I know some may not realize how much of an asset cap space and financial flexibility are for an NBA team but not only does this allow you to poach young talent and potentially absorb assets it allows you to not have to make short term financial decisions or surrender assets to trim payroll.
Of course this is less important in big markets such as LA, New York and to a lesser extent Miami for most of the rest of the NBA paying the luxury tax for a non contender or even worse for a fringe playoff team is a non starter.
Teams with cap room are in a tremendous position because they have not given out any ludicrous long term contracts in an attempt to be competitive more quickly.
In my opinion this is also a type of asset.
Here are the non contenders who are currently in salary cap hell.
They are only 5 million away from the luxury tax with a injury prone Reggie Jackson and Injury Prone and overpaid Blake Griffin, their wing talent is below average at best and best case scenario they are a low playoff seed.
They are 3.5 Million away from the luxury tax and with one star and several overpaid role players they are likely a bottom 3 playoff seed at best.
An aging star and an injury prone aging borderline all star on a ludicrous contract dot there roster. Then this likely 7 seed at best is also paying Chandler Parsons nearly 25 million.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook is a superstar no one is arguing against paying him. Unfortunately they also owe Melo's ghost almost 30 million and have no cap space and at best 3 NBA starters if Paul George leaves as expected.
The question is with a healthy John Wall can they at least get to the conference finals? If not they need to improve their front court which is downright terrible. The PF and C positions may not be as important in the modern NBA but you still need capable starters at both positions. They are currently flirting with the luxury tax and will have a hard time upgrading the C position without shedding salary.
Wiggins is overpaid and it is debatable if he will ever be more than an average starter. Towns is a rising star but they have too much money already invested in their front court and are flirting with the luxury tax. If Butler leaves things could get dark fast.
They will have to go deep into the luxury tax just to keep their current team together. A team that couldn't even get out of the 1st round. It's debatable how they upgrade their front court in their current situation. Evan Turner's contract is downright terrible.
The above teams face a situation where they will have to either part with assets in the form of young talent or 1st round picks to shed salary or potentially decide to rebuild.
The only thing worse than being a bad team is being an expensive team trapped in the middle especially if you are in a small market.