May 21, 2010, 4:22 PM EDT
Ted Leonsis is going to make buddies with his NBA owner peers very quickly.
Leonsis spoke to reporters on Friday and said that the NHL (whose Capitals are also owned by Leonsis) is currently “stronger” because their Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents owners from ingesting “stupid pills” as he put them, referring to large contracts which can eat up salary space and sink profits.
Leonsis specifically pointed to the NBA’s soft cap, which allows teams to exceed the salary cap in exchange for a tax on every dollar spent over the limit. NBA ownership is currently considering pushing for a hard cap for next year’s CBA negotiations, something the Player’s Union would outright revolt at, and which would inevitably lead to the lockout. You know the lockout, the one that’s considered inevitable, anyway.
Leonsis coming out swinging for the ownership is sure to make him a few new friends, and certainly the argument is sound. NBA teams with as much revenue as they generate, should not be losing money. And the cap situation has allowed for long term failures of certain clubs. Take the Knicks, who are still feeling the effects of Isiah Thomas’ stupid pills overdose. They surrender their last draft pick to Utah in June’s draft, while finally freeing themselves of the ridiculouslly bloated contracts they managed to pick up over the last decade.
At the same time, one of the best things about the NBA is its fluidity and the soft salary cap makes that possible. If you have an owner willing to spend, it means that you’re more likely to find yourself in contention. Moving to a hard cap is fine, but also may create a chokehold on certain teams in certain markets. This is where the revenue sharing angle comes into play, something the players’ union is adamant about and that big market owners like Leonsis are likely to resist.
Still, at least Leonsis is showing early signs of understanding how you create long-term success, by managing your resources carefully, maintaining flexibility, and making moves for the long-term. That should aid him as he seeks to rebuild the Wizards. You know, once he can figure out how to ditch Gilbert Arenas, who has proven to be a stupid pill so big you can choke on it.
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