NBA expects big television revenue jump, which complicates lockout


Nothing runs professional sports in the United States like television and television money. And it’s right in the middle of the NBA lockout.

That starts with the current television deal, set to pay the league $930 million next season (assuming there is a next season). We told you before about how the NBA’s television networks — TNT, ESPN/ABC — are set to lose $1.25 billion in revenue if there are no games.

Over at Hoopspeak, Ethan Sherwood Strauss explains how the NBA has missed the boat on its national television deal (first signed in 2007).

Ad Week reports that ESPN/ABC and TNT would miss out on up to 1.25 billion dollars from a year with no basketball ad money. If the 2011-2012 season actually happens, those channels would collectively pay 930 million dollars for that 1.25 billion return in broadcast revenue, a potential 320 million-dollar gap between what the NBA sells TV content for and what broadcasters make off of it. This is a quite a steal for the TV side considering that broadcasters often overpay for the privilege of attaching themselves to sports. For perspective, networks give the NFL 4 billion dollars in return for 3 billion in ad money. My suspicion is that pro basketball could easily make up the 300 million they claim to be losing–if only the league had a mulligan on TV rights negotiations.

They don’t get to redo those rights until 2016, although the current partners may be willing to do an earlier renegotiation to keep the rights without opening up the bidding.

But when they do, the NBA will see a big jump in revenue, according to Forbes.

The buzz in broadcasting circles is that the National Basketball Association’s terrific television ratings and greater competition for sports programming are going to result in at least a $3 billion increase in the league’s next deal (30 percent more a year than the current deal)…

While buzz sometimes nothing more than just buzz, in this case a 30% increase might be too conservative. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly inked a new cable deal in February that will pay the team an average of $150 million a year, five times their current fee. Almost immediately after Peter Guber and Joe Lacob bought the Golden State Warriors last summer the team inked a new cable deal with Comcast. Although the figure has not been reported, I have been told the deal paid the new owners between $40 million to $50 million upfront, plus a more than 100% increase in the annual rights fee. Heck, even the National Hockey League just got a new deal with Comcast that will pay the league 170% more than its current agreement.

What Forbes is writing about both the owners and players realize — the league had the best ratings it had seen in a decade last year and they will be getting more television money in the future. Which brings us to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations and lockout.

The last offer from the owners wanted to cap annual player salaries at $2 billion (they made $2.17 billion this past season) for a decade. Meaning that player salaries would remain flat an all of the money from the increased television rights deal would go into the owners pockets.

The players currently get 57 percent of the gross Basketball Related Income that comes into the league, a figure that includes the national television revenue. While the players have offered to lower their share down to 54 percent, they want it to remain a percentage because they want to share in the increased television revenue when it comes.

And that is part of the standoff. There will be more revenue for the league in future seasons, but who gets the lions share of it has to be hammered out.

If back in 2007 the league had not signed such a long television deal, one that had more flexibility, we might not be dealing with the threat of such a protracted lockout.

Through unpredictable season for Spurs, Popovich remains steady

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gregg Popovich is not changing how he coaches, not after 22 seasons leading the Spurs.

The NBA’s most tenured steward is always going to focus on defense. He’s always going to dismiss talk of his brilliance because “it’s just basketball.” And he’s not going to overwork his players even though an unprecedented rash of injuries has the Spurs battling for their playoff lives for the first time in two decades.

“At this point, he’s not changing,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s a formula that has worked quite well. They have great veteran leadership and they pass it along to the young guys. You see the young guys are growing. That’s why they’re so good.”

They’re not as good as they have been, but their impressive success this year is a testament to Popovich.

San Antonio has been without MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard for all but nine games this season and Tony Parker, Rudy Gay and Danny Green have all missed significant time with various injuries. In all, the Spurs have missed 165 games as a team while battling everything from sprained MCLs to fractured wrists.

The injuries haven’t dramatically altered how Popovich manages the 82-game regular season.

“I think Pop did a great job overall, it’s not easy,” Parker said. “It was a tough one for him this year. Since I’ve been here, we have never had that many injuries. So, Pop did the best he could and I think overall he did a good job.”

Aside from All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, no Spurs player is averaging more than 28 minutes per game and veterans Parker and Manu Ginobili are averaging 20 minutes per game. Popovich has also been able to sit Aldridge, Ginobili and Pau Gasol for rest during the season.

Popovich was among the first coaches to sit players for rest rather than injury. He opted to keep Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Green at home rather than have them play at Miami on Nov. 30, 2012. The action resulted in a $250,000 fine and sharp rebuke from then NBA Commissioner David Stern. The NBA changed its rules to allow teams to rest its players, but only if they listed in a timely manner who would be resting on their injury reports.

Popovich doesn’t have the firepower to repeat that mass seating now.

“It was hard to rest guys, limit guys’ minutes,” Green said. “We had some guys come back from injuries, that’s when he limited some of the guys’ minutes.”

But Popovich still has made sure players received their needed rest.

The 40-year-old Ginobili has provided the Spurs with a needed lift this month after sitting out eight games to rest. In Wednesday’s victory over Washington, Ginobili outran 31-year-old Ramon Sessions to a loose ball and then dove on it to save the possession.

“It just tells you that nobody has an excuse not to do it,” 37-year-old center Pau Gasol said of Ginobili’s hustle. “A 40-year-old does it, what about a 25 or 30 or 35 or 37 year old?”

Parker has not sat out any games for rest, but he did miss the first 19 games of the season after recovering from left quadriceps tendon surgery. Even before he lost his starting position to Dejounte Murray, Parker has spent a lot of time on the bench. Not that Parker has enjoyed the time off the court.

“For me personally, I’m just trying to get back to 100 percent it was almost too much rest,” Parker said. “I wish I had played more games, but it is what it is. Other guys, I hope they feel fresher. We’re going to need it.”

While Parker may not enjoy the rest, it seems to be paying off.

The Spurs have won five straight after losing eight of 11 games to drop into 10th place in the Western Conference and out of the playoffs. San Antonio was in sixth place, one-half game behind Oklahoma City.

The Spurs recently beat a short-handed Golden State team by 14 points. The Spurs played with energy that they haven’t shown since early in the season when they were third in the West.

That should help then down the stretch, and possibly into the playoffs. Being rested, healthy and playing good defense is a recipe that has yielded five championships in Popovich’s tenure and extended the careers of franchise stalwarts like Tim Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

“Everybody’s bringing the juice,” Murray said. “We’re playing together on offense. I just feel like there’s more juice on defense. As I always say, defense, we’ve all got to be on the same page and be hungry and greedy on `D.’ We’ve got to keep going, we can’t get comfortable.”


Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.