Tag: contraction


Study says 22 other cities could support an NBA team


Contraction? Why are we talking about contraction?

(Well, we’re talking about it because it’s good bargaining leverage so David Stern keeps it alive. But that’s another issue for another day.)

For all the trouble the NBA is having in New Orleans and the threats of moving from Sacramento, there are plenty of other cities that could support an NBA team. The issue isn’t the number of teams, it’s a question of markets. Don’t take my word for it, take a financial expert’s.

There are 22 other cities in the United States and Canada that have the wealth to support an NBA team but don’t have one, according to The Business Journal’s On the Numbers blog (via Eye on Basketball).

An NBA team, according to the study, requires (a total personal income) base of $34.2 billion for adequate support. Twenty-two open markets are above that threshold, earning perfect scores on a 100-point rating scale.

Seattle, for example, has TPI of $176.1 billion. Its baseball, football and soccer teams need a combined base of $137.5 billion, leaving $38.6 billion in available personal income, more than enough for the NBA.

Seattle also has a great hoops fan base. What they don’t have is a state-of-the-art building, which is the same issue in Sacramento. The economics of professional sports has changed and the luxury boxes and expensive, corporate seats close to the action are the big revenue drivers now.

The league is not going to expand, but it’s not going to contract either. Bet on it, Stern just wants it out there as a negotiating tactic. But it may be a question of markets. Why struggle in yours when there is a big city like Kansas City with an almost new Sprint Center that can take an NBA team right now?

Phil Jackson is also for contraction, small-market man that he is

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson ac

Phil Jackson decided to back up his girlfriend, which is a smart thing to do as she’s also the daughter of his boss and, you know, his girlfriend. Even less surprising is that he’s backing up his girlfriend by burying small markets, in which he’s never had to achieve success.

“I think that’s what the commissioner said so I think she’s probably parroting what the commissioner said,” Jackson said.

When asked for his thoughts about contraction, Jackson said, “I will parrot what both of them said” before expanding on the thought.

“I think [the league has] some parameters that they want to meet in some of the markets,” Jackson said. “I think they’ll set up some goals that way and I think that will be a helpful thing for the league. Taking New Orleans for example, they had to meet a certain number of ticket holders for them to come in the league, so there are some parameters that are important.”

“You like to have six in the division and 24 is really a great number [of teams] at one time,” Jackson said. “You could play five in your division and four in your conference and you could really set up division rivalries with such a thing like that. The expansion to 30 which we have sets up an odd number of games that we have [against certain conference opponents].”

via Los Angeles Lakers’ Phil Jackson offers thoughts on NBA contraction – ESPN Los Angeles.

Jackson, who played for New York for ten years before going to New Jersey, then coached Chicago and Los Angeles, obviously is in tune with smaller markets and the struggle to compete in the NBA’s system which heavily favors the biggest markets in competitive advantage. He’s in touch with what losing these franchises would mean to good fans in hard-working American cities and the thousands of kids who would suffer through losing their favorite franchise. He’s also got a good perspective on the limited potential  of the league in abandoning an expansive set of teams which provides interest in more than just those areas.

With Phil Jackson, who coaches a team that has appeared in 32 of the last 63 Finals, giving great perspective on how competitive balance is well in tune in the NBA, that should be the final straw. After all, when the coach of a team that’s had to endure things like having to trade Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol thinks that the system could use some shortening to allow more star players on big market teams, you know we’re overloaded.

In other news, Mark Cuban supports an initiative for loudmouth owners to get luxury tax breaks, Mike D’Antoni supports a three-point starting handicap in favor of teams whose coaches have mustaches, and I support a tax break for people named Matt.


Lakers’ Jeanie Buss will not rule out contraction

Jeanie Buss

Contraction talk has become the cockroach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks — it will not die. No matter what.

This time it was Lakers Vice President Jeanie Buss. Yes, she also shacks up with some guy named Phil Jackson, but make no mistake she runs the business end of the Lakers and is the team voice in ownership meetings.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, she sounded every part the big market owner.

“I would hate to see us lose teams, but I think contraction is something we have to consider,” Ms. Buss said. “We may be in some markets we shouldn’t be in.”

The Lakers are one of the big market teams that, if there is going to be serious revenue sharing, are going to be giving, not getting. Same with the Knicks, Bulls and a number of other big market teams.

With that they don’t want to be throwing money down a well, they want some return on that investment. That means two things.

