July 1st, dream day in NBA. Free Agency begins and with the raising of the salary cap, every team in the league thinks they can lay the foundation for a championship run. Every player is looking for a huge pay day and too many will actually get it. Therein lies the problem. The boost in spending room allows for the NBA superstar players to get signed by virtually any team in the league, but there are only a handful of these guys. The rest of the league will be sitting on a pile of money to spend, with no one to spend it on. Cue organizational disaster.
The salary cap increased $24 mil this off season. Player maximum salaries, this year, can be up to $29.5 mil, increased from $22m last year. This should be an opportunity for teams, not only to take a shot at a NBA elite player, but to practice some frugality and keep options open moving forward. Instead, it appears that the next tier of free agents, behind the NBA elite guys, will get the money that couldn’t be spent on the top targets. Essentially overpaying for guys who may not be worth the money, for no reason other than the money is available and other teams are willing to out bid. You can’t swing at every pitch. That $24M boost in cap space will be eaten up before you know it and the team will be in the same place they were before…without a needed superstar and the freedom to get one in the near future.
Championships are won with NBA superstars, not tier 2 guys being paid like NBA superstars. If you cannot get a superstar in an off season, you need to bargain hunt and keep flexibility for the next off season or for trades. Good players like Kent Bazemore and Marvin Williams, will not be winning titles as 20 mil+/yr guys, they’d win as contributing players on bargain contracts. Two of the max money contracts on your roster have to be NBA superstar talents, you can’t afford to put the cart before the horse and sign those deals to guys who don’t fit that bill. Off seasons like this separate the men from the boys, in NBA front offices. Which teams will overpay, only to be in cap hell, even after the next cap increase? Which teams will hunt bigger game, value contracts and sit out the frenzy for the great deals that round out title contending rosters? My guess is, it won’t be more than about two or three teams…wash, rinse, repeat for the field.