Earlier this week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced a massive new TV rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports that is worth $24 billion over nine years. The deal is set to kick in after the 2015-2016 season when the current TV deal expires.
This is a massive number and far greater than what the current deal is paying the league. The NBA, on average, received about $930 million from its current TV deal. This new deal will pay an average of almost $2.7 billion annually, almost three times what the previous rights deal paid.
The salary cap is directly tied into the amount of Basketball Related Income (BRI) the NBA brings in every year. Beginning in 2012-13, the salary cap was determined by taking 44.74 percent of the projected BRI, subtracting projected benefits and dividing by the 30 teams (H/T Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ).
In other words, this new deal TV deal will allow for a massive increase of the salary cap in the summer of 2016, and the Lakers are set to reap the benefits.
Zach Lowe of Grantland.com provides the easiest breakdown of what we could be in store for:
If the new TV deal kicks in for the 2016-17 season just shy of $2 billion, the cap could exceed that same $14 million leap, all the way to around $80-plus million, in a single year. If for some reason the new TV deal starts north of $2 billion in the first year — meaning it would include smaller year-over-year jumps — the cap for 2016-17 could leap even higher. If it started at that exact $2.68 billion figure, it would break $90 million […]
The league and players are highly unlikely to allow a salary cap jump from the estimated $66 million of next summer to $90 million in a single season. All sides will try to smooth out the transition, but the cap will still make some sort of jump to around the $80 million mark, and I think Lowe best explains what that does for the Lakers:
The Lakers, with Kobe Bryant’s disastrous extension wiped away that summer, could sniff three max cap slots. The Lakers’ cap flexibility yielded nothing of note last summer, but a Lakers team with the ability to offer a package deal to multiple stars is the ultimate NBA bogeyman.
The Lakers could have the ability to completely remake the team in two years and of course, the biggest prize of that summer will be reigning MVP Kevin Durant.
Make no mistake, the chances of landing Durant are slim at best. And we have already been down this road as the Lakers failed to bring in Carmelo Anthony this summer. But the situation of this past summer, and what could happen in 2016 are completely different.
A one-year jump in the cap means that teams who are close to the cap could suddenly find themselves with some extra cap room. Meaning the Lakers can make major moves this summer to set a foundation, and still have max cap room in 2016 for the big prize.
Unrestricted free agents in 2015 include Rajon Rondo, Paul Millsap, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic, Greg Monroe, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay. Other big names such as Al Jefferson and Luol Deng have player options while Kemba Walker, Ricky Rubio, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson and Kawhi Leonard will all be restricted if they fail to sign extensions before October 31.
The Lakers are set to have around $30 million in cap room this off-season meaning the team could grab one or two of these top players and still have ample room to spend in 2016 because of that $25 million cap hit that will come off the books with Kobe’s contract up.
Like I said earlier, Kevin Durant will be the big prize since LeBron James won’t actually leave Cleveland. But 2016 is not a one-player free agency class.
Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Mike Conley, Danilo Gallinari, Brandon Jennings, David Lee, Nicolas Batum, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson will all be unrestricted free agents. Deron Williams, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard have opt-outs, while Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Dion Waiters, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard will all be restricted.
Clearly nothing is set in stone and cap room is no guarantee that a team will get the players it is going after. However, the Lakers always seem to get an interview with the players everyone is trying to get. That tells me the Lakers still hold weight in NBA circles.
This past off-season, the Lakers had no foundation to present to prospective free agents. Now we’re talking about the Lakers having a chance to bring in a player or two who will appeal to another star, or bringing in two or three players together similar to what the Miami Heat did back in 2010.
It’s always dangerous to bank on cap room, but a ridiculous amount of cap room combined with the allure of the Lakers? It’s definitely a reason to get more excited than we needed to be before this new TV deal.
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