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Report: NBA trying to double broadcast rights fees from Disney/Time Warner


Last season, the NBA got $930 million in broadcast rights fees from Disney (owners of ESPN and ABC) and Time Warner (owners of Turner and therefore TNT).

Not shabby, you say? Major League Baseball gets $1.5 billion (from three different entities) and the NFL gets $4.9 billion. The NBA wants a bigger slice of the pie.

In their new television deal, the NBA is looking to double that, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The NBA and its existing broadcast partners have been in negotiations on a new deal since last summer and where those negotiations stand will be part of the conversation when NBA owners sit down for their annual summer meetings in Las Vegas this week.

Among the conversations to take place, according to the report.

• Splitting the NBA Finals broadcasts between TNT and ABC. While TNT (which helps operate NBA TV) covers games Tuesday/Thursday night games all season and a number of games in the playoffs, ABC has the Finals. TNT wants in on the Finals. (Most fans seem to prefer the TNT broadcasts, particularly the pre/post game shows on TNT, where Inside the NBA is one of the best shows in sports.) However dividing up a series (some games on one network, some on another), so some fans have to go hunting for the station, is a pretty big role of the dice.

• The NBA can’t negotiate with other entities yet. However, before leaving office former commissioner David Stern said he like the NFL model where the sport was split among every network. It is thought the NBA wants to add a nightly national game, maybe Saturday night, broadcast with a new partner (Fox Sports is rumored to be the frontrunner there).

Sports broadcast rights are skyrocketing in price in recent years because in a world where we DVR/stream everything and fast-forward through the advertisements, sports are appointment viewing. You pretty much have to watch them when they happen, you can’t DVR Game 5 of the NBA Finals and watch it two days later without already knowing what happened.

The NBA’s ratings have been climbing for several seasons.

However the new deal works out, the new television revenue would kick in starting in the summer of 2016.

For teams and players this means more cash (the salary cap is based on a split of league revenues between the owners and players) — the current salary cap of $63 million is expected to jump that year up to $75 million or more, according to reports. That means more money in contracts — it’s one key reason LeBron James signed a two-year deal in Cleveland. He will be a free agent in 2016 and if the salary cap jumps $10 million a max salary for him would jump $3.5 million a year.

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.