The Dwayne Wade bombshell has thrown the talk of who the Miami Heat will pick at No. 10 in the upcoming NBA Draft onto the back burner. No longer do Heat fans debate Devin Booker or Sam Dekker, but speculate about what is Wade going to do?
Misinformation on the Internet on the salary terms of Wade's 2015-16 contract is running rampant. Does Wade want a raise or are the Heat offering him a Tim Duncan-type "team loyalty" package of $10 million in the 2016-17 season? We don't know what the Heat are bidding or what Wade is asking. What Wade witnessed was Chris Bosh not being interest in a discounted "Heat LIfer" contract and would only stay at a max salary. Goran Dragic is currently using the same tactic. Some believe Wade is just following suit. Most assume Whiteside will do likewise in 2016. But there is a twist to the entire scene that is lurking in the background.
The NBA's current Collective Bargaining Agreement with all its constraints is the real cause of the problem. Without salary caps, luxury and punitive taxes, contract restrictions, etc. the Heat and Wade could reach an amicable agreement. The twist is there probably will be a new CBA as soon as 2017. Both Wade and the Heat are taking that into consideration in the bargaining process. Per Sports Illustrated:
"Anytime on or before Dec. 15, 2016, either the NBA or NBPA can exercise an opt-out clause that would end the CBA on June 30, 2017....Assuming either the NBA or NBPA opts-out and the two sides negotiate a new CBA before it expires in June 2017, the NBA would be poised to lockout the players. A lockout would threaten the 2017-18 season and potentially lead to an antitrust litigation."
An item that might be on the table in the new CBA negotiations would be the elimination of the salary cap altogether. Mark Cuban suggested that could happen if contracts were no longer guaranteed. The scenario of non-guaranteed contracts would be important to a player like Dwayne Wade, who has known knee issues. He may want a guaranteed contract now rather than risk playing in a world without them
Secondly, without maximum contracts, teams might consist of one or two superstars that hog almost all of a team's payroll, with rest of the team being minimum-contract players. That concept would almost wipe out the middle class of NBA salaries. Where would that place Dwayne Wade? He would be considered too old to command LeBron James or Stephen Curry salaries, yet adding a Kevin Durant to the Heat with no salary limit would leave the Heat with only room to pay Wade a little above a low-level salary. How much do superstars count? About Michele Roberts, the player union's president: "... the first thing she does every morning is Google the names of her star players to see what the news is about them."
In reality salary caps will probably remain, but their structure will a big bone of contention between max players, average players and the owners. A new CBA may change rookie pay scales, eliminate the over 36 rule and the complicated exemptions, allow more flexibility in sponsorships, address the huge new market in digital rights, international completion, and more. Since the last CBA fantasy basketball has become a huge industry and the legalization of wagering on games might be discussed. The new CBA will have to wrestle with those important future scenarios.
Next summer the top players will get up to 30% larger contracts under the present CBA, but those deals will be made to allow for even more money in 2017, when the players will argue the owner/player revenue sharing is not fair and they will be playing hardball to get top dollar. The Wade-Heat discussions are not just about 2015, but 2016 when the TV money kicks in, and 2017's possible new CBA.
Right now, time to take a deep breath and let the professionals handle the complex details.