It’s no secret: the Chicago Bulls have been dumping salary like crazy in an attempt to free up cap space to make a run at free agents like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, a relatively minor trade by the Nets today pushed New Jersey past Chicago in the race for most cap space. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has the full list of NBA teams with the most cap space; Chicago currently sits in third place.
New York Knicks: $34.17 million
New Jersey Nets: $29.99 million
Chicago Bulls: $29.17 million
Miami Heat: $27.13 million
Los Angeles Clippers: $16.83 million
Sacramento Kings: $15.35 million
Minnesota Timberwolves: $13.44 million
Washington Wizards: $7.18 million
Oklahoma City Thunder: $6.13 million
Although both the Knicks and Nets now have more cap space, that doesn’t mean they can offer any individual free agent more money. On the contrary, Chicago can still afford to give any player it wants a max contract. However, those two teams have slightly more room to round out their roster. Chicago, of course, has a significantly better current roster thanks to the presence of quality young players Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
It is clear from these numbers, though, that it will be a relatively evenly-matched financial brawl for the right to sign guys like LeBron James.