Last August this article came out in Atlanta talking about the new NBA. At the time I remember either starting a thread or putting it in another thread and saying Toronto should follow the same steps as they were positioned to do so. Unfortunately I can't find it.

The more punitive tax rate is just one aspect of the rules meant to curtail the big spenders. The rules also stipulate that teams with payrolls more than $4 million above the tax line can’t execute sign-and-trades, can acquire less salary in trades than non-taxpaying teams, and have a smaller mid-level exception and no bi-annual exception.

Cuban is betting those rules will lead to high-payroll teams being unable to acquire superstars, leaving those with cap space in a stronger position to make deals for those players. Ferry is predicting the same.

“It’s the same path,” Ferry said. “We don’t have [Dirk] Nowitzki but we have more assets. We have good players. [The Mavs] are piecing things together to keep flexibility to stay competitive. On some level, we are in a similar mode as what Dallas is doing.

“With Josh [Smith] and Jeff [Teague] and Al [Horford] and flexibility around it and draft choices ahead. I think we are positioned well to be opportunistic whether that’s trade [or] whether that’s free agency in the future. It’s not an exact path. It’s about having a situation where you can be opportunistic.”


Now that Ferry has gained the flexibility he coveted, the next step is trying to make the Hawks the kind of franchise where the best players want to work.

“I’m trying to build well from the inside out,” Ferry said. “We need to build an organizational pride from within. We are not hinging our program on cap space or anything like that. We are hinging it on building a good program and having flexibility to make a trade or do free agency or do whatever.

“To get centric on cap space, [focusing on] would a free agent come here, that’s not what we are doing right now. That’s not the mode we are in right now. We are in a mode of, ‘Let’s build on an organizational pride and build an even better run machine as an organization.’

“From there, pride will grow and I think the opportunities that are out there, we are in a good position to be in the game, whether that’s a trade or a free agent or whatever that is.”

- See more at:

Today another article along the same lines comes out of Cleveland with a GM in Wallace who worked under and eventually replaced Ferry (now Atlanta GM).

The perfect illustration for how the new collective-bargaining agreement is changing the landscape of the NBA is located in the league’s official transaction log.

At the trade deadline two years ago, teams traded away a total of 11 first-round picks. By last season, the first under the newly negotiated CBA, only four first-round picks were dealt. And during this year’s recently completed trading season, only one first-round pick was traded.


But the dramatic drop from 11 first-round picks traded two years ago to just one this year illustrates the impact of the escalating luxury taxes that will take effect next year. Players making less are suddenly worth more. Much more.

“Teams right now are scared of money,” one league executive said recently.

The days of general managers playing fast and loose with first-round picks are over. Guys like Gerald Wallace, who was dealt at the trade deadline in consecutive years, don’t hold the same value that they did just 12 months ago.

The Charlotte Bobcats acquired two of those 11 first-round picks during the trading season two years ago, swindling two out of the Portland Trail Blazers for Wallace, a good-but-not-great wing who has made one All-Star Game in 12 years. Then the Blazers recouped a first-round pick, No. 6 overall, when they dealt Wallace to the New Jersey Nets in a panic move at the trade deadline last season.

The Blazers plucked the likely Rookie of the Year with that selection in Damian Lillard. Wallace, meanwhile, is still owed $30 million over the next three seasons. That’s the type of contract that now would typically get him traded along with a first-round pick to any team willing to absorb that type of salary. Wallace’s saving grace is that he plays for the Brooklyn Nets and billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who scoffs at the looming tax damages coming his way.

Precious few owners around the NBA can behave that way. Beginning next season, the new luxury tax will punish teams more harshly for going over the cap and it annihilates habitual offenders.

The new tax rules are what prompted Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to go on Dallas radio recently and suggest the Los Angeles Lakers might need to release Kobe Bryant before next season using the league’s amnesty clause.

Of course, Cuban was just baiting the Lakers and their fans because that’s what he enjoys doing, and no one actually believes the Lakers would release Bryant. But he will earn $30 million next season, when the Lakers could be paying more than $90 million just in luxury taxes if Dwight Howard signs a max contract this summer.

Add in the $100 million in actual payroll and the Buss family, who just lost their patriarch when Jerry died last week, could be writing checks next season that total $200 million. Of course, the Lakers are believed to be pulling in about $150 million a season just on their television contract with Time Warner Cable, but no other team has that type of television deal, meaning most of the league’s owners — including Cuban — can’t afford that type of payroll and luxury tax.

That’s why Cuban began dismantling the Mavericks shortly after winning the championship two years ago. He once was one of the league’s carefree spenders, but Cuban has grown much thriftier in recent years. It’s part of the reason he traded with the Cavs to move down seven spots last summer, giving Tyler Zeller to Cleveland with the 17th pick in exchange for the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks. In Cuban’s eyes, the more rookie scale contracts, the better.
The league suddenly cares about payrolls minus 3 teams (LAL, BKN, NYK). Even Miami has rumblings of one of their big 3 being traded in the next year or two (yes, you Bosh) unless someone opts out (yes, you LeBron).

The Raptors for years avoided the tax like the plague because they were run by an ownership group that did not care about winning, just profits. Now the Raptors are owned by an ownership group that needs an exciting and/or winning product because their base business (media, in particular television) depends on it.

If DeMar's contract killed all talk of financial flexibility under the cap moving forward, acquiring Rudy Gay took a nail gun to the lid of the coffin. For all intents and purposes - amnesty or not - the Raptors have no financial flexibility. They also have traded away picks at a time other teams are hoarding.

So as teams around the league cut back and make financial trades versus basketball trades, it is probably a good time for Toronto to step up and start making basketball trades regardless of finances. After all, the Raptors are owned by two telecommunications giants who have well over half the Canadian market for TV, internet, home phone, and mobility services and they play in a top 5 market of North America with a strong fan base/attendance.

Don't confuse what I am saying here, I don't expect or think Toronto to become the Brooklyn Nets with their $13B dollar man owner or the Lakers with their $150M annual TV deal. What I am saying is the Raptors are in a position to take on the productive but overpaid contracts that other teams are avoiding like the plague. Wins on the court could very well make up for the added expense of the player salary.

A perfect example is Boozer in Chicago. Chicago was unable to get under the luxury tax prior to trading deadline. This will be the first season they pay the luxury tax. At the end of this season, after cutting the cheque, and looking at the new SUPER luxury tax rates coming in for 2013-14 (already over tax with just 8 players) and then realizing that in 2014-2015 they are going to have to pay the repeater tax in addition (with $58M tied up in just 6 players), might the Raptors be able to take advantage? I hope yes - and I mean more than just a Bargnani for Boozer swap - picks too please. (Of course, Chicago might also decide to trade Deng with the emergence of Butler this season).

So while the rest of the league starts looking for bang for the buck, Toronto might finally have an opportunity to just focus on basketball.

What do you think? Crazy am I?