NHL Season Cancelled

Scouts, other basketball staff already feeling lockout pain


Jason Smith, the backup forward for the New Orleans Hornets, said that he was told when he came into the league in 2007 there might be a lockout coming this summer — four years ago there were thoughts this could get ugly. Smith is not highly paid by NBA standards (he made $2.1 million last season) but he said players knew what was coming and most have put money aside to be ready for a potentially long lockout.

Which you can do if you are “only” making $2.1 million, but what if you make a real entry-level salary and work for a team?

For example, the Lakers laid off about 20 scouts, video staff and the like, according to a story on ESPN Los Angeles (a story largely about 24-year-Laker front office guy Ronnie Lester being let go). The guys in the team video room, the advanced scouts, European scouts and more, the guys who make a salary you and I fully relate to and now have no job — and don’t know if and when they will get hired back. This is not just the Lakers (who also did some staff house cleaning in the post Phil Jackson era), this is all across the league.

They’ve been told little by the team, except that employees whose contracts expire on or after June 30 would not have their contracts renewed, and their jobs may or may not open up again down the line.

“I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried about the other people on our staff that are really good and have young families and mortgages,” Lester said. “I’ll land on my feet, but those guys who aren’t as established, I think they’re in a little trouble.”

Other teams have seriously scaled back salaries of staff until a resolution is reached between the owners and players. It makes business sense, you don’t want to pay all these people when they have nothing to do. But it hurts.

But this is just the start of the pain that this lockout is going to cause people who have nothing to do with it. If games are missed it’s guy who owns the pub across the street from the arena (and his bartender), the workers at the arena who sell concessions and jerseys, team marketing staffs, and countless other people who are going to be hurt while the owners and players figure out how to divide up the fans money between them.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
1 Comment

Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
1 Comment

Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.