Ever since the NBA enacted a more rigid salary cap, it's been a bit tricky to concoct trades even when franchises really want to make a deal happen. Need proof?
Well when was the last time ESPN.com unveiled a trade machine for baseball, designed to help fans calculate and keep track of all the various aspects of the salary cap in an effort to make understanding trades and potential trades a little easier?
Before this season the salary cap was confusing to fans, but it had been in place for over a decade. General managers and decision makers had plenty of time to become familiar with it and all of its exceptions and rules.
Now, the old collective bargaining agreement and the old salary cap are history, replaced by a brand new set of rules and trade exceptions, which were agreed to and enacted just a few weeks before the current season began.
New can mean better and it can mean worse, but it always takes some time to get used to and that may end up causing a few NBA owners and general managers to get cold feet with regards to wheeling and dealing at the trade deadline this season.
After all, a new set of rules means a new system of determining an individual player's value. Fans and media alike at times have a habit of comparing two players and looking at their stats or rings or personalities and then determining who is "better".
All of those can be important, but general managers and owners are most interested in "value". Is Rajon Rondo better than Derrick Rose? Of course not, even the greenest of Celtics fans would be hesitant to make that type of bold declaration.
Is Rajon Rondo—at about $11 million per year—more valuable than Derrick Rose, who makes $18 million a year? Well, that's a legitimate debate.
The salaries basically state that Rose is 39 percent better than Rondo. That's debatable as well, but once you add in what type of player a team could acquire with the left-over $7 million from having Rondo in place over Rose, that adds a whole other metric to the debate.
Now that the cap has changed and the luxury tax rules have changed, the methods and importance of determining "value" have changed as well and that can be a daunting prospect for owners. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said of the new rules (via NBA.com):
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"Because of the new set of rules, there's going to be a different market for pricing players. And when there's a different market for pricing players, you've got to introduce a different methodology for building a team. And you can't just use the same approach that we've used in the past."
This could mean that owners are playing a game of "chicken". One owner wants to wait and see how another owner is assigning value to his players. Then that owner will check that against the actions of another owner and so forth. All of that adds up to a lot of waiting and seeing.
The new CBA also includes far stiffer penalties for exceeding the salary cap. Those rules don't make an impact until the 2013-2014 season, but with that in mind, it may make dealing players with long-term contracts even more difficult this season and next as well.
The new CBA also restricts exceptions and sign-and-trade deals as well.
It's going to take time to see how it impacts the league and the league trading deadline. It's too soon to declare it "good" or "bad". It may also be too soon for some gun-shy owners concerned about skyrocketing luxury tax payments or future salary cap problems to pull the trigger on a big trade in the next 24 hours.