NBA Soft Cap System
The construction of NBA rosters differs across past champions. If you look at teams of the past, there are instances that feature a barrage of defensive talent or a deep bench filled with shooters. Combining the two forces is usually the most effective in roster construction, but the proof to a perfect answer is far from solidified. The current pace and performance of the league's talent pool is also something to take into consideration. The current NBA is more skill-based than it is fundamental. Players stuff the highlight reals and are limited to offensive play sets. They continue to run base offensive sets, but who needs defined play-calling when you have the likes of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis in the league? There is only so much preparation and counter to a player's skill set in today's league, making roster construction a telling piece of longevity of a franchise.
A team is allotted the maximum of 15 players on the active roster. 1 of these players must be inactive, meaning he cannot play during a game on any given night, unless activated 24 hours prior to a contest. These slots are usually filled by players recovering from injury or veteran players who have run their course in the league. A good practice of depth is to roster at least one back-up for each position to feature the desired rotation of players. The remaining 5 spots can be filled with areas of weakness or counters to opposing competition. The Detroit Pistons of the past used their role spots to add players that weren't afraid to get physical or spark the team via vocal means. This is subjective across each team. The Miami Heat team that utilized most of their cap room to sign LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh filled their roster with league minimum, shooters. To each their own as they would say.
Speaking to the salary cap of the NBA, a differing breakdown is utilized when compared to other professional sports. The NBA operates on a soft cap, meaning they set a level that teams are allowed to exceed. For the 2018-19 NBA season, teams are capped at just under $102 million, a couple million higher than last year’s average. This amount is forwarded throughout every organization. Any amount the team spends over the cap is known as the luxury tax. Luxury tax affordances are different for each team. For example, a team spending $90 million on roster construction would have just over $30 million leftover for contract renewals and in-season signings. Teams that exceed the luxury tax, take the New Orleans Pelicans at $117 million as example, will be afforded an additional amount of cap space. The team possesses homegrown talent in Anthony Davis, which can be used to increase the amount the team has to spend thanks to set ruling within salary affordances. A second influencer to going above and beyond this yearly amount is the deep pockets of ownership.
The collective bargaining agreement does keep teams within regulations, preventing super teams from building on a contractual basis. This has been stunted by teams who have found players willing to take salary cuts to play with guys they think can help win that team a championship. It is hard to regulate a league that revolves around one thing: winning a championship. There are many other complexities mixed into the NBA salary cap, such as an affordance to keep your fan base happy with local talent signings, signing veteran players, and other such stipulations. The cap is allowed to be broken in the NBA, leading to roster construction that allows teams to build around the mold they are looking for to define their franchise.