But the playoffs weren’t what the league and union needed to make more money: long. This year’s postseason produced only 79 out of a potential 105 games, with eight of the 15 playoff series going five games or less, and only two series going a full seven games. The resulting drop in revenues from all those series ending early further lowered the 2017-18 cap. Instead of $102 million, the cap for ’17-’18 was reduced to $99 million. That shortfall of $8 million from what was originally anticipated has squeezed a lot of this summer’s free agents. “The sweeps killed us,” said an official involved in negotiations between the league and the union.
“The lack of smoothing has made it quite a bit challenging this summer,” prominent agent Bill Duffy said last week. “This, in addition to the decline in revenue distributed into the marketplace this summer has resulted in a significant and unanticipated stagnant free agent market. There are also quite a few teams that have chosen to not aggressively participate in the free agent market.” Indeed, teams like Atlanta and Indiana, while adding players, have done so very prudently, not looking to spend large amounts of money in rebuilding situations. Other teams like Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans, that were close to exceeding the tax threshold and paying luxury tax next year, have been very judicious in their moves to stay below the threshold.
“I don’t think they should have smoothed it,” prominent agent Mark Bartelstein said Friday. “It’s easy in hindsight to say that. But I think anytime you’re doing something artificially, I don’t think that’s a good thing. You can open up a hornets’ nest. The idea was the cap should track the revenues, and that’s what the union did. Would it have made things a little more consistent? I wouldn’t have been a fan of smoothing because you’d be doing something artificial. And when you use that word you can have unintended consequences.”
New revenues from sales of advertising patches on the front of team uniforms will come on line in 2017-18; nine teams — Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Minnesota, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Toronto and Utah — already have sponsorship patch deals. Detroit’s new downtown arena, Little Caesar’s Arena, will also open next season. “The cap didn’t come in where it was projected,” Bartelstein said. “If the cap would have been at 108 this year, we would have been completely fine without the smoothing. The cap came in at 99. That’s a huge difference. Next year it may go the opposite way — the cap may be $4 or $5 million beyond what is expected. And we’ll get a bounce the other way.”
Ann Killion: How valuable is Stephen Curry? In 2010 Lacob bought Warriors for $450 million. Now worth $2.6 billion. LeBron James: So tell me again why there’s a cap on how much a player should get?? Don’t answer that. Steph should be getting 400M this summer 5yrs. #JMTs
Brian Windhorst: Under the new collective bargaining agreement, Curry is in line to get the brand-new “designated veteran” deal that will run to five years and about $201 million. If Curry wanted to go to another team, he’d be leaving around $70 million on the table. The new CBA was specifically designed to keep players like Curry on their teams.