|Team||2018-19 Payroll||League Rank||Starting 5||2019-20 Cap Space|
|Golden State Warriors||$145,299,879||1||$109,252,444||$-13,414,656|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||$142,869,264||2||$101,144,840||$-39,568,211|
|Portland Trail Blazers||$133,096,018||4||$71,518,748||$-24,348,643|
|San Antonio Spurs||$122,602,477||13||$57,826,470||$7,357,782|
|Los Angeles Clippers||$118,570,700||17||$33,238,557||$59,661,930|
2018-19 Cap: $145,299,879, 1st
Starting 5 Cap: $109,252,444
At $145M, no team had more cap allocated to their roster in 2018-19 than the Warriors who finished the year with 57 wins and a first round date with the nearby Clippers. Their starting 5 account for a league most $109M, and they currently stand about $21M over the luxury tax cap, meaning a bill north of $50M.
Curry, Durant, & Cousins all finished the year with PER ratings north of 20, however Klay Thompson & Draymond Green both took a bit of a step back in many aspects. They’re still the odds-on favorites, but it doesn’t feel like a slam dunk - yet.
2018-19 Cap: $117,302,575, 19th
Starting 5 Cap: $86,265,000
The Nuggets held the 19th highest cap total this year, and with 54 wins to boot are easily the best values in the league and will face the #7 seed Spurs in round one. Though Denver traded away all of their picks for the upcoming draft, they're also fully intact for the 2019-20 season, assuming they exercise a $30.5M club option on Millsap.
2018-19 Cap: $133,096,018, 4th
Starting 5 Cap: $71,518,748
Portland enters the postseason with a starting 5 that accounts for just 53% of their total cap allocations in 2018-19. They'll face a hungry OKC team in round one, who swept them 4-0 in the regular season. The Trail Blazers will have tough financial decisions to make this offseason with current start Aminu, and big minute role players in Hood & Curry set to hit the open market.
2018-19 Cap: $123,411,509, 9th
Starting 5 Cap: $102,839,019
For all the talk about Harden and the high scoring Rockets, Houston actually finished the regular season 5th in combined Net Rating, a stat that measures both sides of the court fairly well. They fell from the 2-seed to the 4-seed this week, meaning a first round matchup against Utah, whom they split the season series with. All 5 starters are under contract for 2019-20.
5. Utah Jazz
2018-19 Cap: $113,394,016, 22nd
Starting 5 Cap: $71,523,508
Utah quietly climbed to the 5th seed in a loaded Western Conference, and will face the high flying Rockets to start the postseason (season split 2-2). With only 1 player earning north of $20M (Gobert, $23M), Utah's filled with young value, but lack posteason experience. However their 4.0 combined Net Rating ranks 4th in the league, just ahead of Houston. They'll have an offseason decision to make on Ricky Rubio, who's scheduled to become a free agent.
2018-19 Cap: $142,869,264, 2nd
Starting 5 Cap: $101,144,840
Oklahoma City jumped two spots in the last week to earn a first round date with Portland, a team they swept in the regular season. They carry the 2nd highest cap in the NBA, and one of the most expensive starting 5 as well. OKC is nearly $20M over the luxury cap this season, and stands to pay a $61M+ fee. All five starters and notable bench players are locked up for next season already.
2018-19 Cap: $122,602,477, 13th
Starting 5 Cap: $57,826,470
At some point the Spurs are going to be really bad again, right? San Antonio brings the 13th highest cap, and one of the cheaper starting 5s in all of basketball to a first round matchup against Denver (2-2 season split). They also hold a bit of cap space and 2 first round picks this offseason, while their entire starting 5 are under contract in 2019.
2018-19 Cap: $118,570,700, 17th
Starting 5 Cap: $33,238,557
Remember when the Clippers folded their season by trading away Tobias Harris? The Clippers opened up 2019 cap space, got younger and cheaper, and still made the postseason in 2018. They're a long shot to pass through Golden State (3-1 GSW seasn series), but they're set up really nicely for the immediate future. They've got some depth pieces headed to free agency, but a few splash signings could shake up this roster in a very positive way.
