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NBA Salary Cap Rises to $43.8 Million

July 16, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ The NBA salary cap for the 2003-04 season will be almost $44 million, a jump of about 9 percent from last season.

The league and the players’ union released the new figure Tuesday night on the eve of the expiration of a moratorium on free agent signings. Their financial calculations showed the average salary to be $4.917 million, which will become the starting salary for any free agent signed to the full mid-level exception.

The new salary cap figure of $43.84 million is the highest in NBA history.

A year ago, the figure dropped from $42.5 million to $40.27 million _ the first drop since the salary cap system was adopted for the 1984-85 season.

The salary cap represents the maximum amount of payroll a team can spend on player salaries. It is known as a ``soft″ cap, however, as teams are allowed to use several exceptions to exceed that figure.

Teams whose payrolls exceeded $52.9 million last season will have to pay a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax on the overage. All luxury tax money will be pooled and redistributed to teams below the threshold under a formula to be determined by the league’s Board of Governors.

The players’ union said it expected next season’s tax threshold to be $57 million.

The cap of $43.84 million will raise the value of maximum salary contracts agreed to between Jason Kidd and the Nets, and Jermaine O’Neal and the Pacers.

Kidd is eligible to earn a starting salary equal to 30 percent of the cap, or $13.152 million. With annual increases of 12.5 percent, his deal will be worth a total of $103.57 million _ an increase of more than $5 million from previously reported figures.

The cap has increased by an average of 8.5 percent during the current collective bargaining agreement, rising from $26.9 million in 1997-98 to the current level.

The 2003-04 minimum team salary, set at 75 percent of the salary cap, will be $32,880,000.

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