Adam Silver: Salary-cap spike to bring 'unintended consequences'

ByBaxter Holmes ESPN logo
Sunday, February 14, 2016

TORONTO -- As the NBA prepares for the largest salary-cap jump in league history this summer when its nine-year, $24 billion television deal kicks in, commissioner Adam Silver said "there will be unintended consequences," which could include the possibility of star players joining forces on teams already loaded with multiple max-contract players.

Such an outcome would run directly counter to one of the NBA's key objectives in its most recent collective bargaining agreement -- ratified in late 2011 -- to create more balance throughout the league by forcing teams to pay a harsher tax and other penalties for spending above their salary cap.

Yet this summer's upcoming increase -- the salary cap will leap to about $90 million in 2016-17, up from roughly $67 million this season -- will allow some teams, such as the defending champion and star-laden Golden State Warriors,the financial flexibility to chase after max-contract-level players.

"That is not something that we modeled for," Silver said Saturday night during his annual All-Star news conference in advance of Sunday's game at the Air Canada Centre. "The intention wasn't that in this system that teams could sign without going above the tax that many max player contracts and that many All-Stars.

"So if you ask me from a league standpoint, we would prefer that our All-Stars be distributed around the league rather than having so many All-Stars in one market. But we'll see what happens this summer. I mean, as I've said, there will be unintended consequences from all this additional cap room this summer. I just don't know what those consequences will be."

Silver admitted that the current CBA is "absolutely not" a perfect system.

"But we feel it's a fair compromise, and we feel it's working pretty well," he said.

Silver said that under the current CBA, "what that system is about is player distribution. So if you look now at the league, we see the way our stars are distributed throughout the league. You see seemingly no correlation between market size and where the stars are located.

"Ultimately our goal from the league standpoint is to have truly a 30-team league where teams are competing based on management, based on either market size or an owner's willingness to lose substantial amounts of money."