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Report: NBA salary cap could drop substantially due to COVID-19 pandemic

2020-21 NBA season: Protocols released for fan attendance
Oct 11, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A general view of the NBA logo on the stanchion prior to the game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Boston Celtics at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The financial complexities that have come with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are extremely detailed. That’s especially true when it comes to the sports world.

We already know that the NFL plans on looking into using the flat cap moving forward. It would be a way to make up for the lack of league-wide revenue with fans unlikely to be in attendance for the 2020 season.

The NBA is in a vastly different situation in that its season is set to resume July 30 inside Walt Disney World’s bubble city after a four-plus month hiatus. How will the Association’s cap look during the 2020-21 season? That’s a major question for teams already looking forward to the offseason.

2020-21 NBA salary cap expected to drop significantly

“In January, the reported projection was $116 million for 2020-21. As of now, that number has not officially changed, but there are whispers in NBA circles that next year’s cap is going to drop to about $109 million,” James Edwards III of The Athletic reported Friday.

This could potentially have wide-ranging implications for teams up against the cap and others who do not want to pay into the luxury tax.

How would the lowered cap impact teams in NBA free agency?

The good news here is that the 2020 free-agent class is among the weakest in recent NBA history. At least, that’s good news for teams who are going to be up against the cap.

The expectation here is that free agents are not going to find a great market once it opens up in October. We could see a ton of one-year deals with the anticipation that the financial issues will be settled once free agency ultimately gets going once again following the 2020-21 season.

This could potentially be good news for teams who simply have the mid-level or tax-payer exception to work with in free agency. That includes the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

In particular, it has been noted that the Warriors are planning to spend this fall despite struggling to the tune of the worst record in the Association during an injury-plagued 2019-20 campaign. It goes without saying that finances won’t be a big issue for the three other teams listed above, too.

Either way, it’s going to be a mad scramble once the 2019-20 season concludes and a truncated offseason starts. Given the nature of this most-recent report, that could lead to free agents being left out in the cold.