Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has repeatedly dismissed the idea that the NBPA should have accepted the league’s cap-smoothing proposal prior to the 2016 offseason, and she doubled down on that stance in a recent conversation with Kevin Draper of The New York Times. Roberts zeroed in on the theory that the lack of cap smoothing has helped create a perceived competitive imbalance, led by the defending-champion Warriors.
“I have been amused by the chatter suggesting that smoothing — or more accurately the failure to smooth — has now become some folks’ boogeyman de jure,” Roberts wrote in an email. “While we haven’t yet blamed it for the assassination of MLK, some are now suggesting that it is responsible for all that is presumably wrong with today’s NBA. Needless to say, I beg to differ.”
Roberts also refuted the notion that the cap spike in 2016 (when the cap rose from $70MM to $94MM) and the slower growth since then resulted in an unusually poor market for free agents in 2018: “We opened free agency with nine teams that had significant cap room, in excess of $10MM each. Frankly, before the spike, that’s about as healthy of a start as we’ve ever had.”
Finally, Roberts insisted that players shouldn’t be blamed for contracts from 2016 that are now viewed as overpays: “I get that there are folks who believe that some of the contracts executed post the smoothing rejection were too large. I vehemently disagree as I am sure do the players that negotiated those contracts. However, if that’s the beef folks have, take it up with the GMs that negotiated them. The argument that we gave teams too much money to play with is preposterous.”
While it’s hard to argue that a lack of cap-smoothing in 2016 had a major impact on several franchises – including the Warriors, who suddenly had the cap room necessary to afford Kevin Durant – Roberts is right that certain GMs deserve the blame for how they reacted to the sudden cap spike. If some of those teams had preserved their cap room instead of using it to sign mediocre players to oversized contracts, the NBA landscape could look much different today.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Speaking of Roberts, she was unanimously elected to another four-year term as the executive director of the players’ union, Chris Paul confirmed this week (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post).
- Earlier today, we noted that Rodney Stuckey was holding a private workout in Las Vegas as he seeks a new NBA home. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), the Warriors, Nets, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Pacers had representatives at that session.
- With several teams around the NBA looking to create cap room for 2019, and many of this year’s free agents signing one-year deals to hit the market again in a year, next summer’s NBA offseason could be a wild one. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) previews 2019’s free agent period, identifying the top free-agents-to-be and the teams that will have the most flexibility.
- In an interesting piece for HoopsHype, Alex Kennedy talks to a number of current and former NBA players about their experiences in free agency, relaying some horror stories about agents and team executives alike.