This is not really a surprise — while per-game attendance was good and television ratings were up this season (although ratings don’t immediately translate to revenue) it was expected not to really impact the cap in a shortened season.
Under the CBA ratified by owners and players in December, the salary cap and luxury tax threshold cannot go lower in 2012-13 than their levels in the first year of the deal — $58 million and $70.3 million, respectively. Despite a robust post-lockout recovery that included salvaging all $900 million or so of the league’s national broadcast revenues, sources familiar with the NBA’s finances believe overall revenues did not increase enough in 2011-12 to push the cap and tax significantly beyond current levels until 2013-14, the first season under a more punitive luxury tax designed to rein in big-spending teams.
Current spending levels are expected to be status quo when the free-agent floodgates open July 1. But the restrictions within that model are much harsher, and it isn’t clear yet who the winners and losers will be.
Berger’s story talks a lot about the bigger issue — in 2014 the new CBA will really start to punish teams that live above the salary cap with a more severe tax. Of the final four teams in this year’s NBA playoffs three teams — Miami, Boston and San Antonio — were in the top 5 in the league in salary and Oklahoma City will join them soon as extensions for Russell Westbrook and James Harden start to kick in.
The goal of the new CBA is to flatten out the salaries in the NBA, to make it hard to put together a team like Miami or keep a team like Oklahoma City together. A lot of the owners wanted that because they felt like it was spending that was keeping them down.
But do fans really want parity when this finals shows us that stars draw the viewers?