The NBA’s giant new TV deal, worth a reported $24 billion and penned this past fall, gave way to an inevitable trend: more money for players.
A big jump in the salary cap was confirmed this week, by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Windhorst’s sources estimate that the cap, currently at about $63 million, will jump closer to the $88-$92 million range this summer. Such a development will surely be a boon for the upcoming free agent class.
LeBron James anticipated this event when he signed his most recent deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, giving himself an opt-out clause after one year so he may renegotiate.
News of the jump in the cap comes after the players’ union declined a cap “smoothing” proposition, which would continue to pay players 51 percent of basketball-related revenue. The “smoothing” would mean a steady increase in the cap, but would ultimately net the players less than they’re capable of negotiating for.
Windhorst estimates that James, for instance, could be making as much as $30 million per year on a new deal, up from his current rate of $22 million.
The bigger picture here is a little clearer now, and it tells us that a future lockout is looking more likely. With aggressive, principled new leader Michele Roberts at the helm of the NBAPA, the players aren’t backing down from the owners, and the fight for a bigger share of the pot is on.
While the cap jump is a concession of sorts by the owners, they’re still likely to toe a hard line in 2017, when both sides have an opt-out clause from the current collective bargaining agreement. An era of increased transparency — in which we regularly learn unsavory things about ownership groups — has given players greater clout in Adam Silver’s NBA, and they appear quite ready to utilize it.
— John Wilmes