Welcome to the new NBA.
It was formed shortly after LeBron made The Decision. It continues now that he has made the Decision sequel.
Perhaps he was inspired by the Celtics Big 3 of KG, Pierce and Allen. It’s a world where you need three superstars to even be in the conversation to contend. There may come an outlier or two, like the mid 2000’s Pistons that are just all team and might be able to grind their way to the promised land.
Heck, the Celtics this year in their playoff run might be in that category, too. But, the way this world works is that you have 3 guys that make ALL THE MONEY, and you fill out your roster from there.
In the old NBA if you weren’t picking in the top 10 of the draft it was a lost cause. Those days are gone. Picks are valuable. A draft pick is now a cheap, young body who can give you minutes for the next 4 or 5 years.
Rosters on good teams will from this day forward be made up of 3 stars, young players on their first contract, and veterans looking to win and willing to play for less. Look and see where Dwight Howard lands this off-season. He is a guy that has made his money and will now take less to go to a contender.
Let’s look at the Celtics, who are set up better than anyone else in the league. Al Horford 2 more years on his big deal. Gordon Hayward 3 more. Kyrie Irving, due to get one after this year, while already making 20 million a year. Tatum and Brown playing on rookie deals, add in first round pick Robert Williams, a high flying defensive stud out of Texas A&M. You start to see how valuable these picks are. Now at the same time the Celtics have drafted very well over the last few years, not all teams can say that.
While Boston’s young talent matures eventually Tatum and Brown, definitely Tatum, become the guys that get paid while we thank Al Horford for his time in Boston and say goodbye, unless you’d like to come back and try and win and play for cheap.
Eventually hard decisions have to be made. Not everyone gets paid. At least not by Boston. Aaron Baynes is back. Marcus Smart will be the next test case this off-season. His rookie deal is up. What happens next is hard to say, but with a treasure trove of future potentially high picks the C’s are set up for the future in this new NBA.