NBA expects big television revenue jump, which complicates lockout

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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.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.