Can an NBA title be bought? The American media have been buzzing since this summer with discussions around the fourth coronation of the Golden State Warriors in eight years. Some League owners believe the San Francisco franchise is earning so much because it can spend lavishly. If these did not like the 2021/2022 season, there is little chance that the 2022/2023 and especially the 2023/2024 will find favor in their eyes. Because the Warriors could push NBA regulations to absurdity.
What numbers are we talking about? We are talking here about salary, salary cap and luxury tax. Ruthless universe the NBA? Not that much. In the country of capitalism and liberalism, the league displays a façade of fairness. The 30 franchises have the same amount in salaries to distribute to their players (123 million for 2022/2023). That’s it for the basics. But in its agreement that has governed its rules since 2016, the NBA provides a number of ways around them. This is where the luxury tax comes in. For franchises whose payroll exceeds the allocated amount by 27 million, you have to checkout with one principle: the more you spend, the more you pay.
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An exploding payroll
In this game, the Warriors are kings. For the last season, the amount of their luxury tax reached 170 million dollars. Composing the champion team therefore cost 345 million (by adding the payroll). More than 2.5 times more than the Suns, real candidates for the title. We will therefore go back to fairness.
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For the current season, the note climbs to 389 million before jumping in 2023/2024: 475 million projected. This takes into account the contract extensions of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins signed last weekend and the probable activation of the one-year option by Draymond Green. Add three players to complete the squad and the note should reach the crazy sum of 500 million dollars!
So much for the numbers. Now, you have to wonder what impact such spending has on the NBA. The Warriors are obviously circumventing certain rules, but since the NBA provides for penalties, is this really cheating? Everyone will have their answer to this question. Warriors owner Joe Lacob has his own. He finds the principle of luxury tax… unfair. Words for which he was fined $500,000. Nice irony.
Warriors find luxury tax unfair
“We’re over $200 million in total because most of that is this luxury taxhe said this summer in the podcast “Point Forward”. Obviously it’s selfish of me to say that, but I think it’s a very unfair system because we built this team by drafting its top eight players.“.
Lacob makes a nice shortcut here. If Curry, Thompson, Green, Poole and Looney were drafted by his franchise, this is not the case for Wiggins, Iguodala or Porter Jr. who actively participated in obtaining the title last June. But the debate is not there. That the Warriors are scouting aces is a fact, but in the NBA system, that doesn’t mean much. Not in the long term anyway.
This is based on the amount of the players’ contracts, supposed to represent their sporting value, except that good negotiations, and especially bad ones, are always possible. Still, if there is a salary cap, it is precisely to distribute the best talents in the league in a high number of franchises. A team can draft the best players every year, it will have to make financial choices one day or another.
The revolution will probably wait
Seeing one, two or three stars come together is nothing new, but the Miami Heat of LeBron, Wade and Bosh had to find ways to stay pretty much in the financial thicket at the turn of the last decade. What the Warriors don’t do. Why ? Because the huge San Francisco market allows the organization to make a profit despite these lavish expenses. Moreover, the three largest payrolls in the NBA are in San Francisco (Warriors), Los Angeles (Lakers) and New York (Nets).
LeBron James (LA Lakers) against Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Credit: Getty Images
The overall agreement of the NBA provides that the biggest spenders pay back to the most thrifty what they pay precisely in luxury tax. This allows small markets to remain profitable at the end of the financial year. So everyone is happy?
Certain owners, no doubt. The fans, much less. The NBA has never achieved athletic equilibrium. Simply because she doesn’t want it and it’s probably impossible. It too has an interest in big markets competing for titles. For a good ten years, the small NBA franchises have stopped losing money. Nothing should therefore change in the country of Mickey. Unless the incredible expenses of the Warriors install them for a few more years at the top. So maybe the NBA, a league in perpetual motion, will review its copy to maintain the illusion.
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