Did The NBA's Latest CBA Miss The Mark On Achieving Competitive Balance?
A majority of NBA franchises going into the '11 lockout "wanted protections to prevent their superstars from being poached by the rich big-market teams," but now there is a "sense of dread among the small markets that their problems may be worse under the new deal," according to Ian Thomsen of SI. Six teams -- the Nets, Knicks, Heat, Bulls, Lakers and Clippers -- are "on track to pay the luxury tax this season." Five of these franchises "reside in the nation's three largest markets." The Nets and Knicks alone are "paying more in taxes ($122 million) than the combined payrolls of the 76ers and Suns." The one "expensive team that isn't in a major market is the Heat, who could test the repeater tax when it goes into effect next summer." Because the Heat are "on track to pay taxes this year for a third straight season, owner Micky Arison will be confronted with penalties that begin at a rate of $2.50 for every dollar spent above the tax level." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "The system is far from perfect from the league's standpoint. It was a compromise in terms of the harsher tax, to get closer to a hard cap than what we had before. But we're going to see how it works in operation." A GM from a non-taxpaying franchise said of the Nets, "The agreement was supposed to be about competitive balance and controlling spending -- and then you have a team that's defecating on the agreement and laughing at it." The GM predicted that the new strategy for "megafranchises like the Nets, Knicks and Lakers will revolve around bursts of contention followed by brief windows of cap space enabling them to 'scoop up everyone's players again'" (SI, 10/28 issue).
PASSING THE BATON? ESPN.com's Henry Abbott noted head injuries in football are "among the most tragic personal stories in sports media," and NBA Commissioner David Stern should take notice because it also is the "biggest sports business story in ages." Basically, the "biggest force in the history or sports business -- the NFL -- has had a kind of 'black swan' event -- a permanent change nobody could have seen coming." All the while, the NBA is "decades into a strategy to nip at the heels of the NFL, in terms of global popularity." Growing the NBA has "been the top duty of Stern, who has often been called the best commissioner in sports -- and who will happily explain why there is every reason to think the NBA's future is sunny, no matter what happens to the NFL" (ESPN.com, 10/23).