The NBA is a strange league to follow. On one hand, the quality of play is probably better than ever. The guys playing right now are just really, really good. On the other hand, there is no parity whatsoever…while the NFL has some franchises that you know are going to be good and some you know are going to suck, there is certainly nobody who is going to call two teams locks for the Super Bowl before the season even begins. But in the NBA, it’s like we put up with eight months of preseason simply to get down to the two teams we knew were going to be in the Finals. In some ways it’s cool to see two star-studded teams clash in the championship round, since unlike the Super Bowl we are pretty much guaranteed a great series to determine the champ, but it’s got to be discouraging for local fans of the majority of teams who will never sniff a deep playoff run.
Here’s an idea the NBA should consider: with the salary cap, there is not much need for the draft anymore. So allow all new players to become free agents, and to help the worst teams rebuild, create a graduated salary cap where the NBA champion has the least amount of money they can offer players down to the team with the worst record having the most. This would force top teams to shed talent as well to stay under the cap, and allow lesser teams to not only sign top rookies but veterans who are too expensive for the good teams. It eliminates the need to intentionally tank and prevents long dynasties.
Perhaps adjustments could be made to the cap based on what might be called “market desirability”, since places like OKC, Milwaukee, Charlotte, etc. are not going to be seen as places players want go to compared to LA, Miami, Golden State, or Chicago. So maybe give small-market teams extra cap space to entice players with more money.
Bottom line is that it would create a more even playing field and allow smaller market teams to enjoy seeing more star players instead of them being cobbled together on a few teams. In the NFL’s off-season, everybody is optimistic that next year, if everything goes their way, they could possibly be a Super Bowl contender. In the NBA’s off season, most fans are wondering if their team will be able to move up a few playoff spots.