High finance at the low post

Veteran Atlanta Hawks center Etan Thomas — he was on the Thunder roster last year, and may move a few more times before his career winds down — wonders what the NBA would think of a proposition like this:

No salary cap. Bringing split for BRI to 50/50 but we have no salary cap. Teams spend what they wish, the NBA is guaranteed a revenue certainty of 50 percent and everyone is happy. This would eliminate the overspending or teams being “held hostage” because they could sign anyone for as little (should please Donald Sterling) or as much (should please Mark Cuban) as they choose.

BRI — “Basketball-Related Income” — includes almost everything except receipts from franchise moves or the luxury tax. At the moment, player salaries and benefits are set at 57 percent of BRI, which may float upwards by a point or so if revenues permit. So a 50/50 split would presumably appeal to owners, who right now are getting at most 43 percent.

And there’s the example of Major League Baseball:

MLB has no salary cap and has virtually none of the restrictions on player contracts that the NBA has. For instance, there are no limits on the length of player contracts and no limits on the amount of annual increases in multi-year player deals. Yet MLB has had nine different World Series winners in the past 10 years. (Boston is the only repeat champ in 2004 and 2007.) During this year’s Texas-San Francisco World Series commissioner Bud Selig was quoted repeatedly stating that “competitive balance has never been as strong in MLB as it is right now.” Wouldn’t a similar system be successful for both players and the NBA?

Who won the NBA Championship in the Oughts? In order: Lakers, Lakers, Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, Spurs, Heat, Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, Lakers.

Would this system work in the NBA? Who knows? The owners have been crying poverty, even as they’ve been spending like crazy; when Thunder GM Sam Presti came up with schemes to retain players without jeopardizing future finances, it made news, because hardly anybody else was doing such a thing. Easier just to write a big check and hope for a lockout, I suppose.







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