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Winderman: League tells you how to build “Roster of the Future”

Nov 14, 2011, 9:55 AM EDT

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If you didn’t know better (or perhaps if you do), it sure seems as if David Stern’s ultimate goal from the lockout is to reshape his league through some sort of real-life fantasy draft.

Getting beyond Sunday’s Twitter theatrics (we personally believe the answers were provided by some sort of auto-reply-bot or Adam Silver, which might actually be one in the same), perhaps the league’s YouTube slide show spelled it all out.

There, on the final slide, in effect, was the NBA “roster of the future” (our quote marks).

How do you build a roster that conforms to the NBA’s proposal and avoid all the draconian measures of the proposed next luxury tax?

According to the NBA, with:

One “Superstar (max salary)”: $17 million.
One “All-Star”: $14 million.
One “Starter”: $10 million.
Two “Starters”: $8 million (apiece).
One “6th Man”: $5 million.
One “Rotation Player”: $4 million.
One “Rotation Player”: $3 million.
One “Rotation Player”: $2 million.
One “Rotation Player”: $1 million.
Five “Remaining Players”: $3 million (total, $600,000 average, essentially minimum scale).

Go ahead, try to fit any recent championship model into such an alignment.

Taken further, and allowing for NBA-level salary inflation, try to fit the Showtime Lakers, any version of the championship Celtics, or even Michael Jordan’s Bulls into such a model.

And we won’t even get into the current Big Three Heat or Big Three Celtics.

It’s almost as if Stern (which could happen through decertification, at least according to Sunday’s threat), wants to reset the entire landscape, through the aforementioned fantasy-style draft.

The league designates 30 “superstars” (as if there are 30), and each team selects one.

The league then designates 30 leftover “All-Stars” (even  though with 30 “superstars” would any All-Stars be left?), and each team selects one.

From there, a pool of $10 million starters is set, and so on.

We’re not talking parity here; we’re talking a completely new world order.

For months now, the whispers have been about how Stern and the owners were attempting to blow up the league.

Perhaps they are.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

  1. mkil1390 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    seems to me that the Thunder fit this model pretty well.

  2. dcipher80 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    Um, that’s kinda the point, right? If you want parity and the system doesn’t promote parity, you blow up the system. If the goal was to tweak the system, the deal would be done already.

  3. dcipher80 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    A big assumption in this whole thing (at least by some writers on this site) is that the proposed change can’t work because of how the teams of yore did it. During the 90’s most teams were constructed like this (look at the sonics, rockets, pacers, etc) and people loved it… Granted, the Bulls were the biggest draw in that stretch but I would guess that fans rooted for the “other” teams too. If the congregating of stars continues we will never see another golden era. The owners may be wrong and this whole “new world order” thing may not work out, but at least they are trying.

  4. bertilfox - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Welcome to the Socialist applied to American Pro Sports! Proscribed equality for all. Each equally paid, equally stratified and undoubtedly…EQUALLY BORING! What is next…equal outcomes?

    God forbid GMs use their own creativity to construct their team within the existing parameters, for the betterment of their constituency (i.e. the fan base of the team).

    Stern, Goodell, Selig. Are these the best that these Leagues can come up with? C’mon people!

  5. therealhtj - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Lest we forget the Lakers scheduled salary disaster in two years: Kobe and Pau set to take up the ENTIRE salary cap on their own. If that ain’t a sign the old system was broken, I don’t know what is. The new system’s not any better – there’s no real relief unless you amnesty one of those two.

  6. mytthor - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    This breakdown has a lot of borderline all-stars being paid as superstars, which is one of the biggest franchise-killing decisions that happens. Exhibit A: Joe Johnson. Keep in mind Joe Johnson is EASILY one of the top 30 players in the NBA, so under this system his being your highest paid player is a good way to conform to the NBA’s idea of how to win a championship. Ask the Atlanta fans about that, if you can find any.

    Everyone (fans and owners alike) has this hard-on for parity, but there aren’t 30 players in the NBA good enough to lead a team to a championship. Lowering the salary cap doesn’t create more parity. It stops Pau Gasol from leaving Memphis to go to LA, Kevin Garnett from going to Boston from Minnesota. That doesn’t make Memphis and Minnesota compete for the championship, it makes them make the playoffs. You’re trying to turn the Lakers into the Atlanta Hawks, except the Lakers will always be better because they got lucky (or smart, or whatever you think it is) and their Kobe is the ACTUAL Kobe and ATL’s Kobe is Joe Johnson, and Kobe’s going to beat Joe Johnson in a playoff series, 9 times out of 10, if their supporting cases are equal.

    All this proposal means is that instead of the Jordan-Pippen bulls, you have Jordan’s Bulls beating Pippen’s team on the way to a championship. And the NBA spins that as parity everyone wants. And the fans pretend it’s true, for some reason. Let the thumbs down begin.

    • wlubake - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:50 PM

      I think the point isn’t that Garnett, Pierce and Allen can’t play together. Instead, if they want to play together, they need to figure out how to spread $41 million a year between the three of them.

      If your “Superstar” wants more elite talent with him, he has to sacrifice some cash for championships and non-salary money (endorsements, etc.) on the back end. The problem is finding the “Superstar” willing to make that sacrifice, and building your team around him.

      The real way to be successful is to find more value rotation players and then take the savings and push it up to your stars. San Antonio consistently finds players that fit in their system as castoffs from other teams or through the draft (non-lottery). Their problem now is that their “Superstar” has finally fallen off.

      • bosutton - Nov 14, 2011 at 2:10 PM

        San Antonio consistently found superstars to carry a really good team. Your comment misunderstands value in the NBA to an extraordinary degree. Tim Duncan is a top 3 PF of all time. David Robinson was still very good at the end of his career. Mane Ginobli was a top 15 player in the league according to most advanced metrics during his prime, and tony parker was a top 40 player.

        This is another way to say SAN ANTONIO WAS AS STACKED AS THE LAKERS. They didn’t win through grittiness or having better role players. They won because Tim Duncan was absurdly good at basketball and he had a couple of hall of famers with him bookending his career. People say they want parity like the NFL, but this isn’t the NFL. The top 5 players in the league will always be extraordinarily underpaid because of the cap on max contracts. Tim Duncan, KG, kobe bryant, shaquille o’neill, etc. in their primes were sometimes 1.5 times more valuable than the 30th best player in the league.

        Value rotation players are a mirage. You take your teams of DeJuan Blairs and Jeff Green’s (or if your a stathead carl landry and kyle lowry) and I’ll take LeBron and Dwight Howard and scrubs and we’ll see who wins.

    • fmmoreno - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:02 AM

      This sounds good if a current team like the Bobcats will be asked…. for their is nobody in the team considered as superstar….. the proposal may equalize the league…. but what if somebody like Kobe wants to play with Dwight………In other case this will cause an early retirement…. say, one superstar born in a team win championship with existing superstar who is in his 30’s…. for the next season their will be somebody to be thrown away because of this…. who would that be? For me, with no doubt I would go to a younger player…. will send away my superstar for better future team… hehehe… what am i talking here….

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