Report: Turner Broadcasting planning layoffs in advance of rising NBA rights fees

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Turner Broadcasting and Disney-owned properties ABC and ESPN exclusively share the national television rights to broadcast NBA basketball, and Turner wants to make sure that they keep their standing in this very lucrative partnership.

In advance of negotiations with the league on fees that are expected to soar in the next deal, Turner has reportedly planned layoffs in order to have the necessary cash on hand to pay whatever renewing the contract will cost.

From Darren Heitner of Forbes:

According to the New York Post, Turner Broadcasting is preparing to let go of roughly 550 employees in order to have enough money on hand to pay for an expected increase in NBA media rights fees.  The current media rights agreement with the aforementioned television networks is set to expire in 2016.  Rising rights fees, along with costs to broadcast more original programming, are predicted to lead to the layoffs at Turner owned TNT, TBS, CNN and truTV.

An internal memorandum circulated within Turner and dated August 19 reveals that the job cuts may be completed over the next two months.

“Information negotiations” concerning the NBA’s next media rights deal began in Summer 2013.  At the time, it was projected that a new deal would not be completed until Adam Silver took over the Commissioner position from David Stern.  Silver is now firmly established as NBA Commissioner.  The fact that Turner is seeking to move rather quickly in laying off a significant number of employees may be a sign that a new NBA media rights deal is forthcoming.

The current deal is worth more than $900 million per year to the league, but the next one could see those fees doubled.

Players are also planning for a new TV deal, in the form of signing shorter free agent contracts to wait and see how things play out. LeBron James is perhaps the most high-profile example, but others like restricted free agents Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe are considering playing under a one-year qualifying offer, in order to maximize their earning potential as the salary cap continues to rise in the seasons to come — something that is directly influenced by league revenue, which a new rights deal would help to dramatically increase.

TNT televises games on Thursday nights weekly throughout the season, and also chips in on the league’s bigger days on the schedule, which include the Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr. holidays. The company also shares in broadcasting the playoffs, all the way through to the Conference Finals, before ABC takes over exclusively for the NBA Finals.

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.