The NBA Players Association and the league itself appear to be far apart on lockout negotiations, according to the latest reports. Clearly, this labor dispute is not going to be solved as easily as the NFL's, and fans should brace themselves for potentially missing some basketball games this year. Of course, I have no actual influence on how labor negotiations progress, but here's my take on a few changes the league should make in the next collective bargaining agreement.
This is a little higher than the $50 million and $60 million hard caps suggested by both the league and many NBA analysts. First, let's consider that the NHL has a salary cap (which is essentially a hard cap because teams can't go over it) at $59.4 million. Yes, NHL teams have more players, but since the NBA is a far more popular league, the players should be paid more because teams are able to generate more revenue.
A $65 million dollar hard cap allows NBA teams to potentially sign two superstars with a strong supporting cast, or three superstars with a weaker one (i.e. the Miami Heat). In addition to this, teams would be forced to spend a minimum of $45 million on player salaries per year. This would prevent owners from being cheap and not making the effort to produce competitive teams (I'm looking at you, Donald Sterling).
Players with less than seven years of experience should be able to make a maximum of one-fifth (equivalent to $13 million) of the hard cap in the first year of their contract. Additionally, players with more than seven years of experience should be permitted to make a maximum of one-fourth of the hard cap (equivalent to $16.25 million). These contracts would have a maximum increase of 10 percent per annum and would be permitted to be no longer than five years long. Also, in order for a player to be paid a maximum contract, they would have to have made the All-Star team three times in their previous contract and/or been on the All-NBA First Team.
Continuing that trend, a player would need to have made the All-Star team twice (or any All-NBA team) in order to earn a maximum of $10 million per year. Any player who made just one All-Star team would be eligible to make a maximum of $8 million per year, and any other players would make less than that. Essentially what this does is prevent owners from making boneheaded decisions and handing out eight figure contracts to the Hedo Turkoglu's and Andris Biedrins's of the world.
A quick disclaimer here: This isn't actually my idea; I saw something very similar in an article written by Bill Simmons "The Sports Guy" of ESPN.
One issue in the NBA since the inception of the NBA Draft Lottery in 1985 is tanking. NBA teams have sometimes decided that, since their rosters were not capable of securing a playoff spot, they would deliberately not make a full effort to win games in order to have a better chance of securing a top pick in the upcoming draft.
Here's how to do away with that. The NBA should have 14 teams (the top seven from each conference) automatically make the playoffs. Then, the bottom 16 teams in the league would compete in a sudden-death tournament (similar to the NCAA tournament), with the two finalists appearing in the playoffs. The winner of the tournament would automatically receive the fifth pick in the draft (and be permitted to choose which conference they go to for the playoffs), and the runner-up would receive the 10th pick in the draft and participate in the other conference's playoffs. The teams that finished worse than second would simply be entered into the lottery as per norm.
Though, unlike in past years, the ping pong balls would be drawn on live television in order to dissuade any thoughts of rigging (which many people believe has been clearly evident for the past decade or so). Additionally, the lottery would no longer be weighted, and all teams that failed to make the playoffs would have an equal chance of securing the No. 1 selection in the draft.