So it didn’t take too long to realize that this new Collective agreement in the NBA might not be that different from what was in place before the lockout.
The deal hasn’t even been ratified and already Chris Paul has demanded a move to a big market NBA team. Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and who knows who else, are likely to follow.
Isn’t this what the lockout was trying avoid? Or was I just drinking the Kool-aid with all the other fans who cheer for teams in smaller markets?
I thought the league and it’s owners wanted to avoid another Miami Heat situation. I thought they weren’t going to let the big markets rob the smaller markets of their star power.
Here in Toronto, we are all too familiar with the process of stars wanting out of our city. Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh all left when they finally had the opportunity to go to a big market team or demanded a trade elsewhere. These moves crippled the franchise during the years afterwards.
What’s to stop this from continuing?
The new CBA has a soft cap, meaning there are lots of opportunities to keep the rich teams rich.
Teams like New York, Miami and Boston will continue to be allowed to stock their teams with multiple superstars while smaller markets feel the blow of losing stars they intend to build around.
The CBA does include a higher luxury tax to try and disuade owners from overspending but it will only do so in a limited capacity. The Mark Cubans of the world will pay what needs to be paid to keep their teams winning.
There are provisions in the new CBA which will allow teams like the Raptors to offer more money to their rookies if they perform the way that Derrick Rose did this past year. This CBA addition may actually help teams like the Raptors keep their young stars longer.
The amnesty rule is another interesting nugget that could help the Raptors as well. Shedding the contracts of a Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza or Andrea Bargnani may help clear capspace for the Raptors so they can spend money on the free agent market or make a smart trade. Hopefully they take advantage of this rule at the right time and don’t rush to make space for a Tyson Chandler or Nene.
The reality for the Raptors is that they are going to have to look to the Thunder for inspiration. That franchise and it’s success should be the blueprint for smaller market teams like the Raptors.
The Raptors, like the Thunder, are not going to be able to draw players in with their big city media coverage or long basketball history the way a New York or Chicago can.
The Thunder drafted well. Kevin Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Harden are all draft picks that were rewards for finishing at the bottom of the league. Those players have come together to form a strong nucleus.
The Thunder coupled those picks with smart trades and free agent acquisitions that added depth and character. Guys like Kenderick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Nate Robinson add character and depth to the core of young players. They didn’t make ill-advised signings like Jason Kapono or Yogi Stewart.
The Thunder were a Semi Final team in the Western Conference last year. They did this all without the glitz and glam to draw in a Lebron, a Kobe or a Howard. They’ve done it largely through smart decisions and can now attract free agents by winning basketball games.
The Thunder are the model that the Toronto Raptors need to follow going forward. Draft smart, sign role players to reasonable contracts, and avoid handing out bad contracts to players coming off one good year (just say no to Tyson Chandler at $10 million per season).
This is the way that it has to be for the Raptors. Draft well and make smart use of capspace.
Colangelo and his team have a difficult task ahead, especially with the short leash of a two-year contract, but he needs to resist the temptation of a Tyson Chandler or Nene now to focus on building a core into the future.
Derozan, Ed Davis, Amir and Valanciunas all may be a part of the team moving forward (maybe even Bargnani). Hopefully so will a couple of top five picks in the next two years.
The system will not allow the Raptors to build through free agent splashes, but the new CBA may help the Raptors build from the ground up.
Let’s hope the Colangelo, Stefanski and the rest of the Raptor front office are doing their homework.
Winning in this new NBA is not going to be easy, but winning means work.
The Zan Tabak Herald