With several albatross contracts handed out over the past few seasons (Rashard Lewis, Eddy Curry, Gilbert Arenas, etc…), a prominent negotiating point for the owners in the next collective bargaining agreement is the salary cap. Owners are basically demanding that the new agreement features smaller salaries, thereby protecting teams from throwing away millions of dollars on players like Curry who notably fail to produce. From the NY Daily News:

“When the league imposed its second lockout in 13 years last week, over a contract dispute that won’t be resolved anytime soon, that particular issue was mentioned several times by commissioner David Stern and his deputy, Adam Silver: They’re calling it pay for performance.

‘When we had our first meeting two years ago with the players, we said, ‘we don’t believe we’re distributing the $2 billion among the 450 players in the most efficient way right now,”Silver said during the news conference to announce the lockout. ‘We think we can do a better job matching pay for performance.’

It’s an old bug-a-boo for the league, with Curry being only the latest prime example of how teams throw away their money. Due to assorted minor injuries and his failure to get into shape, he played only 10 games over his last three seasons in New York, while earning more than $31 million. When you do the math, it’s astounding that Curry made in excess of $3 million a game.

Curry has to take a lot of the blame for his failure to get on the court. But the misspent money was all part of his fully-guaranteed, six-year, $60-million deal that the Knicks president at the time, Isiah Thomas, executed in a sign-and-trade with Chicago, and Garden CEO Jim Dolan was more than happy to sign off on.

Dolan never used a ‘pay for performance’ standard when judging Thomas, who threw away more of his boss’ millions with a few other notably bad signings. Famously, Thomas gave Jerome James $30 million in a free-agent deal and James ended up playing only 89 games for the Knicks, with only four games over his last two years.

The Knicks were not alone in practicing fiscal irresponsibility and bringing on calls for pay for performance.

In 2007, Orlando signed Rashard Lewis to a 6-year, $126-million free-agent deal, overpaying by $60 million for a player who gave them only one All-Star season. The Magic finally unloaded his contract but took another celebrated one in return when they acquired Gilbert Arenas. Despite Arenas’ knee troubles and flaky character, the Wizards gave him $111 million in 2008.”