2009 vs. 2010 Salaries

Yesterday I wondered if teams might be saving more cap space for 2010 than they will be able to spend.

Adam Reisinger of ESPN DB sheds light on the issue. He explains that certainly teams, as a group, have given themselves the potential to reduce salaries over the next few years.

To illustrate this point, he puts numbers on the rock-bottom ... the lowest they could possibly pay, as in the amount teams are already committed to, before you add in all the contracts and extensions to come over this summer and next.

At the moment, the combined contracts committed for 2010 are something like a billion to half-a-billion less than what all teams combined paid last season. Which means teams could hand out a lot more cheddar, while salaries would remain essentially flat or even decline. Of course, given the free agent class next summer, that much and more could well be spent. Reisinger explains:

I just looked at my salary spreadsheets for the next few years, and the difference in salaries committed for 2009-10 vs 2010-11 is more than $500 million.

Obviously this will change as players sign multi-year deals this summer, but there will probably be more one-year deals signed than multi-year deals.

If the $500 million gap persists, it would represent somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of all salaries paid to NBA players this season, which seems high.

Also, it's worth noting that if every team option for 2010 is declined (highly unlikely) and every player option is also declined and every ETO is exercised, the difference is about $1 billion. So there could be plenty of money -- and players -- available.