In the last lockout in 2011, the NBA significantly cut into the National Basketball Players Association’s share. The league managed to reduce the players’ share of basketball related income (otherwise known as BRI) from 57 percent before the work stoppage to a band between 49 and 51 percent under the new CBA. That doesn’t mean the league is satisfied, though. “They want one thing,” said one player agent, referring to the owners. “They want a higher percentage than 50 percent [of BRI]. That’s it.”
But that cap jump and the artificial ceiling for max contracts meant plenty of players were given hefty contracts this summer simply because they could peg their demands to a max salary, and know multiple teams would give it to them. The most obvious example is Harrison Barnes, who went from being the fourth or fifth option with the Warriors to getting over $90 million guaranteed over the next four years on a max deal from the Dallas Mavericks. “If I was the owners, why wouldn’t I want to stop this?” one talent evaluator asked.
If players like Curry and Durant could each command, say, $50 or $60 million per year instead of the $26.5 million and change Durant will earn next season on his maximum allowed salary, it would be difficult – if not impossible – for them to play together without agreeing to take gigantic pay cuts. Unlike many of the topics on this list, however, this one could gain some traction. Roberts has previously talked about the possibility of eliminating them, and with the union’s executive committee now full of names like Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony — who all would likely command more than a maximum dollar amount in an open market — perhaps it’s something they would be interested in pursuing.
In the ‘80s, Byron Scott, Big John Williams and Lester Conner frequented the Drew. In the ‘90s, Paul Pierce and Baron Davis were among those who took up the mantle. In the 2000s, Davis started bringing his buddies, though at that time, Tyronn Lue and Earl Watson were hardly household names. “We were like, ‘That’s it,’” Smiley recalled. “It sustained us and, tie a ribbon on it and let it go.” Then, the 2011 lockout hit. Pros were left searching for competitive runs with NBA rules. Davis directed them to the Drew. The stars followed.
The 2011 lockout was about money, of course, but among the issues the NBA felt strongest was the idea of “competitive balance” — the notion that some franchises, because of the financial disparities between various markets, could not realistically compete for championships. And so the NBA pushed for, and ultimately got, relief for those teams on two tracks: a dramatic giveback — around $3 billion in salaries — from its players, along with an enhanced revenue sharing program between teams, that transferred significantly more money from the league’s relative haves to its have nots. Almost five years later, those changes have not done much to impact competitive balance in the NBA.
In the last 40 seasons, only 10 teams have won even one championship, and three of those 10 — Portland, Washington and Seattle/OKC — won their championships more than three decades ago, in consecutive seasons — 1977, ’78 and ’79. None have won a championship since. Only seven teams have won a title since 1980. Seven. By contrast, since 1947, 23 different NFL teams have won championships. Of those 23 teams, 16 have won more than one title. Just in the Super Bowl era of the NFL — 50 years — there have been 19 different champions, led by the Pittsburgh Steelers, with six Lombardi trophies. Twelve NFL teams have won more than one Super Bowl. Since 1947, in Major League Baseball, 21 different teams have won World Series titles, led by the New York Yankees with 17. And of the 21 teams that have won a title during that time, 15 have won more than one title.