When you look over salary data and rosters for each team in the league, its easy to see we will definitely have some competition for draft position and free agents. And some of the teams we'll be competing with may surprise you.
Let me start by mentioning that all of the salary/roster information comes from Hoopshype, which works well for checking on salaries this year and projected four years after, under current conditions. It shows team and player options. However, it does not show un-contracted and non-guaranteed contract amounts. (Beasley, for instance, doesn't show up on the Heat's salary list) We all know conditions may change in a heartbeat- however there are some interesting issues.
First off- team salaries. Here is a list of each team's standing for this season and next:
team 13/14 14/15
ATL $57m $46m
BOS $64m $47m
BKN $101m $87m
CHA $60m $28m
CHI $81m $61m
CLE $48m $18m
DAL $62m $26m
DEN $61m $60m
DET $62m $38m
GSW $68m $43m
HOU $53m $69m
IND $69m $50m
LAC $70m $70m
LAL $76m $13m
MEM $68m $56m
MIA $80m $ 0m*
MIL $52m $37m
MIN $68m $57m
NOH $64m $48m
NYN $79m $81m
OKC $71m $62m
ORL $62m $27m
PHI $43m $21m
PHX $53m $29m**
POR $63m $46m
SAC $59m $38m
SAS $63m $48m
TOR $73m $49m
UTA $55m $ 7m
*if all of the players including the big three in MIA decide not to pick up their options, the heat have NO guaranteed contracts for 14/15. But I can't see that happening.
**if PHX doesn't pick up options on Morrii, Marshall, Plumlee, Ish, or re-sign Tucker and Bleddoe, etc. And I don't think that will happen. We will likely have a higher payroll than our $29m. Maybe as high as $38m.
What all that tells us is we will be competing next summer for FA's with: CHA, CLE, DAL, DET, MIL, ORL, PHI, SAC, UTA and LAL. No less than six of those teams will likely have more cap room than us. IF we end up at $38m, as I suggest above, there could be nine teams with more or equal cap room.
Our Major competition will likely be the Los Angeles team that is sporting the Sun's recent backwash. The Lakers will essentially ONLY have Nash under contract unless they re-sign Kobe, which I think will depend on how he comes back from his injury. And if they do sign him again, I wouldn't be surprised if it were for $11m/year for 2 years or so. Even with that, they'll still only have $24m in salary. Big time cap room plus the "glory" of playing for the Lakers and next to two aged superstars. That's serious competition for the FA's out there.
Miami could be big competition for FA's- but I don't think that will happen.
Utah, on the other hand- wow, only $7m guaranteed for 14/15 season at this point. And Cleveland at $18m. Those two teams plus the Lakers are going to get whomever they want. I think that could cover just about all the top FA's next summer. From the list I saw, there weren't many we'd want.
Now onto our tanking competition: I'm going to throw away mediocre teams that I'm pretty sure are going to be better than us, such as BOS, MIN, NOH, POR, and TOR.
The Lakers, again, are interesting- because if injuries hit Gasol and/or Nash and/or Kobe again, they will lose just about every game. After those three guys, their best players are Kaman and Wesley Johnson. Yikes!
Cleveland might be bad, but I'm going to not put them in with the tanking teams because they got better from last year with Bynum, Jack, and Bennett.
These are the other teams competing for the bottom, with a their best players listed:
CHA: Al Jefferson, MKG, Zeller
DAL: Dirk, Ellis, Marion (and if injuries hit Dirk, they are likely at the bottom)
DEN: Lawson, Faried, Galli (most likely better than us)
DET: Josh Smith, Monroe, Drummond (most likely better than us)
MIL: Caron Butler, Mayo, Sanders
ORL: Turkeyglu, Afflalo, Olapido, Glen Davis, Vucevic, Nelson
PHI: J-Rich, Noel... and NO one else and
PHX: Goran, Gortat, Bledsoe
UTA: Richard Jefferson, Hayward, Favors (really, really bad folks)
That is nine teams at the bottom. Take out Denver and Detroit, assuming they are a bit better than us- that still leaves seven teams that are going to royally suck this year. We had all been talking about "watchability" and thinking Phili will be our only competition for the #1 pick- but I had forgotten just how bad Utah and Dallas will be. And all those others could EASILY be just as bad as us, if not worse if The Mongoose and Eric Bledsoe turn out to be great, and Gortat plays well until he's traded- then Len plays well afterwards.
Even in a "super strong" draft as 2014 is expected to be, we could very well end up outside of the top 5 after the lottery.
There's a lot to watch out for. One thing is for sure, the summer of 2014 NBA is going to be interesting. Let's hope we come out of it as "The Most Interesting Team In the World".
Where do you think we'll end up in draft position? Who will we draft there? and/or Do you have a player in mind you think we should grab in the FA? Place it in the comments. I'm curious what we'll end up with.