The NBA lockout of 2011 led to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that sought to punish teams wanting to spend money well above the luxury tax threshold. The idea was to level the playing field.
That hasn't been enough, according to some. Commissioner David Stern's eventual replacement, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, admitted to the New York Post that he was fighting for a hard cap during the 2011 negotiations between the players union and the league.
"I would say it's no secret that we went into collective bargaining seeking a hard cap," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver - one of the main architects of the current CBA and who will replace David Stern as commissioner when Stern steps down Feb. 1 - told The Post Wednesday. "So, for the long-term health of the league, we would rather do more to level the playing field among our teams, so the teams that have disparate resources are all competing with roughly the same number of chips so to speak."
The current CBA runs through the 2020-21 season but either side can opt out after the 2016-17 season, according to Larry Coon's salary cap FAQ. At that point, Silver will have the opportunity to fight for the NBA owners once again.
Like the old CBA, the new one included a salary cap ($58.679 million in 2013-14) and a luxury tax threshold ($71.748 million this season). That's the framework of a soft cap, which has a number of exceptions allowing teams to pass both the salary cap and luxury tax threshold. According to the CBA of 2011, passing that threshold now comes with incremental increases of the tax -- view those increments at Coon's CBAfaq.com -- depending on how far a team goes above the cap. That's opposed to a dollar-for-dollar penalty of the old CBA.
A hard cap would make it impossible for any team to have a team salary more than a given total.
Why have Silver and other NBA owners quickly grown unhappy with the new CBA? The Brooklyn Nets' luxury tax bill for 2013-14 is around $87 million, more than any other team's total salary other than the New York Knicks -- the Nets' own salary is more than $101 million and it seems of little consequence to owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
Prokhorov might be the only NBA owner with such a free-flowing bank account.
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded All-Star James Harden a summer ago to gain financial flexibility and even big-market teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat have waived key role players -- Metta World Peace and Mike Miller, respectively -- under the amnesty provision to keep their salaries as low as possible.