Since the beginning of the NBA lockout, revenue sharing has been a huge issue. When you have an entity locking out its employees, and you have a massive disparity between the rich contingents and the poor contingents within that entity, naturally the employees are going to ask “Why don’t you just redistribute some of that wealth among yourselves, like the other leagues do?” For years, literally years, the NBPA has maintained that the best way to recover the losses for the owners in the recession is through revenue sharing. The league has insisted that that is an owners’ issue, and not a players’ issue, and would not be part of the conversation. But eventually, that has relented, and on Friday, we got the first indications of what that plan might look like. And geez, Louise, did they ever decide to attack the problem with fire and brimstone as David Stern has promised they would.
From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
The only progress described by anyone Friday other than the fact that theyll meet again Saturday was the state of the owners revenue sharing plans. Stern revealed for the first time that the league is prepared to triple the current revenue sharing pool in the first two years and quadruple it starting in the third year.
But even that issue is clouded in big-market, small-market politics and the issue of when the high-revenue teams will begin to substantially increase their sharing. According to two people familiar with the owners revenue sharing plans, the Lakers and Knicks would be called upon to pay the lions share — with the Lakers paying roughly $50 million and the Knicks $30 million — into the new pool. But some big-market teams are increasingly reluctant to share their growing local TV revenues; the Lakers, for example, recently signed a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner that dwarfs some teams total revenue.
That’s daring. That’s substantial. That’s borderline insane. To be clear, the revenue sharing doesn’t just increase the first two years. From NBA.com’s David Aldridge:
And rev sharing will quadruple every yr forward from yr 3, meaning at least $240M/yr thru deal. Yr 1: $180M, moving toward 240 in Yr 2
That’s a boatload of money. I mean that’s an epic tonnage of money that is being moved from the big markets to the small. I’m one of the staunchest supporters of revenue sharing you’re going to find and even I think that’s really far, if not too far.
But more importantly, for the fans, who don’t really care that much about parity or revenue sharing’s effect on it, this represents a huge “OK, now what you got?” from the owners. The players said they needed a revenue sharing plan. The league gave them one. Dwyane Wade may have freaked out over David Stern’s finger, but this revenue sharing plan’s totality may be the biggest finger the league can give the players and their reluctance to deal on the economic issues.
The players are getting some of the things they want out of this deal. Now it’s time to see what they’re going to have to surrender.