NBA players more likely to force lockout than accept strict salary cap, per report

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The NBA made waves last week when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league wanted to create a spending cap on team salaries in order to limit the payrolls of some of its biggest competitors in the market. The Golden State Warriors set the NBA record for the highest payroll last season, and the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets have a chance to do so this season, and many league owners view such expenditures as both financially and competitively untenable. .

Of course, the league can’t do anything about it without the consent of its players, who would surely push back against such a move. “There will be a lockout,” a player-side source told Marc Stein, “before there’s a hard cap.”

The NBA’s current salary structure is based on a low salary cap. Teams must stay under the cap if they intend to sign outside free agents without using waivers or making highly unbalanced trades from a salary perspective. However, the cap is considered “soft” because there are several mechanisms a team can use to get around it, including cap exceptions, bird rights to a team’s free agents and trades that fall within the 125 percent allowed parameters of championship. The league does have a hard cap mechanism, but it can only be activated in three very specific situations: when a team uses the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, the semi-annual exception, or acquires a player via sign-and-trade . This hard cap lasts a season.

The kind of hard cap the league is proposing would be much stricter, essentially creating a single limit on team spending that the entire league would have to follow each year. This is a third issue for players because it would limit their earning potential. Take Golden State for example. If Draymond Green opts into the final year of his deal or re-signs, the Warriors will have five players making more than $24 million next season. Under this proposal, they would probably have to move at least one of them. Additionally, teams like the Warriors, Clippers and Nets are pushing other teams to spend more to compete.

Creating a true hard cap would cost players money, plain and simple. They are not going to agree to a revised system that takes money out of their wallets. If owners insist on this kind of structural change, they will either have to offer the players something extremely valuable in return or accept the possibility that it will lead to a lockout.

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