The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $112,414,000 threshold once their cap room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax line of $136,606,000 as well — the Nets and Warriors, for instance, project to have nine-figure tax bills this season as a result of their spending.
The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows clubs like Brooklyn and Golden State to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped, as we explain in a glossary entry.
When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion of the mid-level exception (three years, starting at $5,890,000), that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.
When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron for 2021/22 was set at $143,002,000.
So far, more than a quarter of the teams in the NBA have been willing to hard-cap themselves this offseason. Some teams will have to be aware of that hard cap when they consider any roster move for the rest of the season, but for others it’s just a technicality that won’t affect their plans.
Listed below are the hard-capped teams for the 2021/22 league year, along with how they created a hard cap.
- Acquired Lonzo Ball from Pelicans via sign-and-trade.
- Acquired DeMar DeRozan from Spurs via sign-and-trade.
- Used non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Alex Caruso.
- Used non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Reggie Bullock.
- Used bi-annual exception on Sterling Brown.
- Acquired Daniel Theis from Bulls via sign-and-trade.
- Acquired Kyle Lowry from Raptors via sign-and-trade.
- Used non-taxpayer mid-level exception on P.J. Tucker.
New Orleans Pelicans
- Acquired Devonte’ Graham from Hornets via sign-and-trade.
- Acquired Garrett Temple from Bulls via sign-and-trade.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Used non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
San Antonio Spurs
- Acquired Doug McDermott from Pacers via sign-and-trade.
- Used non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Khem Birch.
- Acquired Spencer Dinwiddie from Nets via sign-and-trade.
- Used non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Isaiah Todd.
This list, which could continue to grow, will continue to be updated throughout the 2021/22 league year as necessary. It can be found anytime in the “Hoops Rumors Features” menu on the right-hand sidebar of our desktop site, or in the “Features” menu on our mobile site.