League to teams: Significant salary-cap jumps loom

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.