It appears the battle lines are already being drawn for the next time the NBA and its Players Association work toward a collective bargaining agreement. League commissioner Adam Silver has swiftly responded after NBPA executive director Michele Roberts questioned the salary cap.
In an interview with Pablo S. Torre of ESPN The Magazine, Roberts took direct aim at the way the cap limits the amount a player can make, even when on the open market. She went as far as to call the entire system "un-American."
"I don't know of any space other than the world of sports where there's this notion that we will artificially deflate what someone's able to make, just because," she said. "It's incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it."
Silver wasted no time volleying back. He called the idea of having a system in place to pay employees "the norm" and pointed toward the long period in which the salary cap has been in place. He also tried to put out the potential fire by saying it would all be discussed with the players at a later time.
Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated provided the full statement:
It's an interesting debate. For years, the idea of a salary cap has been pushed forward by leagues as a way to increase the overall level of competitiveness. Having a maximum amount each team can spend has also helped franchises in smaller markets without a huge revenue base to fall back on.
Yet, on the flip side, having a so-called max contract for elite players like LeBron James, who's been a high-profile free agent twice in recent years, does limit his income potential. He's one player who already spoke out about the next negotiations.
The debate will likely reach a fever pitch by 2017, when both sides have the opportunity to opt out of the current CBA.