NBA Sunday: 2012 Draft Crushed?
Let me start this morning by saying what we’re all thinking—it’s good to put all the lawyer jargon in the incinerator and get back to actually talking about basketball again. The new CBA, when ratified, will put a whole slew of things into place that are going to seriously help some teams and, at the very least, make things extremely interesting for the rest of them.
It starts with free agency, all of which is going to squeeze into a two-week window—while training camp is going on, mind you—so between trade rumors and daily signings and an ongoing understanding of the new collective bargaining agreement, we’re going to have plenty to talk about over the course of the next month. Just one day into this tentative agreement, and it’s already impossible to decide where to begin a conversation about the NBA. There’s just so much to cover.
This Sunday report won’t hit all of it, but we’ll get to some of the major stuff with the understanding that there’s much, much more to come. Basketball is back, folks, and we at HOOPSWORLD are ready to write about it. A lot. But let’s start with some of the immediate blowback in the aftermath of this tentative agreement:
Tougher Luxury Tax Two Seasons Away
Long-term, the new CBA isn’t good news for teams like the L.A. Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, who spend their way to perennial contention, but for the next two years nothing changes in regards to the old dollar-for-dollar tax for teams over the luxury tax threshold. In other words, spendthrift teams have two more years to continue spending like crazy people, as long as they keep 2013-2014 in their sights as the year when things start to get tougher. It’s not a huge window, but it certainly could help the Lakers and Mavericks stay in the championship hunt for what could be the last two seasons of Kobe’s and Dirk’s respective primes.
But starting in 2013-2014, teams will be penalized $1.50 for every dollar over the tax line, $1.75 after $5 million over, $2.25 after $10 million over, and $3 after $15 million over. Things could get pretty expensive for a team like L.A., but not for two more years. That’s a huge wrinkle in this new CBA because high payroll teams won’t necessarily have to use their amnesty provision right away. They can save it for the year the tougher restrictions kick in, and go all out for hard-paid rings in the meantime.
“Two and Through” Could Crush 2012 Draft
While it hasn’t officially been decided yet, multiple sources seem to be hinting at the fact that the rule forcing incoming rookies to have played at least one year of college hoops may get bumped up to two. This is something that’s been talked about since the One-and-Done rule first went into place several years ago, and it looks as though there’s a real possibility that Two-and-Through could take the place of the old stipulation.
The timing on such a rule couldn’t be worse for 2012 lottery teams hoping to strike gold in what had been shaping up to be one of the strongest drafts since the 2003 event that produced LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Lottery prospects like Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Harrison Barnes, and John Henson obviously wouldn’t be affected by the rule change, but Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and UConn’s Andre Drummond—either of whom could’ve gone first overall in the upcoming draft—would suddenly become ineligible. So would Baylor’s Quincy Miller, Duke’s Austin Rivers, and Kentucky’s Michael Gilchrist. That’s five potentially franchise-changing freshmen robbed from the lottery, with another three or four getting removed from the latter portion of the first round, plus a handful of international prospects who would’ve been ready, as well.
There’s no question this would help college basketball, but it could serve as an injury risk for players ready to make the leap after one year. Again, this isn’t a sure thing, but it would certainly knock the wind out of the 2012 Draft if Two-and-Through became part of the new CBA.
Will We See No-Opt-Out Overseas Guys Return?
While players like Deron Williams and many, many others nailed down international offers including out clauses in case the NBA season picked back up, a handful of players (most notably the trio of Denver Nuggets who headed to China) signed deals that did not. We know NBA free agency is about to get extremely zooey, but nobody on the following list is going to be part of that circus:
While the Chicago Bulls aren’t necessarily going to miss the opportunity to return Scalabrine for another year, players like Smith, Brooks, Martin, Weems, and especially Wilson Chandler are going to be noticeable absentees in the free agency pool.
Which begs the question—will any of these guys find a way to weasel out of their deals, despite the fact that they have no out clauses in their contracts? Steve Kyler joked on Twitter Saturday that mysterious injuries may sideline all the NBA guys playing in China, and that prolonged injuries could encourage those Chinese teams to cut these players loose.
Despite the fact that it’s unethical, there is a possibility that such a thing actually works; the question is when will those guys be released, and how might they affect the NBA teams they eventually decide to sign with?
The midseason addition of a player as good as Chandler doesn’t happen often, but should some team with cap space find him available in, say, February, that could completely alter a team’s fortunes midseason. Again, this is another interesting wrinkle for those players who gambled by signing deals that didn’t allow for a return to the NBA. Maybe they lose an entire NBA season, or maybe they find a way to make it back to the league. Either way, it will be an interesting ongoing story all season long.
Miami Could Be Biggest Beneficiaries Of New Deal
If there’s anything we learned last year, it’s that people really, really hate the Miami HEAT. There’s a reason the 2011 NBA Finals was the most-watched Finals ever, and that reason has everything to do with people hoping to see Miami’s big three fall flat on their faces.
So, that being the case, we can all share a collective groan at Brian Windhorst’s claim that the new CBA could perhaps benefit Miami more than many other teams.
For starters, there is little question that the team will use their amnesty provision on Mike Miller, cutting loose one of the few non-big-three HEAT players not making the veteran’s minimum or a rookie salary.
With his contract freed, they can turn around and try all over again by using the full $5 million exception on a veteran free agent looking for an easy shot at a ring while also earning decent money. The name that comes to mind most readily is Grant Hill, who would fit in well there and certainly deserves a shot at a title.
Without amnesty, and without Miami’s ability to use the midlevel exception, they might be heading into this season with a lot of holes on the roster. As it stands, however, they have a pretty decent shot of fielding a reasonable team. Add that to their fire lit under their rears after that embarrassing loss in the Finals, and the road to another Finals might not be any more difficult than it was last season.
What Kind of Shape Will These Guys Be In?
It’s a question that’s been asked a lot over the course of the last 24 hours, and it’s a valid one. We know that some players have been training their tails off all summer, but other guys have undoubtedly taken the time off to relax, and in some cases perhaps too much.
Whether in shape or out of it, we do know that Joe Abunassar is going to hold a one-week boot camp at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, Nevada next week, and that should help some veterans get themselves back into playing shape.
The program, which includes both intensive training sessions and 5-on-5 games, will be aimed at getting guys playing pro level ball with pro level trainers while they wait for the ratification of the new deal. Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett will almost certainly be there, while other Impact alumni like Tayshaun Prince, Baron Davis, and Corey Maggette may also show up, but regardless of speculation, we can expect a lot of NBA guys to make the trip.
Several New York Knicks players will also be getting together at IMG in Florida to do some pre-training-camp training. IMG is expected to have its fair share of NBA players show up, as well.
And on top of that, most guys have been doing pretty intensive offseason workouts with various trainers across the country. They’ll be ready to play almost as much as we’ll be ready to watch them. More than health, the concern will be new guys learning new systems, and there isn’t a trainer in the world who can prepare a guy for that.