NBA’s new reality hits small- and large-markets
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
What NBA owners pushed for during the 2011 lockout is starting to take shape.
Oklahoma City’s trading of James Harden in October and the Memphis Grizzlies’ decision to send Rudy Gay to Toronto last week are certainly the latest signs of these changed times, but the reality is this is only the beginning. The small-market teams won’t be alone in this financial fight for long.
This is what many owners hoped for when they pushed so hard during the work stoppage, that day when even the big-market, big-money teams would have to fall in line and start spreading the wealth. The stars (and the revenue) would be shared more than ever, with so-called Super Teams like the one in Miami being broken up along the way.
But because the players pushed back during those six months of contentious negotiations, the extremists who wanted to blow up the NBA as we knew it by way of a $45 million hardcap were forced to attach a two-year fuse to their plan and the more-punitive luxury tax that will serve as an unofficial hard cap for most teams didn’t begin until Year No. 3 (aka the 2013-14 season). Sure enough, even blank-check teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and – to a lesser extent – the Boston Celtics are starting to feel these fiscal forces. And whether the roster reshuffling comes before the Feb. 21 trade deadline or at a later time, it’s safe to say change is on the way for the seven remaining teams that are in the tax.
The tax, which kicks in when a team surpasses the salary cap (approximately $58 million this season) and goes above the threshold ($70.3 million this season), is at the root of the change. The dollar-for-dollar format that was in place in the old CBA has been replaced by a structure in which a team like the Lakers is on pace to pay at a rate as high as $4.25 for every extra dollar. But the “repeater tax” is a major factor as well, as – starting in the 2014-15 campaign – … [For more on NBA's new reality will hit small- and large-market teams, click here.]