We Aren't Really Blaming The SuperMax For The Failures Of The Teams That Couldn't Take Advantage Of It, Are We?
You know, I'm no CBA savant, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that a distinct advantage offered to teams that are lucky enough to have superstars is responsible for said teams' inability to offer any sort of their own merit in keeping said superstars. I mean, I'm all ears to anyone that wants to explain to me how an otherwise unavailable excess of tens of millions of dollars is to blame for the failures of organizations whose problems are the wrong kind of priceless in the eyes of some of the NBA's most prominent players. I just think that pointing the finger at the SuperMax like it was meant to be some sort of magic pill that saves small market teams from their own stupidity is a bit, shall we say, moronic?
I don't know. Call me crazy, but missing your flight by 30 seconds and blaming the airport's moving walkway after refusing to pick up your damn feet while you were on it seems a bit disingenuous. That's basically the real life equivalent of speaking ill of an undeniably helpful stipulation for being too little in aiding franchises that were too late in building a contending team around the type of players that you absolutely need to retain to remain competitive. We're predominately talking about organizations that are piss drunk off their own dysfunction, and you wouldn't charge 'Poland Spring' with false advertising if drinking it in surplus failed to sober you right up.
Generally speaking, professional athletes prioritize getting paid and winning. Since 90% of the time 90% of the NBA is, even on its tippy-toes, going to be standing well below the championship window, it stands to both odds and reason that the delicate balance of their interests might eventually shift in favor of fun/success when their finances are already well in order. That doesn't necessarily explain an outlier/outcast like Kawhi Leonard, who was as rare in position (set to get paid by a perennial title contender) as he was in "personality". It does, however, explain why Anthony Davis wasn't dead set on the number that comes after the dollar sign in deciding where he wants to spend the next step of a career that, relative to his transcendent talent, is still largely unaccomplished.
If the goal of the SuperMax was to prevent superteams then it was always destined to fall far short, but there's a big difference between incentivizing players and strong-arming players. Despite the NBA being a league in which the athletes are empowered to act with an autonomy of sorts, the former is very much still in play, so long as the sales pitch includes more than a disproportionally large contract.