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Why did the NBA give Warriors owner Joe Lacob such a hefty fine?

The Warriors owner has found himself in hot water with the league, but the question remains as to whether or not he has a point.

Why did the NBA give Warriors owner Joe Lacob such a hefty fine?
Kelley L CoxUSA TODAY Sports

The league set a serious precedent with the sanction that they gave to the owner of the recently crowned NBA champions. Surely others will have to think twice before speaking out.

Warriors’ Joe Lacob fined $500K by the NBA

According to reports, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined some $500,000 by NBA for making “unauthorized communications regarding collective bargaining. To be clear, Lacob’s fine is one of the largest in the league’s history. As for what the franchise owner said, it was during a recent podcast appearance earlier this month with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, when conversation turned to the Warriors’ $346 million total payroll last season, which included a record $170 million luxury tax bill. Lacob responded by saying the following:

“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.”

Joe Lacob makes a fair point about the NBA’s luxury tax

Though some will be quick to point out that Andrew Wiggins was not drafted by the Warriors, the franchise does in fact own his bird rights. What does that mean? They can go over the cap to re-sign him. That, however, is a non-factor in that Lacob - to be fair - has a solid point. As things stand, if you draft and develop talent in the NBA, it gradually becomes more costly to maintain it i.e., keep your players together over an extended period of time. Why? That’s because if you’ve paid luxury tax in three of the past four seasons, you are currently facing punitive repeater penalties.

On the other hand, no, it should never be the case that a team can win a title on the grounds of having a bigger bank account. Add to that, the idea that franchise owners in the NBA generally belong to the billionaire club and it becomes a little hard to feel sympathy.

Could the NBA’s luxury tax rules stand to change?

With value of franchises going through the roof in recent years, we now have an environment in which owners can always opt to sell their team for an understandably sizeable profit, should they find the game too costly to stay in. Yet, if we’re all honest, this is not a sustainable situation. What’s going to be interesting to witness, is what if any changes are made to the league’s luxury tax system when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current deal will expire at the end of the 2023-24 season and something tells us that given that players and the league are already discussing options, things could indeed be different next time.


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