The other thing I don't like about the max is there isn't enough differentiation in the max salary of stars. Why does Irving get the same max as Walker and Horford? What's the standard?
The standard is in years played and (in some cases) accolades earned. Try to figure out a good way to do it in a way that doesn't involve an ever-changing salary cap.
However in regard to the general thread:
Team owners are, by and large, twitchy and reactive. General managers, even the smart ones, can be stupid: and you'll only know after the fact. NBA careers are, largely, a crapshoot. Steph Curry laboured under an awful/team-friendly contract for years because of ankle issues and Kevin Durant is currently about to be paid five years' salary for four years work. There's a reason why in the post-Carmelo lockout the owners had two major things to negotiate (not including the revenue split between players and teams): how to make them less likely to trade for players on "unfair terms" and how to get the awful contracts they sign off the books with the amnesty clause. Remember who else signed contracts in 2016? The Warriors got KD but a lot of players got an awful lot of money because front offices are manned by people who aren't as oracular as they think they are.
How much of this can be laid at the feet of the players?
Everyone is talking about the Clippers but the front office mortgaged their future for two years of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George -- gentlemen who missed seasons with injuries and have shown that they'll bail at the first opportunity they can. That's their right as employees (and this is the issue with limiting free agency in general), but it's also the right of the management to, you know, avoid sending five first round draft picks away in order to have the guy who the guy you want to hire says he wants you to hire.