Will the plumetting salary cap affect this season’s free agents?

Some pretty big league news came across the scroll this morning, as league officials warned that the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold will significantly drop next offseason. This from ESPN:

In a memo announcing next season’s salary cap and luxury-tax threshold, sent out shortly before the league’s annual July moratorium on signings and trades was lifted at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, NBA teams also received tentative projections from the league warning that the cap is estimated to drop to somewhere between $50.4 million and $53.6 million for the 2010-11 season. The official league memorandum, obtained by ESPN.com, 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.

The salary cap will go down slightly this season, marking the first time the salary cap has ever decreased. The projected numbers for 2010-11 are far more significant. There have been rumblings that financial trouble would hit the NBA harder than ever before, but it’s yet to be real before now. This offseason played out like usual… Teams payed second-tier money for third-tier players such as Ben Gordon and Hedo Turkoglu. But this latest news is certainly an eye-opener, and something that could affect spending over the next month.

One prominent general manager told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he expects the “panic for 2010 to start right away” and possibly curtail free-agent spending this offseason even more than expected now that the upper tier of names on the open market — such as Hedo Turkoglu, Ron Artest and Ben Gordon — have been snapped up.

Many teams – including New York, Cleveland, Miami, Detroit and others – have cleared space for the landmark free-agent class of 2010. With Orlando looking to win right now and its key players locked up for another half-decade, this news doesn’t affect the Magic the way it does other teams. If you’re a selfish and short-sighted Magic fan (and I wouldn’t blame you), this could almost be seen as good news (in the very short-term). Maybe a someone like Antonio McDyess, Brandon Bass, Marvin Williams or Shawn Marion receives a big contract a couple years ago – but now teams are much less willing to overpay. NOTE: Neither Woody or I was able to make it to the summer league today because of other work obligations.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily