November 13, 2011

What on Earth is he talking about?

I was reading a newspaper item yesterday about the negotiations between the basketball league and the players and came across this passage:

The union believes the league's proposals to increase luxury tax penalties, and eliminate or reduce some spending options, essentially would prevent the biggest-spending teams from being free agent options. A "repeater tax" would further punish teams that were taxpayers a fourth time in a five-year span, and players fear the penalty that awaits teams who receive money from the tax pool but suddenly take on salary and go into the tax would discourage spending.

When I read it in our local paper, I thought that maybe the typesetting software had got messed up and inserted some random words but the identical passage was on the website of a different newspaper. Can anyone make any sense of it?

It is not as if the earlier parts of the article set the foundation for understanding it. Apart from the incomprehensible content, it seems to violate rules of grammar.


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Shalom Mano,

I'm not J.D.-impaired and I do not play an attorney on the blogs, but it seems to me that the owners want to impose some kind of financial penalty upon themselves to prevent free-agents from jumping teams and the players want to be able to jump whenever they like.



Posted by Jeff Hess on November 13, 2011 02:21 PM

I don't know what it means, but I think this is a grammatical "garden path" sentence, like "the horse raced past the barn fell." If you imagine the word "that" between "fear" and "the penalty," it becomes grammatical.

Posted by Uri on November 14, 2011 07:50 AM

Simply said, it's revenue sharing *after* the teams have the money, and a hard salary cap without an actual hard salary cap.

By the old NBA rules, free agents could be given exorbitant amounts by their current teams, in excess of the soft salary cap. With the new rules, that won't be allowed. Eventually, all teams will end up with roughly the same player salaries and no team will be able to offer ridiculous contracts like they do in baseball. The owners want it because it will keep salaries under control, more like what happened in the NHL after their locked out season.

What gets me about the "players' associations" in pro sports is that their actions really only benefit the few players with the largest salaries rather than the majority with smaller salaries. Why do the average players buy into a system that doesn't offer them as much as hard cap and maximum salaries would? Eventually, you'll end up with uncompetitive teams that have one or two overpaid superstars and a bunch of low-paid players...much like the 1%/99% split in the real world that gradually gets worse.

For years the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Flyers (decades, in their case) averaged out (dare I say, socialized) their salaries among their rosters. It means they can't always get the best players, but they certainly can get a lot of very good ones and keep them. That makes a hell of a lot more sense, which must be why other teams won't don't do it.


Posted by P Smith on November 14, 2011 02:35 PM