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Why we should offer two maximum contracts this summer - a salary analysis

There is no doubt that we have some promising young talent on this team. We have a solid PG in Kemba, if resigned we have a solid SG in Hendo, and we have a solid SF in MKG. What we are sorely lacking is veteran bigs. At the moment our bigs are solid backups who may one day grow to the role of starter. If we want to win in the next few years, we need to spend some money.

Right now our team salary is around $57 million, good for 25th in the league ($855,000 below the cap and $13.8 million below the luxury tax) The median team salary is $67.8 million and 26 teams are above the salary cap with 10 paying luxury tax.

So what can we do? This offseason I can envision us making some big investments which will bring us into a level of team salary required to truly compete. In this scenario, I am showing what our team salary will look like for the next 4 years if we sign two players to max contracts.

Don't get caught up in whether you would offer the max to these guys. I'm under the assumption we need to overpay, so what happens if we overpay as much as we can. The question is what would it do to the Bobcats monetarily.

All numbers are estimates based on this years salary cap, luxury cap, max deal scales, rookie salary scales, and qualifying offer calculations. Also, Storytellers for current player and team salaries.

Here is the order of operations of some tasks for MJ:

  1. Amnesty Tyrus ($18 million total)
  2. Rename the team the Hornets ($3 million)
  3. Sign Nikola Pekovic to a maximum contract for a 1-6 year veteran.
  4. Sign Paul Millsap to a maximum contract for a 7-9 year veteran.
  5. Sign Henderson for the equivalent of his qualifying offer. (he must be signed after the other two as you can go over the cap to resign your own players but not to sign FA).
  6. Sign our top draft pick (estimate for #1 pick). You can sign a pick despite being over the cap.
  7. Do not resign Mullens, McRoberts, Williams, or Diop.

One important note: this estimate is for absolute max contracts. In reality, we could only offer a approximately $26 of the $30 million needed to give 2 max contracts to Free Agents while staying under the cap. Unless we find $4 million or do a sign and trade, we would need to cut $4 million from the total we offer those two. One option could be to buy out Gordon.

Salary Analysis

Below is a spreadsheet of what our team salary would look like over the next few years if we were to bring in 2 max contracts. The grey cells are players no longer on the team. Red cells are Qualifying offers. Green are simply estimates of contracts to be given.

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Here is a look at the roster here for the next 4 years. Gaps would be filled with random vets and minimum contracts:
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*Note that Hendo is a maybe for 2016-17

So what do we have here?

2013-14 - At $71.7 million, we are barely over the luxury tax by $700k. That can be fixed to keep us under. That may mean goodbye to Adrien unless our pick is around the 3-4 range. We would lose our pick to Chicago with this team, I guarantee. This estimate would put us as the 11th highest team salary in the league vs today.

2014-15 - At $61.2 million, we are solidly below the luxury tax by $9 million with 2 new picks coming in from Portland and Detroit. We lose Sessions, Gordon, and Adrien to FA. This would place us at the 21st most expensive team (!!!!!!). Jordan could recoup the amnesty and rename costs here...

2015-16 - We now are flirting with the luxury tax again, but are only $360k over. Again, this could be fixed. We get a new draft pick late in the first round. We lose Haywood. We have to make a decision on qualifying offers for Biyombo, Kemba, and Taylor. Taylor has a shorter contract than MKG and his QO is worth the same of the 21st draft pick in his year via the Arenas Rule. Assuming the QO was offered and accepted by each, we would again be the 11th highest team salary in the league vs today.

2016-17 - This is where things get more challenging as we may actually have to pay luxury tax. With the max contracts maturing, MKG getting a QO, and Biz, Kemba, and Taylor needing to resign, we may have to blow up the team a bit, make tough decisions, or pay tax. We may not be able to afford Henderson. Assuming the above contracts (which means Kemba is a solid starter and Biz and Taylor are a good backups, here is the salary. At this point we are $6.5 million over the luxury tax, without signing Hendo. This would place us at the 6th highest team salary based upon this year's numbers.

2017-18 - I don't have this up because there is too much guessing. However $36.7 million comes off the books with Pek and Millsap's contracts ending. We still have a young core and are back in the FA game.

Team analysis

Millsap and Pekovic are solid players who are exceptionally efficient on offense and in a variety of ways. Millsap can score down low and on the perimeter and Pekovic is fantastic in the the post. With a solid scoring frontcourt to pair with Kemba and Hendo, I bet we are able to sniff 100 plus points per game next year. If MKG gets a jumper, watch out. Defensively Millsap and Pek are both solid enough that with Biyombo, MKG, Hendo, Taylor we would have a top 10 defense next year.

The wildcards are the picks, but that is a great place to be. For this team, the picks can be BPA or for position. All that means is more talent. Also, if we don't sign Hendo this offseason, then Shabazz or McLemore may be the pick this year. This would take $4million off all of these calculations but allow for the original max deals to be made under the cap.

Best part about all of this financially is that we would just be sniffing the top 10 Team Salaries over this time while reaping in fan support for the rebuilt Hornets. Our average team salary of $70.4 million from 2013-2017 would rank 12th compared to todays numbers. If we did only have $26 million this summer to offer Millsap and Pek rather than $30 million, our average Team salary over this period goes to --- Below Average at around $66 million to rank 19th.

MJ has to spend sometime. I say the time is this summer. Our core and starters could remain the same for several seasons, with changes coming if the upcoming picks are too good to play off the bench.

I think this type of move would have us in the playoffs next year, 2013-14, competing as a 5th seed. By 2014-15, we will be contenders, especially if we get solid picks from Detroit and Portland. By 2015-16, we will be defending. For the next couple of seasons after that - dynasty.

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