There's a very, very good chance we're going to get locked out in a little over six weeks. By us, I mean the fans as well as the players. And by locked out, I mean we won't be able to fully dive into the offseason roster moves because (a) the teams won't be allowed to make any moves and (b) the framework for how moves will be made won't exist. I've given some thought to what we'll do around here if the lockout does happen. More on that and the owners' latest proposal to follow.
This blog will live on even if a lockout is in place. We'll shift the focus from strictly Sixers to cover the negotiations on a daily basis. Ultimately, we'll tie everything back into the Sixers and how the latest developments would impact the Sixers, their salary structure, and their ability to build a winner going forward. That's the plan as of today, and here's a preview of what to expect:
Marc Stein has the update on the latest owners' proposal, which was quickly rejected by the players' union. Here are the bullets:
- A hard cap (meaning there's no luxury tax for going over, you simply cannot go over the salary tax) would be imposed in stages over a three-year period instead of happening immediately which they had proposed in early versions of their proposal.
- Player salary rollbacks of 15-25% would go into effect next season (this is probably the dealbreaker at this point)
- Each team would get a one-time amnesty provision which would allow them to cut one player from their payroll. They'd still have to pay the player, but his contract would no longer count against their cap.
- Teams would have a tool to use to keep their marquee players. It's sort of like a franchise tag, but not quite. Basically, teams would have the ability to offer one player a "star" contract. Which would be for more years and more money than anyone else can offer (apparently more money and more years than the Larry Bird exception in the current CBA). But they could only use this exception for one player at a time.
- Sign-and-trade transactions would no longer be allowed. This is tied directly to the previous bullet. Essentially, this CBA would provide a tremendous financial benefit for players to stay with their current teams, and it would make it impossible for those players to reap the financial benefits of that deal and move to another team. A few players who took advantage of the sign-and-trade to get extra money and go to the team of their choice over the past several years are LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis. Under the new deal, players would have to leave a ton of money on the table to leave their current team, assuming the current team really wants to keep them.
So it's pretty easy to see where these rules could affect the Sixers. First, you have to assume that if they get the amnesty provision, Elton Brand will be the casualty. He was important to the team this past season, very important, but clearing his the 2 years/$35M off the books would be too much of a financial boon to pass up. If they were able to remove Brand's salary from the books, they'd be on the hook for about $46M for next season (assuming Thad and Hawes both sign their qualifying offers).
What isn't clear is whether the players who were cut would then be able to re-sign with their team at a lower figure. Common sense says they wouldn't be able to. Things could get really messy if they were allowed to re-sign. Imagine if Melo was cut and re-signed for 5 years/$15M. The Knicks would wind up paying Melo over $20M/year, but he'd only count as $3M against their cap and they'd have a ton of flexibility to fill out their roster. I have to believe guys who are cut become unrestricted free agents who cannot re-sign with the team that cut them.
There's one more thing I think teams should be taking into account when they look at the proposal and the direction it's moving in. It's going to be very, very difficult to entice superstar players to leave in free agency in the near future. That means guys like Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love may be stuck on their teams for the long haul. The time to strike may be prior to the NBA draft. If you think there's any chance Orlando is willing to move Dwight, you may want to put together a package they can't refuse right now.
Something like this.
Sixers send Iguodala, Turner, Brand, Nocioni and two number one picks to Orlando.
Orlando sends Dwight Howard, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu to Philadelphia.
Orlando would save about $32M over the next three years if they made the deal, they'd also clear almost all of their salary out after two years. If the writing is on the wall that Dwight wants out and/or that they can't win as currently constructed, maybe you can strike while the iron is hot. As for how much the Sixers would be giving up, well, if you wind up with Jrue and Dwight, I don't really care what has to go. That's your core. You cross your fingers that the amnesty provision happens and you can send Arenas packing. Then you really only had to take Hedo's contract back and you swallow that as the price of obtaining the best big man in basketball. Of course, Orlando is going to be privy to the same information as everyone else, and they probably won't be in much of a hurry to move Howard if they're going to hold a ton of leverage in negotiations when he becomes a free agent.