In October, the NBA announced a massive new $24 billion TV deal to take effect in 2016. The deal is great news for owners and players alike. Teams get more revenue from more games being featured on national television, and more basketball related income means a higher salary cap for players. Based on early estimates, each team could be looking at an extra $20 million in cap space when free agency begins in 2016.
Of course, as you'd expect, the NBA and the Players' Union have spent plenty of time discussing how each side would split the bigger pie. As you'd expect, the NBA wanted to smooth out the increases to the cap over a few seasons, rather than have a enormous spike in 2016 that would set the NBA into a spending frenzy. And as you'd expect, the union response was a firm no, which they made official to the NBA on Wednesday:
"The National Basketball Players Association has informed the NBA that it will not agree to 'smoothing' in the increases in the Salary Cap that will result from the new national media agreements beginning in the 2016-17 season.
"Smoothing would have avoided a substantial Salary Cap spike in 2016-17. Under the league's smoothing approach, the salary shortfall resulting from more gradual Cap increases would have been paid directly to the Players Association for distribution to all players, and thus the total compensation paid to players in any given season would not have been impacted."
Obviously, this decision is going to have a big impact on everyone in the NBA, but of course, we're here to talk about the Wizards. The summer of 2016 is shaping up to be an important one for the team, so let's review how the latest news impacts how the Wizards move forward with free agency plans:
The impact on the Kevin Durant chase is minimal
If Durant joins the Wizards, he'd be leaving money on the table regardless of what the cap situation looks like, because of the rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Thunder will still be the only team that can offer him a fifth year on a contract. Now that the cap is going up, it means the extra year the Thunder can offer Durant is even more valuable than before.
The Wizards just have to hope the lure of playing in Durant's hometown and the roster they've assembled is enough, or hope the situation in Oklahoma City gets so toxic that he's willing to give up money to leave. Yes, other teams will now have the opportunity to give Durant a max deal, but they can't give him that extra year, or sell him on nostalgia. In other words, you don't need to worry about the Knicks or Lakers making a play now.
Bradley Beal could easily make more money than John Wall
This summer, Bradley Beal is eligible to sign an extension to his rookie deal, much like John Wall did after his third season. But with the cap going up, there's no incentive for Beal to sign now, when he can wait for restricted free agency at the end of the season and tap into that new TV money. The Wizards have reportedly already told other teams they'll do whatever it takes to keep Beal, so there's no reason to worry about losing Beal because of the new CBA.
What could get awkward is that with the new deal, there's a good chance Beal could wind up making more money than John Wall when he starts his new deal, since he'll probably get the max. Because rookie extensions can only increase 7.5 percent year over year, Wall won't be able to tap into that new money until 2019. So in 2017, when Wall is set to make close to $17 million in the third year of his contract, Beal could be getting around $20 million on the first year of his new deal.
Certainly, we'd like to think Wall and Beal will be mature enough to understand this tricky situation, but things happen. And let's not even talk about the heightened expectations Beal would face getting that kind of salary. We're not sure we'll be able to handle the hot takes if Beal misses significant time in the first season of that deal. Yikes.
Marcin Gortat's deal is looking better
Even though Marcin Gortat's production has slipped a bit this season, his contract will look much better in light of the new salary cap. As the cap continues to rise, Gortat's salary will rise at a much slower rate. By the time his contract is done, that salary will look more like the salary for a slightly above mid-level player, which sounds about fair.
Honestly, if it weren't for the Kevin Durant chase, it wouldn't have been such a terrible idea to stock up on players locked in for the next few years. But hey, even if the chance of bringing Durant home is small, the reward is still worth the risk. Yes, it will probably end up with the Wizards overpaying whoever Plan B is, but at least they swung for the fences.