NBA Lockout: Why the New CBA Won't Include a Hard Cap

Max Minsker@@MaxMinskerCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30:  Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern (R) and Adam Silver announce that a lockout will go ahead as NBA labor negotiations break down at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2011 in New York City. The NBA has locked out the players after they were unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The current CBA is due to expire tonight at midnight.    (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

The NBA cap works quite a bit differently than most other professional sports. Teams are are held to the same cap restrictions, but there isn't one specific limit that every team can spend up to and then they're done. This is the case in some sports, but the soft cap seems to work in the NBA. 

The main reason a hard cap wouldn't work in the current NBA climate is because salaries have gotten too out of control. Players are making way too much money to institute a hard cap, and in my opinion, the owners won't get enough of what they want as far as the BRI split to put in place the cap number they have been talking about. 

Here, I wrote about why the owners would win more in depth, but in short, I think the owners have much more to gain from the new CBA than the players. However, I don't think a hard cap is really what the owners want.

If owners really wanted a hard cap so badly, they wouldn't have given in on guaranteed contracts. It makes sense to push for non-guaranteed contracts in a hard cap system because it allows for more flexibility, and it means that one bad contract might not hurt you as bad as it could if it was guaranteed.

I think the fact that the owners gave in on this means eventually they will give up on the hard cap in exchange for something they are more interested in. 

The hard cap the owners have been talking about is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 million. To put this number in perspective, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will make around $40 million combined next season, this would, in theory, leave the Lakers with about $5 million to fill out their roster. Add in Luke Walton, and bam, no more money. 

Of course, by the time a hard cap is actually put into effect, there won't be any contracts similar to that of Kobe or Gasol, but will they be low enough to institute a cap of $45 million? I don't think so. They won't be able to negotiate a deal that would be favorable enough to the where it would be beneficial to use a hard cap.

When it comes down to it, I believe the owners will keep the current soft cap system in place. Personally, I probably support the soft cap system, although it would be entertaining to see every GM turn completely grey in about a week after the new CBA with a hard cap is signed. 

It seems to me that the soft cap makes it possible for teams to keep their core intact, and the luxury tax creates an incentive for teams to be efficient with their money. We'll have to wait and see what the post lockout contracts will look like before it's appropriate to determine the potential effectiveness of a hard cap down the road, but for now, I will have to support the current system.

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