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First real tests of new labor deal will be Howard, Paul, Williams

Nov 17, 2011, 10:21 AM EDT

Deron Williams, Avery Johnson, Billy King AP

Chris Bosh is right. Part of what is fueling this hardline stance by owners is about Miami and New York. This is what I mean.

What LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony did last year shook small market owners to their core. Those guys pay the bills for owners, yet franchise cornerstones moved on because they didn’t like what Cleveland and Denver had built around them. Owners want to be able to keep their stars (but make it easier to move role players around them) and the last offer from David Stern and the owners was built to do that.

Which makes Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and Chris Paul — next summer’s big free agents — the real test cases for owners.

If Williams decides to leave the Nets next summer, and the latest offer from the owners had been the approved, it would have cost him $25 million, according to Nets Daily.

Whether there’s a season or not, if the Nets re-sign Williams to a new contract this summer, he will be owed roughly $101 million over five years. But if he opts out of his $17.7 million final year and signs with a new team, he’ll get $76 million over four. That’s $25 million.

How so? The owners’ final proposal (much of which the players agreed to) permits teams who hold “Bird Rights” on their own players to re-sign them to five-year deals with 6.5% increase. That drops to four years with 3.5% increases for new teams.

He’s right. But a lot of that was in place for LeBron and Bosh and it didn’t matter.

Cleveland could offer one more year (a sixth, Miami could only offer five) and bigger raises to LeBron, which meant their offer in total was about $30 million more guaranteed than anyone else. And LeBron still left and actually took less than max money to get out of Cleveland (they did a shotgun sign-and-trade that let LeBron and Bosh get a sixth year, but both were gone either way). It may be harder for teams to create cap space under the new system, but teams will do it — how many teams contorted themselves to make room for LeBron? Miami stripped their roster down to two players to make their move.

It’s hard for any team to keep stars. Kobe Bryant almost left the Lakers in 2004, and that’s a destination team. Tim Duncan is an exception to the rule and there were still temptations for him to leave San Antonio, but they had built a team around him that could win rings. Elite players are going to be well compensated, so even if a team can offer more money it will be about the secondary factors — is this a team that can win a title? Do I want to live here?

That’s where New York and Miami and a handful of other cities will always have an advantage. And while the small market owners may have better financial footing under any new labor deal, they will still struggle to keep their stars if the organization is not well run. It’s always going to be that way. Sorry.

But we’ll see what the Nets, Magic and Hornets are able to do with the new rules. Whenever we get them.

  1. therealhtj - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    You left out the part about sign and trades. Bron and Bosh still got six year deals didn’t they as a result of the S&T’s. Those same S&T’s that the players were so adamant about keeping in the new CBA. Without those S&T’s, superstars would have to take a big chunk less guaranteed money to switch teams. They’d probably eventually make it up barring injury, but if the DWil example holds, it’ll give them a little more to think about when it comes up.

    What I don’t understand is how the 430 or so other players in the NBPA, er trade association, who’ll never get a max deal via S&T or anything resembling it, let that affect their position?

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    I made this point in the other thread, but it is probably more apropos here…the small market owners need to stand on their principles and NOT do any sign-and-trades with the teams that their stars want to go to. Granted, it is hard to just let them go for nothing, but in reality, the team getting the star will be drafting so late, that is that 28th pick worth it to give in to these guys? I would say no.

    The only way to avoid allowing your star player to go wherever he wants is to do one of the following:

    1) Insist on a “franchise tag” which will never happen

    2) Make him take far less money to leave

    #2 should be what they do, but the problem is that at the end of the day, the owners wimp out, like Gilbert did, and allow the transaction to be a sign-and-trade so they can save face.

    Granted, 2 first rounders, 2 second rounders, and a large trade exception is a lot to give up on principle. But don’t do the deal, then whine about how they players can do whatever they want the following year. Had you stood firm, LeBron would have been making less money for less years, and the cap hit would have been more on the Heat. You can’t have it both ways, Dan Gilbert.

    • rreducla1 - Nov 18, 2011 at 1:59 AM

      You are saying, essentially, that if a great plyer gets drafted by a small-market team and wants ot leave, he should:

      a) Have to stay there, because you say so
      or
      b) Take a lot less money to leave because you say so
      and
      c) If he wants to leave, the owner should hurt his own franchise just to spite the guy

      And, as usual, you leave out key facts, either because you’re disingenous or just ignorant:

      1. Cleveland didn’t get over the top because of management, in spite of a massive payroll. They failed to trigger on the JJ Hickson for Stoudemire deal, taking Antawn Jamison instead, and made dumb signings of Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall.
      2. Duncan has stayed in SA all these years; Durant has already re-upped in OKC through 2016.
      3. Like Kurt said, James was leaving anyway and took less than max money to play with James and Bosh. It was an exceptional situation.
      4. Like Kurt said, teams will still clear cap space.
      5. Orlando, one of these supposedly victimized small markets, has a gigantic payroll. And plays in Florida.

      • rreducla1 - Nov 18, 2011 at 2:00 AM

        “to”
        “disingenuous”

  3. poorlittlepinkus - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Too much Lebron in this league.
    Not enough Tim Dunkin.
    ’nuff said!

  4. wiLQ - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    “Which makes Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and Chris Paul — next summer’s big free agents — the real test cases for owners.”
    Actually had proposed new rules existed earlier all three of them wouldn’t be free agents until 2013 because of player’s options. I’ve just re-calculated all current NBA contracts as if they were signed under owners’ latest offer and here’s what it would change: http://weaksideawareness.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/nba-players-contracts-under-latest-owners-offer/

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