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With a salary cap as high as $92 million, NBA and players prepare for free agent mayhem

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA players union rejecting the idea of "smoothing," a slow but steady rise in the salary cap Wednesday, capologists along with teams and players believe the cap could rise as high as $88 - $92 million in 2016, the year the new TV deal goes into force. That's a $25 million increase from this year's $63 million.

The league hoped to spread the giant increase over the next two years, but the union rejected the proposal in favor of  the big jump in the summer of 2016, when superstars like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard could be available again.

The Nets have long planned for the increase.  Of the current players on the team, only Deron Williams, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jarrett Jack are still owed money that year, but even that is not a perfect picture. The Nets are almost certain to extend Mason Plumlee's rookie contract, and possibly, Sergey Karasev's too.   D-WIll has a player option that summer and Jack is guaranteed only $500,000 on a $6.3 million deal.  Still, the Nets current commitments shouldn't total more than $30 million. It could be a lot less.

Beyond those commitments, the Nets would also owe their 2015 first round pick about a million dollars in 2016 and they've said they'd like to extend Thaddeus Young. Young has an interesting choice this summer.  He could opt out of his player option and go for a longer term contract with the Nets or another team ... or he could play out the final year of  his $10 million contract, then go for the bigger free agent deal in 2016.  Brook Lopez faces a same situation. He has $16.7 million player option. ESPN's Brian Windhorst speculates that "there might be free agents this summer who accept only one-year contracts so they can retest the market in 2016." That could also apply to players like Young and Lopez.

Although there's been a lot of speculation that the Nets would go for a big star --like Durant-- in 2016, Billy King told a group of Nets season ticket-holders last week that the Nets might go with an alternate strategy: pursue two or three "very good players.".  It was an interesting comment since King's current contract runs out that summer.

Of course, team ownership could change by then, but as one investment adviser has told NetsDaily, whoever buys the team will have "deep pockets" and would likely be willing to spend as much as Mikhail Prokhorov's team.