In a recent interview with Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, CJ McCollum was asked if he’s concerned by the possible erosion of the NBA’s middle class of players. McCollum was recently elected president of the NBPA and will play a key role in shaping the next collective bargaining agreement.
As the NBA has grown its quantity of players making 30 to 35 percent of the cap, there has been a decline of players making midlevel exception or better.
“I think it’s something that we’ll continue to look at,” said McCollum. “But from a budget standpoint, the teams only have so much money. It’s a hard cap. Teams can decide to go over if they want to, but then you have a dollar-for-dollar tax, especially if you’re in the repeater tax. I think teams are strategically trying to figure out how to build their roster. You obviously need star power, or a certain level or caliber of player, to compete for a championship, and a lot of teams are trying to go for the $30 million player or the $25 million player, per se.
“But there’s still space on those rosters for role players. You need role players. You need minimum guys who can contribute. You need guys, you used the term ‘middle class,’ you need those guys on your roster to have success. It’s still hard to win a championship. You need to have a solid roster. Look at what the Milwaukee Bucks did and their key pieces and their pickups. Pat Connaughton, a guy I played with, he’s not making $30 million a year, but he’s an impact player. The big fella [Bobby Portis] out there in Milwaukee who’s beloved, he’s not making $30 million a year, but he’s still impacting games and having an impact on winning. Even P.J. Tucker, he’s not making $30 million. Guys are continuing to carve out a niche and a role in this league while still making good money. I think it just comes down to the teams are going to do what’s best for their organization. Obviously, I want everybody to get paid and have long careers, but it’s the team’s decision on how to utilize the salary cap.”