective Bargaining Agreements, teams had to really spend that amount of money. However, under the current agreement, team salary is calculated on what’s on the roster at the end of the year, meaning the 76ers can and likely will run on the lean side for as long as they can.
It is simple economics. Why pay out more cash than necessary to field the team? The plan is to keep the flexibility open for teams over the luxury tax that may want to dump a salary at the deadline, when Philadelphia can extract assets for having the space.
What happens if the 76ers don’t meet the minimum at the trade deadline? They would be required to pay their existing roster the shortfall on a schedule agreed to by the Players’ Association.
So if the 76ers don’t meet the minimum, their existing guys get bonuses and the team gets to defer paying it until the end of the season.
What’s far more likely is that the long rumored Amar’e Stoudemire to Philadelphia deal gets done at the deadline. The Sixers take on Stoudemire’s $23 million salary cap number, which pushes them way over the minimum. They would only owe him roughly 30 percent of his remaining contract, so they’d end up paying him $7 million in cash and likely extract a draft pick or a rookie scale player for their troubles.
Flexibility in the NBA is currency – both figuratively and literally. The 76ers will likely meet the floor; they just are not incentivized in any way to do it before the trade deadline.