Re: What the hell did we do?
We've been spoiled.
Since 1994, the salary cap increased significantly year after year, until the end of the last CBA. I don't recall the terms used, or the exact reasoning, but there was a reason the 2011 salary cap was set below the 2009 salary cap. 2012's cap will be roughly equal to the 2009 cap.
I'd expect the cap will continue to increase, but no where near the rate at which it grew pre-2010.