It is theoretically possible to buy the talent necessary to win a championship in the NBA, but especially since the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement went into effect, it would come at a very substantial cost.
We’ll get to that in a moment.
For now, let’s look at the teams who were served with the biggest luxury tax bills for their respective 2012-13 payrolls.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Your NBA luxury-tax champions from the 2012-13 season? Lakers informed tonight that they were officially charged $29,259,739 in ’12-13 tax
Rest of NBA’s 2012-13 tax bills: 2. MIA ($13,346,242), 3. BKN ($12,883,647), 4. NYK ($9,962,406), 5. CHI ($3,932,336), 6. BOS ($1,181,640)
As has been well-chronicled, the roster of the Lakers failed due mainly to a rash of injuries over the course of the season to key players, but also because of an inability from Dwight Howard to ever truly buy in to the team concept.
L.A. tried to assemble top talent to compete for a title, and paid for it handsomely. The team right behind them on the list of taxpayers was the Miami Heat, who won a second straight championship while paying less than 50 percent of the tax that the Lakers did in the process of getting swept in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nets will seemingly always be taxpayers while their billionaire owner is in charge, and it gets worse for them next season when the new tax penalties kick in — as Stein also reported.
Wanna know how new NBA world works? With essentially same payroll as Lakers last season, Nets will owe $70+ mil in tax after 2013-14 season
You read right, my friends. Nets projected, at this early juncture, to owe somewhere between $72M and $77M in taxes after coming season
The Knicks are another large market that can afford the penalties, and so are the Bulls, who went as far as New York in the playoffs despite their injury-ravaged roster.
What is never mentioned in payroll considerations is the TV deals in certain markets that are conveniently kept separated from these discussions. The Lakers, Nets, and Knicks have substantial, long-term television contracts that can more than offset much of these costs. Other teams, however, are not so fortunate.
The list will be very different next season, as teams like the Lakers and Celtics who seemingly will have no shot to compte for a title will fall off, while the overall bills will decrease due to the increased tax penalties levied by the new collective bargaining agreement.
There will always be teams that may be willing to try to pay for a title, but despite those best efforts, we learned that nothing is guaranteed. You need to look no further than the way that the previous season unfolded with the Lakers in Los Angeles to come to that realization.