So how much cap room do the Pistons actually have? A hopefully helpful FAQ

The salaries page is updated, but I’m sure that alone won’t answer every question. Here’s my best stab at answering the common questions I’ve received.

How much cap room do the Pistons have at this very moment?

Probably none.

What?!

A team’s free agents continue to count against the cap until they’re renounced or signed (with their previous team or elsewhere). This prevents a team from using its cap room to sign other free agents and then going over the cap using bird exceptions to re-sign its own free agents.

For the Pistons to gain cap room, they can simply renounce their free agents (Corey Maggette, Jose Calderon, Jason Maxiell and Will Bynum). It’s possible they’ve already done that – it’s not usually reported – but there’s no need to do it until they’re ready to sign a free agent, so I’d guess they haven’t made the renouncements official yet. They can’t be undone in these circumstances, so there’ no need to jump the gun.

So the Pistons’ lack of cap room is just a technicality?

Yes.

If the Pistons renounce all their own free agents, they’ll have $20,753,362 in cap room.

I don’t want to think about it in technicalities. Make this simple. 

The Pistons have $20,753,362 to sign all free agents – their own and other teams’ – or absorb contracts in trades. Once they do that, they’ll have another $2,652,000 (the room mid-level exception) to spend on even more free agents.

They will not have any other larger mid-level exceptions or the bi-annual exception.

For simplicity’s sake, the rest of this FAQ will assume the Pistons have renounced all their free agents.

But what about Calderon? I want to keep him, not renounce him.

Renouncing Calderon would not prohibit the Pistons from re-signing him. The only disadvantages to renouncing him is the Pistons would be permitted to offer just a four-year contract (as opposed to five) and 4.5 percent raises (as opposed to 7.5).

The Pistons could agree to terms with Calderon before July 11, the first day free agents can technically sign. At that point, if the agreed-upon contract is for five years and/or includes the higher available raises, the Pistons would just sign Calderon before anyone else.

But if another free agent is ready to sign a contract with a first-year salary of at least $5,699,261 and Calderon is still undecided, the Pistons would almost surely renounce him and go from there.

Is there a way to gain even more cap room?

The Pistons could amnesty Charlie Villanueva between July 10 and July 16. That would clear an extra $8,089,820 in cap room.

Any other ways to gain cap room?

Kim English’s contract is fully unguaranteed if waived on or before July 12. If the Pistons waive him, they’d gain $298,692 in additional cap room.

What about a minimum amount the Pistons must spend?

They must spend 90 percent of the salary cap amount, or in other words, bring their 2013-14 salary commitments to $52,650,000.

The team minimum applies only to 2013-14, so if the Pistons find themselves in danger of falling short, they can sign players to one-year contracts and maintain flexibility next summer.

So amnestying Villanueva could actually be harmful?

No. If the Pistons amnesty Villanueva, the $8,580,000 they’d be paying would still count toward meeting the team-salary floor. It just wouldn’t count against the cap.

Have the Pistons signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and how does he count?

I doubt it, because it would likely be disadvantageous. First-round picks typically receive 120 percent of the rookie-scale amount, but until they’re signed, they count at just 100 percent. So, if the Pistons wait to sign Caldwell-Pope until they use their cap room – standard operating procedure – they’ll save a little extra room.

What about Tony Mitchel and Peyton Siva?

Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until they’re signed, so the Pistons will surely wait to sign those two at least until they’ve used their cap room.

How would trading Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey for Rudy Gay affect the Pistons’ cap room?

The Pistons would lose just $1,299,112 in cap room, leaving $19,454,250 remaining.

That doesn’t sound so bad. What’s the downside to the trade?

Gay is under contract for $19,317,326 next season, when Villanueva and Stuckey count for a combined $0.

To put that in context, if the Pistons don’t make this trade, they could give Josh Smith (or any other free agent) a four-year, $52 million contract this summer, agree to sign Greg Monroe to a max contract next summer and still have more than $18 million in cap space to sign other free agents next summer. That scenario includes the cap remaining the same (it will probably go up), keeping Khris Middleton (who has an unguaranteed contract for 2014-15) and not signing any other player this summer to a deal longer than one year.

With those same terms, if the Pistons trade for Gay, signing any free agent this summer to a contract that would pay just $7,102,211 in 2014-15 rather than signing Smith would mean the Pistons have no usable cap space next summer.

If you have any other cap-related questions, leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to answer.

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Tags: Andre Iguodala Charlie Villanueva Corey Maggette Jason Maxiell Joe Dumars Jose Calderon Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Peyton Siva Rodney Stuckey Rudy Gay Tom Gores Tony Mitchell Will Bynum

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