Players Are Mad The Warriors Got DeMarcus Cousins, But They Have Themselves To Blame

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

If you smacked your forehead in disappointment over the Warriors’ acquisition of yet another All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, you’re not alone.

Players around the league voiced their disappointment.

Like Jae Crowder.

And Patrick Beverley

And Jared Dudley.

And C.J. McCollum.

But the players had a chance to stop the Warriors’ unholy unions with Cousins and Kevin Durant, all the way back in 2015.

A new TV deal starting in the 2016-17 season meant a huge increase in revenue, which in turn meant a huge jump in the salary cap. It jumped from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94 million a season later, the largest jump in league history.

Teams had differing reactions.

The Knicks gave Joakim Noah $72 million. The Lakers gave Timofey Mozgov $65 million.

The spike also meant the Warriors, one of the best teams in history, actually had enough space to sign Durant.

Teams’ unwise 2016 spending meant less money to go around in 2018. And a limited pool of suitors led to Cousins’ taking less money for a practically guaranteed ring in Golden State.

The league tried to prevent this.

In 2015, the NBA urged the National Basketball Players Association to agree to a cap smoothing — incrementally raising the cap yearly instead of all at once. It would not have resulted in less money for players.

“Smoothing would have avoided a substantial Salary Cap spike in 2016-17,” said NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass in a statement in 2015. “Under the league’s smoothing approach, the salary shortfall resulting from more gradual Cap increases would have been paid directly to the Players Association for distribution to all players, and thus the total compensation paid to players in any given season would not have been impacted.”

The NBPA rejected the proposal, arguing that smoothing would suppress max contracts, even though the shortfall would have been distributed among players.

As a result, those lucky enough to have been free agents in 2016 got paid out the ass. Those unlucky enough to be 2018 free agents got screwed.

And so did everyone not associated with the Warriors.