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The Wizards probably won’t be major free agency players when a new salary cap is released

We are now in a second long offseason period for the NBA. Before any trades can happen, the league has to figure out a new salary cap. The Wizards, like most teams, won’t have the cap room to make major additions, even if the cap remains the same in 2021.

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Wizards Ballers and Bowling Party
The NBA team owners and players will have some bumps in the road ahead before the 2021 NBA season.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020-21 NBA offseason has been in full swing, but this period seems strange. It took about 12 months to complete the season which included a four month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though the NBA’s bubble in Florida was a success in terms of keeping team personnel safe, fans couldn’t attend games, and that effectively kills about 40 percent of team revenue.

The next certain date on the NBA calendar is on Nov. 18 when the league will hold its draft virtually. But after that, it’s still unknown when teams can start trades and sign free agents. The biggest reason why is because of the salary cap.

How much was the salary cap in the 2019-20 season? How much money have the Wizards committed for 2021?

The salary cap last season was at $109.14 million with a luxury cap threshold at $132.627 million. The Wizards paid just short of $132 million to stay below the tax.

Next season, the Wizards have committed $103 million in salaries. Though Ian Mahinmi’s $16 million salary is off the books, John Wall will get paid over $41 million and Bradley Beal will get $28.7 million. Thomas Bryant is the third highest paid Wizard with $8.3 million. And since Davis Bertans is an unrestricted free agent, his salary is not included in that $103 million figure. The 2020 first round pick’s salary isn’t there either.

What was the 2020-21 NBA salary cap supposed to be? Where will it be now?

As of today, there is no set figure on the salary cap for the 2020-21 NBA season.

The salary cap for 2020-21 was expected to be around $113 million as of last January. But because of the pandemic and the lack of arena revenue, it’s unlikely that the cap will be at that figure, assuming the NBA uses strict revenue figures to determine the salary cap level. In fact, the cap could drop significantly, though it’s unclear just how much.

It’s also possible that the NBA set an arbitrary salary cap for the 2021 season so teams can make some free agent signings beyond the veteran minimum. But we just don’t know where that level will be.

How much of an impact can the Wizards make to their roster in the offseason overall?

The Wizards won’t be able to do much in free agency, and the roster won’t change much unless they are active in the trade market.

The Wizards will probably be at or even above the salary cap when free agency starts since we should assume that cap will drop significantly. So don’t be that surprised if the salary cap is at $100 million next season, or perhaps even lower than that. Again, no fans were in the stands for the NBA playoffs or the last 10-15 games of the regular season.

Washington could re-sign Bertans to a lucrative contract because they have his Bird Rights. But otherwise, the Wizards won’t have much besides the midlevel exception and bi-annual exception to entice free agents with. But every team, including championship contenders have at least the MLE.

How about the free agency situation for the rest of the league?

The Wizards’ team salary of $103 million is 19th highest in the NBA. So most teams are in the same position Washington is in where they won’t be able to make any major free agent signings. Therefore, it seems more likely that there will be more trades among teams when it comes to player movement.

The Atlanta Hawks have the most cap room available next season with only $58 million in team salary. Though they aren’t contending for a championship, it seems inevitable that Atlanta can at least sign someone significant, even Bertans to a maximum deal, despite any salary cap changes.