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NBPA rejects cap 'smoothing,' salaries to increase significantly in 2016

Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty

Get ready for the great spending spree of 2016.

The National Basketball Players Association has voted down the NBA's proposal to gradually increase the salary cap in response to the league's new $24-billion TV deal. With the new media rights deal creating a profound spike in basketball-related income, the league had hoped to avoid a single-season spike in the cap by slowly introducing more modest cap increases.

Instead, the salary cap will singularly spike in 2016 in response to the significant jump in television revenue. That 2016-17 salary cap figure will top $90 million, reports Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts argued Friday that player salaries would increase more without what the league called smoothing, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. The NBPA retained several economists to study the potential salary smoothing almost immediately after the television deal was announced in October.

"There is, and was, a concern about any proposal that results in limiting a player's ability to realize as much income as they can," Roberts said at a press conference.

Commissioner Adam Silver said such a proposal wouldn't have changed the total outlay to players - as determined as a percentage of basketball-related income - but it would have artificially decreased the cap, with a resultant shortfall payment to the union. Roberts left open the possibility of an NBPA counterproposal to the league's smoothing solution, but there is not currently a plan in place.

The NBA salary cap is currently $63.1 million and the luxury tax sits at $76.8 million. Those figures are expected to rise marginally next season - recent estimates have the cap sitting between $66-67 million - before the league's new TV deal kicks into effect in 2016.

The concern with such a singular leap is that it makes planning difficult for both players and teams. This coming summer, teams could hesitate to outlay long-term salary obligations, while players - specifically those at the higher end of the wage spectrum - would have incentive to sign deals making them free agents again in 2016. LeBron James, for example, structured his deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers such that he'll be a free agent in the summer of 2016, when the maximum salary - determined as a percentage of the cap - will be significantly higher.

Roberts and the players also made a number of other decisions. The NBPA announced James was elected as vice president of the union and that it would reject any proposal to raise the league's minimum age limit.

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