The NBA is growing, and the players want a cut from the money the league is going to be raking in from its next TV contract. LeBron James is the most famous basketball player but he’s not just a face. His words mean something and represent a lot of other players in this league, who aren’t planning to be left out of the celebration.
The new television deal that the NBA is signing with ESPN and TNT, which will begin in the 2016-2017 season. It’s worth $24 billion over nine years, or $2.66 billion annually, which is almost triple the $930 million the league received on its current deal. The players, according to the last CBA, are making 50% from the league’s revenue. Even if that figure stays intact, we’re going to see a significant rise in the salary cap and hence the salaries of NBA players.
The lockout of 2011 probably made it possible for the league to bring in this new deal. Even though it was a 66-game season, the league’s attractiveness grew from it. The players took less money than before (50% compared to 57% in the previous deal) and it seemed everyone was in a rush to get things done because of time and money being lost with every day the lockout continued. NBA owners claiming they were losing money sounded fishy back then, and it’s going to be even more difficult standing behind those claims now.
James was thinking ahead. He could have signed a maximum deal worth $88 million over four years with the Cavaliers, but saw the changes coming. He signed a two year deal, which means his contract expires when the new TV contract kicks in. That means aiming for another max deal (Although James will be almost 32 by then and possibly on the decline) for a lot more money, and hopefully without any restrictions.
Yes, right now there’s a maximum salary cap. The NBA players, or at least the leading men of the league, not really thinking about the average and less than average players – the majority of working bees in the organization, want to remove that maximum salary cap. Which means that instead of a structured salary ladder, we’ll have wild negotiations. Kevin Durant, who becomes a free agent in 2016. He’s not the only one, but he should be the number one name come that time, and potentially will be able to demand the kind of money the biggest athletes earn from their endorsement deals, like what Durant got from Nike, which is around $30 million per year.
By the time it’ll be negotiation time, we’ll be hearing possibly a more combative tune from the players. We’ll probably be hearing something else from the owners, as Adam Silver enters his first labor agreement situation. Right now, this is simply a warm up, as the number one player in the league declaring that the players have no intention of getting the short end of the deal this time. Lets hope it doesn’t get to a place no one wants to reach.