The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are a combined 19-0 this postseason, and one could reasonably argue that they have seven of the top 12-15 players in the world, including the top three: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry.
Isn’t this a problem?
“Well, the NBA has spent decades trying to engineer some sense of – I don’t want to say ‘parity’ or ‘competitive balance’ because it’s really not the right word,” Bleacher Report senior NBA writer Howard Beck said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “It’s really about trying to make sure that you have a system in which the elite players – of which there are really only 10, 15, 20 if you want to be generous – that those guys are somehow dispersed around the league because if they all get together, then you have super teams like you have in Golden State and in Cleveland. I would make the case that the Clippers for the last few years have qualified as that because they had three guys who could be All-NBA in any given season. That leaves very few great players for other teams to anchor themselves around, and yes, we are seeing a pretty dull postseason with this feeling of inevitability hanging over it.”
Indeed, all signs point to Cavs/Warriors Part III. In fact, the biggest intrigue surrounding the conference finals is whether the Spurs or Celtics can actually win a game.
Not win the series. Win one game.
“The league did not do enough in the last CBA that they negotiated late last year to remedy this,” Beck said. “The super max might accomplish one goal, which is to not have another Kevin Durant situation where a guy leaves his team in his early prime. So maybe some guys won’t leave, but maybe they will anyway – and the super max is not a silver bullet because it’s not going to help the Jazz necessarily keep Gordon Hayward this year and it’s not going to help the Pacers keep Paul George because they didn’t qualify.”
Beck sees a solution to this problem, but it would never happen – not anytime soon, at least.
“If the NBA really wanted to make sure that stars could not join up and form these massive superstar conglomerates, they would eliminate max contracts,” he said. “Keep the salary cap but eliminate the max contracts – because now LeBron James is going to make $60 million and you got to figure out how to fill out a roster around him with only another $40 million or whatever to spend. You’re not going to be able to put Kevin Durant next to Steph Curry next to Draymond Green next to Klay Thompson – and teams will have to make choices. But I don’t see the NBA eliminating the max contract, and they just signed a new long-term CBA, so there will not be any solutions to this issue anytime soon.”