The NBA has announced its salary cap for the 2009-10 season, setting the figure at $57.7 million, or just less than $1 million of last season’s $58.68 million figure. The luxury tax level also took a slight dip to $69.92 million. Last season’s tax threshold was $71.15 million. The mid-level exception has been set at $5.854 million, an increase of roughly $330,000 over last season.
Teams are permitted to exceed the salary cap, but once a team’s payroll exceeds the luxury tax that team must pay $1 for every $1 it exceeds the $69.92 million line.
League-wide revenue increased 2.5 percent for the 2008-09 season, according to NBA’s official press release, but the decreases in the cap and tax level are the result of projections of league-wide basketball related income for next season.
The final numbers are much different than the free-falling figures many feared the cap was headed for in an unstable economy. They are closer to the slight change NBA Commissioner David Stern suggested we’ll see when he addressed the media at the NBA Finals.
For Oklahoma City it means that teams might not unload high-dollar contracts as quickly as many once thought they would with a lower tax line. The tax dropped only $1.23 million and might not scare off owners who feel their teams are championship contenders. Oklahoma City still could prey on mediocre teams pushing the tax line, but, by and large, a small dent in the new tax line could prevent the Thunder from landing a quality player simply because a team is looking to dump a bad contract.
The Thunder is a little less than $16 million below the cap, which allows it to make trades in which it isn’t obligated to send back an almost equal amount of salary.
Oklahoma City is one of only nine other teams — Memphis, Detroit, Atlanta, Toronto, Portland, Minnesota, Sacramento, Charlotte and New Jersey — that are under the salary cap. Eight teams — New Orleans, Washington, Boston, Utah, San Antonio, Dallas, New York and the Los Angeles Lakers — are over the luxury tax.