The league and the players appear to be at grid lock over the issue of a hard cap. Two somewhat vague concepts have been floating in my head that might bridge the gap and make the hard cap the league insists upon acceptable to the players . I would welcome reaction to help me better understand the relevant issues.
In considering these concepts, please assume that the rumors are accurate and that the league and the players have agreed on [or will agree on] a percentage of basketball related income that will in all events be dedicated to player salary.
First, what about a modified amnesty agreement. Many teams have players on their rosters who for whatever reason everyone recognizes are being dramatically overpaid. What if the collective bargaining agreement allows a team to cut one such player say every other year. Once cut, the team would still have to pay the players full contracted salary, but the salary would not go against the hard cap. The team would not be allowed to have any further relationship with the player. Any other team could pick the player up, but would have to pay him a salary of not less than a fixed percentage of his existing salary [say 50%]. The old team would get salary relief for the 75% of the amount of the player's new salary. If the player was unable to find a new team willing to pay the fixed percentage salary, he would be entitled to play in any other league for whatever the market would bear. In that event, the old team would get salary relief for say 25% of the new contract. In all events, the salary that a team paid for the player it amnestied would not count against the total amount guaranteed to the leagues players as part of their basketball related income.
This rule would allow a team that had overpaid for a player to remain competitive by biting the bullet. However, the reiief would be expensive and it would be limited. Major market teams would continue to have an advantage, but a much smaller advantage than the soft cap presently affords them. From the players perspective, being amnestied would be threatening but they would still be entitled to play in the league if they could find a team willing to bear half the cost of their salary, and in that event, they would actually earn more. If they couldn't find such a team, they would be free to play in some other league and earn even more. Or, of course, they could just sit by the pool collect their [excessive] salary.
Second, what about fostering team cohesiveness by allowing a team's players flexibility to rearrange their salaries among themselves. Take the Blazers. It's easy to imagine that if our young players develop well, under a hard cap it would be impossible to keep all of our talent, especially if the skills of some of our long term salaried players decline. Imagine the following hypothetical [and please take no offense at my random choices]. Nic and Greg become all stars, Brandon can still play well but only for 20 minutes per game and Gerald's play deteriorates to the point he plays behind Nic. Imagine also that we are on a red hot roll with multiple championship opportunities. Our players might well want to adjust their compensation; after all, in that scenario, one player might be vulnerable to being amnestied, and others might value the prospect of staying together as a unit. Why not give them the chance?
Yes, I can see multiple potential issues, but none appear to me to be disqualifying. I will appreciate your comments.