(two members of the one percent, congratulate each other over not being the ones to overpay Raymond Felton)
A pair of finals appearances a decade ago aside, this might’ve been the most important week in Nets history, what with the club acquiring Joe Johnson, retaining Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace, and still clinging to hopes of picking up Dwight Howard, if not now, then in the near future. While the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy hails Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s willingness to absorb a luxury tax bill as high as $107 million if Howard joins the team, our old friend, The Owner With A Boner (having his own memorable week….of sorts) has some words of warning.
The new collective bargaining agreement was supposed to deter teams from gaining an advantage by outspending others. Even high-end owners like the Lakers’ Jerry Buss have been queasy about crossing the threshold once the more punitive tax starts in 2013-14. But Prokhorov is worth $13 billion, or thereabouts. And while he spends most of his time in Moscow — and has prioritized his political career over the Nets — his money is omnipresent.
Even if the Nets don’t get Howard, they will most certainly be paying the luxury tax until 2016 with about $230 million owed to Williams, Wallace and Joe Johnson. They are also prepared to re-sign Brook Lopez to a long-term deal if they can’t land Howard, and give either Kris Humphries or Ersan Ilyasova a new contract to start at power forward.
Mark Cuban, who has taken the opposite approach by dumping salaries since the new CBA was signed, warned that owners like Prokhorov could face future setbacks with their free-spending.
“If they spend wisely, possibly (there’s an advantage),” Cuban wrote in an email to the Daily News. “If they spend it on what turns out to be bad contracts, particularly contracts signed under the old CBA, then it doesn’t matter how much money you spend. You are locked into only being able to improve your team using the taxpayer’s exception.
“That puts you at a distinct disadvantage.”