Before the start of the 2022 WNBA season, many teams made massive cuts to their rosters including several high draft picks and a former “Rookie of the Year” winner. The reasoning behind this was due to the WNBA’s salary cap.
The NHL, NBA, and NFL all implemented a salary cap years ago. However, the type of ceiling in place can make a substantial difference.
The WNBA has what is referred to as a “hard cap”. A hard salary cap means that the cap space set by the league can not be exceeded by teams when they are signing players to their roster, including their own.
Recent CBA negotiations in 2020 caused the WNBA’s salary cap jump from $996,100 to $1.3 million. Nevertheless, the maximum player salary has increased by a little over 94 percent and the salary cap has only gone up by 38.5 percent in the following two years.
According to Spotrac, four of the WNBA’s 12 teams exceed the salary cap limit. Furthermore, four teams have less than 12 players needed for a “full roster”.
Some teams have found a workaround for this issue. The loophole is centered around the NHL’s long-term injured reserve list which enables teams to designate players as injured and unable to play. The result is the freeing up of cap space which can allow for the signing of additional players.
These examples show the ways leagues are forced to grapple with their salary cap woes. Some teams take drastic measures like cutting their roster and other leagues have teams who can work around it via loopholes.
Time will tell if the WNBA and NHL will solve this in their next collective bargaining negotiations. But, with players like WNBA forward Breanna Stewart referring to the salary cap situation in the league as a “tipping point”, both leagues will need to address it when players and owners come to the table.
Edited by Joseph McGraw & James Sutton