A lot of this has to do with stars WANTING to be in big markets. They have more power than in the past and can force moves. When a small market team sees a star leaving and getting almost nothing in retun they make bad deals. I'm sure there is some pressure from above but I doubt its WWF. Look at Miami, those players decided to join eachother there. In todays market endorsements are often worth more than salaries so players are not as motivated to get the best $ deal from a team knowing Nike will suppliment them.