It's been a spectacular NBA season: big games, big shots, big moves and a whole lot of drama. But behind all this excitement and enjoyment from both the fans and the players, there lurks the dark cloud of a lockout next season with the current collective bargaining agreement expiring this June.
While this may not be on everyone's mind, it soon will be. We should enjoy this season as much as possible, because we'll be lucky to have a 50-game season similar to the 1999 lockout.
The reason is simple: The current system is just too unbalanced.
Under the current CBA, the total revenue equation between players and owners just doesn't add up. Fifty-seven percent of the total gross income goes to the players, while the owners receive a petty 43 percent.
The owners just won't have it, and for good reason.
Expenses are up all over the place. In this day and age, it costs much more to advertise, to market and to sustain a profit. Owners face the daunting cost of maintaining a profit while providing their players with a required amount of money. This is too large of a responsibility and the reason why owners are losing millions of dollars.
The idea of "superteams" is another recent issue.
Players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony have been able to team up with other superstars and form top-heavy superstar teams leaving small-market teams without a star player.
Small-market team owners don't want to settle for that.
In order for there not to be a lockout, all 30 teams must be making a profit, and that simply won't happen unless a hard cap is proposed and the luxury tax is limited.
The current soft cap allows teams to go over the luxury tax when re-signing players with bird rights and rookie contracts, and this should not be the case.
This is exactly why small market teams can't compete with the bigger markets; they simply don't make enough money. Now they are even losing their star players to bigger markets, making the gap much wider.
The current system favors the players too much. We all know professional athletes are grossly overpaid, so the new CBA should propose a huge reduction in player salaries.
Will the players agree? Probably not. But the owners can and will wait. They're in no rush because they have business ventures on the side. It's the players who have everything to lose—they're out of a job.
A recently proposed idea is too adopt some of the NFL's current system, which favors shorter contracts, less guaranteed money and a strict hard cap.
That's really the only thing separating the Lakers from the Timberwolves. While the Lakers have a salary cap of approximately $92 million ($35 million over the salary cap), the Timberwolves have a salary cap of $53 million ($4 million less than the salary cap).
If the owners make bad moves and signings, they can easily be fixed with shorter and non-guaranteed contracts. Thus, leveling the playing field.
A currently proposed idea of contracts looks like this:
Maximum four years from your own teams; three years as a free-agent.
The NBA must also recognize that not every superstar player is a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. Players like Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan could have left their respective teams if they wanted to, but they didn't.
In other words, there are players willing to play in small markets. The new influx of current stars seem to be of a same humble breed as guys like Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and Durant.
However, the NBA is closing in dangerously on a new era of superteams, where the small-team markets will be left behind in the dust as superstars head over to big markets to pair up. David Stern needs to decide if this is good for the league or not because the owners have made up their minds: The players are too powerful.
And they're absolutely right.