How to fix the NBA's salary cap.

By brian scott
Jan. 13, 2020

The NBA fan based enjoyed much drama this past off season with the media following Kawhi Leonard`s every move and constantly speculating as to where he would end up. While this provided short term ratings for sports talk shows, was this in the best interest of the league or it`s fans?

While I would be the first to argue that the Chicago Bulls of the 90`s could be considered a super team, they were not what we are seeing now as they were organically built mostly through the draft with the exception of Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman being signed away from Europe and Rodman from the Pistons glory days.

Now we are seeing players have a lot more power and incentive to team up to create the so-called super teams that will always be in the conversation for NBA titles. Is this what is best for the league and can anything be done about it?

First of all, is it best for the league I think it is an obvious no. The purpose of the max player structure of the cap was the belief which existed for quite a while that each team would have at least in most cases have 1 max player. By this theory the 30 best players should end up divided equally among the 30 NBA teams. Now obviously this is not going to happen as no one really knows what they are getting in the draft to that detail and the players rights to free agency is not going anywhere.

Many teams have historically struggled to attract free agents which leaves attracting fans to spend money also an issue. Teams like Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, Sacramento, Indiana, New Orleans and Phoenix just to name a few all have struggled to recruit all stars and with have been stuck with the draft of trades to move anything forward.

While this financially affects franchises and hurts the fan base is most cases, there are exceptions. Cleveland was blessed by the simple fact that Lebron James wanted to bring a title home, Toronto pulled off the Kawhi Leonard -Demar Derozan trade but has never been able to recruit an All Star to the 4th biggest market in the NBA.

So, what can be done that would be good for the fan base, the average owner not named Buss or Ballmer that NBA players would agree to. The answer is a hybrid of what the NBA already has so negotiations do not start from scratch and what the NHL is doing that has show a much better ability to produce parity across the league.

The NBA keeps it soft cap with its complicated structure of cap offenders paying more and more until it just does not work for most. Take away the max player structure that determines how much any individual player can make based on service time, bird rights as a percentage of the overall cap. This might sound crazy as some players would make potentially offensive amounts of money, but it would even the field.

How does this work? Look at some the recent super teams, the Warriors land Durant in free agency on a team friendly deal that he gave up a few million for a couple years but what if the Mavericks or the Knicks offered $8–10 million more than the Warriors could? Would he still go to Golden State and would it be for more that 1 year if he did?

Think of all the other examples, Would Lebron have gone to the Lakers and just taken more? Leaving them too cap strapped to get Anthony Davis or even keep all the young talent they had. Do Paul George and Kawhi Leonard end up on the same team?

Under this structure teams would have to be very careful what they spend on their mid level players so they could balance the books but can anyone see your top 10 talent teaming up for more than a year at a time when they are sacrificing so much? I do not think so.

By: Brian Scott