NBPA Rejects Salary Cap Smoothing Proposal

12:49pm: The sides met Tuesday in an attempt to hash out a compromise before ultimately ending the conversation without a deal, sources tell Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).

MARCH 11TH, 12:35pm: The league and the union have reached no agreement on any counter proposal, and the union has informed the NBA that it will not accept any sort of tiered increases to the salary cap, the NBA announced via press release (link to statement via USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter). So, it appears as though a giant leap in the cap for the 2016/17 season is inevitable.

FEBRUARY 13TH: The NBPA voted today to reject the league’s salary cap smoothing proposal, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The owners want to gradually increase the salary cap starting in 2016 when the NBA’s new television contract kicks in. NBPA head Michele Roberts said that the shelf-life for players is limited, and the NBPA didn’t want to impact that in any way moving forward, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post adds (Twitter links). Roberts did add that there could be a counter proposal by the NBPA, but the union hasn’t had a chance to decide whether it will produce one, Bontemps notes.

The TV deal, worth approximately $24 billion, is expected to dramatically alter the financial landscape of player contracts after it takes effect for the 2016/17 season. Many executives around the league have already assumed that the cap would jump to $90MM for that season, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently wrote, but it’s unclear if that assumption was based on an all-at-once rise to the cap or the tiered increases the league proposed. The NBA thought the union would be fully supportive of its proposal, but the players instead resisted, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

The cap is at $63.065MM this season after having hung between $58MM and $59MM for three straight years, so an influx of revenues had already begun to have an effect even before the NBA and its TV partners struck the deal this past fall. Next year’s cap is reportedly projected to come in at about $66.5MM.

Maximum salaries are tied to the cap, so they’re in line to escalate dramatically as well, but the league and the union predetermined the minimum salaries and the value of exceptions like the mid-level and the biannual when they came to the most recent collective bargaining agreement in 2011, as Pincus points out (Twitter links). Both sides have an opt-out in that agreement in 2017, and it’s likely that either the NBA, its players, or both parties will exercise their right to terminate the deal. That would give them a chance to adjust the minimums and exceptions a season after the cap is set to spike.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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