Strong 2008 free-agent class should find tough market

With the trade deadline now come and gone, fans who were disappointed by their team's trades (or lack thereof) have to wait until after the season ends for their team before it can start adding new pieces to the puzzle via trade. Realistically, the date is likely to be closer to July 1, since most offseason trades happen near the draft (June 26) or in the weeks after.

July 1 is also the date that free agency season starts, and a date that NBA general managers have circled on their calendars.

Since our November update on the free agent class of 2008, two things have changed.

One, we have a better feel now for which teams will be under the cap come July.

Two, we have a better feel for the value of some of the free agents who will be on the market.

No matter their value, many free agents will once again have trouble cashing in because of the salary cap and luxury tax situations of most teams.

Based on current projections, only two teams -- the Memphis Grizzlies and the Philadelphia 76ers -- will have enough money under the cap to spend on the top-tier free agents.

The Memphis Grizzlies got under the cap by trading away Pau Gasol for expiring contracts. But Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace has sent signals that the team might not spend its estimated $12 million in cap room this summer. Instead, some expect the Grizzlies to wait until the summer of 2009, when they could have more cap space.

The Philadelphia 76ers could have around $20 million in cap space. But to get there, they would have to waive restricted free agents Andre Iguodala and Louis Williams, which seems very unlikely. Therefore, it appears the Sixers will have around $10 million in cap space.