Thursday, August 7, 2008

Solution to the Euro Crisis

Photo by Flickr user Bashed used under a Creative Commons license.

Carlos Delfino, JC Navarro, Nenad Krstic, Jorge Garbajosa, Bostjan Nachbar, Primoz Brezec, Josh Childress, Carlos Arroyo, Earl Boykins. This is a supposedly complete list of NBA players that have defected (I love how we just throw around that term like nothing) to Europe this off-season alone. Who's next? Carl Landry? Jason Williams?

We hear playful talk out of Lebron and Kobe saying that if offered 50 million dollars a year, they'd make the jump too. So what are we going to do about this?

Before we enter this discussion, let it be known that I realize it is very hard to change a CBA. Also that any changes outlined wouldn't go into effect until 2012. But here is my idea anyway.

I was thinking aout the David Beckham rule analogy I made when the Childress news broke, and I was wondering what would happen if a similar thing were espoused in the NBA. Let's keep the same basic structure of the current salary cap (Max Contracts, Mid-level exceptions, etc.), except allow for one exemption per team, an Overmax contract.

The basics of the Overmax would be that it is outside the rules of the salary cap. The salary given to this player has no maximum and does not count against your salary cap. This way, we aren't handcuffed by the salary cap and simply outbid by European teams.

Another problem with the current system is how it locks in mid-levelish players into an MLE type contract. Maybe Josh Childress was worth 8 million dollars to some NBA teams, but realistically most teams in the bidding were only going to offer a MLE. With the introduction of the Overmax, your second-tier player now gets between an MLE and a "max" contract.

Obviously, like with any system, there are problems with this. The primary problem behind this is that unlike the MLS, the NBA hinges upon having 3 superstars on your team, abiding by the Pareto Principle. The Overmax contract could lead to the death of the second (and third, for that matter) fiddle.

However, here are the ways around that:

  • 1. By trade: Teams can trade their Overmax players to other teams. The salary matching rules will still be in place, so a team will have to give up a lot to try to acquire an Overmax player by trade. However, we saw the Celtics trade away seven players to get Kevin Garnett last offseason, so such a thing isn't in the realm of impossible. Note that, unlike in the MLS, the team is not trading away their Overmax spot, just the player. The trading team then can go and sign another Overmax player in the off-season if they so wish.

  • 2. Resigning: Similar to the current CBA, a team will always be allowed to offer an Overmax contract to keep a player on their team, regardless of cap situation. However, only one Overmax player's salary will be exempt from the luxury tax.

    This encourages teams to try to build up via the draft, as they know that after the rookie contract is up, they will be in prime position to offer the Overmax contract, as other teams might already have their hands tied. It does, however, give a lot of power to the player's current team to set their own price without a lot of negotiating power going to the player. But they are still theoretically bidding against Europe, so the player has that on their side.

    Another problem with this is that it leads to the death of the small market team. Maybe at the end of the day, the Utah Jazz can only pay Deron Williams 20 million dollars, while he hears offers of 40 from elsewhere. However, in this league, there are more stars than teams (I think, I haven't actually counted), so I'm pretty sure that some stars would have to settle for a normal max contract anyway (*tear*).

    I'm sure that there are many more problems that I haven't thought of or outlined here, so I'd appreciate your suggestions. Also, this all makes sense in my head, but if I haven't explained well enough, say so, and I will try harder to explicate more clearly.