Do we really need a hard cap to compete?

Published: September 17, 2011

Before I start, I’ll link everyone to this article.

I’ll start by saying that I am definitely in favor of any system that creates parity and makes things easier for small markets. OTOH, I don’t think it’s a good idea to sacrifice the entire season for a system that may not guarantee the parity and competitive balance that we seek.

You see, the NHL whacked an entire season and yet according to Forbes, the league loses more money than the NBA does and the parity level is no different than it was before the lockout. What we do see is Phoenix going bankrupt, Atlanta moving and the Islanders failing to get a new building due to losing money and looking for handouts.

Back to the NBA lockout, it’s become clear that the players are taking a hard stand against a hard cap. It’s possible that they sit a whole entire season for us to get a hard cap but think of all the fans that would be lost. A good chunk of the money they gain from a hard cap would be lost as a result of all the fans who move on from the NBA out of anger that the season was lost. 

My thinking is this. Not only would a season be lost but a hard cap could have consequences. Teams that want to sign star players but only have $3 million in cap space would have to sacrifice said player to stay under the cap.

I’ve been reading various other board and websites and came across some good ideas that would allow for parity and competitive balance without having a hard cap. This would not only pacify the players which would lead to labor peace but would keep the fans in place. The players would have to make concessions in return for keeping the soft cap if want more competitive balance. Some ideas include..

-Limit teams to just 2 players in the upper bracket in the max salary range. This would ensure that we have no more “super teams”.

-Limit the MLE to teams under the luxury tax or if there is no more luxury tax, create a threshold around $10 million above the soft cap. This way, the Heat won’t be able to build their team around MLE type players. The Lakers did this by signing Fisher and Artest to the MLE and that helped in a big way towards seeing them win those recent 2 titles.

-More revenue sharing. Assuming we get a 50/50 split of revenue, the NBA will be profitable. With profitability, we will see a system where you can have revenue sharing. With financial issues tossed aside, we won’t have a system where you have struggling teams trade good players for expiring contracts. Memphis wouldn’t have traded Gasol for junk and that would again limit what the big market Lakers could spend over the cap.

Yeah, it’s a soft cap but with no Gasol to resign, there is no $90 million plus payroll but probably something closer to $75.

Take away the MLE signings of Fisher and Artest and you’re back to where the rest of the league is.

Lower the amount of the max salaries and you don’t have Kobe making $30 million. This practically creates a hard cap by default.

These are just some ideas but the main point is that a hard cap isn’t the be all and end all that some people are frantic about.


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