As the NBA adjusts to its new collective-bargaining agreement, we’re beginning to see some short-term returns. Literally.
With a more punitive luxury tax and free agents thinking twice about moving on to new teams (and therefore significantly smaller contracts than by remaining with their incumbent teams), we’re apparently in the era of incremental rebuilds.
Example A this offseason is the one-year Mavericks.
Example B is the two-year Chicago Bulls.
Where four-, five- and six-year contracts previously were de rigueur, the CBA agreed to last December clearly is turning the NBA into a more transient league. Jerseys now are being rented, teams less likely to mortgage their future for supporting players.
Take Dallas, which lost out on Deron Williams and, at best, is left in a holding pattern with Dwight Howard.
Instead of loading up with long-term replacement parts, the Mavericks opted for the short-term recovery program of adding the one-year contracts of Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones, with O.J. Mayo getting a one-year deal that also has a one-year player option.
It is a roster likely to keep the Mavericks in the playoff mix, without stripping salary-cap space for a bigger splash next summer or beyond.
Then there are the Bulls, who essentially face a lost 2012-13, with Derrick Rose expected to be out until at least March in the wake of his postseason knee injury.
Rather than lock themselves in long term before gauging Rose’s recovery, they instead have essentially establishing a two-year holding pattern, with a two-year deal for Kirk Hinrich, a two-year deal for Marco Belinelli and a one-year deal for Nazr Mohammed. Bypassed was matching the Rockets’ long-term offer sheet for Omer Asik, with Carlos Boozer, whose deal runs through 2014-15, a possible amnesty move next summer. There even has been word of trying to offload Rip Hamilton, who has a partial guarantee in 2013-14.
The upshot is a league largely operating on a year-to-year basis, dynasty talk left to the concentrated likes of the Heat, Lakers and possibly Thunder, Nets and Knicks.
Traditionally, July has been a time of teams taking the long view, building toward greater goals, citing teams that have been built to endure.
And then the new CBA and new luxury tax and new contract rules got in the way.
The Mavericks still could be pretty good this season, just as the Bulls, under the relentlessness that is Tom Thibodeau, will find a way to keep themselves somewhere at the top of the East the next two seasons.
But both teams, like many others these days, already are looking toward their next incarnation, because the long term is largely becoming an abstract in the new-CBA NBA.