The other CBA battle: big market vs. small market owners

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When talking about what seems like the inevitable 2011 lockout — it’s not inevitable, but all sides involved seem to think it is, therefore it is — it’s often portrayed as the players union vs. the owners.

But the owners are not a united front. Big market and small market owners do not seem to be on the same page.

The owners have to figure out their own house in terms of revenue sharing, from items like local television deals and gate receipts. Right now, the Lakers make nearly $2 million at the gate for every home game, while for the Grizzlies that is $322,000 according to Forbes. The little guys want some of that money.

The Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley was blunt about it in an interview with FanHouse.

“We’re not Los Angeles where we spend like the Lakers,” Heisley said in a phone interview with FanHouse. “Kobe (Bryant) and Pau Gasol make as much as our whole basketball team. If there is anything that is sick in the NBA, it’s that it could be going the way of the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals, where you can spend $45 million on two players…

“It’s very difficult to match some of these salaries we have in the NBA that are out of line,” Heisley said. “It’s very difficult when your local television revenue is a fraction of what they get in L.A. In L.A., they probably get as much for local TV as we get for total revenue.

“The NBA needs revenue sharing. It helped straighten out Major League Baseball, and it makes the NFL such a profitable business. How would you have some of the teams that win in the NFL if they didn’t have revenue sharing?”

The Grizzlies total salary for this year was $54.4 million. But this summer Rudy Gay is a restricted free agent and is going to get a big raise — possibly a huge one as some team that misses out on LeBron/Wade/Bosh overpays for him. Heisley has said he will match any offer, however.

Heisley is also willing to sell the franchise. He’s not long for ownership in this league. So he has nothing to lose by speaking out.

But the Buss family and the Dolan family and the Reinsdorfs are not going to simply, willingly cut their own revenue back.  The Lakers have a high payroll but they also turned a profit last year. Big market owners do not want an NFL-like system of revenue sharing, just an NFL-like hard salary cap. If some small market owners decide to push the issue, the CBA negotiations could be slowed even more until the owners come to their own agreement.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.