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Why teams are placing less of a premium on cap space, and what it could mean for team-building moving forward

CBS Sports


Article Summary:

Hoarding cap space to pursue significant offseason additions has been a staple of NBA roster-building since the years leading up to 2010’s historic free-agent class, but if fewer and fewer teams are prioritizing that space, the ways in which players change teams and get paid are going to change drastically. The first is the mid-level exception, which is a tool teams can use to sign external free agents above the cap, but the amount that exception is worth is based on a team’s unique circumstances. The Thunder could choose to operate as a cap space team any time they want, but right now, they’ve been able to retain a $12.8 million trade exception and a $9.6 million trade exception by acting as an above-the-cap team. If players worth more than the mid-level exception know that only a few teams in a given offseason are going to be capable of offering them market-value deals through space, is market value for their services going to decline? If getting and properly paying those players becomes more reliant on their Bird Rights, do they become more valuable in trades?

In the shorter term, a few teams catching onto these trends and pivoting into extreme hoarding feels almost inevitable.

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