At this week's NBA Board of Governors meetings in New York, teams were advised that the league's salary cap could rise past the $100 million mark as soon as the 2017-18 season, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that based on current projections, league officials expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1 million figure to $67.1 million next season, $89 million in 2016-17 and $108 million in 2017-18. The jumps represent massive increases triggered largely by the influx of television money that will begin pouring in after the 2015-16 season, when the NBA's new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal kicks in.
To put it into perspective, the largest salary-cap jump in history is $7 million in one season.
Sources say the league, though, has been careful to stress to its teams that these are not mere projections but are also contingent on the NBA and its players avoiding a work stoppage after the 2016-17 season. Both sides have the right to opt out of the current labor agreement by Dec. 15, 2016.
NBA teams were informed Thursday of the latest salary-cap forecasts as well as projected jumps in the luxury tax threshold from its current figure of $76.8 million to $81.6 million next season, $108 million in 2016-17 and $127 million in 2017-18, sources said.
In subsequent years, sources said, league officials are projecting a slight decrease in the cap, down to $100 million in 2018-19 (with a $121 million tax line), $102 million in 2019-20 (with a $124 million tax line) and $107 million in 2020-21 with a $130 million tax line.
Last month, the NBA announced that the players' union had formally rejected a so-called "cap-smoothing" proposal that would have paid players the same 51 percent of basketball-related income they get under the current collective bargaining agreement while artificially lowering the cap over several years to prevent a big spike -- which would dramatically raise salary levels for free agents that season -- and would phase in the increase over several years.
The league suggested that the difference be given to the union in a lump sum and divided evenly among all players so instead of a few free agents benefiting in 2016, all players would get a smaller piece of the TV rights deal increase. But National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts believed long term it would not be a benefit to the players, so the union rejected the proposal.
Information from ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst was used in this report.