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NBA players reject salary cap smoothing, raising projected 2016 cap to more than $90M

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Expect to see record-setting free agent contracts signed in 2016.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

NBA players have rejected a proposal that would "smooth" the projected windfall from the new television deal that the league signed last October, setting up a substantial increase of the salary cap in 2016, according to reports. Per Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, the salary cap is expected jump above $90 million -- a nearly $27 million jump from the 2014-15 salary cap.

Smoothing would have eased a burden on NBA front offices, who will go into 2016 free agency suddenly well below the salary cap, setting up a feeding frenzy. Though smoothing technically wouldn't take any money out of the pockets of players, it was shot down in part, perhaps, because several players had structured their contracts so that they would become free agents in 2016, and they wanted to maximize their potential contracts.

Among the names expected to take advantage of skyrocketing pay rolls in 2016: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, and a whole mess of others. Other player unions, like the NFL, have actually argued for salary cap smoothing in the past because it is more fair to player who signed long-term deals before the cap increase. In the case of NBA players, however, more than half of NBPA membership expected is expected to hit free agency in 2016, as SB Nation's Tom Ziller pointed out last October.

The mechanism of smoothing is a little complex. Essentially, as Danny Schayes at Sheridan Hoops explains, the rise of the salary cap would be artificially slowed over the first several seasons of the new television deal. NBA players wouldn't lose any money, however. Players are guaranteed between 49 and 51 percent of total revenues, the other half of which goes to ownership. If the players' share falls below 49 percent (as it certainly would under smoothing), then the shortfall would then be given back to them by owners to be divided.

No matter what, players will be making a lot more money over the coming seasons.