Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesWhether it was ponying up the $3 million in cold cash to acquire Ron Artest or the $8 million spending spree that netted the Rockets David Andersen, Chase Budinger, Jermaine Taylor, and Sergio Llull, Les Alexander has shown that he is willing to spend to improve his team.However, with an offseason that could prove to be the most important and expensive in recent franchise history, how much will Alexander be willing to spend?Vikram Dimba wrote an excellent piece on a similar subject, but this article will touch on the more Tennessee Titans jersey
fiscal ramifications of the fated summer of 2010.For some background information, the NBA's salary cap can be defined as a "soft" cap. While teams above the cap cannot sign whomever they want, there are variousexceptions that allow teams to exceed the cap.If a team's payroll exceeds the luxury tax threshold, they automatically trigger a dollar-for-dollar payment for as much as they are over the threshold. Because the tax payments are divided up between the non-tax paying teams, there is a multi-million dollar incentive to be below the threshold.The last few years, the Rockets have been over the threshold most of the year only to shed some salary near the deadline, allowing themselves to avoid the luxury tax and receive the tax payment.Currently, the Rockets have just over $58 million in payroll commitments for next year (according to HoopsHype ), and have two major free agents, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola.With the luxury tax threshold most likely receding to about $65 million, will Les Alexander be willing to pony up the big bucks to try and spark a deep playoff run?That $65 million might not even be enough to just bring back Lowry and Scola. Scola's asking price is surely increasing with the number of 44 point exhibitions he puts on, and Lowry is just starting to get healthy.The wrinkle in this is the crapshoot that is restricted free agency. Often, top restricted free agents are overpaid when teams bid against themselves (i.e. Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala), and other times they struggle to get anything near market value for their Washington Redskins jersey
services (David Lee and Carl Landry) because of the potential for teams to tie up their precious cap space for a week only to be left with no player.Because of the uncertainty that surrounds restricted free agents, the Rockets financial plans are largely fluid. If the Rockets wait Scola and Lowry out and re-sign them on the cheap, they may even be able to make another low-level acquisition and still remain under the luxury tax.However, if their two free agents receive market value, the Rockets will have to go over the tax just to retain the two.Realistically, if the Rockets want to have any chance at a deep run in the playoffs, they will have to exceed the luxury tax. Sure a sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh would be nice, but sign-and-trades are so difficult to pull off that it is not likely a feasible option.The most likely option in the event that Alexander gives the OK to go for it all would be to sign a big man using the MLE who can play alongside Yao but also give minutes backing him up at the 5. Marcus Camby and Jermaine O'Neal would both be good fits, however, given their age it might not be the most prudent spending.So for a final number crunch in my "go for it all" plan:Around $58 million in previous salarycommitments, plus $10 million for Scola and Lowry, plus $4 million for a veteran big man, plus $7 million in Reebok Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald Realtree camo Jersey
luxury tax payments gives a final budget of $79 million versus the less than $70 million he spent this year.Will the lure of a playoff run be enough to entice Les Alexander to open up his wallet and fork over the extra $10 million that it will take to make the Rockets a true contender, or will he be content to collect checks knowing the Rockets' ceiling is a first-round playoff win?If history is any indication, Les Alexander will go for it.