The "collective bargaining agreement" (CBA) in the NBA puts a cap on what players can make but LeBron James is counting on even bigger bucks in the near future. Will the abolition of a cap derail small market teams and affect their NBA odds?
Money, Money, Money
Professional sports exist in a parallel universe where an athlete can be offered a four-year deal worth between $70-$80 million dollars and it will be deemed an “insult”. Just ask Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox or at the very least, his agent. It’s a hard pill to swallow for the ordinary Joes who are responsible for paying these mega-deals but the reality is that there are very few who can perform at this elite level and even fewer who can squeeze every penny from the owners who pay them.
LeBron James is one of those rare breeds who can make rich white guys salivate at the prospect of throwing him oodles of money and be happy for the opportunity. But LeBron has obviously been thinking about a subject he is often reluctant to talk about and that happens to be the very topic of this article – money. It is reported that James’ equity position in Beats Electronics was rewarded with a $30 million haul when Apple recently bought the company for $3 billion. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the King’s future NBA earnings.
When LeBron decided to take his talents to Cleveland he signed a two-year maximum contract worth $42.2 million with a player option in the second year. And it is that rationale which is the crux of this article and perhaps a harbinger of things to come when the new CBA comes around in 2017. James’ deal is two-fold. It allows him the freedom to get a max contract next season if the cap is raised and it also forces the Cavs to keep him happy by continuing to acquire talent, the kind of talent that will no doubt be agreeable to the King, and keep them contending for a championship year after year. If the Cavs displease His Highness, LeBron will undoubtedly be looking for newer and greener pastures.
LeBron James is not the only superstar in the league, just the biggest. But his short term contract is a clear bellwether that NBA players are eyeballing their counterparts in Major League Baseball. There is no cap in the MLB and when Donald Sterling reportedly had a $2 billion offer to buy the Clippers, NBA agents and their clients took notice. The owners have plenty of dough and the players want theirs. While an increase in the salary cap will be welcome news to those who are eligible, it is not the Holy Grail.
The endgame is an abolition of the salary cap which will not only allow the very best to get paid like MLB’s finest but will have a trickledown effect to even the spare parts who would normally be slotted into a lower cap space. Those slightly above average players could possibly earn something along the lines of a Stephen Drew of the Boston Red Sox who got his pro-rated $14 million for being a very good defensive player but a mediocre hitter. The same could be said of an Avery Bradley, a defensive whiz but only a fair scorer, who the Celtics locked up to a new four-year pact at an average of $8 million per season. The Celtics brass understands what whispers in the winds and realizes that he will be a steal if the cap is no more.
Once the CBA is up, then one will have to look at small market teams and how they will be adversely affected not only on the court but in your NBA odds. If the playing field gets lopsided you can expect point spreads to increase and laying double digits (or grabbing them in your NBA picks) will be routine. SBR will keep you informed.