2020-21 NBA salary cap gives Wizards some breathing room


The NBA's 2020-21 salary cap will stay right where it was for the 2019-20 season, which after all that transpired in the past calendar year represents very good news for teams and players seeking new contracts. The league took a financial hit from the coronavirus and also the China controversy from last fall, yet it weathered the storm enough to allow front offices to operate close to normal.

This, coupled with changes to the luxury tax penalty, immediately stand out as positive signs for the league's biggest spenders, but this also helps a team like the Wizards who are not expected to be in tax territory but could also not afford to lose much more of their cap flexibility. With John Wall on a supermax and Bradley Beal on a max contract, the Wizards have some room to breathe, just not much.

But with the cap staying where it was - at $109.1 million with the luxury tax at $132.7 million - the Wizards can construct a roster similar to how they did last offseason. Only this time Wall's contract, which accounts for 35 percent of the cap, isn't dead weight for an injured player.

The cap remaining the same creates some direct parallels. For instance, the Wizards hope to re-sign sharpshooter Davis Bertans, and now he can essentially take Ian Mahinmi's place on the books. Mahinmi's $15.5 million contract is now gone and Bertans is likely to receive something in that range.


A drastic lowering of the cap could have squeezed the Wizards out of re-signing him, as Bertans is expected to draw interest from teams with ample cap room this offseason. With the updated cap figures, and Bertans' Bird Rights (they can exceed the cap with his salary), the Wizards can afford to make a competitive offer

The Wizards can also add a rookie with the ninth pick and expect him to make about what Rui Hachimura did this past season. Hachimura was taken ninth overall and earned $4.5 million last year.

If the Wizards do bring back Bertans, they won't have much money to spend on other free agents, but they will have some options. They should have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which was about $9.3 million last season. And they also have their bi-annual exception, which last season was about $3.6 million (via Spotrac). Keeping the same salary cap numbers from last year means those numbers shouldn't go down, either.

The Wizards have plenty of needs and not a ton of money to work with. They could use depth at essentially every position and need defensive help. Having enough money to bring back Bertans means they don't have to cut corners anywhere else.

By avoiding the worst-case scenario of a lowered cap, the Wizards have some room to operate and achieve their original offseason goals.