“We all have to serve someone… I feel like I work for the players, they are getting 51 percent, and we did a really good job for them, and the raising tide will raise all boats.”
—Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards owner, worth an estimated $1 billion
It’s going to be hysterical during the 2017 NBA labor negotiations when some owner tries to plead financial hardship.
The numbers in the new NBA television deal are eye-popping — the deal will start with the NBA getting $2.1 billion a year in television revenue (up from around $900 million this year) and going up to $3.1 billion in nine years. The salary cap, currently at $63 million, will easily pass $90 million during the course of this deal. Owners, already seeing their franchise valuations skyrocket, now all should make money in the short term (unless they spend like the Nets last season) and have a lot more value in their teams.
Both the owners and players are going to get paid.
Is that enough money to keep there from being a 2017 lockout/strike? Are teams/players afraid of killing the golden goose?
Don’t bet on it.
I fear the best we fans can hope for is that it doesn’t end up costing any regular season games. Never underestimate anyone’s desire, no matter how rich, to get more money.
The current CBA came together after a lost summer and start of the season in 2011, with late night negotiations and lots of bad pizza eaten by media members staking out those meetings. It almost never came together, but in the end the owners got what they wanted — shorter contracts and the players’ share of league revenue down from 57 percent to 50 percent. That deal can be re-opened in 2017 and it expected at least the players and maybe the owners want to get back into it.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the potential impact of the money on the CBA at the press conference announcing the new television deal.
“In terms of the impact on the CBA, our current deal says that the players receive 50-51 percent off the top so, a lion’s share of this money will be paid directly to the players,” Silver said. “So I think it bodes well in terms of the effectiveness of the current collective bargaining agreement…. There is a re-opener in three years and I’m sure both sides will be staying the impacts of this deal and seeking to ensure it will remain a fair deal for both sides.”
The players rightfully feel they got crushed in the last round of negotiations and with a new, more aggressive president in Chris Paul and a new union director in Michelle Roberts, it is expected the players will want givebacks.
Some suggest the players will go after getting one or two of those revenue percentage points back — that will lead to a lockout and a lost season for sure. The owners will not surrender that money. Nor will the owners say the players should get a share of the profits from any sale of a franchise, another idea that has been suggested.
What might the players push for? From ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:
That’s just one of many issues.
Meanwhile, there are owners that still want a hard salary cap and you can be sure Adam Silver will start there with his side of the negotiations. Again. Or they want the players’ share of revenue down to 45 percent. The players will never go for that, but there are some owners who would be willing to wait it out (especially if this television contract has them still getting paid in the event of a work stoppage).
What we really need to hope for is calmer heads. Ones who look at how much money is being split up, the potential of fan backlash (although there wasn’t really any after the 2011 lockout) and say, “What are we doing here?”
CBA expert and well connected writer Larry Coon thinks that can happen. He wrote in a recent live chat at BasketballInsiders.com that he didn’t think 2017 would be like 2011 just because now everyone is making more money.
“To start with, I think the players are going to opt out of the CBA. Their reasoning will be that they did their share when times were hard, but now they’re past the hard times, and they want some of their concessions back. Plus the new national TV deals will be going into place, and they will want to reap in some of that windfall as well.
“How will the owners react? Unlike 2011, when they would rather shut down the league than continue to play under an unsustainable system, the owners will be more inclined not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I think they will be much more amenable to finding some middle ground with the players, and therefore I’m thinking there will be a new agreement in place in time for the season to start as scheduled. So no — I don’t think the league will miss games in 2017.”