The N.B.A.’s new salary-cap figures were released Tuesday night, and they arrived with scary implications for the free-spending Nets, who are guaranteed to shatter the league’s luxury-tax record next season. The league set the 2013-14 cap at $58.679 million, a modest increase from last season’s $58.04 million. The tax threshold will be $71.748 million. Teams exceeding that mark will pay a penalty that starts at $1.50 for each additional dollar spent and rapidly escalates from there. The Nets will be exceeding and escalating at a dizzying rate. Their payroll — once they complete a trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce — will be about $98 million, triggering a tax bill of about $75 million. That would be the most any team has paid since the league instituted the luxury tax in 2002-3, according to figures provided by the cap expert Larry Coon. In fact, $75 million is more than double the total taxes paid by all 30 teams combined in the 2011-12 season. Then again, the comparison is slightly unfair. The Nets are, in a sense, the first major victims — albeit voluntary victims — of a highly punitive new system. Under the original tax structure, teams paid a simple dollar-for-dollar penalty once they exceeded the threshold. So in 2007, for instance, the Knicks paid $45.1 million in taxes for spending $45.1 million past the tax line. But next season the penalty will start at $1.50 per dollar spent beyond the threshold, and it will keep increasing. Once a team has gone $5 million over the line, it will be taxed at $1.75 per dollar. At $10 million over, the rate increases to $2.50. At $15 million over, it shoots up to $3.25. So the Nets, who under the old system would have paid a mere $26.25 million in taxes, will instead pay triple that sum next season. Every member of their starting lineup will be earning more than $10 million.
Record Luxury Tax Looms for the Nets
New York Times | Jul 10