By Matt Moore
If you've been paying attention, it should be no surprise that the Lakers organization is fine with revenue sharing. While no team has better reaped the benefits of the NBA's abysmal revenue sharing system than the Lakers, with the expensive seats, massive merchandising, and absurd television deals it creats out of its market advantage, they've been on the front line of saying how a revamp of the distribution is vital for the health of the league. Maybe that's because they understand that there's no incentive for innovative, deep-pocketed people to invest in the league without a chance to compete. Maybe it's because they want to support the rest of the owners so they will in turn protect the Lakers from things like another team moving into their market. Whatever the reason, revenue sharing has been part of the Lakers' long-term plan for a while.
But the hard cap? That's a whole different deal.
The Lakers have been in 31 of 63 Finals for a number of reasons. They drafted well. They have had good management. Their ownership is committed to winning. They have lovely beaches, a stylish lifestyle and great weather. But the biggest reason is that due to their market economics, they can spend exorbitant amounts on those players they target with all that brainpower. Lots of teams try to buy their way into championships. It took Mark Cuban ten years. The Lakers win because they find the absolute best players and they pay for them, however much it takes. That creates a winning atmosphere which then allows them to get deals (like Ron Artest for the Mid-Level Exception and Lamar Odom at a discount). The soft cap system works for them, as evidenced by five titles in ten years. So one could reasonably assume they would fight a hard cap to the death. Not so, says the Orange County Register. It reports Thursday that the Lakers are lock-step with the other owners in regards to the hard cap and revenue sharing. Why? Becaue owner Jerry Buss is such a sweetheart, supposedly.
As much as Buss loves his rum and Coke, he has held a Molotov cocktail with the NBA’s limited revenue sharing and soft salary cap. It has allowed Buss and his minority investors to make a lot of money and feel comfortable spending a ton of it on great players others can’t afford.via Lakers accept hard salary cap, revenue sharing | lakers, buss, nba - Sports - The Orange County Register.
But dramatically increased revenue sharing will inhibit the Lakers’ spending. A hard cap will flat-out prevent the Lakers from spending. It’s lose-lose when Buss is 77 years old and determined to come from behind the Boston Celtics in total championships, 17-16.
Yet the Lakers have accepted it. Why?
For the greater good.
The article goes on to say that the move is more in line with Buss protecting his own interests. He knows that the other owners are so united in wanting these changes that he stands more to gain by agreeing to the changes and championing them in order to make sure they favor the Lakers in as many ways as possible rather than fight for the old system and risk not having that pull. Plus, he's loyal to David Stern, which makes sense, again, considering the success of the Lakers under Stern's tenure.
Buss' presence at the most recent negotiations was thought to be a possible source of the nearly three-hour huddle that took place with the owners during the meeting. It's possible that perception itself was the impetus for the leak of this stance to the Register. The Lakers clearly want to get the word out. They're sticking with the owners, the're not a dissenting party, and they welcome their new revenue sharing overlords. Now we'll just have to see how many games they're willing to lose with this still-championship-contending core to stand by the hard line rogues.