NBA: Union for players informed league it will not agree to ‘smoothing’ in salary cap increases

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When the NBA agreed to a massive new broadcast rights deal, one of the things that needed to be addressed was how that huge influx of money was going to affect the salary cap.

Adam Silver knew this almost immediately, and had proposed a “smoothing” in of the new revenue from a cap standpoint, in order to avoid a massive spike when the deal goes into effect in advance of the 2016-17 season.

“When this deal kicks in in 2016-17, it will lead to a substantial increase that year in the salary cap,” Silver said at the time. “There is precedent for smoothing that increase in, something the NFL negotiated with its players association when it then entered into large increases to help teams in the planning process, essentially smoothing that money into the system.” …

“I mean (the players) will get their 51 percent no matter what, it’s just a question of how it comes in in terms of the cap,” Silver said. “It will have a profound effect and I’m sure the union has already begun studying it just as we have been studying how it will effect our system team by team.”

The union has evidently reached a conclusion, and one that will benefit only a small percentage of its members.

The official release, from NBA Executive Vice President, Communications Mike Bass:

“The National Basketball Players Association has informed the NBA that it will not agree to ‘smoothing’ in the increases in the Salary Cap that will result from the new national media agreements beginning in the 2016-17 season.

“Smoothing would have avoided a substantial Salary Cap spike in 2016-17.  Under the league’s smoothing approach, the salary shortfall resulting from more gradual Cap increases would have been paid directly to the Players Association for distribution to all players, and thus the total compensation paid to players in any given season would not have been impacted.”

Because the full amount of the money would have been paid to the union even under the smoothing scenario the league proposed, this decision appears to be in the best interest of only a small portion of players — the ones who hit free agency in the summer of 2016, and especially those in line for max deals, which are directly tied to the level of the salary cap.

Kevin Durant, for example, could be looking at a five-year deal approaching a staggering $200 million if he chooses to remain in OKC.

That’s great for the stars in the immediate future, but not so much for everyone else — which is why when NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said that team reps voted unanimously to reject two smoothing proposals during All-Star weekend, it came as a little bit of a surprise.