Super Teams, a Super Problem
In today’s world, many teams in the NBA have more money than they could possibly know what to do with. Due to a massive twenty-four-billion-dollar deal made in 2014, the salary cap for NBA teams this summer increased by an exponential amount that has never been seen before (Cato, 2016). As this has unfolded this summer, we have seen a new era of massive contracts for players who are not even the superstars of their own team. I will explain what has happened in the world of the NBA salary cap, and then show why this may be considered harmful to the NBA in the long run.
The NBA made a new TV deal in the year 2014 that was scheduled to bring in a massive twenty-four-billion-dollars over the next nine years. As the salary cap was usually only able to increase by one million every year leading up to 2014, the past two years saw an average of six million dollars in growth during the offseason. This offseason however, the salary cap rose an exponential twenty-four-million-dollars from a seventy million to a ninety-four-million-dollar salary cap. This gave many teams the option to go for a max salary level player, which is why so many teams had the potential to shoot for the skills of Kevin Durant (Cato, 2016). Although since the Golden State Warriors won out in this competition, it left many teams to throw all of the money at a very average pool of free agents after LeBron made his announcement to stay in Cleveland. This is why we have seen very average players getting superstar level salaries, such as Mike Conley’s 152-million-dollar deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, that is now the biggest contract the NBA has ever seen. The reason for the huge jump in salaries is simply because the money is determined off of a percentage. Certain level players are given a certain percentage of an NBA team’s available salary cap. For instance, a player like Kyrie Irving may make twenty-two percent of the Cavalier’s available cap, while a bench player will earn eight percent (Cato, 2016). Now due to the rising cap space, the eight percent just became a whole lot bigger. Numbers will look inflated for certain players until the superstars re-sign their contracts to put the entire league back in check.
This causes a potential problem for the NBA in my opinion, and in the opinion of certain NBA stars of the past. With the salary cap predicted to rise an exponential rate again next year, it opens up the possibility of having multiple “super teams”, as the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers have done over the past few years. This in my opinion is ruining the sport of basketball and making it seem like a monopoly of sorts. With Miami always being in the finals during their super team run, and now the Cavaliers going every year with their super team, we have now introduced the Golden State Warriors seeming like an invincible team. Today’s owners now have the ability to assemble teams comparable to the Olympic USA teams of old.
In my opinion, and the opinion of superstars such as Larry Bird, we are taking away the accomplishment of winning a championship. If we allow the salary cap to continue to rise like this, the best team will simply become the franchise that has the most money to throw at the available superstars looking for a new team. Luckily for the NBA, statistics do not show a direct correlation between teams who win most having the most amount of fans, even though most super teams are at the top.
This way of assembling teams today is taking away the skill of coaching. The importance of a good coach or a well thought out strategy are taking a back seat to players simply playing backyard ball and relying on natural talent. With the rising salary cap coming in the next few years, we are headed for the possibility of many super teams, and the dilution of pride of coming away with a championship.
Cato, T. (2016, July 01). Why NBA teams are signing so-so players to massive contracts. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2016/6/30/12056030/nba-salary-cap-2016-details-free-agents-ridiculous
Sports Business Research Network. (2015). Basketball (NBA): % of All Fans Ranking Team As Favorite/Overall Rank. Retrieved from http://www.sbrnet.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/research.aspx?subrid=882.