Tag: NBA contraction

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Winderman: The NBA should contract incompetent owners


This can’t be what David Stern signed up for.

NBA commissioner? He’s more like Big 12 commissioner.

The Lakers, Knicks, Heat? Those are his versions of Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, teams that want to play big, spend big.

The difference is this isn’t the BCS, and his teams can’t leave for places where the big boys play and pay.

Instead, they’re stuck in the equivalent of a place where the Iowa States, Baylors and Kansas States somehow are calling the shots.

This is where the NBA lockout has delivered Stern.

The problem is he can’t sort his teams into FBS and FCS designations, where those willing to play at a higher level are granted such freedom, while others are allowed to play according to their means.

It has become almost a daily image, that of NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver standing next to Stern and chiming in about creating an equitable system where all 30 teams can contend for a championship.

Yet for all the places this rollercoaster ride of lockout negotiations has taken us, leveling the economic playing field still won’t draw high-profile players away from Los Angeles and Chicago to Sacramento and Indiana. A hard cap won’t provide Minnesota or Milwaukee in dead of winter the warmth of Phoenix or Houston. An onerous luxury tax won’t alleviate the state tax burden in Cleveland and Detroit the way the no-tax burden make Orlando and Miami more attractive.

And beyond all of that, the hardest of salary caps won’t offset incompetent management.

But what will strengthen the sport is eliminating the weakest links, reducing, by simple math, the number of owners who simply have no place in this forum in the first place.

Yes, the contraction reaction.

Currently, not only is the league operating the Hornets, but it is spearheading the Kings’ search for a new arena. Meanwhile, Michael Jordan is earning more from everything non-Bobcats. And the Timberwolves have managed to make themselves matter less than Minnesota’s WNBA franchise.

But it’s not the cities or the franchises as much as the number of teams and the number of owners. Certainly, just a few years ago, plenty of claims could have been made against Miami as a viable NBA market.

No, it’s that amid the bickering from the league’s lesser half of owners, that they can’t make any money, the reality is that in this economy David Stern seemingly can’t find 30 owners willing and able to successfully operate NBA franchises.

But he might be able to identify 28 or 26.

Remove the incompetent, regardless of city, and there might be a workable consensus. And no lockout. Then, relocate, if needed. Even Major League Baseball was able to pull that off with their Montreal-Miami-Washington ownership-switch dynamic.

Right now the NBA is not 30-strong.

And right now, that appears to be the league’s greatest weakness.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Stern says NBA will talk contraction after new CBA

National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern answers questions from members of the media regarding failed contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York
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Nobody really believes that contraction will be part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement… heck, I’m far more concerned about when there will be a new CBA. Contraction is an issue that seems to be off the table.

But don’t think contraction talk is dead completely.

David Stern spoke with ESPN’s Bill Simmons on his podcast and talked lockout — and said nothing but his usual rhetoric. However, amongst all that came a few interesting gems about contraction (via CBS’s Eye on Basketball).

“[Contraction] is not a subject that we’re against,” Stern said. “In fact, when you talk about revenue sharing, a number of teams have said that if you have a team that is perpetually going to be a recipient, aren’t you better off with the ability to buy them in? Because between the revenue sharing and the split of international and the TV money, we could almost buy them in with their own money.

“The players actually have been heard to suggest that as well, which was interesting because that means they are suggesting that we eliminate 30 jobs, or the potential for 30 jobs. So we’ve said to the players, you know, ‘Give us the right to contract, let’s agree upon what the basis will be. Let’s make this deal and then let’s continue to look at that subject.'”

The players union has never said contraction was a good idea. They think the best way to help small markets is better revenue sharing from the big markets that do make money.

This is simply a negotiation tactic, to keep things on the table as long as possible. Nobody really thinks there will be contraction.

As Stern mentions later in the podcast, if you really are thinking contraction the hard question is who you eliminate? Wherever you try there will be angry fans. Loud and angry fans. Plus there may well be unwilling owners. People have pointed at Memphis in the past, but after last season you think they want to fold? There are no easy answers here.

Winderman: CBA talks time to address contraction, schedule

David Stern

To some, these are the worst of times for the NBA.

An impending lockout. The drafting of a new collective-bargaining agreement. Big-money teams vs. low-revenue franchises in what might set up as its own civil war.

And yet this also can be the best of times in at least one respect, in the void of a working agreement.

What the NBA needs as much as Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting or the ensuing negotiating sessions with the players’ union in advance of the July 1 start of the lockout is a good-of-the-game summit.

Once a new CBA is in place, for whatever the term, so will be a blueprint moving forward. That makes now the perfect time, even amid this distressing time, to reshape the workplace, perhaps the final opportunity for the balance of the decade.

First, start with those owners whining because they’re losing money or not making enough money.

This was never a place for a high-profit return. That’s called the NFL. The NBA is a place where Micky Arison and Mark Cuban and Mikhail Prokhorov spend because they want to be viewed as winners. This is their hobby, their passion.

For most of the league’s successful owners, the view is similar.

The hard-line insurgency is being led by the league’s lesser half, owners David Stern never should have allowed to the table in the first place, his Frank McCourts, if you will.

So buy ’em out. Contract ’em. (It sure seems at this point as if no one wants to own the Hawks, anyway.)

The outlay now could be offset by a larger split among a smaller group of owners when it comes to television and marketing revenues. The playoffs drew record ratings because of the select group of teams viewers prefer to watch. A smaller league will allow more opportunities for Heat-Bulls, Mavericks-Lakers, Knicks-Celtics, games that will produce higher ratings than some of what is being offered nationally now.

The added benefit would be less dilution of talent. Perhaps now every team could actually field a legitimate center, quality depth.

Such contraction also would send a message to the players that your ranks will thin, so start working with us. In essence, the NBA could shrink the union.

Beyond that, address the schedule.

Among the reasons a lengthy lockout is forecast is because the NBA doesn’t truly gain traction until its Christmas games. Everything else seemingly is scheduled around Sunday and Monday NFL, and, to a degree, Saturday college football.

There has never been a groundswell for weeknight basketball from those rushing to arenas from work and then needing to get up early the following morning.

This should be a league of Friday, Saturday and Sunday (after NFL season) games, as the NBA has learned with its D-League scheduling.

A 60-game schedule would work just fine. The league still could sprinkle in Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday games to keep the ESPN and TNT schedules viable, only with less competition from local broadcasts, thus potentially higher ratings in that respect, as well.

These are not changes that can come in the middle of a collective-bargaining agreement.

They have to be part of the framework of a new CBA.

So if ownership insists on a lockout, if the players’ union can’t abide by management’s terms, then step back from the table and assess not only what is best from a revenue standpoint, but, dare we say it, what is best for the game, itself.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.