Hold on. No, seriously, hold on.
Because all is not as it appears when it comes to the heavy hitters and free agency this summer.
With the passing of the trading deadline and now the passing of this week’s waiver deadline for postseason eligibility, we have a much better read on where teams stand entering the July 1 start of NBA free agency.
We certainly know the heavy hitters.
Based on the accounting of one team executive, factoring in salaries for 2010 first-round picks, nine teams will enter the offseason with more than $10 million in cap space: New York, at $31.65 million, New Jersey at $23.32 million, Miami at $21.35 million, Washington at $19.49 million, Chicago at $18 million, Sacramento at $16.85 million, the Clippers at $15.36 million, Minnesota at $12.46 million and Oklahoma City at $11.5 million.
Yes, you’ve seen other numbers elsewhere, because no one truly knows where the 2010-11 cap will fall or how teams view their own impending free agents, as well as players with option clauses.
But even with the aforementioned space figures, all is not always as it appears, which is where the “hold on” part enters the equation.
Ah, those pesky cap holds.
Basically, if you plan to re-sign one of your own impending free agents and retain the right to give them a typical free-agency raise, you have to deduct their “cap hold” from your impending space.
The formal definition, if you must: “Players who finished their last year of their contract and do not re-sign with another team will have a salary-cap hold for that season.
The cap holds for each player continue to count against the team’s salary cap until they are renounced. If the player is renounced, then he can only re-sign with that team for either remaining space under the cap or the minimum.”
It is why, if the Knicks follow up with their plan to sign two top-tier free agents, David Lee has to be sacrificed.
His cap hold is $10.5 million.
Of course, not all cap holds matter. Al Harrington, for example, has a $15 million cap hold, and no one is holding their breath about the Knicks carrying that on their books for a minute longer than necessary.
The point is that to get free agents you often have to sacrifice your own free agents.
To that end, from the salary book of one NBA team, we offer a look at other cap holds not currently figured into the space of the league’s 2010 heavy hitters.
Chicago: Jerome James, $9.9 million; Brad Miller, $18.4 million; Hakim Warrick, $2.8 million; Joe Alexander, $3.6 million; Flip Murray, $.24 million.
L.A. Clippers: Drew Gooden, $5.5 million; Mardy Collins, $5.6 million; Craig Smith, $4.6 million.
Miami: Quentin Richardson, $13.1 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $24.2 million; Udonis Haslem, $10.7 million; Dorell Wright, $5.8 million; Yakhouba Diawara, $1.2 million.
Minnesota: Damien Wilkins, $7.3 million; Darko Milicic, $11.3 million; Alando Tucker, $1.9 million.
New Jersey: Josh Boone, $6.2 million; Trenton Hassell, $8.7 million; Bobby Simmons $16.2 million.
New York: Chris Duhon, $7.8 million; Al Harrington, $15 million; David Lee $10.5 million; Sergio Rodriguez, $4.7 million.
Oklahoma City: Etan Thomas, $11.9 million.
Sacramento: None of note.
Washington: Javaris Crittenton, $2.3 million; Randy Foye, $10.1 million; Josh Howard, $16.2 million; Mike Miller, $14.7 million; Fabricio Oberto, $2.4 million.
Again, what matters most is that none of the aforementioned players can be retained if their team opts to maximize its cap space.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.