NBA is broken.
And it's shame because it's the only sport going right now that I have more than a very passive interest in. Perhaps, the best solution would be to try and convince myself to take up hockey or baseball. But I was born in a desert, in a state with no baseball team. I can only do so much.
Anyways, back to the NBA.
The NBA playoffs have been a spectacularly uninteresting event. There has been no drama, excitement, or interest (save fans of the top teams who enjoy watching 40 point blowouts). I believe this is a very serious issue for the league. NFL, NFL, MLB, MLS, NCAAF, NCAAB have way more parity than the NBA. It makes their product uninteresting. When every team seems like they have a chance to win, the nation wide excitement goes up.
So, the current problem is that NBA teams can stock pile the best players. They've tried some solutions to fix that such as having a salary cap, and letting teams offer their star players more money than the other teams. But neither of those solutions even come close to working. Kevin Durant left the team that had invested in him for a decade to go join a team already stocked with top tier players and championships. That's a great move for him, winning helps the brand. And the brand helps the massive shoe deals (where players really make the money).
So one solution to fix that would be to remove "Max Contracts" all together and just let teams bid on players as much as they'd like. I don't think that solves the Kevin Durant problem. So here is the start of my thoughts on the subject.
The NBA adopts a "tiered salary" strategy. Meaning, that player pay is dependent on their tier and that's it. Let's say that the max a team can spend on its players is 120 Million (although you could just go straight profit sharing instead. Pay the players out of a league salary and base everything off of percentage points).
TIER 1 - 30 million yearly salary - 4 or 5 year contracts - max 1 players per team.
TIER 2 - 20 million yearly salary - 3 or 4 year contracts - max 2 players per team.
TIER 3 - 10 million yearly salary - 2 or 3 year contracts - max 3 players per team.
TIER 4 - 5 million yearly salary - 1 or 2 year contracts - max 4 players per team.
TIER 5 - 1 million yearly salary - 1 year contracts - max 5 players per team.
*The OR is a player option, meaning they can opt in or out depending on market availability of slots, and when they want a new contract.
First Rounders start in TIER 4 and second rounders start in TIER 5.
Now, when a player's contract is over, they can only choose from places to play that offer them the highest tier available. The players current team has the ability to match a tier offer, which would force that player to accept that deal or retire (NFL franchise tag type thing.)
So, Kevin Durant is a TIER 1 player, and the warriors can offer him a TIER 1 spot, however, OKC would have matched and he would have stayed in OKC (likely for the duration of his career), but then would likely have lost Westbrook.
This would prevent any team from hitting the magical "Big 3", because the only way they could get 3 TIER 1 level players would if if not other team in the league wanted to offer two players a TIER 1 contract, and you were able to get players 2, 3 as a TIER 2 players.
That means no Miami Heat. No Boston Celtics. ETC. It also guarantees that each team in the league would have the chance to franchise their best players and keep them around as long as they are viewed at market value (as defined by other teams offers). I think this redistributes the talent in the NBA in a pretty interesting way. Can Cleveland keep Lebron (TIER 1), and Love (2?), and KYRIE (2?)? Unlikely The warriors are sitting on 4 TIER 1 players right now. With the right contracts they might have 3 of them still (maybe Curry had a TIER 2 because of his injuries), but he would be moving to TIER 1 this summer, so they'd be forced to move some of their other players.
AND here's the thing, they'd still have an advantage right? Because they would get to choose which guys they kept, and who they wanted to trade out, AND no other team would have more than 1 TIER 1 players. There would be no limit on who you get back, or salary matching, because as long as teams involved in trades meet the TIER requirements they're good. So maybe they ship off Draymond Green and get back a bunch of lottery picks or TIER 3 guys they want in return.
Injuries would be somewhat of a problem here. You'd probably need some sort of IR, or the ability to sign more TIER 2 players if you can't fill your TIER 1 spot. Balance could be worked out.
It doesn't fix the fact that basketball is unwatchable sometimes do to the involvement of the refs and their need to call so many fouls. Hopefully technology can fix that.
There are 30 NBA teams. So that would mean that there could be a max of 30 TIER 1 players. Maybe that's too many slots because there is a huge difference between LeBron and Derozen. Hopefully that would work itself out by teams not wanting to commit to TIER 1 players and provide those upcoming TIER 2 players a real choice of where to go to be TIER 1 if their current team didn't want to match. According to NBA Rank the top 30 would look like this:
30: DeMar DeRozan
HOME TEAM IMPACT
For the Jazz I think this would have some interesting implications. They could offer Gordon Hayward a TIER 1 slot this offseason and be guaranteed to keep him. Problem solved. Except, they would then taking a chance on Rudy Gobert as other teams might be willing to offer him a TIER 1 spot in the coming years. Perhaps they give Gordon the TIER 1 slot now, and then if Rudy takes off and the next time his contract is up, you trade out Hayward to a willing team and give Rudy that TIER 1 slot.
The rest of the team would be interesting as well.
HAYWARD - TIER 1
FAVORS - TIER 3?
GOBERT - TIER 2 (until contract comes up probably)
HILL - TIER 3? Maybe someone offers him a TIER 2
BURKS - TIER 3 maybe should be TIER 4? Could be a candidate to trade.
EXUM - TIER 3 same as above.
INGLES - TIER 5 likely going to jump to TIER 3 this offseason.
LYLES - TIER 5
NETO - TIER 5
WITHY - TIER 5
JOHNSON - TIER 3 maybe gets a TIER 2 contract from someone after this season (he opt out)
DIAW - TIER 3 maybe goes down to a TIER 4 as he ages?
Some people have probably thought of something like this before, but I thought of this on my own (so I deserve full credit on how bad/stupid people think it might be). So, if there is a proposal like this out there already I'd love to see it. =)