Skip to content

Heat may be forced to break up superstar core due to league’s upcoming payroll taxes

Dec 8, 2012, 9:30 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Getty Images

The lockout that shortened the 2011-12 NBA season was about money above all else. The owners were willing to scrap the season if they didn’t secure a much larger share of revenue in the new collective bargaining agreement, and that’s exactly what they were able to do, even if it took holding the players and the fans hostage for a while to get that accomplished.

While helping the league secure a more parity-driven system that focused on competitive balance wasn’t the ultimate goal, the new payroll tax system put into place that will take effect at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season may eventually cause that to be the case.

Teams like the Miami Heat, for example, may simply not be able to afford to keep LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh together to make multiple runs at the title, or, at the very least, they may not be able to surround them with anything more than minimum-salaried players.

From Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated:

As a repeat taxpayer, the Heat will be facing the highest incremental tax rates in NBA history. If, for example, the luxury-tax threshold is established at $75 million — a highly optimistic gain of roughly $5 million from this season — the Heat could be faced with a tax bill approaching $48 million. In total, they would be paying $141.3 million for 12 players.

“They’re going to have to break up their team,” predicted a rival general manager who has done the math.

Unless the NBA’s financial circumstances improve over the next couple of years, Arison will be faced with two unhappy choices: The Heat could run a big deficit in 2014-15 to pursue the championship, or he could break up their winning roster by way of trades, amnesty or by not re-signing James, Wade or Bosh, should they exercise their options to become free agents in 2014.

Thomsen’s piece breaks this all down in much more detail, so it’s definitely worth checking out in its entirety.

The bottom line, though, is this: We can expect the league’s superstar talent to spread out a little bit more in the coming seasons, as opposed to congregating in the league’s largest markets that have with the best weather and the brightest nightlife, as we’ve seen in recent years.

We’ve already seen teams begin to plan for this; New York didn’t want to sign Jeremy Lin to a large contract because of tax ramifications, and the same was true for Oklahoma City where James Harden was concerned.

The repeater-tax may not have been at the top of the list of demands when the teams went to the bargaining table with the Players’ Association last fall. But it may end up slowly having the affect that fans desire, which is to give more teams in more cities a legitimate shot at winning a title, thanks to the dilution of talent that will follow once those higher financial penalties for exceeding the salary cap are put into place.

Latest Posts
  1. Carmelo Anthony on his free agent decision: ‘It was pretty much always Chicago or New York’

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Anthony reportedly strongly considered the Lakers too, but he says that wasn’t really the case.

  2. Report: Kevin Johnson no longer part of search for new head of players’ union, vote expected Monday

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Kevin Johnson

    The union for the players continues to struggle to get some competent leadership in place.

  3. Joakim Noah is happy for LeBron, but hopes Bulls ‘can kick his a– as many times as possible’

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Joakim Noah continues to be brutally honest when speaking about his team’s competition.

  4. Top 10 dunks of Las Vegas Summer League (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins AP

    The Andrew Wiggins spin and dunk is a thing of beauty.

  5. Report: Hawks sign Shelvin Mack to three-year, $7.3 million deal

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    He is a solid backup to have while Dennis Schroder develops.

  6. Report: Will Cherry drawing interest from Cavaliers, Raptors

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Will Cherry was fun to watch at Las Vegas Summer League.

  7. Tom Thibodeau considers Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson starters

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls also must make room for Nikola Mirotic in frontcourt

  8. Dirk Nowitzki plays baseball (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Dirk Nowitzki Dirk Nowitzki

    Dirk Nowitzki presents a big strike zone.

  9. Report: NBA wants to avoid massive salary-cap spike

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    New TV deal expected to drastically increase revenue

  10. Newspaper seeks LeBron James beat reporter

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Two Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Two

    Not a Cleveland Cavaliers beat reporter. A LeBron James beat reporter.

  11. Report: Bulls promised not to trade Nikola Mirotic

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Nikola Mirotic, Gar Forman Nikola Mirotic, Gar Forman

    Rookie big man has been mentioned in Kevin Love trade rumors

  12. Report: Cavaliers leading Kevin Love-trade sweepstakes

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Timberwolves reportedly come to their senses, prefer Andrew Wiggins to Klay Thompson

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4100)
  2. K. Love (3793)
  3. L. James (3690)
  4. R. Allen (3316)
  5. A. Wiggins (2835)
  1. J. Nelson (2689)
  2. K. Bryant (2574)
  3. D. Rose (2512)
  4. E. Bledsoe (2396)
  5. C. Anthony (2249)