Lakers fans, rejoice.
The Lakers are known spenders, habitually dipping into luxury-tax territory if it means a championship-contending team, though they’ve been somewhat lower on the payroll pole in recent seasons.
League projections for 2016-17 had been released to teams privately, but Silver’s on-the-record reiteration seemed to add weight to them. The salary-cap increase is directly tied to the start of the nine-year, $24-billion TV deal the NBA signed with Turner Sports and ESPN/ABC.
Silver mentioned the numbers while answering a question about draft lottery reform at a news conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
“I think we should park at least for a year because when all this cap money comes in — like we’re going to go from a cap of I think approximately $67 million next year in the ’15-16 season to a cap of roughly $90 million in the ’16-17 season — what I’ve learned from this league, having been around a long time, is that our smart teams figure out angles, approaches, that we just can’t possibly model,” Silver said.
“It’s a massive amount of capital that’s going to come in from one year to the next, something that’s never happened before in the history of this league.”
The Lakers project to have about $23 million in spending power next season if they decline Jordan Hill’s $9-million team option before free agency begins next month. Kobe Bryant comes off the books after making $25 million next season, giving the Lakers vast purchasing power for 2016-17, the actual number depending on what they do this off-season.
The Lakers had a $70-million payroll this season, about $7 million below the tax threshold.
Silver spoke on other topics Thursday, including likely non-movement with the Hack-A-Shaq concept.
Most NBA general managers said they did not favor a change in the intentional-foul rule away from the ball, said Silver, who met with general managers last month in Chicago.
“What the data shows is that you’re largely talking about two teams throughout the playoffs. In fact, 90% of the occurrences of Hack-a-Shaq involve the [Houston] Rockets and the Clippers, and then for the most part… 75% involved two players, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard,” Silver said. “So then the question becomes, should we be making that rule change largely for two teams and two players? But ultimately, rule changes come from ownership, not just from the general managers.”
Silver, however, acknowledged that the intentional fouling slowed down the game.
Jordan set an NBA playoff record by attempting 28 first-half free throws against Houston in a game last month. An overwhelming majority of them were committed intentionally when he was away from the ball, sending him to the line.
Jordan was an unsightly 42.7% from the line in the playoffs, and Howard was an even worse 41.2%.
“I worry when people talk about sort of the aesthetic aspect of the game in terms of we are an entertainment product and people saying it’s boring or it’s not something they want to watch,” Silver said. “Although, at least up until now, when we look at the minute-by-minute data, ratings aren’t necessarily going down, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because people are so curious to see what’s going to happen or the pressure on those players. So the data isn’t necessarily showing that people are turning off their televisions.”