May 29, 2023

Small Market Teams Were Worried Hard Cap Could Also Hurt Them

The NBPA was adamant in their opposition to a hard cap, which was initially proposed by the owners but fairly quickly abandoned in negotations. There was some concern from small market teams how a hard cap could hurt them as much as the traditionally high payroll teams it would ostensibly be instituted to punish.

“Even what a lot of small market teams were worried about a hard cap in places, like let’s say Cleveland, where all of a sudden you’re good enough to win a championship,” said Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast. “You have a team and you’re willing to go into the tax to keep that team together. Then all of a sudden with a hard cap and guaranteed contracts, the Cavs, using them as an example, or Oklahoma City four or five years from now, the smaller market teams worried ‘This is going to work against us.’

“If Cleveland can’t keep Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. Or Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. They have to pick one of them and one of those guys leaves and goes to a market, it defeats the purpose of why you wanted a hard cap to protect yourselves from Steve Ballmer spending or Joe Lacob spending and that didn’t happen. That was off the table fairly early.”

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