NBA announces 2009 salary cap, warns about 2010

The new salary cap figure is out, and it dipped slightly from last season.

The new figures for 2009-10 just announced by the league have set the salary cap at $57.7 million per team — down $1 million from $58.7 from 2008-09 — and the luxury-tax threshold at $69.9 million.

More importantly, the league is projecting a much bigger drop (as much as $8 million) heading into the 2010 season.

The official league memorandum, obtained by, forecasts a dip in basketball-related income in the 2009-10 season of 2.5 percent to 5 percent, which threatens to take the 2010-11 cap down some $5 million to $8 million from last season’s $58.7 million salary cap.

A significant drop for the luxury-tax threshold is also projected going into the summer of 2010. If basketball-related income drops by 2.5 percent in 2009-10, league officials are projecting a 2010-11 salary cap of $53.6 million and a luxury-tax line of $65 million. If BRI, as it is referred to in the NBA, decreases by five percent, teams would be looking at a $50.4 million salary cap and a luxury-tax line of $61.2 million in 2010-11.

What does this mean? Well, a team like the New York Knicks, who are projected to have a payroll of about $23 million heading into 2010 would have had about $35 million to spend had the cap stayed at $58 million. That’s plenty of money to sign to superstars. If the cap drops $5-$8 million, it means that they’re projected cap space will be in the $27-$30 million range. That makes signing two “max” players quite tough.

This is probably good news for teams looking to retain their superstars, since they can go over the cap to re-sign players. If the cap does indeed drop to $50 million, it would increase the chances of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson staying put.

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