Michele Roberts On Cap, Max Deals, Rookie Scale

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts has on many occasions deferred to the judgment of the players when asked about issues during her first month and a half of the job, but she’s nonetheless made her feelings known. Roberts took more pointed aim at NBA leadership and policies in an interview Wednesday with Pablo S. Torre of ESPN The Magazine, calling the league a monopoly, objecting to the salary cap, advocating for the end to maximum salaries and arguing against rookie scale contracts. She made it clear she’ll fight for the players to receive a larger portion of basketball related income, Torre writes.

Roberts isn’t ruling out the idea that the union will support a phasing in of expected increases to the salary cap, a matter that the league and the union will decide upon before 2016, but she says the idea is “not that attractive” at first glance. She wasn’t making many other concessions as she spoke with Torre, whose entire piece is worth a read. We’ll pass along Roberts’ most eye-opening comments here:

On the concept of a salary cap:

“I don’t know of any space other than the world of sports where there’s this notion that we will artificially deflate what someone’s able to make, just because. It’s incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it.”

On maximum salaries and the rookie scale:

“I can’t understand why the [union] would be interested in suppressing salaries at the top if we know that as salaries at the top have grown, so have salaries at the bottom. If that’s the case, I contend that there is no reason in the world why the union should embrace salary caps or any effort to place a barrier on the amount of money that marquee players can make.”

On the idea of a shorter season:

“Every time a player gets hurt, I think, my God, they really are pushing their bodies. And back-to-backs, those are the ones I really find disturbing. … So the answer, of course, is that everybody wants a shorter season. The tension is, Will that mean less money? And that’s something we need to talk about and think about. … I don’t think it would hurt the game to shorten the season.”

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