According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the league penalized Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob $500,000 for making “unauthorized comments involving collective bargaining.” One of the highest fines in NBA history was imposed.
Lacob joined Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner on the “Point Forward” podcast earlier this month. The Warriors’ $346 million total salary last season, including a record $170 million luxury tax bill, came up at one point in the conversation.
Here is what Lacob said:
“The hardest thing of all is navigating this luxury tax, unfortunately. I went back to New York this week for labor meetings. I’m on the committee. And you know, obviously, the league wants everyone to have a chance and right now, there’s a certain element out there that believes we “checkbook win,” we won because we have the most salaries on our team.”
“The truth is, we’re only $40 million more than the luxury tax. Now, that’s not small but it’s not a massive number. We’re $200 million over in total because most of that is this incredible penal luxury tax. And what I consider to be unfair and I’m going to say it on this podcast and I hope it gets back to whoever is listening … and obviously it’s self-serving for me to say this, but I think it’s a very unfair system because our team is built by — all top eight players are all drafted by this team.”
Of course, the Warriors did not choose Andrew Wiggins, but they do have his bird rights and can spend beyond the cap to re-sign him. In any case, Lacob is right. The longer you keep good players together, the more expensive it gets if you pick and develop them. The rules discourage teams and owners from keeping their cores for an extended period of time because of the harsh repeater penalties for teams that have paid the luxury tax in three of the previous four seasons.
At the same time, winning a championship should be challenging, and it’s difficult to sympathize with millionaire owners who gripe about paying a luxury tax. Franchise values have increased dramatically throughout the years, and if owners decide their club has become too expensive to maintain, they may always sell it for a substantial profit.
In any event, it will be intriguing to observe what adjustments, if any, the league’s luxury tax system receives in the upcoming CBA. The present one expires at the conclusion of the 2023–24 season, and negotiations for a new one have already begun between the league and the players.