Falling Salary Cap To Play A Large Role In 2010

Sean BafaroContributor IIAugust 6, 2009

With the NBA salary cap decreasing for just the second time in NBA history since the salary cap was introduced in 1983-84 this upcoming season (from $58.68 million to $57.70 million), and with a further drop expected to come in the 2010-2011 season (as much as 5%), it makes you wonder what kind of impact this is going to have on the way that teams and players alike approach the lucrative 2010 offseason.

Before the news of a decreasing cap, basically every single team in the NBA was looking at cutting salary in order to get under the cap and sign one of the countless amounts of all star players that would be available in free agency.

Teams like the New York Knicks have been cutting salary for the better part of a year now in an attempt to entice a superstar player to come to the mecca of basketball, New York City.

Then there are teams on the opposite end of the spectrum like the Oklahoma City Thunder who have significant cap space already, but are hesitant to use any of it and would rather wait another year in hopes of attracting a great player to pair with their dynamic young roster. It is no secret around that the majority of NBA teams have done a lot in order to get under the salary cap for the 2010 season in hopes of landing a marquee player.

However, with the recent news about a falling cap being announced by the NBA, how will this effect the stance that teams and players have going into the star studded free agent class?

Early reports suggest that the NBA salary cap will be somewhere between $50.4 million and $53.6 million and that the luxury tax threshold will sit somewhere between $65 million to $61 million. This is going to have a significant impact on teams and we are already starting to see the repercussions of this news as of this very moment.

Players like former All Star Allen Iverson and promising youngsters like David Lee and Paul Millsap are just some of the numerous players that are being affected with the decreasing salary cap as they are struggling to get the contract that they feel that they are worth.

In most years, young big men like Lee and Millsap would have been two of the hottest commodities during free agency and they would've had plenty of very lucrative offers coming their way. Despite the fact that Iverson's value has dropped significantly after his tumultuous tenure with the Detroit Pistons last season, in the past there would undoubtedly be a team willing to throw a substantial offer at the former league MVP, but with the dwindling economy, teams are almost scared to offer him any sort of deal over the Mid Level Exception.

With this seasons biggest free agent names in Ron Artest, Ben Gordon and Hedo Turkoglu already off of the market, we are undoubtedly going to see plenty of players having to settle for limited money as teams are going to be doing everything that they can to save costs heading into the highly touted 2010 offseason.

With the salary cap falling this season and if things go like they are expected to in the future, next season as well, it makes for an interesting dilemma not only for teams that were looking to be big spenders in the 2010 free agent frenzy, but for the players that are able to opt out of their contracts to forgo signing a larger, more lucrative extension in 2010.

The big three free agents from the 2003 draft in LeBron James, DwyaneWade and Chris Bosh all set their selves up to receivea lucrative, long term contract in the summer of 2010 by deciding to sign a shorter deal when their rookie contracts were up but the contracts that they can receive are not what they originally expected them to be as a falling salary cap means a falling maximum contract as well. By opting out of their current contracts, all three of these players will actually be earning less money in the first year of their new contracts than they would if they decided to play out their current contract.

Another possibility is that these three players, along with the other marquee free agent in Phoenix Suns' power forward Amare Stoudemire, could decide to sign an extension this offseason instead of waiting until next year and an even smaller salary cap.

If these four star players don't choose to sign an extension this offseason and do decide to opt out of their contracts next season, they are going to realize that teams that were talking about signing two superstar players will, in all likely hood, not be able to do this and may realize that it would be in their best interest to sign with their current teams for the extra year and higher raises each season.

It is not just the superstars that are going to be hit by the falling salary cap as there are going to be plenty of free agents next season that are going to realize that they are not going to get the deals that they had originally planned on.

Players like Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Steve Nash and Ray Allen, all of which are All Star caliber players, are going to get a smaller pay day than they first anticipated if they hit the open market in 2010 and, as a result, may look to sign long term extensions with whichever team they are playing with in the 2009-2010 NBA season to ensure that they can get the best deal that they can get.

One team that may face the harshest reality next season is the New York Knicks. Before reports of a falling salary cap circulated, the Knicks looked poised to be able to sign two superstar players in 2010.

Everybody knows that New York would love to have LeBron James call Madison Square Garden home and they had a very powerful bargaining chip to work with in that they could not only sign James, but they could also sign a player like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire as well to pair with one of the games premier players. However, with the Knicks looking to have roughly $10 million less to spend in the coveted offseason, the chances of them signing two superstar players in 2010 are next to none. This puts a huge snag in the Knicks plans heading into 2010.

The same can be said for basically every single team that was looking to be major players in the 2010 free agent frenzy. With the cap decreasing, they will ultimately have less money to offer potential free agents and may not be sitting as pretty as they originally had thought.

With the luxury tax decreasing as well, team owner may be in danger of paying a hefty sum of money out of their own pockets. There are quite a few owners that are willing to go over the luxury tax threshold in order to give their team the best chance that they possibly can at winning a coveted NBA Championship, but where will they draw the line? If the cap drops by 5% we will see the luxury tax drop by $10 million and this will set of alarm bells in plenty of owners. With a significant drop in the luxury tax we just may see less and less owners that are willing to bring out the big bucks.

The falling salary cap is definitely a cause for concern for teams around the NBA. Teams that were banking on rejuvenating their franchises by adding a superstar player to the mix may find their selves in a position where they are unable to do this as a result of the falling cap. Superstar players that were looking to cash in on a huge payday in the open market may be having second thoughts on whether or not they really want to forgo signing an extension with their current teams and test the open market.

As a matter of fact, any free agent that was looking to cash in on a lucrative deal may be having those doubts heading into 2010. Owners may be more conservative when it comes to spending money with the substantial decrease in the luxury tax.

As of right now, we don't know how much the cap is going to drop by, but one thing that we do know is that no matter how much it drops by, the falling salary cap is going to have a significant impact on how teams and players approach the 2010 season and beyond.