Page last updated on Thu Aug 17 03:45:22 EDT 2017
Wed, 23 Nov 2011 04:05 PM EST

At every turn, NBA owners and negotiators have insisted that their goal of changing the NBA’s contract system would result in giving the league a more competitive balance. The basic concept is that a league with a harsher luxury tax, a costly mid-level exception, and more obstacles to sign-and-trade deals would keep large-market teams from out-spending small-market teams in a way that helps maintain equilibrium in the NBA. Football lines

The problem is that until these system changes are put into place, it is unknown if the league’s proposals would actually result in the competitive balance they claim to be seeking. All we really know for certain is that the players would be making less money.

The proposed system changes would protect general managers from truly catastrophic failures, but the managers would also have to deal with more roster slots to fill more often, and in more heated free agent markets. Executives would have more chances to make more errors but those would be of somewhat less detrimental consequences to the team overall. That still means bad judgment has the potential to be amplified in an off-season when a league has dozens of more spots on their roster to fill with free agents.

The line of reasoning is simple — if the contracts are for shorter periods of time, bad contracts could become more numerous but would individually be less of a burden to a team’s ability to compete. Presumably, that trade-off would result in something like a net-negative or neutral outcome for poorly run teams. Which would be fine, but if the system also hurts the well-run teams then it is debatable that the changes would bring about more balance. Football betting lines

On the other hand, it’s possible that new system rules won’t even make individual bad contracts easier to absorb.

As such, making the proposed changes to the system only redefines the parameters of what would be considered a bad contract — it doesn’t change the relative effects of a bad contract, especially if the luxury tax becomes harsher. If superstars can only sign five-year contracts, then a five-year, $50 million contract for a less-than-stellar player like Eddy Curry is still going to impact a team’s ability to compete. Similarly, Drew Gooden is a poor use of the mid-level exception no matter how much money he gets paid. Shorter, cheaper deals only help a franchise’s bottom line, because they’re paying less money. The leagues’ proposal doesn’t bring a core shift to the way teams allocate salaries to specific kinds of players.

Whatever collective bargaining agreement is finally negotiated between the league and the talent, there are still going to be players paid according to established levels of skill – benchwarmers, role players, stars, and superstars. Until the league starts mandating individual pay based on performance, the way players are paid will be the decision of general managers. There will still be guys like Eddy Curry who get paid like stars when they don’t deserve it. The leagues’ proposed system changes affect the system bottom line of making money, not the product on the court.

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