The NBA’s Equality Era


For the last several years, we have heard tales that the NBA’s cap room for the 30 teams would significantly increase. But like graduating high school and moving on to the next phase of your life, you don’t know how it will unfold until you’re in that situation.

The moment the clock struck midnight, we weren’t in a story like Cinderella anymore. Many of us were flabbergasted by the amount of guaranteed money these free agents were making, guys like DeMar DeRozan staying up and maxing out at $139 million and guys like Timofey Mozgov whose averages were 6.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG in less than eighteen minutes a night, he’s being paid 64-million over a 4-year span.

While we were caught off guard by some of these outrageous signings, the NBA was changing the guard.

 

Five years ago, we wouldn’t pay DeMar DeRozan a max contract, let alone an average of 27.8 million over the course of the next five seasons. DeRozan, the same guy who struggled immensely in the playoffs and can’t shoot, he now has (at the time of this article) the second biggest contract in NBA history. That’s a starter, but Timofey Mozgov didn’t even contribute to Cleveland’s championship, and he’s getting 16 million a year now. Back a few years ago, it would be special if a player reached 20 million dollars on his team, and that would assure your stay as that franchise’s centerpiece. But now, we’re rewarding mediocrity with the big bucks. Times have changed, but why?

The NBA has grown immensely popular over the last few seasons as revenue has skyrocketed through the roof. The NBA has thus allowed the cap room for a team to pay 12 players with 94 million in the course of a season, and it will be increased next season to about 107 million. So in today’s game, NBA front offices have more money than they need or can handle. When they need to spend 90% of their salary cap (in 2016 is 84.6 million; 2017 projection to be 96.3 million), they’ll use that money on whoever will come to avoid the penalty of not spending 90% of their trust fund from the league. It just so happens, when Kevin Durant and LeBron James want nothing to do with your team, you have to spend that money on SOMEONE, and there’s Jerryd Bayless and Matthew Dellavedova lined up to take that money off a team’s hands.

Unfortunately, history has a tendency to repeat itself. Though these C players are getting paid with eight figures to fill out a team’s salary cap, what happens when a team wants to trade one of these players and their bad contracts midseason? Do you really believe any team in their right mind will take on a Jerryd Bayless 9 mil-a-year deal? These roleplayers, bench warmers, and their salaries suddenly become a roadblock when trying to get the big deals struck. Though I don’t think big midseason trades will cease to exist in the near future, I believe these altering deadline deals will dwindle down and eventually become a rarity in the NBA.

Also, keep in mind, just how many free agent signings in the four major American sports are regretted two years later. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers have made some bad decisions when it comes to signing players. Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young have all signed contracts in recent years, well overpaid, and those contracts have been a contributing factor to destroying a dynasty and the Lakers aura when it comes to making more moves.

 

When it comes down to it, these below-average players are being paid so much cash for being mediocre, and rewarding that irrelevancy isn’t what I’m down for. I try to relate it to the direction America has went in the 21st Century. It begins with every child getting a trophy for participating, and then it goes into everybody wanting a free college education, and then we’re at a place where people feel the doctors and lawyers (the Durants and LeBrons) should be paid the same as the burger flippers and Wal-Mart greeters (the Evan Turners and Fourniers). Then, all of a sudden, it becomes harder to ask the stars to take a little less to bring another star into the fold to build a championship team.

The NBA is well-known as a players league, and boy, do they take care of their players. Get used to the big numbers and max deals for complacent NBA pieces, because it won’t end anytime soon. It’s now time to ring in the “Equality Era” and allow the likes of Bradley Beal and Chandler Parsons, nice B players, making A+ money. Because after all, they all need their participation trophy.

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