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Fallout From Union’s Refusal Of ‘Cap Smoothing’

The players union’s ultimate rejection Wednesday of any gradual increase to the salary cap as opposed to a drastic leap for 2016/17, when the league’s $24 billion TV deal kicks in, figures to have widespread consequences. Just about every team stands to have the ability to open the cap space necessary to sign a maximum-salary free agent, as I explored, and the ripple effects of the change in the NBA’s salary structure will be felt long after 2016 free agent frenzy is over. Here’s more on the aftermath of the union’s decision:

  • Teams are projecting the 2016/17 salary cap to come in between $88MM and $92MM, sources tell Brian Windhorst of, which largely jibes with the roughly $90MM figure many around the league had reportedly assumed as of early last month.
  • The union’s refusal to compromise on so-called “cap smoothing” increases the odds that there will be a lockout in 2017, when the players and owners have a mutual option on the collective bargaining agreement, Windhorst believes, as he writes in the same piece. Players association vice president LeBron James spoke Wednesday of a “huge meeting” that the union will hold this summer, Windhorst notes.
  • Salary cap guru Larry Coon thinks the union didn’t want tiered increases to the cap because a spike in 2016 would come in advance of any 2017 lockout. Marquee players, like James, will benefit from the jump but pedestrian players near the end of their careers stand to miss out, Coon believes. That’s because the league would have distributed among all players what probably would have been a large difference between total team expenditures on player salary in 2016/17 and the 51% of the league’s basketball revenue that teams are required to spend on salaries, as Coon explains. Players near the end of their careers won’t see that sort of shortfall check now that cap smoothing is off the table, and if they don’t sign a new contract after next season, they won’t have a piece of the pie, according to Coon (All five Twitter links here).
  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked three players before Wednesday’s Nets-Heat game about the union’s decision to reject cap smoothing, and none of the three knew what he was talking about. That suggests that the union wasn’t unanimously behind the choice, Bondy tweets.
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One thought on “Fallout From Union’s Refusal Of ‘Cap Smoothing’

  1. $67479336

    This cap smoothing situation just shows how misguided the players union is. How that hubris driven moron Michele Roberts convinced a hundreds of players to vote against their own beat interests is beyond me. One group of free agents and even more specifically the top 3rd talents in that class are going to see disproportionate benefits from the raising of the cap at the expense of the prosperity of the rest of the league. These misguided fools might as well just tear up the max contract limits while we are at it, and we can just play the top 20 players 50m a year and the rest of the rosters 10/hr.

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