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.

LeBron James says he rides a motorcycle

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LeBron James appeared in a GQ video, and as one of the hosts discussed his leather jacket, LeBron noted he should’ve ridden his motorcycle to the set. It seemed the Cavaliers star might have been joking, but a few seconds later, he explicitly said he owned a different, three-wheel motorcycle.

Asked what the team thinks of his riding, LeBron said:

Oh, man. They’re like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “What you think I’m doing? I’m getting a breath of fresh air. You know? I’ve got one life with this, man. So, that’s what I’m doing.”

It’s impossible to think of an NBA player riding a motorcycle without Jay Williams coming to mind.

Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in 2002, crashed his motorcycle after his rookie season and suffered career-ending injuries. The tragedy caused him to attempt suicide.

Thankfully, Williams – a college basketball analyst – appears to be doing better now. But that incident has left increased scrutiny on NBA players riding motorcycles.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement states (emphasis mine):

Accordingly, the Player agrees that he will not, without the written consent of the Team, engage in any activity that a reasonable person would recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a substantial risk of bodily injury including, but not limited to: (i) sky-diving, hang gliding, snow skiing, rock or mountain climbing (as distinguished from hiking), rappelling, and bungee jumping; (ii) any fighting, boxing, or wrestling; (iii) driving or riding on a motorcycle or moped; (iv) riding in or on any motorized vehicle in any kind of race or racing contest; (v) operating an aircraft of any kind; (vi) engaging in any other activity excluded or prohibited by or under any insurance policy which the Team procures against the injury, illness or disability to or of the Player, or death of the Player, for which the Player has received written notice from the Team prior to the execution of this Contract; or (vii) participating in any game or exhibition of basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or other team sport or competition. If the Player violates this Paragraph 12, he shall be subject to discipline imposed by the Team and/or the Commissioner of the NBA.

It’s hard to see the Cavaliers restricting LeBron on anything like this. They practically let him write his own contract – two-year max with a player option and trade kicker – annually so he can keep collecting as the salary cap rises. If he requested a clause allowing him to ride a motorcycle, would they really say no?

On the other hand, I doubt they want their franchise player taking any undue risks. It’s worth noting, though, that Williams wasn’t wearing a helmet and didn’t have a license. Maybe the Cavaliers could accept LeBron riding in a safer manner.

But if they didn’t consent and LeBron is riding a motorcycle, what would the consequences be? They’re not voiding his contract. It’d be up to the team and Adam Silver to determine punishment, and I don’t recall any precedent for that type of violation.

76ers owner: Brett Brown deserves an ‘A’

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Only one person in NBA history has coached as many games as Brett Brown and had a worst winning percentage.

The 76ers coach, who sports a 37-127 record, is trumped by just Brian Winters. Winters went 36-148 with the expansion Grizzlies and during interim stint guiding the Warriors.

Brown is entering the third season of his four-year contract, and Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie has been mum about an extension.

76ers owner Josh Harris is taking a similar approach, but he also says a lot of nice things about Brown.

Harris, via John Finger of CSN Philly:

“It’s probably not appropriate for me to talk about specifics about what the negotiations are with him,” Harris said during a media conference on Thursday at the team’s training camp at Stockton College.

“I give Brett an A for the job he’s done,” Harris said. “He’s been an incredible player development person, which is what we need at this point in time. He’s a great person to be around. He’s enthusiastic and he’s a born coach and a leader of men. I’m very impressed with Brett and I hope and expect Brett to be around the team for a very long time.”

Brown has done a fantastic job keeping this team engaged through losing and developing its young players. It’s not his fault Philadelphia stinks. Tanking is an organizational decision.

But the 76ers aren’t tanking forever, and soon, they’ll require a different type of coaching.

Is Brown up for it? No idea. He hasn’t had any chance to prove it.

After all he’s done, though, he probably deserves a chance to find out.