Winderman: Contraction not a bad idea, just bad negotiations

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Contraction as collective-bargaining threat is lamentable on so many levels.

In does little to advance the process, offers a solution to nothing.

But contraction as a means toward competitive renewal?

It is an option that should not be summarily dismissed, albeit one better debated at a time other than amid the expiration of a CBA.

Making a case is not all that difficult. In fact, it merely requires scanning the box scores from the first two nights of the season.

What do these players have in common: Joel Anthony, Jamario Moon, Austin Daye, Jason Kapono, Spencer Hawes, Landry Fields, Reggie Evans, Darrell Arthur, Donte Greene, Wayne Ellington, Nazr Mohammed and Shelden Williams?

Each was an opening-night starter, not a late-season selection of last resort. Yes, injuries factored into some of those equations, but injuries only increase over the course of a season.

Amid his early-season tour, David Stern certainly makes compelling cases for the top of the standings, the theater of the Heat, Celtics and Magic in the East, of the Lakers and Thunder in the West.

Yet while teams are charging premiums to see such attractions, making single-game customers also buy everything from NHL tickets to D-League tickets, it’s not as if they also are offering rebates to those who will take tickets to the Timberwolves, Pacers, Kings and Nets off their hands.

As a national brand, the NBA has no issue with putting its best faces forward. There certainly are enough marquee teams to fill the ample network slots on ESPN, ABC, TNT and even NBATV.

But would there be an uproar if the 76ers, Raptors, Pistons and Warriors didn’t come to town?

In fact, with everything that’s wrong about Major League Baseball’s division-loaded schedule (please, please, please not another Marlins-Nationals game), there is plenty to be said about Eastern Conference teams getting to host the Lakers more than once, or Western Conference teams not being limited to a single visits by Wade, LeBron and Bosh.

Already, Glen Taylor has issued a not-my-team contraction warning about his Timberwolves.

But will the conviction be there in the Twin Cities for the Jan. 29 visit by Toronto?

The bottom of the NBA is where nondescript happens.

Sometime later this season, the NBA almost assuredly will come out with a release about how sales of its league-pass program have reached record levels.

Sure. Everyone wants to see the Heat, Lakers, Magic, Thunder and Celtics.

But only because it’s better entertainment than actually sitting through the Raptors. ‘Wolves, Pistons, Pacers and 76ers.

Contraction as labor threat? Reprehensible.

Contraction for the betterment of the league? A perfectly reasonable concept.

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.