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NBA closing in on new $2 billion TV deal with ESPN, Turner

Sources told Sports Business Journal that the NBA is deep into negotiations with its television partners on a deal that will double the league's current payouts. How will it change the league's salary cap?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: The new deal is expected to be announced Monday at 10 a.m., according to Sports Business Journal. The parameters remain the same.


The NBA is in deep negotiations with ESPN and Turner to sign a new television contract that would pay the league approximately $2 billion per year, according to sources of the Sports Business Journal. Such a deal would more than double the current contracts between the league and its media partners. ESPN currently pays the NBA $485 million annually, while Turner dolls out $445 million per year.

The new deal, which sources told the Sports Business Journal could be for eight or nine years, is expected to be agreed upon by the start of the regular season.

A new television partner is not expected to be added to ESPN and Turner, which owns TNT.

Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk has done the math based on the basketball related income and estimates that the increased income from the TV deals would push the NBA salary cap up by nearly $16 million from the $63 million figure for the 2014-15 season. ESPN previously reported similar potential growth.

The bump in salary cap hasn't been unexpected. Free agents this offseason have been quick to sign shorter deals with the anticipation of this news. LeBron James signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that has a player option after the first season, but he is expected to discuss a new contract before the 2016-17 season once the television deal is in place. His shorter contract was decided upon with the media deal (and a potential lockout) in mind. James' new teammate, Kevin Love, agreed to be traded to the Cavs but without a handshake agreement for a contract extension.

Restricted free agent Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons didn't sign his expected contract and instead took a qualifying offer with the team that will make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. That could pay off if a near-max or max deal he was seeking this summer pays out more than it would if he had signed it this offseason. Likewise, Suns restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe, who is represented by James' agent, Rich Paul, has not yet signed with the team and is also a candidate to take the risk of a qualifying offer that will pay him $3.7 million next season. He would forego a reported offer of four years and $48 million by doing so.

Grantland's Zach Lowe, in discussing Bledsoe's free agency, noted that the NBA could perhaps guard against a large jump in the salary cap by smoothing the increase out, though how -- and if -- it would do so is still unclear.