NBA fans are shaking their heads when they see Jeremy Lin about to get $25 million over three years. Or when they see Brook Lopez getting a max contract. Or JaVale McGee not signing a $50 million deal while seeking more. Or countless more deals since the start of free agency. Fans thinking pretty much what George Karl told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.
“This summer has kind of been, I don’t know what the word is other than foolish,” said Karl, who has been outspoken against the league’s star culture that he was once a part of before Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York two seasons ago. “I just think there’s some wild and crazy mentalities going on out there.”
They also are asking this:
“Wasn’t the lockout supposed to stop this kind of spending?”
Actually, no. It was supposed to contain it. It was supposed to give the owners quicker outs of the bad deals they were about to offer.
The lockout was always about the owners wanting a CBA that protected themselves from themselves. They wanted a CBA that forced fiscal constraints on themselves because they knew they couldn’t just do it through discipline.
Once the feeding frenzy of free agency starts teams are going to overpay. Some team always will. Maybe it’s the only way they can get a free agent to a smaller market, maybe a team overpays on potential, maybe teams overvalue what they have. There are as many reasons for bad contracts as there are bad contracts.
But the lockout was never going to bring good decision making to the NBA.
What the owners wanted and got were constraints — max deals are now one year shorter. There are all kinds of new restrictions on the exemptions that teams over the cap can spend.
Most important of all, the owners won back a whole lot of “basketball related income.” Nearly 7 percent of a nearly $4 billion business. That is money in their pockets (that can go to the rest of the business or to stem losses). It’s about the money.
Now those bad contracts are a little bit less expensive (and teams can spend less on other players after one). Plus they end more quickly. It makes the bad moves less painful for owners. And fans.
But there is nothing the owners could do to legislate out foolishness.