SportsBytes #3.6 - The Math of 2010

I wrote about this 3 weeks ago, but with LeBron scheduled to play in New York tonight -- fresh off a game at New Jersey -- it needs to be addressed again: the Summer of 2010 is nearly 600 days away.

LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers, not the Knicks, not the Nets, not the Pistons.

With all these teams clearing out cap space, the media jumps on how much the Knicks, Nets, Pistons, etc. will be able to do in 2010. Well, the Cavaliers will be able to do just as much.

Currently, the only Cavs under contract in 2010-11, assuming LeBron doesn’t exercise his player option, are Mo Williams ($9.3M), Delonte West ($4.7M), Daniel Gibson ($4.0M) and Darnell Jackson ($854K). They’ve also got a $1.5M team option on JJ Hickson’s rookie contract.

Let’s assume they pick up that option, plus have cap holds for the 2009 and 2010 first-round picks at about $1M each (which is about what it would be for a bottom-5 first-round pick).

Add up those salaries and you get a cap number of about $22.4M for 7 players.

For 2008-09, the salary cap is set at $58.68M, which was an increase of 5.48%. Assuming similar increases for 2009-10 and 2010-11, the salary cap will be set at $65.29M for 2010-11.

That means, at $22.4M in obligations, Cleveland would be $42.89M under the cap. For a player with 7 years experience, which LeBron James would have in 2010, the maximum salary is 30% of the cap -- or approximately $19.6M.

So, assuming they don’t do anything crazy over the next 2 years, the Cavaliers would have room to sign 2 “max” players in 2010 -- just like the Knicks, Nets and plenty of other teams. they’d even have close to $4M left to fill out their roster.

Plus, Cleveland has the bonus of being able to sign LeBron to more years and money than any other team. So, speculate all you want. It’s more likely that LeBron ends up right back where he started.