In this article, we will discuss the free agency period for the 2022/23 season and also examine projected salary caps and tax thresholds.
Before we begin – let’s take a look at what we mean by ‘free agency’.
All definitions and conditions are based on the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. This was ratified in 2016 and took effect on July 1, 2017, running through the 2023-24 NBA season.
There are two types of free agency in the NBA – unrestricted and restricted.
Unrestricted free agent
An unrestricted free agent is free to begin negotiating and sign with any team they wish.
Restricted free agent
Restricted free agents can be signed to an offer sheet by another team. An offer sheet is a contract offer of a minimum of two years made by another team.
Once a new club begin negotiations and an offer is eventually made, his current club still retains the right to first refusal. This means that, should they prefer to keep the player, they can match the offer and he stays on their roster.
They have only 3 days to make this offer or he is free to change teams and moves to the new franchise.
NBA free agency will come to a close in the summer of 2022 and the official dates beyond the NBA Draft of June 23rd have not yet been announced. It is likely that free agency will revert to its normal start date:
JUNE 30TH 2022 AT 18:00 ET
WHAT IS THE PROJECTED SALARY CAP?
Like many professional sports leagues, the NBA has a salary cap in place to prevent monopolism. With the vast sums of money swimming around in basketball, it would be all too easy for the bigger teams to simply gather up all the best players in the league and reduce competition balance.
The salary cap prevents this and the amount is defined by the league’s collective bargaining agreement. It limits the total amount that National Basketball Association teams can pay their players.
NBA communications tell us that the league has increased its projection for the 22/23 season to a salary cap for all teams to $119 million.
WHAT ARE THE LUXURY TAX LEVEL FIGURES?
The NBA levies a surcharge on any excess that a club pays to its players above and beyond the imposed cap. The excess they can pay is not infinite, so it effectively acts as an extension to the salary restrictions that has to be paid for. The so-called tax that is collected by the NBA is divided among teams playing in smaller markets in an attempt to allow them to attract the attention of higher-quality players.
The league predicts a $145 million luxury tax threshold for teams participating in the 2022-23 campaign.
WHAT DO THESE FIGURES MEAN FOR PLAYER SALARIES IN THE 2022-23 SEASON?
Based on that projected cap on salaries of $119 million for the 2022/23 season, we can estimate the minimum and maximum salaries that will be available to players.
Based on years of experience. Figures are in millions of dollars.
Years’ experience: Minimum – Maximum
0 0.98 29.8
1 1.58 29.8
2 1.77 29.8
3 1.83 29.8
4 1.89 29.8
5 2.05 29.8
6 2.21 29.8
7 2.37 35.7
8 2.53 35.7
9 2.54 35.7
10+ 2.80 41.7
WHO ARE THE TOP FREE AGENTS?
3-time All-Star Beal was drafted third overall by the Washington Wizards in 2012. He remains committed to them at the time of writing. The fact is that the Wizards rebuilt their entire roster around Beal this summer.
This fact will hold little water if the team does not produce results this season.
The Wizards missed the playoffs in 2019 and 2020, and have never reached a conference Finals in Beal’s nine seasons. The wider picture is not much rosier, as the franchise has not won 50+ games since 1978/79.
Beal’s buggiest issue will be that, as a 10-year veteran, he will command a projected starting maximum salary of $41.7 million.
2-time All-Star Zach LaVine is similar to Beal in that the Chicago Bulls built their roster around him. Disappointingly for fans, last season, the Bulls failed to secure a play-in tournament bid. That cost them the No. 8 overall pick in the NBA Draft and a first-round pick in 2023.
LaVine hits free agency and has already said he wants to see respect from the Bulls. This hints towards him expecting a maximum contract extension if he is to remain a player there.
If LaVine makes an All-NBA roster this season then he would be eligible for the same maximum payday as Beal. If not, he would start free agency negotiations with a maximum potential salary of $35.7 million.
When we see free agency start in 2022, teams should have all the deals they plan to make mapped out. Until then, trade rumors will abound as always and players and agents will jostle for position. The sums of money involved are genuinely staggering when you look at it objectively and so it is never going to be straightforward.
Upon reaching those key dates in the season, we will start to get a much better picture of the lay of the land.
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