Cuban had idea for eliminating salary cap

That was the word today from union director Billy Hunter in a podcast with Bill Simmons of

Simmons writes: “My takeaway from the hour: Billy seems convinced that his players are absolutely sticking together (that’s his “leverage,” so to speak); he feels like the league is in a much better place than it’s pretending to be; he’s more than happy to work with the more thoughtful owners on ambitious big-picture solutions; he believes the owners’ side has a built-in advantage with the media and how events are spun; and he’s much more confident about the ebbs and flows of this process than I expected. If you notice, he compares it to how 1999 played out when everything broke at the 12th hour — it seems like he’s expecting that to happen here. Or maybe he’s just being overly optimistic. It certainly didn’t seem like things had blown up completely, or that there wasn’t room for them to keep talking. He seemed enthusiastic about Mark Cuban’s plan to create a better economic model — dubbed “The Game-changer” by Cuban, it eliminates the salary cap completely — and admitted that they had some quality brainstorming before some of the smaller-market owners derailed that momentum. Why didn’t this brainstorming happen this summer instead of last week? Hunter seemed to feel like the owners didn’t have any real urgency until last week. (You could easily say the same for the players.) Either way, this podcast downgraded me from “100 percent pessimistic about the season being saved” to “75 percent pessimistic about the season being saved.” Just know that 75 percent still sucks. Let’s make a deal already.”


  1. ignarus says

    Sounds like it wasn’t a great idea — just a sound bite to harden the distinction between the owners who want basketball and the one’s that don’t.

    Perceived divisions between the owners helps Hunter keep the players together. Same tactic as when Stern said players signing overseas would divide the union.

    I guess i kinda want to know what the idea was, just because I’m actually that hard up for basketball stuff to think about.

  2. Mike says

    I don’t know what his plan was but here’s my interpretation (actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a few days but I’ll let Cuban take the credit).

    My idea is a hybrid of soft and hard caps. Each team has a hard cap of some number (say $52M) to use on all but one of their players (and teams must spend at least $50M per year). The final player can does not count against the cap and can be paid $5M more than the otherwise league maximum (last year about $18M) plus another $500k for every year he’s been with the same team (thanks Simmons). This gives incentives for star players to stay with their current team but discourages super team coalitions (the big three might be content playing for $17M when the most they could make is $18M, but what if they could be making $23-28M?). This would hopefully spread the talent a little more around the league while compensating the players who bring in the majority of the revenues. The remaining players would still be well compensated.
    Feel free to make other suggestions.

    Really, I know this will never happen, I just want the season to start. Sigh. The longer this goes on the more frustrated I get with the NBA (players and owners) and the less likely I am to care when they do start. I’ve been an avid fan for years but don’t know how much longer I can put up with this.

    • Guest says

      “Really, I know this will never happen, I just want the season to start. Sigh. The longer this goes on the more frustrated I get with the NBA (players and owners) and the less likely I am to care when they do start. I’ve been an avid fan for years but don’t know how much longer I can put up with this.”

      I felt the same way starting last Thursday. I never much cared about players vs. owners. Each side is obviously trying to get as much as possible and I don’t begrudge them that. I assumed reason would prevail and a deal would get done. But now I feel like they are taking advantage of me, expecting me to stay on hold while they talk for hours on the other line as if I wasn’t even there.

      Will I still watch? Almost certainly. But I will not be attending my usual 5-10 games if the season ever does start. Screw that.

  3. Paul says

    Sports, such as Baseball, that do not have a salary cap have seen salaries of super star players reach astronomical figures, and an NBA GM agrees with Wade that the same thing would happen in the NBA if it were not for the salary cap.

    “There’s absolutely no doubt that the top NBA stars are the most underpaid in sports,” the GM told Yahoo news.

    He also went on to discuss how the salary cap can sometimes work against the very owners that created it to control the players. Quoting the example of the Miami Heat, where three of the biggest stars in the league joined hands to make them an irresistible force, and therefore a problem for the rest of the NBA, the GM said it wouldn’t have happened if not for the salary cap.

    “The max salaries created the Heat. The owners have only themselves to blame if they don’t like what happened with the Heat. There’s no way (Heat owner) Micky Arison could afford the $140 million to pay those three (Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh) in a free market situation—and that’s $140 million annually.”

    This is perhaps the reason the NBPA is hell bent on resisting any move by the league towards a hard cap in the new CBA. Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBPA, has already called the salary cap a “blood issue” because the players know they are being sold short as it is.

    The real stars of the league, throughout the modern era, like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, would command much higher salaries than they ever got if it weren’t for the salary cap system. The reason is that it is these big names that draw the crowds to the games, they fill out the arenas and it is they who have made basketball and the NBA the global phenomenon that it is today.

    Wade was therefore absolutely right when he said you cannot put a dollar value on what these top athletes have given to the game.

    For an example, Los Angeles Lakers owner admits privately that Kobe Bryant probably brings in $70 million dollar for the franchise every year, yet he will earn only $25 million next season.

    • Guest says

      Hunter didn’t go into detail except that he alluded to it including a progressive luxury lax.

      Hunter was rather unimpressive on the show, starting with his misuse (and mispronunciation), of “faux pas.” At times he rambled and seemed to miss the point of the question. And his claim that (a) there was a media battle and (b) that the owners were winning it because of Stern’s connections bordered on the absurd.

      If Hunter was smart, I think he should be beating the drum that team payroll does not correlate to winning, contrary to what the owners claim. He should also talk about the owners are trying to avoid responsibility for running their teams poorly.

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