People seem to equate hard cap and low hard cap. I think we could very well see a system with soft cap but no exceptions, except things like min salary deals, 10-day deals, to keep rosters going. Think Chris Rock and his favoring of bullet control to gun control. The 'problem' is the middle class. This actually stems from the max deal. By locking up one of the few top talents to an efficient deal, you have more money to spend on 'Robin'. This, sadly, also changes the maket for 'Potsie'. As way leads on to way, we end up here.
Basically, my system is one that has a hard AND soft cap. It's a soft cap with a hard cap on mid level exceptions above it. What this means is that you set a soft cap at a number like $50 million and then create a mid level exception threshold at a number that's either equal to the lux tax threshold or if the lux tax goes away, then you come up with a number that's around $10 to $15 million above that. This works because it still allows teams that are capped out to sign MLE players, thus keeping the middle class intact. Let's say a team is capped out at $51 million. They will still have over $10 million below the lux tax or mid level exception threshold. This way, they have plenty of room to not only sign an MLE player but still have a few left over for exercising the bird rights on a player. The teams that won't be able to sign the MLE player are the one's who will be in lux tax territory. This way, we add a level of competitive balance that we didn't see before. Teams like the Celtics and Lakers won't be able to add to their team via the MLE. They will be stuck with minimum salary players and late first round picks. Same for the Heat. With a payroll around $65 million, they would be stuck with what they have now and have to make it work.