We are about to head into the third year in the NBA with the new CBA.
Larry Coon, an expert on the matter, said the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the losers or the new CBA, and had this to say on the matter:
To put it simply, the new agreement cost the Thunder Harden, whom they likely would have retained under the old system. But in a system in which the tax bill is progressive, small-market teams cannot afford to stray very far into tax territory — so their hand was pretty much forced. To make matters worse, the Thunder are net payers into the revenue-sharing system, despite occupying the league’s third-smallest market.
The league also didn’t do the Thunder any favors in its interpretation of Kevin Durant’s extension. Durant’s extension language specified that he would be paid the maximum applicable salary, which the league interpreted to mean the seven- to nine-year maximum salary as allowed by the Derrick Rose rule instead of the lower zero- to six-year maximum. The board of governors later reimbursed the Thunder for the extra money this decision cost them but did not adjust the team’s cap. With a lower team salary, the Thunder might have retained Martin or signed another free agent this summer.
There is no disputing that the Thunder choosing to let Harden go is largely because of the new CBA.
We need to also remember that the Thunder are not the only losers of this new system. Other small markets will face the same challenges OKC does and even some bigger market teams can become losers if they don’t play their cards right.
This is where I think we can be really confident in the Thunder. They will find the best way to play by the new rules and I think that’s exactly what they’re doing. It’s not that easy for them to keep Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, while surrounding them with young, promising players. The Thunder front office is smart and I’d bet on them being able to do this for years, and making sure they are set to keep KD, Russ and Ibaka for a very long time.
In a few years, a trip of KD, Russ and Ibaka will more than likely be considered the best Big 3 in the NBA and they’re almost there already.