With the three-second-rule, offensive players found
themselves learning a strange dance getting both feet out of the lane to “re-start”
the count that could cost them possession of the ball. The behemoths of the game found themselves
prancing a tippy-toe ballet that was both comical and a bit depressing. Formerly King-Kong’s, they now often resembled
the sad dancing bear on the circus. Then
came the defensive three-second-rule, and now defenders found themselves
lurching to get outside the lane just because their defensive assignment had
taken a step back. Although infractions
are infrequently (probably too infrequently) caught, it did indeed reduce the
traffic in the lane which had become something of a mob scene. Awkward rules, uneven enforcement, but on the
whole a needed and worthwhile adjustment in the game.
Now ownership joins the dancing bear troupe. With the new CBA came series of ramped-up
penalties, both financial and operational, for exceeding the Salary and Luxury
Caps. Danny Ainge found himself mincing
around the Luxury “apron” (could they have chosen a more mawkishly effeminate
phrasing for their danger zone trigger).
Go over the apron and they take away your sign-and-trade’s, cut short
your MLE, steal your lunch money, and make you stand in the corner on one foot.
Think OKC shedding Harden (particularly injurious) and Memphis dumping Rudy Gay (oddly
salubrious) were basketball decisions? As
if the new tiered penalty progression was not enough, there is the additional “repeater”
kicker for teams exceeding the Luxury Cap in three of the past four years. This means that there is a heavy coercion to
stay below the Luxury Cap half the time. Sure there are owners in LA and NY whose avalanche
of basketball income make an extra $100M only a trifle, and the Russian
billionaires in NJ and Dallas might scoff at such petty change; but for the
rank and file (pretty much everybody else) this represents a crippling blow in
an attempt to run a business without having the car (franchise) repossessed.
Yes, you can now add the owners to the two-step bruins on
the sawdust in the center ring. The
Celtics’ ownership group paid almost $15M in 2010-11. As repeaters in 2014-15 that tax bill would
be on the order of $44M. How many of you
would laugh off your mortgage payment going up by fifty percent?
It would seem the inducement to stay under the Luxury Cap
for the next two years (or at least the two before exceeding it again) is pretty overwhelming. I think you will see a lot of teams (strong
but not insanely extravagant) “planning” a two-year window to go for the golden
ring; before ducking below the Luxury threshold to re-establish their position
"outside the paint". As you ponder the
Pierce/Garnett dilemma, think about the new cost of doing business—I’m pretty
sure Danny (and Wyc and company) will be.
[Discuss on CG Forums!]