This whole situation is loyalty. We have the game half right, we're loyal to our players wholeheartedly, 100%, and that will never change. But the 21st Century sports loyal is reciprocal. I don't think this is really a case of an organisation shelling out over the top cash and handcuffing themselves, they really wouldn't do that to the detriment of their long term future, but it more a show of "we're loyal to them, they're loyal to us".
Like I said, we've got it half right. We love being loyal to our players, helping them out at every opportunity and often giving them good money. Yet where it falls down in the modern game is that the players we re/sign can't guarantee 100% loyalty to us, either through health/fitness, or lack of game or drive or motivation. My soccer team over here in Britain, Brentford FC, was taken over a few seasons ago and have improved year on year until they achieved their initial goal of promotion to the next tier of competition. The main thing that was stated throughout those years was "we shall only sign players who are 100% committed to Brentford FC". This year we offered contracts to a few of our free agents that we were committed to, they accepted, yet also entered talks with other teams. We chose not to pursue these players further, despite their past with the club, because they weren't committed. I see a lot of that here.
They wanted $12m, Hawks showed their loyalty by offering them increased terms, but asked theirs by offering them $1.5m less than they asked for. Full term as well, just confirms that. If they can keep that going with the rest of the roster I don't see it being any issue for them. They may ask players to stay at the same, or potentially less, money and if they say no then goodbye. They'll find someone loyal to the cause. That way it won't matter if they cap rises, they just need to find the right pieces and go hard at them.
This is what we should be doing. Reciprocal loyalty. Unfortunately we show loyalty to people who can't reciprocate - Cleary with his health, Franzen with his spotty play, to name some whipping boys. Ericsson showed vast improvements and was rewarded, Quincey showed none yet was rewarded also. That's the problem. The fear we now have at losing the people we've got is leaving us behind. Good on Chicago.
(P.S. Kane isn't worth $10.5m... jeeeeez! I'd take Toews for that though. He's their Stevie... blasphemy I know)