HoopsHype NBPA rumors

October 7, 2014 Updates

Based on one team's estimates, James could earn $28 million as a free agent in 2016—a 36 percent leap from his current salary. Assuming a four-year deal with maximum raises, James would earn an NBA-record $34 million in the final season, the most any player has earned in the max-contract era. Michael Jordan made a record $33 million in 1997-98, the season before the NBA capped individual salaries. Bleacher Report

Although the players' share of revenue has gone down, their actual earnings are about to spike dramatically, thanks to the new infusion of TV dollars. The average salary, currently $5.5 million, could leap to about $7.3 million in 2016, according to team executives. Bleacher Report

And the riches could be spread far and wide, as the salary cap surges from $63 million this season to a projected $84.4 million in 2016-17. Every team in the league could be under the cap in two years (even the spend-happy Nets), creating a cash surplus that—under the NBA's system—must be spent on players. Bleacher Report

The current collective bargaining agreement actually runs through 2021, but either side can opt out in 2017, and the players are almost certain to do so, for obvious reasons: 1. The union made massive financial concessions in 2011, giving up $300 million a year. 2. The new TV deal, as James indicated, removes the NBA's rationale for those concessions. "I think it's a pretty good bet, based on both of those things," that the players will opt out, Michele Roberts, the union's new executive director, told Bleacher Report in a recent interview. She added, "It would be silly for anyone to assume" otherwise. Bleacher Report

Roberts made that prediction before the new TV deal was completed, but both sides have long known that the huge revenue spike was coming and that it would prompt a reassessment of the labor deal. Indeed, Roberts said, "The minute I was told I was selected to be the executive director (in July), I started preparing for the opt-out." Bleacher Report

Owners claiming losses in the next negotiations "will not fly with us," he said. The CBA expires after the 2020-21 season but either players or owners can opt out of the deal after 2016-17. "The owners were telling us they were losing money. There's no way they can sit in front of us and tell us that right now," James said. USA Today Sports

October 6, 2014 Updates

James is not the Cavaliers' representative to the players' union -- the responsibility belongs to James Jones -- though James acknowledged that he holds a great deal of power because of his star status. He is also close to Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, who is the players' union president. James denied that he and Paul were seeking to do away with maximum contracts – which place a limit on what every player can earn -- but he also suggested the players would seek to reap more of the benefits from the new TV deal. Cleveland Plain Dealer

Marc Stein: Early projections have NBA teams getting a rising range of roughly $70 mil annually to $100 mil annually over the course of the new TV deal. In last two years of current contract, NBA teams on course to receive annual payments in $35 million range from league's national TV deal Twitter @ESPNSteinLine

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