NBA Salary Cap Set at $58 Million
In the course of doomsday predictions of sliding league revenue, the NBA warned teams a year ago that the '10-11 cap could be far lower than usual, perhaps as low as $50 million. That would have lowered the luxury tax threshold, placing more teams in dire danger of bloated payrolls. As such, teams were unusually chastened in the free agency period one year ago. (Part of that sobriety was also due to the bumper crop of 2010 free agents, many of which are now getting unfathomably large commitments.)
But instead of a wildly shrinking cap, the level next season will actually be higher than it was in the recently completed campaign. The 2009-10 cap was $57.7 million. The players union previously announced it would consider suing the league over its dire predictions on the grounds it cost 2009 free agents money; this news will only push further calls for such action. Players and their agents will argue David Stern effectively colluded with the owners who employ him to tamp down salaries last year. Whether that's accurate or even reasonable remains to be seen.
The salary cap is pegged to league revenue. As such, the higher cap also can't help the trust factor between owners, who claim to be losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and players. That's an ominous fact one year before the league's collective bargaining agreement expires. Many observers have predicted a lock-out. This pothole doesn't help.
Free agent signing maximum-value contracts this summer are almost universally relying not on 30 percent of the cap as a max salary, but 105 percent of their 2009-10 salary. Under the CBA, a player's max salary can never be less than 105 percent of the previous year's pay.
A previous post version of this post included incorrect maximum salary projections for current free agents.