Report: NBA salary cap will be lowered

NBA
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Current NBA salary cap: $109,140,000.

Projected NBA salary cap for next season: $115,000,000.

Of course, that projection came before the NBA suspended its season due the coronavirus. The stoppage is costing the league significant money. With it appearing increasingly likely fans won’t be able to attend games next season, that’s even more lost revenue ahead.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

There is so much uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, but one thing is for sure: the salary cap will be lowered, according to league sources.

A big question: Will the salary be lower than this season or lower than the last projection for next season? There’s obviously a big difference.

The salary cap has decreased just twice ever. It went from $42,500,000 in 2001-02 to $40,271,000 in 2002-03. After being $58.68 million in 2008-09, it fell to $57.7 million in 2009-10.

Owners and players split Basketball Related Income (BRI) approximately 50-50. So far, owners have generally bore the brunt of coronavirus-caused financial pain. Players will soon take their lumps, having 25 percent of their salaries withheld. But it’s unclear just how much less revenue will be made this season than initially expected. If players don’t give back enough salary to reach that approximate 50-50 split of BRI, that could trigger a lowering of next season’s salary cap.

The salary cap is generally determined by projected revenue. But if players got paid too much (based on the approximate 50-50 split), the cap can be reduced the following season.

Next season could be hit with a double whammy – lower-than-expected revenue plus players getting paid more than their fair share this season.

That’s part of why players are giving back money now. A goal was keeping the salary cap relatively steady. This is a second chance at cap smoothing.

But perhaps the revenue losses from coronavirus will be so drastic, the salary cap will decrease regardless (though not as sharply as if no countermeasures were taken).

A lower salary cap would particularly hurt players who signed max contract extensions last offseason – 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and Raptors’ Pascal Siakam. The max is based on a percentage of the salary cap. If the salary cap lands below $95,535,716, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown would also have his extension reduced.

First-round picks also generally have their four-year contracts based on the salary cap the year they sign. So, the 2020 draft class could suffer.

Free agents next offseason would also generally get squeezed. Some could opt for shorter contracts rather than locking into long-term deals with a relatively low starting salary. On the flip side, teams could get value with the risk-averse free agents who’d sign long-term under these conditions.

If the teams can afford it.

The luxury tax generally rises and falls with the salary cap. A lower luxury-tax line could burden many teams and produce a tremendous advantage for the teams with lower payrolls. Those latter teams could extract sweeteners by trading for expensive players and/or receive relatively high distribution payments from tax teams. Even more than a lower salary cap, a lower tax line could significantly alter the landscape. Which is why the luxury tax could be calculated differently next season – or even suspended.

Everything is up for negotiation in these unprecedented times.

But consider this report a clue in the direction things are headed.

Celtics lock-up Al Horford with two-year, $20 million extension

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
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Brad Stevens has locked up the core of this Celtics team — the one that reached the Finals last season and has the best record in the NBA to start this one — through the summer of 2025.

They did that with a two-year, $20 million extension (that kicks in next season). The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the Celtics.

Horford, 36, is making $26.5 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $109 million deal he signed in Philadelphia. While he never fit well as a stretch four next to Joel Embiid, he has worked well as a role player in Boston’s front line. The Celtics have locked him up at a deal closer to the league average and about his value now, at an average of $10 million a season (both years are fully guaranteed). It’s a fair deal for both sides, and a low enough number that if Father Time starts to win the race it doesn’t hurt Boston much.

With Robert Williams still out following knee surgery, Horford has seen his minutes increase to start this season but he has handled it well, averaging  10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, shooting 55.5% overall and 48.8% from 3-point range. Joe Mazzulla will likely try to get Horford some rest down the line when he can, but for now he’s leaning on the veteran.

And the team has rewarded him.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.