NEW YORK, Aug. 19 -- The National Basketball Association voided the recently-signed contract between Toni Kukoc and the Chicago Bulls Friday on the ground that it violates the League's salary cap rules. The move comes more than two weeks after the NBA axed similar contracts between A.C. Green and the Phoenix Suns and Horace Grant and the Orlando Magic. Kukoc signed an eight-year contract with Chicago in 1993 with a first-year salary of $1.1 million, the most the team could pay under the salary cap. After exercising a one-year opt-out clause in his contract, Kukoc re-signed with the Bulls two weeks ago for six years at an average of $4.1 million per year. 'Because of the one-yearopt-out clause,' Jeffrey Mishkin, the NBA's Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs said, 'the Bulls were able to sign a player last year that they did not have room for under the salary cap. Kukoc's new contract with Chicago proves the point.' Under the NBA's salary cap rules, a team is allowed to resign one of its own players for a greater amount than the player's initially designated salary slot without affecting the cap. Last summer, Judge Dickinson Debevoise denied the NBA's claim that the one-year opt-out provision in Chris Dudley's free agent contract with the Portland Trail Blazers violated the salary cap, but made it clear that the widespread use of such provisions could have a 'devastating impact' on the NBA's salary cap objectives. 'The use of the one-year opt-out has now become epidemic,' said Mishkin.
The NBA determined earlier this month that the one-year buyout provisions in both the contracts of Green and Grant were designed to circumvent the league's salary cap. The Suns and Green proceeded to file a lawsuit against the NBA in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, challenging the League's decision to invalidate the contract signed between the Suns and Green on July 26. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgement from the court that the contract is indeed valid, in light of a previous ruling regarding the contract between Dudley and the Trail Blazers.