Blog Entry

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 3:45 pm
Posted by Royce Young

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Commissioner David Stern had himself a double-header Sunday, watching the Heat pound the Mavericks in Dallas and then making a short trip north to Oklahoma City to check out the Thunder.

His formal address to the media was the usual stuff. He talked about OKC's chances of getting an All-Star Game (the city needs more hotels), talked about the new collective bargaining agreement and how wonderful it is and talked about the NBA's business.

But after he wrapped, a couple of reporters chatted Stern up some more (or listened, if you're me). Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman led the charge asking Stern about how this new CBA that's supposedly designed to help small markets like Oklahoma City could be what tears the Thunder apart.

First, there's the new "Rose Rule," which allows -- actually scratch that -- forces teams to pay a superstar more money if he meets certain criteria. That's already happened in Oklahoma City as Kevin Durant has qualified by being named to two All-NBA teams. Durant will make roughly $15 million more over the life of his extension and some $3 million more per year. A number that has actually put the Thunder over the cap.

The new luxury tax, which is more punitive than before, goes into action in two seasons. Right around the time the Thunder will have potentially locked up Russell Westbrook for big money along with needing to re-sign James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Plus, if Westbrook makes another All-NBA team, he'll qualify for the Rose extension, which would hurt the Thunder even more. So that's where the Thunder are at right now -- needing Russell Westbrook to NOT make an All-NBA team.

Stern disagrees with the idea the harsher luxury tax hurts small markets like the Thunder though.

“The idea that the luxury tax hurts small markets is ludicrous," he said. "It may impact a small market that's a great team and has to raise its payroll. But at the bottom, it's designed to eliminate the ability of teams to use their economic resources to distort competition"

He's right. Because that's a blanket statement. It doesn't hurt all small markets. But specifically applied to this Thunder team and its current roster structure, it absolutely does. Stern put it this way though: If you're good enough to have to be forced with making the decision to "go for it," as he put it, that's a good thing. At least that's the league's perspective.
And then he dropped this bombshell:

“People are saying to Miami, ‘Well, you're going to have a decision to make with respect to one of your big three.' And they may say the same thing to Oklahoma City, and that's a good thing. That means you've arrived and you're out there being competitive."

So David Stern thinks it would be a good thing if the Thunder are forced to give up either Westbrook, Harden or Ibaka because they can't pay to keep them all. The way Stern put it is that the new CBA doesn't just share more revenue, but shares more talent. He sees it as "player sharing."

A small market team like the Thunder, who have become the poster child for small market viability, could potentially be punished for their slick management and wise draft choices. Stern sees that as a good thing. I get his point -- if you're having to pay players lots of money that means you're doing something right. But at the same time, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has always preached on "sustainable success," which this new CBA makes a bit difficult to accomplish. You can have Durant plus either Westbrook or Harden. But not all three and definitely not all three plus Serge Ibaka. Something about that just doesn't seem right to me.

I wrote about this over the summer when the idea of a hard cap was floated. Build a team like Oklahoma City using the "Thunder model," as so many people like to call it, and you may be breaking it apart in just a few seasons. The irony here is that Presti might've done too good of a job assembling his team.

The idea with the new tax is that teams won't be willing to bust into it, large or small. Of course Oklahoma City can just choose to pay the harsh tax penalty. But are they really going to do that? Stern seemed extremely confident that not many would.

“They could, but they won’t," he said. "There are going to be very few circumstances where someone is going to go $20 million over to pay $65 million in total unless they’re sure this is their time and they’re going for it once.”

Basically Stern is banking on big markets shying away from paying the harsher tax. He could be right as it's possible the Lakers dealt Lamar Odom for virtually nothing to get away from paying so much of it. The Blazers, who once had a $57 million tax bill, won't be going into that territory again. But let's face reality: Stern talked about teams choosing to pay the tax to "go for it." Big market teams like the Lakers and Knicks will have the chance to "go for it" a lot more than the Spurs, Grizzlies or Thunder because they have a bigger slice of the pie. If they swing and miss, oh well, they can try again later.

No bother to Stern though. He's sure of this new system. Positive of it, in fact.

“You’ll see. It’s beauty,” he said. “It’s all going to happen and then we’ll look back at it rather than prejudge it. I happen to think it’s going to be good for all of us, and it’s going to hit small market and large market teams alike.”

Or destroy one like the Thunder. But whatever.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:13 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

actually no...yes...maybe. I just enjoy reading mindless articles and then reminding NBA execs that they will never get a nickel of my money again. You might consider doing the same to try to get them to respect the power you as fans could and should hold, instead of just forking over your hardearned dollars for an inferior product.

Since: Dec 26, 2011
Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:55 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

So in essence, the worse your management is, the more you will be rewarded by the new CBA. As a Bobcats fan, this works for me.

Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: December 28, 2011 6:32 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

Milwaukee is a great city.  I don't understand the bad rap.  Much better than Memphis, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City.

Since: Sep 3, 2009
Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:55 am

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

Westbrook never played a single game in Seattle where they would STILL be a small market team no better equipped to keep the core together. It would be even more difficult in Seattle in an outdated stadium, the worst lease in pro sports, and in front of a fairweather fanbase with attendance near the bottom of the league for years.

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 7:58 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

Yep, Troy at the end of the day, the megastars will migrate to the endorsement money or to a championship contender. The deck is still stacked in the big market's favor although not as much. Milwaukee is still Milwaukee and New York is still New York. No CBA can fix that.

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2011 6:07 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

If I am an owner worth $20 billion, what does the luxury tax mean to me? It might depend upon what my earnings are. Let's say I earn from all other sources, $150 million a year. What would a luxury tax of $50 million mean if I could put together a team that can win it all every other year? Maybe three years in a row. But there is another problem with Stern's thinking.  Let's say Durant wants $25M a year to play in OKC. What if he is willing to take $20M a year to play in Los Angeles.  Maybe he can make much more in endorsements in LA also. Maybe his chance to win it all is better in LA. And is wholesale player movement good for the league? Where do most players want to play? New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Boston, and not necessarily in that order. Or maybe Dallas, because of the owner, but I doubt it. I bet if the truth be told, all the league worris about is not having teams like OKC fold. They want them around. IF they win it is ok. But they would much rather see a vibrant Laker team than an OKC or Memphis. OKC and Memphis do not make the difference in TV contracts.

Since: Jan 20, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2011 5:13 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

F--K David Stern and the NBA!  The Thunder didn't build a team from the ground up...they ROBBED a team with a strong foundation(Durant & Westbrook).  If they were still in Seattle, it wouldn't still be a small market team.  Stop playing old Sonics games on NBA Network!!

Since: Jun 9, 2008
Posted on: December 27, 2011 4:40 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

David Stern will never come to LA and watch a Laker game. He wont make it out of Staples. 

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:51 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC


Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:30 pm

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

Like many others have said, large market teams will always have an advantage.  What the new CBA will do, more than ever before is punish teams like the the Thunder, who are efficiently run, and reward incompetent franchises.  Unfortunately for the fans, incompetent ownership groups outnumber the good ones.  The mistake that Stern has made is that he has listened way too much to owners like Dan Gilbert and not enough to the owners of the elite franchises who drive league revenue.  Without teams like the Heat, Lakers and Thunder, nobody would make money. 

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