3 winners and losers from NBA’s $7 million projected cap rise, which is lower than once expected

The NBA salary cap will go over $ 100 million for the first time in league history, but only barely.

The NBA salary cap will rise from $ 94.1 million this season to $ 101 million next year, while the luxury tax threshold moves from $ 113 million to $ 121 million, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The figures are lower than many originally expected the cap to rise. (Recent projections have been much more in line with what Wojnarowski reports, though.)

Last summer, a new nine-year, $ 24 billion television deal that had been agreed to in 2014 kicked in, boosting the salary cap dramatically. The added cap space made it possible for the Golden State Warriors to sign Kevin Durant because teams resisted the NBA’s proposed smoothing methods, which would have had the salary cap increase at more gradual rates while the excess money was split among players.

The cap was thought to jump again, perhaps to the range of $ 107 million or even $ 110 million this-coming summer. Instead, teams will have to deal with a $ 7 million jump, which gives us a few clear winners and losers.

WINNER: Teams set to sign max level superstars

The NBA also agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement last December. One of the biggest changes was the “designated veteran” rule, which applies to superstar players on a non-rookie deal playing for the team who drafted them who have won MVP or appeared on a couple All-NBA teams.

The TV money is already set and owners will receive just about half of it. That won’t change. But if someone like Paul George does qualify for this, and the Pacers do award him the massive contract, and because the contract is based off a percentage of the salary cap, it means they won’t have to shell out quite as much money.

LOSER: Teams counting on that extra space this summer

For teams hoping there would be $ 15 million more in cap space this summer to complete a major free agent signing — whether it’s their own free agent or someone on the open market — this lower salary cap will affect them. There’s still a lot of flexibility, but this certainly doesn’t open up the market like last summer did.


A lower salary cap likely means revenue was lower than expected. The league still has a cap that has risen by $ 7 million and gone over $ 100 million, so please — they’re doing just fine. But the rising cap did fall short of the lofty expectations they thought it would reach, for what it’s worth.

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