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Next year's NBA salary cap is expected to be $6 million lower than initially projected

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NBA teams spent so much on salary this offseason that they managed to lower next year's cap projection, according to a recent NBA memo. That could hurt the Warriors' chances of keeping their superteam together ... assuming there is a 2017-18 season at all.

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The league has sent teams salary-cap projections for the 2017-18 season, and they are lower than anticipated. Instead of the cap being set at $108 million, it's expected to come in at $102 million, according to Basketball Insiders' Eric Pincus.

The smaller projection has nothing to do with a drop in revenue, but rather an explosion in player salaries. The players get about 51 percent of Basketball-Related Income no matter what. If total player salaries fall below that figure, the owners must write a check to the players to make up the difference.

The league expected total player salaries to come in far below 51 percent of BRI, and they did. However, the shortfall was nearly half as big as expected, according to Pincus. The league is now projecting a $200 million shortfall rather than the $375 million it was telling teams before free agency began. The additional expenses have cut into future projected revenue, which in turn lowers the cap.

Essentially, owners paid players so much this year that they managed to reduce the cap projection for next season. In its memo, the league referred to a "substantial increase in projected player spending for 2016-17" as a reason for the lower cap projection.

While the difference doesn't seem huge, it could have a major effect on the plans of several teams. The most interesting case is the Warriors' and Kevin Durant. Since Durant is only signing a two-year contract with an opt out after next year, the Warriors cannot exceed the cap to re-sign him to a new five-year deal. as we expected (see scenario 3). Therefore, if Durant wants to be paid a full maximum salary on his next deal, the Warriors must use their cap space to give it to him.

If the cap drops to $102 million or lower, that task becomes much more difficult. Counting the cap holds for Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala, they will not have enough room to offer Durant the more than $33 million he could make. He could be forced to take less money, or Golden State could be forced to let Iguodala leave.

Yes, you got that right. In a way, the Lakers giving Timofey Mozgov $64 million and the Trail Blazers giving Evan Turner $70 million could actually break up the Warriors' superteam.

But of course, this entire discussion is academic. Not only are these just projections, but they could become null and void in the increasingly likely scenario that a lockout happens and the entire CBA structure changes. Both the Players' Union and the league can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement after this season, so there could be changes coming on that front that could alter the current landscape if there's a lockout.

The luxury tax for 2017-18 is expected to be set at $122 million, while the cap for the 2018-19 season is now expected to be set at $108 million. Again, though, those numbers will become irrelevant if a lockout occurs and there are changes in the CBA structure as a result.

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