NBA lockout coming

David Stern 4/30/07 Pictures, Images and Photos
We are closing in on judgment day for labour talks in the NBA. If nothing is agreed to before then, the NBA will be in lockout mode as of July 1. Needless to say that this is bad for the players union, the league and all the fans around the world. At the core of this negotiation are a number of issues all related to the owners wanting to spend less on players and keep more revenue in pocket instead of giving it to the players union. You might think this is not fair since these owners are all rich. However, the reality is that many teams are actually losing money, in part because of the current agreement with the players union.

From all the topics that are being discussed here, the one I am most interested in as a fan is the salary cap. Currently, the NBA has a soft cap with a luxury tax. This means that all teams have a threshold that they cannot go over in terms of spending on players. If they do cross that line, they have to pay a 100% tax on every dollar beyond that threshold. This enables some teams, namely those in big markets and those with spend-happy owners to reach far into the luxury tax, while small market teams and teams with spend-thrift owners are limited just below the cap. As you would imagine the teams that spend more generally end up winning more, with exceptions here and there.

The league wants to have a hard cap which no team can go beyond. The players would like the opposite, but are ok with the current system. On this issue I have to agree completely with the league. The NBA (and every sports league really) needs to have equality. It’s not fair to the fans that a big market team like Los Angeles can spend their way to a title contending position, while a small market team like Sacramento has to pray for one of those rare owners that wants to win at any cost.

I don’t know when this lockout will get resolved. I hope it will be very soon. I also hope that when it is resolved the NBA will operate under a hard cap system instead of the soft cap/luxury tax system that is currently in place. Unfortunately, I think the players union will probably get their way on this issue and we will keep the status quo, more or less.