One is contraction, or as Hoopsworld’s Eric Pincus put it “serious and smart relocation.” The big market owners do not want to be throwing money into markets where the team will never be profitable. Hence some concerns about New Orleans, for one.

The other is some kind of assurances that any money given to small market owners is invested back into the product and not just pocketed (as has happened in Major League Baseball). That has led to talk of restrictions on the money such as meeting benchmarks of ticket sales.

As you might imagine, Buss’ comments were jumped on by the player’s union.

In a sign of what Ms. Buss will be in for over the coming months, an official with the NBA’s players union seized on her statements and said the issue of contraction was “clearly dividing the owners.”

“If the owners are not on the same page it will make it that much more difficult to get a collective bargaining agreement,” the official said.

Dividing might be too strong a word. But they’re playing some hardball with each other as well.

Rudy Gay offers more honest take on contraction

Image (1) nba_gay-thumb-250x185-5956.jpg for post 2117

LeBron James came off as full of fertilizer — first he talks about how cool it would be if you could “shrink the league.” Then when that sparked a debate about contraction he said he didn’t even know what the word contraction meant.

As Kelly Dwyer said so well at Ball Don’t Lie, contraction means “shrink the league.” James needs to be honest to his convictions, not just backtracking after listening to his PR people and handlers. Plus, he was just plain wrong about the 1980s.

Rudy Gay in Memphis talked to our man Matt Moore, working for the CBS Facts & Rumors blog, and gave us a far more honest and nuanced answer when asked about contraction (something relevent to Memphis, one of the teams that gets mentioned in those discussions).

“Yes and no. If I was speaking like I was with the NBA, I’d say yes,” Gay told CBSSports.com Monday night. Of course, with more guys, more power teams, there’s more focus on those teams, rather than the Indiana Pacers or New Jersey Nets.”

At the same time, Gay feels like the great players in this league who already go unnoticed next to the biggest names the league markets would suffer if they were all crammed on teams fighting for top billing.

“I say no, for us as players. It’s kind of tough when the NBA is focused on one team (the Miami Heat) like it has been this year. This league has a lot of great players, like Joe Johnson, Derrick Rose, and even Kevin Durant’s not even getting that much attention. Even Caron Butler, who plays next to Dirk Nowitzki. Even myself, O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph, it’s hard when they have power teams that have so much focus, it’s hard for us players. But we’ll keep on proving it and eventually these guys will get noticed.”

That may be the honest answer — that while it makes sense on some levels it doesn’t really make sense for the players so they don’t want it. Which is why David Stern threw it out on the bargaining table in the first place, to give him something to use as leverage (“Okay, we’ll take contraction off the table if the union removes….”).

LeBron says he never supported contraction

Nets Heat Basketball

When LeBron James recently said that he believes the league’s talent level has become “watered down,” and illustrated his point by asking people to imagine what the league would look like if the best players from the Timberwolves and Nets were distributed among the rest of the teams in the NBA. Although LeBron did say that he wasn’t advocating for the Timberwolves and Nets to be disbanded in his original comments, some people took his comments to mean that he supported contraction and was undermining the player’s union before the coming CBA negociations.

Today, LeBron clarified his comments to ESPN’s Michael Wallace, and says he was never advocating for contraction:

“[It’s] crazy, because I had no idea what the word ‘contraction’ meant before I saw it on the Internet,” James said after the Miami Heat’s practice Monday. “I never even mentioned that. That word never even came out of my mouth. I was just saying how the league was back in the ’80s and how it could be good again. I never said, ‘Let’s take some of the teams out.’ “…

…”I’m with the players, and the players know that,” James said Monday. “I’ve been with the players. It’s not about getting guys out of the league or knocking teams out. I didn’t mean to upset nobody. I didn’t tell Avery Johnson to leave either. I didn’t say let’s abandon the Nets, and not let them move to Brooklyn or let’s tear down the Target Center in Minnesota. I never said that.”

LeBron has gotten himself into trouble a few times this season by making comments he later needed to clarify. None of his comments have been unforgivable on their own, but LeBron doesn’t seem to realize that his popularity is at an all-time low after “The Decision,” and people are going to be looking for another reason to hate him every time he opens his mouth. Until the Heat have some significant playoff success, which always seems to change people’s mind about a player, LeBron may be best served by letting his superb play do most of his talking for him.