Final NBA revenue numbers in from last season

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It’s all about the Basketball Related Income (BRI) number.

The entire lockout is really about the BRI — length of contracts, hard or soft salary cap, guaranteed deals, revenue sharing are all secondary issues. What matters most is how much pie everyone gets, how you divide it up after that matters less.

So we know what numbers we are talking about, here are the BRI figures from last season, just released by the league Friday.

BRI increased by 4.8% from $3.643 billion in 2009-10 to $3.817 billion in 2010-11. Total player compensation also increased by 4.8% from $2.076 billion in 2009-10 to $2.176 billion in 2010-11.

Player salaries going up is not a coincidence. The last CBA (which was considered a huge win for the owners when it was formed) tied player compensation to the BRI, with the players getting 57 percent of it. So, when league revenue went up, the players got more. Out of each NBA paycheck eight percent is held out and put in an escrow account by the league, then a portion of that money is returned to bring the players to 57 percent of the BRI. This year the players got their full eight percent returned plus a little extra to get to the 57 percent figure.

The average player salary for the 2010-11 season was $5.15 million. Over the six-year term of the expired CBA, the average player salary increased by a total of 16%.

Nice spin by the league, but as we said, how much the players earned was tied directly to how much the league made, so if player salaries went up….

When the big wigs from the owners and players start talking again next month, look for talks about how the BRI will be divided. When they are close on that, everything else will fall into place.

But the two sides are nowhere near each other on the BRI split right now.