MIAMI, FL - JUNE 19: James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives in the first half against Shane Battier #31 and Mike Miller #13 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 19, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
No doubt if you've been online today you've seen this article already. Ken Berger has done his homework and as someone who is in the middle of reading the entire CBA myself, this was a great cumulative review -- with two practical examples. Ken looks at the cap (which I had found out a few weeks ago was $58 million, and that I also found out that the Jazz went over it, but no one talked about it before - so hooray for independent research!), and looks at the Miami Heat (built through free agency), and the Oklahoma City Thunder (through the draft), and goes over their respective teams and the respective challenges they face moving forward. Miami is an attractive place, but sustained growth from paying for the best team money can buy gets really expensive. OKC has a lot of talent in a small market, but the last few years benefited from rookie contracts and guys on those contracts playing great.
There are a lot of great nuggets from this piece.
Under the CBA ratified by owners and players in December, the salary cap and luxury tax threshold cannot go lower in 2012-13 than their levels in the first year of the deal -- $58 million and $70.3 million, respectively. Despite a robust post-lockout recovery that included salvaging all $900 million or so of the league's national broadcast revenues, sources familiar with the NBA's finances believe overall revenues did not increase enough in 2011-12 to push the cap and tax significantly beyond current levels until 2013-14, the first season under a more punitive luxury tax designed to rein in big-spending teams.
Current spending levels are expected to be status quo when the free-agent floodgates open July 1. But the restrictions within that model are much harsher, and it isn't clear yet who the winners and losers will be.
While NBA officials have lauded the presence of so-called small-market teams in the playoffs -- commissioner David Stern specifically has mentioned Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Indiana, Memphis and Utah -- this season was simply more of the same. Three of the four teams to reach the conference finals were in the top five in the league in payroll: Boston (2), Miami (3), San Antonio (5) and outlier Oklahoma City (17), according to league salary data.
Of the top five teams in average payroll for the past five seasons, all made the playoffs: Dallas (1), the Lakers (2), Boston (3), New York (4) and Orlando (5). Only Memphis (27) and Oklahoma City (28) made the postseason from the bottom five in average payroll over the past five years. Charlotte (26), New Jersey (29) and Sacramento (30) did not.
Of course, most important to Jazz fans (aside from our cap situation, and how we went over because guys like Raja Bell and Josh Howard kept getting injured and we had to sign more and more players) is a look at what OKC is dealing with right now. It's like looking into the future in a way, especially with how well managed KOC has done with our contracts. There are similarities there, and most likely, there will be similarities in the types of challenges we'll face as a small market team that doesn't make millions from TV deals. This is especially tough if even half of our younger guys break out and become huge stars. It's even harder if all of them become great.
Anyway, if you were feeling too happy and wanted to temper that down with some downer news, read the full piece here. It is sobering. But the good news is that if the league continues to make money, then the salary cap will grow, and it will be easier for small market teams to keep their young players. If not, then well, the big market teams will just continue stealing them.