The NBA is finally starting to process the fallout from an unprecedented summer last year. The league’s salary cap was $35.5 million in 2000–01 and then steadily rose to a 2008–09 level of $58.7 million, where it stayed, give or take $1 million, for six seasons through 2013–14. In 13 years, the cap rose about as much as it did just last summer, when the NBA’s big cap boom rocketed the figure from $70 million in 2015–16 to $94.1 million in 2016–17. It was unlike anything the league had ever seen. With newfound money, teams splurged, overspending on the likes of Evan Turner, Timofey Mozgov, and Joakim Noah. You could say those teams were negligent — and you’d be right — but they operated under the assumption that the cap would keep surging. It didn’t: A shorter-than-expected 2017 postseason caused a limited increase in the 2017–18 cap, to just $99.1 million (projections last year had it as high as $108 million).
These days, you can’t really follow the NBA without following its contract system and the salary cap.