February 8, 2023
Locked on Women’s Basketball: WNBA investigating Las Vegas Aces for salary cap circumvention
Howard and Jacob discuss the report of the league investigating the Las Vegas Aces for circumvention of the salary cap — CBA and penalties
It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. This episode features host Howard Megdal who broke the news at The Next this morning that nine league sources confirmed the WNBA is investigating the Las Vegas Aces for circumvention of the salary cap, provides fresh new insights into his reporting along with Jacob Mox, a WNBA salary cap expert. The two discuss what happened, how it has come to this, what powers the league has to impose penalties if it determines improper behavior occurred, and what it all means for the league’s future writ large.
Jacob talks about his first reactions to seeing the report and the allegations against the Las Vegas Aces:
“Yeah, I mean, it was kind of hinted that this may be going on in Dearica Hamby‘s Instagram post. As she was being traded out of Las Vegas, there are mentions of promises made to her in order to sign her extension at the time. And so it was reported that when she signed, she got a time off bonus that’s fully aboveboard, but there are questions of if there’s anything under the table. And obviously, that’s what is being investigated right now.
But there are questions of if this would even be investigated because the player who is outgoing, who seems to want to air some grievance, potentially related to this. It hurts her if there’s an investigation and she was found to be part of it. So I’m really surprised whether she initiated this or whether this was maybe initiated by another team in the league that didn’t like that this was going on and forcing the hand. I’m interested at what stage did these very specific allegations kind of become alleged to you?”
Jacob and Howard talk about specifics in the CBA and the potential fines Mark Davis can face:
“Yeah and I think the enforcement is going to be really key because as we’ll talk about later, the CBA has limits to what a team can actually be fine. It’s unclear the manner that would play out because as with a lot of things, the CBA is written with a lot of gray area. But if you’re Mark Davis, and you get hit with some fine of a couple of $100,000, or maybe even up to a million dollars, whatever it may be, you keep winning. Does he care if they just let him keep doing that and take the fine?”
“I quoted one person I spoke to on background as saying that $500,000 was the best money Joseph C. Tsai ever spent on the airplanes, although again, and it’s really worth noting that nobody around the league is saying, Oh, my God, the New York Liberty, cheated, oh, my god, the New York Liberty went and did something terrible. There’s generally and not universally, but in a lot of corners, a lot of support for the New York Liberty, pushing the envelope on charter flights.
This feels, as many have said to me, several orders of magnitude different than anything that we were talking about when it came to the airplane issue last year. And this is something that is, at its root, makes the CBA, in many ways, meaningless. And if you don’t have the rules of the road in place, it’s exceptionally difficult or impossible to be able to plan. And that’s just a huge, huge problem.”
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