In the latest letter sent by Fisher to the players leaked by ESPN, he says that they won't accept anything resembling a hard cap, and that they are willing to battle to mantain the current cap system. He also adds some owners won't want to lose a season over a hard cap. Players are so determined not to accept a hard cap they are willing to lose games:
"There are a number of team owners that will not lose the season over the hard cap system. We've been clear from Day 1 of this process that we cannot sign off on a deal that attempts in any way to include a hard salary cap for our teams. That has not changed," Fisher said. "Unless you, the group we represent, tell us otherwise, we are prepared to hold the line for as long as it takes to preserve the system we've worked so hard to build."
The owners agreed to try to come up with a mechanism to solve their issues without adding a hard salary cap before the next meeting, according to one source. But a hard cap is presumed to be the owners' overwhelming preferences after claims they lost $300 million last season.
Union chief Billy Hunter told reporters two weeks ago that he has already cautioned players that they might have to be willing to sacrifice half of the upcoming season to secure a deal that does not include a hard cap.
He recently said in an interview that there won't be a hard cap, point blank:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh2tmcazoW0 (around the 3:30 mark)
Derek, the owners have made it pretty clear, they want a hard cap, are they going to get it?
No, they won’t, and we’ve been clear on that point from the beginning that if this deal is gonna hinge on there being a hard salary cap there won’t be a deal. We just don't believe and we strongly don't believe that it's best for the game of basketball for various reasons but most importantly it would basically lead to the elimination of the players' ability to have guaranteed contracts... our stars players will always be able to garner top wages and get guaranteed contracts, but by and large everyone else would be stuck with mostly non-guaranteed contracts.
OK, so what does this mean for the Nets?
If they players get what they want (that the cap remains as it is), with a $58M soft cap like the previous CBA's one, we will have $15.9M to play with this offseason.
As for the 2012 sweepstakes, a $58M soft cap would mean that 2 teams that have long been hyped as potential 2012 free agency players (New York, Dallas) would have just under $11M to offer. A player who has been around for at least 7 years (which will be DWill's, CP3's and Dwight's case) can make up to $17.4M (30% of the cap) in the first year of their new contract.
Unless you think DWill would take a such a massive paycut to play on a team that
a) not only would need him to take $7M a year less while their other 2 stars make $20M a year but would also have to fill out the rest of their roster with 7 or 8 players making the minimum (NY).
b) has such an old core and that would need to let all of their free agents in 2011 & 2012 go (Chandler, Butler, Terry, Barea, Stevenson) just to be able to offer him a contract starting at $10.5M (DAL)
... or unless you think he would like to go to Minnesota, Indiana, Sacramento, Phoenix, Clippers or Boston (those are the teams that would have enough room for a max if the cap system is to remain as it is, like the players want), I can't really see how Deron would bolt. Clippers would be a threat if it weren't for Sterling. But no superstar in their right mind is putting their prime years in Sterling's hands, period. And Boston won't be a desirable destination IMO, let alone for someone like DWill (or CP3 for that matter), the only players they have by then are a guy who plays in the same position (Rondo) and a 35-year-old in Pierce. And they'll have no one inside.
The Nets need to make moves, but this would leave them in a great situation, IMO, with lots of cap space to add quality guys this offseason (IMO, they'd be the most desirable destination this offseason, main competence would be Indiana) and with no major threats for the services of Deron should he become a free agent in 2012.
Another likely consequence is that I doubt there's an amnesty. As much as I want it to happen, if they don't change the cap rules there's no reason for there to be a cap-clearing amnesty clause.
I know this is all speculation, but given the players' stance about not changing the system I think this is the most likely outcome. Larry Coon has long predicted there will be a soft cap when it's all said and done and I agree with him.
I think a deal being done will come down to players giving up a larger share of the BRI in exchange for the cap system remaining as it is.