2018-19 Cap: $122,168,320, 14th
Starting 5 Cap: $66,146,446
Despite a middle of the league payroll, the Bucks have been the best team, with the best player in the Eastern Conference all year. They hold the highest NET Rating (8.6), and the highest defensive NET rating (104.9) in the NBA. They'll face an unworthy Pistons team in the first round whom they swept 4-0 in the regular season. Looking ahead, there are offseason decisions to be made, with Khris Middleton likely to opt-out, & big men Brook Lopez, Nikola Mirotic set to hit the open market.
2018-19 Cap: $137,219,123, 3rd
Starting 5 Cap: $91,265,753
Some may be surprised to learn the Raptors hold the 3rd highest payroll in the league, but they've been pushing "all-in" for the better part of 3 seasons now, peaking in 2018-19 with the acquisition of Leonard. They'll face a sneaky tough Orlando Magic lineup in the first round, whom they split the season series with 2-2. They're also $13M over the luxury tax max, meaning a fine of almost $25M is forthcoming. With Leonard, Gasol, Green, & Lin all likely on expiring contracts, the window is closing for this Raptors team.
2018-19 Cap: $111,962,081, 24nd
Starting 5 Cap: $79,397,549
The young Sixers hold one of the lowest cap payrolls in the NBA, and still pumped out 51 wins in 2018-19. They posted the 11th best NET rating, and have shown depth over the second half of the season. They'll face a much improved Brooklyn team in the first round, whom they split the season series with. Regardless of their postseason, Philly's a team to watch this offseason as they currently hold 5 draft picks (4 2nds), $39M of practical cap space, and a bunch of notable expiring contracts.
2018-19 Cap: $125,505,053, 5th
Starting 5 Cap: $72,583,013
A 49-win season for a Boston team with a $125M payroll that was arguably the preseason favorite to win the East is a bit of a disappointment, but this is basically the same Celtics team that nearly made a Finals' appearance in 2018. They score a favorable first round matchup against the Pacers (3-1 season series win), but will likely see Milwaukee in the second round. Boston goes over the tax cap by $2.5M according to our numbers, meaning a near $4M fee, and a bit of a restriction on what they're likely to do next season to avoid the repeat offense.
2018-19 Cap: $110,579,462, 25th
Starting 5 Cap: $38,187,075
It's been three months since the Pacers lost their key player (Oladipo), yet here they stand a 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. They hold the 5th lowest payroll in the league, & one of the cheapest starting lineups, including a player they picked up from the waiver wire just a few weeks ago (Matthews). Four current starters are headed to unrestricted free agency in July, but they've got enough cap space to keep/rebuild as needed.
2018-19 Cap: $117,571,620, 18th
Starting 5 Cap: $37,505,471
Brooklyn's rise up the east happened a year early then many predicted, due in large part to the breakout success of D'Angelo Russell. Russell's set to hit restricted free agency and will likely command an offer sheet were he to hit that market. The good news? The Nets have two first round picks, over $50M of cap space, and an attractive young team to draw interest from notable free agents.
2018-19 Cap: $114,671,036, 20th
Starting 5 Cap: $64.059.989
A lot of things clicked for this Orlando team in 2018, led by their largely unnkown star, Nikola Vucevic, and a rise ups from Aaron Gordon & Terrence Ross. While Gordon's $20M per contract seemed silly at the time, having him as a centerpiece going forward is big, especially with the likes of Vucevic, & Ross on expiring contracts. They'll see a Toronto team in the first round whom they split the regular season series with. Will this team stick together after 2018-19?
2018-19 Cap: $123,481,463
Starting 5 Cap: $77,788,213
The 41-41 Pistons held the 8th highest payroll in 2018-19, and are rewarded with a first round matchup against Milwaukee, a team who swept them in the regular season. But with 4 of 5 starters under contract in 2019, it's possible they're one year away from really making a run in the West. They won't have cap space to improve this team so look for a creative offseason from Detroit.