A Player Run League?

Posted by By at 27 February, at 00 : 51 AM Print

As we inch closer to the Playoffs and excitement builds around the great races in each conference, one must sit back and take stock of the current landscape of the NBA.

The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2010/2011 NBA Season and no new agreement is in sight. It’s evident that the League must take back control of the league.

With no “Hard” Salary Cap in place, NBA teams have been held hostage by their superstars and their high salaries.  Why have a salary cap at all if there are exceptions to the rule? 

We have seen the league give to the players control in the last few years, but this season has been quite unique.  As players are aware that the CBA was/is set to expire, they are using it as leverage to force teams to shell out major dollars to keep or sign them.  This has been remarkably evident during this past off-season and just recently at the Trade Deadline. 

Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh came into the league together.  They were drafted in the same year and each re-signed the same extension length.  No one at the time realized that they had planned to play together at the expiration of their second contracts.  What these 3 players did, was force the hand of their old teams and made them trade away their rights for next to nothing (trade exceptions). Eventually, all signed with the Miami Heat (well documented). 

No one is saying that a player doesn’t have or deserve the choice to play where they want, but both Bosh and James held their collective cities hostage as they “made” their decisions.  They each make astronomical amounts of money per season and will live happily ever after in Miami.  In the case of this recent trade deadline, we saw what happens when a star player makes the decision that they want to leave their current city.  Carmelo Anthony made it publicly known that he wanted out of Denver.  He also forced the Nuggets front office to make a move and trade him away.  The part that kills fans and drives NBA Executives crazy is that he refused to sign with any team except the New York Knicks.  Other deals were offered to Denver, but Melo himself stated that he wanted to go to New York and that’s where he would sign a contract extension.  This is a blatant example of a player running a team and controlling his own destiny.  The Celtics, on a similar note, surprised the NBA world by trading away their Starting Center Kendrick Perkins.  Although it looked odd, supposedly the Celtics had offered him numerous contract extensions and Perkins had turned them down each time (holding out for MORE money).  The Celtics (with GM Danny Ainge) in their wisdom, knew based on what they had seen (Melo, LBJ and Bosh) that they would probably lose Perkins to a higher spending club. They traded him away for great value in a young versatile player (Jeff Green) and an expiring contract in Krstic.  The Celtics, although smart in their deal, were forced to move their defensive stud in order to prevent themselves from seeing a loss like the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Raptors.

The NBA is seeing a role reversal where players are controlling their own destinies and forcing teams to make desperate moves in order to counteract a major loss with no compensation in return.  Other recent examples of player control that show further examples of how players dominate the league are:
- Troy Murphy traded to the Golden State Warriors, refusing to play and waiting for a buyout
- 5 Detroit Pistons players skipping shoot-around to force the front office to fire Head Coach John Keuster
- Deron Williams stating that he “may” re-sign with New Jersey. 
- Richard Hamilton not agreeing to a trade to the Cavaliers and demanding a buyout if he was

These examples and the CBA expiring demonstrate that when the new agreement is passed, League Officials must regain control.  The best and most effective way to accomplish this (as we have learned from the NFL and NHL) is through a “HARD” salary cap and by developing the “Franchise Tag”, thus giving team Owner’s the ability to control their roster.

Whatever the outcome, all that we can hope for is a full basketball season come October!

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