Remember the halcyon days of NBA free agency back in the summer of 2016? Everybody and their brother landed a multi-year, eight-figure salary as the windfall of cash from the league’s enormous television contracts led to a historic spending spree the likes of which the NBA had never seen and will likely not see again anytime soon.
As early as last summer, the reality of some of those ill-begotten contracts started to set in (gobbled up cap space, luxury and repeater taxes, disappointing ROI, etc.), and teams were much more prudent in their approach. We’re seeing the effects spill over into the upcoming trade deadline as teams look to maneuver into better cap situations and that conservative streak figures to continue next summer. In fact, the pendulum might very well swing all the way in the opposite direction.
Though the coming free agent crop isn’t otherworldly, there are still plenty of quality players who will hit the market. But it seems increasingly likely that they’ll end up being disappointed to discover exactly what their earning potential is on a market that has seen what was once a giant pool of money dry up quickly.