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.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.