Jason Smith, the backup forward for the New Orleans Hornets, said that he was told when he came into the league in 2007 there might be a lockout coming this summer — four years ago there were thoughts this could get ugly. Smith is not highly paid by NBA standards (he made $2.1 million last season) but he said players knew what was coming and most have put money aside to be ready for a potentially long lockout.
Which you can do if you are “only” making $2.1 million, but what if you make a real entry-level salary and work for a team?
For example, the Lakers laid off about 20 scouts, video staff and the like, according to a story on ESPN Los Angeles (a story largely about 24-year-Laker front office guy Ronnie Lester being let go). The guys in the team video room, the advanced scouts, European scouts and more, the guys who make a salary you and I fully relate to and now have no job — and don’t know if and when they will get hired back. This is not just the Lakers (who also did some staff house cleaning in the post Phil Jackson era), this is all across the league.
They’ve been told little by the team, except that employees whose contracts expire on or after June 30 would not have their contracts renewed, and their jobs may or may not open up again down the line.
“I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried about the other people on our staff that are really good and have young families and mortgages,” Lester said. “I’ll land on my feet, but those guys who aren’t as established, I think they’re in a little trouble.”
Other teams have seriously scaled back salaries of staff until a resolution is reached between the owners and players. It makes business sense, you don’t want to pay all these people when they have nothing to do. But it hurts.
But this is just the start of the pain that this lockout is going to cause people who have nothing to do with it. If games are missed it’s guy who owns the pub across the street from the arena (and his bartender), the workers at the arena who sell concessions and jerseys, team marketing staffs, and countless other people who are going to be hurt while the owners and players figure out how to divide up the fans money between them.