NBA projecting a $500 million shortfall payout to players after the 2016-17 season

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Adam Silver met the media in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and the dollars of league business were discussed more than anything else.

Despite a record broadcasting rights deal that will bring in excess of $2 billion, there are still individual teams that are losing money on an annual basis. And with the players guaranteed about 50 percent of the revenue, and with a salary cap in place that puts artificial limits on player salaries, that means owners will need to cut a check to the players to make up the difference.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

Silver revealed Tuesday after meeting with league owners that the NBA is projecting that it will have to write a nearly $500 million shortfall check to the players after the 2016-17 season. There was a shortfall in the players’ guaranteed 50 percent of revenue for this past season, and there could be another one after ’15-’16, as well.

“That’s not, of course, the ideal outcome from our standpoint,” Silver said. “It’s not something we predicted when we went into this collective bargaining agreement.” …

The upshot is that, in the last three years before either side can opt out of the CBA, players’ negotiated contracts will come in lower than their guaranteed share of 50-51 percent – significantly lower in ’16-’17. And, as one league source told me hypothetically, there are going to be a lot of owners who will look at those numbers and say, “If they’re only worth 46 percent, why the hell are we paying them 50?”

That last part may be the reason that ownership opts out of the current collective bargaining agreement to lock out the players in 2017.

A lot of this is rhetoric, of course — the same type that has been used by NBPA director Michele Roberts on more than one occasion. But if a large segment of owners truly believe that continuing to give the players 50 percent of revenues seems like a rip-off, then a work stoppage of some length would seem to be unavoidable a couple of years from now.