It’s only been a couple of weeks since the first NBA offseason under the new CBA officially started but it’s been packed full of drama. The NBA should start its own weekly tabloid magazine to follow all of the stories happening. Just think of the headlines: ROB HENNIGAN SWEET TALKS DWIGHT HOWARD; DERON WILLIAMS PARTIES WITH AVERY JOHNSON; JEREMY LIN IS MAD AT NEW YORK; HOUSTON ROCKETS DUMP ENTIRE TEAM; UFO ENTHUSIASTS APOLOGIZE FOR STALKING SAM CASSELL. And finally…DESPITE NEW CBA…NOTHING HAS CHANGED!
In addition to increasing the revenue share the NBA owners enjoy, the new CBA was supposed to help small market teams retain their stars and discourage large market teams from outspending those same small market teams. No star players from a small market team have skipped town at this point, but owners, despite their cries of player salaries being out of control, are still handing out questionable contract offers with apparently no qualms about paying stiffer luxury taxes.
Under the old CBA, teams payed $1 for every dollar their salaries were above the luxury tax. The new CBA has an escalating tax that increases with every $5 million above the set cap limit which starts at $1.50. But for those teams that really like to spend like there is no tomorrow, there’s a bonus prize. Teams that are repeatedly over the cap, at least four of the past five seasons will get an additional escalating dollar added to their luxury tax for each $5 million they are over. Ouch. Surely this will stop the madness, the NBA owners thought.
The answer is no. The owners of the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers have all spent frivolously this offseason. Under the older and more lenient CBA, the Heat did the unthinkable by putting together three max stars. Well…the Nets, in addition to resigning Deron Williams to a max contract, made a trade for Joe Johnson who has the largest current contract in the NBA, resigned Gerald Wallace to a 4 year/$40M contract, and signed Brook Lopez to a ridiculous max size contract. The Lakers, of course, pulled off the surprise of the offseason by landing Steve Nash while already over the luxury tax threshold…beating the Dallas Mavericks who had half a team’s worth of cap space available.
The small market teams are also out of control this offseason handing out some ridiculous contract offers. The Minnesota Timberwolves currently have a 4 year, $50M offer on the table to Nicolas Batum, who is a nice young player, but currently is still billed as a player who has yet to reach his potential. Batum averaged 13.9 points per game this past season. The Rockets have offered Omer Asik a 3 year, $25M contract. Asik is another young nice player who is already good on the defensive end of the ball but offensively he makes Chris Dudley look like a hall of famer. Omer averaged over 5 boards a game along with 3 points a game in 2012.
Despite all of this, we are only one year removed from watching a Dallas Mavericks team, that employed one star player in Dirk Nowtizki along with a group of experienced NBA veterans that played excellent team ball, beat the super powered Miami Heat. The irony of that series is the paths that the free agents from the previous offseason had taken. Dirk showed loyalty to the only city in the United States that he has called home and even gave them a home town discount in hopes of building a better roster around him. LeBron James and Chris Bosch spurned the teams that had drafted them by teaming up with Dwayne Wade in Miami. No one predicted the Dallas Mavericks would win the championship during that season. It was great watching a cohesive team where everyone clearly knew their role. You would have expected other teams to try and copy that model after the 2011 season ended, especially with the new CBA coming into effect. But even the Dallas Mavericks themselves blew up their title team in hopes of landing their own big three. Mark Cuban cited maintaining financial flexibility under the new CBA as also a reason for doing so…maybe he missed a memo somewhere.