March 11, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) The NBA and its players can't agree on what to do with money they don't even have yet.

The league said Wednesday the NBA Players Association won't agree to smoothing in the increased revenues from the national TV deals, which will create a significant spike in the salary cap owners hoped to avoid.

The league's new contracts with ESPN and TNT begin in 2016-17 and will be worth more than $2.6 billion annually. Because the salary cap is tied to revenues, that will cause the cap to soar to perhaps $90 million in the first season, giving many teams spending money they otherwise wouldn't have.

Big-market teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks project to have payrolls significantly under $90 million in 2016, a summer when LeBron James and Kevin Durant could both be free agents.

To prevent a historic jump of $20 million or more and the spending spree that would follow, the league has sought to set cap figures in the first few years of the media deals that would lead to gradual increases, but executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement the union rejected that approach.

The salary cap next season in the final year of the current contracts is expected to be around $68 million.

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said last month the union had turned down the league's first smoothing proposal, saying players were against anything that could limit their earning capabilities.

Players such as James earn a percentage of the salary cap as the basis for the first year of a maximum contract, so setting an artificial number in the mid-$70 million range would limit the value of a deal he could ink in 2016.

However, the league said it would still pay the union the full 51 percent of revenues it would be guaranteed, no matter where the cap was set.

''Under the league's smoothing approach, the salary shortfall resulting from more gradual cap increases would have been paid directly to the Players Association for distribution to all players, and thus the total compensation paid to players in any given season would not have been impacted,'' Bass said.

Owners and players can both opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2017, which could lead to another lockout.

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