A look at the Spurs’ salary cap situation for the 2023-24 season

The Spurs have already had a franchise-altering offseason, but with a new collective bargaining agreement coming into effect, plenty of cap space to spare, and not a lot of roster space available, the Spurs have some important decisions to make before the start of the regular season. With free agency beginning in just under 48 hours, this article will focus on the financial side of the Spurs’ offseason and how the new CBA may affect some of the decisions facing the Spurs’ front office.

Spurs active roster

Player 2023-2024
Player 2023-2024
Keldon Johnson $20,000,000.00
Doug McDermott $13,750,000.00
Victor Wembanyama $12,158,760.00
Devonte Graham $12,100,000.00
Zach Collins $7,700,000.00
Khem Birch $6,985,000.00
Jeremy Sochan $5,316,960.00
Devin Vassell $5,887,899.00
Great Branham $3,071,880.00
Blake Wesley $2,504,640.00
Charles Bassey $2,500,000.00
TOTAL $91,975,139.00

While Victor Wembanyama is technically not yet a member of the active roster, his cap hit is identical to his projected salary, so he is included in this table as it is a given that he will eventually end up on the roster over the next few couple of weeks . The deadline for the Spurs to waive Zach Collins has also passed, so his salary for next season is now fully guaranteed (no surprise there). This leaves the Spurs with an active roster of 11 players for a total of just under $92 million in guaranteed salary.

Spurs death cap

Unfortunately, Josh Primo will still be on the books for next season with a cap hit of $4,341,600 because his third-year team option was picked up before he was waived. Adding his cap hit to the guaranteed salary increases the Spurs’ total salary to $96,316,739.

Minimum wage floor and the new CBA

The minimum salary floor that teams must reach in the new CBA is the same as the previous CBA, which is 90 percent of the team’s salary cap. The difference is that in the previous CBA, teams were not required to reach this mark until the end of the regular season. If they did not meet the minimum salary floor by the time the season ended, the only penalty was for the team to make up the shortfall by paying the difference to the players on the roster. This allowed teams to stay well below the salary floor during the regular season for maximum flexibility (e.g., taking on bad contracts for assets).

This strategy will now face far stricter restrictions and sanctions. First, teams must reach the minimum salary floor at the start of the regular season instead of the end. Second, teams that do not meet the minimum salary cap at the start of the regular season must write a check to the NBA instead of to the players. Finally, teams below the minimum salary floor at the start of the regular season will receive only half of their share of the end-of-season tax distribution from the league’s tax-paying teams. Beginning with the 2024-2025 season, these teams will not receive any of the end of season tax distribution from the tax paying teams. This is likely a non-starter for most teams, especially small market teams like the Spurs.

The minimum salary cap for next season will be $122.4 million. With about $96.3 million in guaranteed salary and 11 players on the active roster, the Spurs will need to spend at least $26.1 million when filling out the rest of their roster.

Relevant hood holders

Player 2023-2024
Player 2023-2024
Three Jones $5,216,324.00
Sandro Mamukelashvili $2,189,698.00
Keita Bates-Diop $1,855,391.00
Dom Barlow $1,774,999.00
Julian Champagne $1,774,999.00
TOTAL CAP HOLDER $12,811,411.00

Romeo Langford has a cap hit of almost $17 million. Since he won’t command nearly as much on the open market, and I don’t see him in the Spurs’ future plans, I’ve removed him from the list. I’ve also left out Gorgui Dieng as there simply aren’t enough slots available to make a reunion likely.

Re-signing Tre Jones is likely a top priority for the Spurs this offseason. Teams with enough cap space to make Jones an offer above the non-taxpayer MLE include the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets just drafted Amen Thompson and appear to be all over using their cap space to sign big name free agents. The rest of these teams are already set on the point guard position and likely won’t be looking to spend big money at that position. That means the non-taxpayer MLE of $12.4 million is likely a good indicator of Jones’ salary cap for next season. With the Spurs having plenty of cap space this summer and wanting to have as much financial flexibility as possible going forward, signing Jones to a contract that drops in salary over time seems like the way to go, similar to what they did with Keldon Johnson. While a 4-year/$50 million contract might be a bit high for his market, a declining salary that starts around $14 million next season and ends around $11 million would still be a good move for the Spurs long term. The salary cap will continue to rise, so Jones would only earn 6-7 percent of the total salary cap toward the end of his contract.

As for the others, if you were to make a prediction today, it would be as follows:

  • Spurs let Keita Bates-Diop go (unfortunately). He was a good stick guy for the Spurs last season, but he may fall victim to a roster spot.
  • Sir’ Jabari Rice, Dominick Barlow and Sidy Cissoko sign two-way contracts.
  • Julian Champagnie and Sandro Mamukelashvili sign regular contracts. This would put the Spurs at 14 players on the active roster, including Tre Jones.

Final thoughts

Even after signing Jones to a front-loaded contract and signing Champagnie and Mamukelashvili to regular contracts, the Spurs would be well below the minimum salary floor with just one cap space available. I think Khem Birch will be waived at some point, opening up another roster spot. I also expect the Spurs to sign a free agent center. Rumors surfaced that the Spurs were interested in Naz Reid before he re-signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. A trade for Jones Valanciunas seems possible, as does a reunion with Jakob Poeltl. It will be interesting to see how the Spurs fill out the rest of their roster after winning the Wemby sweepstakes. I hope they live up to their word and don’t spend too much on long term contracts that could hold them back when the team is really ready to make a playoff push.

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