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Why do some big market owners want a hard salary cap? Money. Why else?

Sep 18, 2011, 11:36 AM EDT

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The split among the owners — and there is a split among the owners on what should be in the next labor deal — is not as clean and not along all the lines most think.

The conventional wisdom goes that the profitable big market teams oppose a hard salary cap because they like their advantage of being able to outspend their small market brethren (so long as they are willing to pay the luxury tax).

But that is not really the case. We told you Lakers owner Jerry Buss is good with a hard and increased revenue sharing. Guys like Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the front man for the Celtics ownership group Wyc Grousbeck are considered hawks.

Why? Chris Broussard broke it out well at ESPN. It’s about profits. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

The reason for this seeming contradiction is related to the enhanced revenue-sharing system the league will implement. The big-market owners will bear the brunt of the new system and, according to sources, some of them are adamant about having a hard cap so that if they must share revenues, they’ll have more money from which to pull.

“The big markets want to revenue share but not with their current profits,’’ one of the sources said. “Instead, they want to share from the profit they would get from a harder cap.’’

Some owners also want to phase in the revenue sharing.

At last Thursday’s Board of Governor’s meeting (made up of the owners) revenue sharing took up half the meeting, Stern said. It’s expected the new revenue sharing deal will redistribute upwards of $150 million a season (last season the luxury tax redistributed about $60 million).

Smaller market owners claim they want a hard cap for competitive balance reasons, but really there will never be that kind of parity in the NBA. What they really want is a hard cap and few guaranteed contracts so they can get out of their bad decisions more quickly. They want a system that protects them from themselves.

But whatever the reason, owners are more united behind the idea of a hard cap than the players and many fans seem to think. That may be negotiable with a few more percentage points of “basketball related income” but it will not be easy to get the owners off the idea.

  1. goforthanddie - Sep 18, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I don’t see the problem in a hard cap. Everyone spends the same, nobody can buy a title. Players that want to get paid will go where the money is; players that want a title won’t whine about playing for less. Talent distributes itself through the league.

    • secdominance - Sep 18, 2011 at 4:46 PM

      the problem with that is people will criticize those who take less money and say they’re trying to buy a championship. Even if they had a hard cap, you think that’s going to stop the David Kahn’s of the NBA from making bad decisions?

      Furthermore, talk about how un-American this is. Why are we limiting the amount of money a person can make? If teams stop offering bad contracts, they won’t have to worry about long-term damage

  2. tashkalucy - Sep 18, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    From Terry Pluto in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer,

    “About the NBA…Who cares if they play?

    Other than those who have an economic interest in the teams because of their jobs and the few hardcore NBA fans, you don’t hear anyone talking about the NBA labor problems and the season not likely to start on time.

    The silence should be message to both sides … this is not the NFL, where everyone from the TV networks to the fantasy league geeks to the average fan who just likes football wanted the league to settle it now.”

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