Thunder: OKC will eventually have to pay for its thrills

NBA commissioner David Stern said if the Thunder wants to win big with its current core, it eventually would have to be a luxury payer. And that might be a good thing.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: December 25, 2011

Stern shot down the notion that the tax system, even in the face of rising costs, hurts small markets.

“That's ludicrous,” Stern said. “The idea that the luxury tax hurts small markets is ludicrous. It may impact a small market that is a great team and has to raise payroll. But at bottom, it's designed to eliminate the ability of teams to use their economic resources to distort competition.

“It does have a bite if you have any team that's well assembled and you want to keep it together. So if you have the Thunder over here and the Heat over there, they're both going to have to deal with luxury tax issues. That's not a small market (issue).”

Stern added that the Thunder, like any loaded team, would someday potentially have to surrender one of its stars.

“People are saying to Miami, ‘Well, you're going to have a decision to make with respect to one of your big three.' And they may say the same thing to Oklahoma City, and that's a good thing."

Under the new agreement, teams also were allowed a one-time chance to waive a player without his salary counting on the team's payroll (although the players would still receive their compensation). The addition is referred to as the amnesty clause and is another point of contention for teams like the Thunder that don't have a bad contract to use it on.

“In fairness, see me in a couple of years,” Stern said when asked about the amnesty clause. “Because at the behest of many teams, every team is given an amnesty with respect to players currently on their rosters for the next five years. So we're going to see how that plays out as teams try to clear up some cap space or some tax space.”

When asked whether Oklahoma City would be considered as a potential site for a future All-Star Weekend, Stern reiterated his stance that hotel space and adequate facilities would be the deciding factors.

“If you tell me you've got 6,000 rooms that are more or less close in and the kind of facilities that we need, we'd absolutely consider it,” Stern said.


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