AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Adam Silver: Parity precluding jersey advertisements

Leave a comment

Update: To clarify, the parity concern is most likely one of many hurdles to getting advertising on NBA jerseys. Just because that’s the only issue Adam Silver spoke about here doesn’t make it the primary issue.

In fact, the other hurdles could be more substantial. Who buys the advertising and for how much? Is it sold league-wide or team-by-team? How does the NBA ensure jersey ads generate new revenue as opposed to just diverting existing advertising dollars already spent on theleague? How does the uniform maker play into this? How does the shift from Adidas to Nike next year affect decisions? How do TV contracts factor (though there’s reportedly at least some resolution nationally)?

I’m still intrigued by parity and revenue-sharing elements, but it’s important to keep this discussion in the proper scope. If parity is only one hurdle of many, concerns about parity are just part of a bigger picture.

So, keep that in mind when reading below. I’ve added a couple notes of clarification.

 

 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been calling advertising on jerseys inevitable since at least 2014, and the league’s popularity continues to rise.

So, why hasn’t any team put an ad on its uniform?

Silver, via The Lowe Post podcast:

Part of the reason we haven’t moved forward is complications over our revenue-sharing system, that if certain markets did exponentially better than other markets, then it gets complicated.

But the way our revenue-sharing system works, it would be a net reduction in revenue for other clubs. And your listeners could say: “Why does that matter?” And the issue is, end of the day, most importantly, we’re trying to create parity in this league. And we don’t want a system where some teams can afford much higher payrolls than other teams.

And that’s the biggest concern, that there are a group of teams that feel they will somehow be left behind, that certain markets – and presumably some of the larger markets – will be much more successful in selling – we’re calling it a patch, a logo on a jersey, not the full-out control of the jerseys that you see in European soccer. But they’d be more successful in selling a patch. They would generate more revenue.

Those lower-revenue-generating teams would not get a substantial enough increase in revenue sharing, and therefore, they would not be able to spend as much on players, on practice facilities, on all the other enhancements necessary to compete for championship teams.

And that’s going to be my biggest concern as we continue to address it, ensuring that it doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on teams’ ability to compete.

Why sell local TV contracts? Big markets can generate more revenue there than small markets.

Why sell merchandise? Big markets can generate more revenue there than small markets.

Why sell tickets? Big markets can generate more revenue there than small markets.

Jersey ads seem like a relatively arbitrary place to draw the line.

Large markets have advantages. That’s just how it is. The league must find a suitable revenue-sharing formula, but large markets will have always have some advantage. It’s just a matter of how much, and it seems small markets are hijacking the process to stake a bigger claim. Any dollar a big-market team generates through jersey-ad sales that is shared with a a small-market team is a money that small-market team wouldn’t otherwise receive.

The players union should take exception to the league (clarification: by the league, I mean an NBA driven by a bloc of small of small-market teams) voluntarily rejecting available revenue – about half of which would go to the players. It’s not their problem that the owners can’t agree how to share their slice of the pie.

This could also explain why the league could get ads on All-Star jerseys but not regular-season jerseys. That doesn’t directly affect any group of teams over others.

Knowing (this is one of the reasons) why team jerseys don’t have ads makes me only more convinced Silver is correct about their inevitability. I expect this to get sorted out for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Refusing to accept money just because someone else might get more is not a sustainable stance – especially when your business partners, the players, want that revenue coming in.

NBA G League cancels remainder of season

David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA G League shut down play in mid-March, at the same time the NBA did after the positive coronavirus test of Rudy Gobert. However, without a big television contract or much gate revenue, there wasn’t the motivation to restart the G League season, as the NBA is doing.

Thursday the G League made the expected official, canceling the remainder of its season. It will finish without crowning a champion.

“While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “I extend my sincere gratitude to NBA G League players and coaches for giving their all to their teams and fans this season.  And to our fans, I thank you and look forward to resuming play for the 2020-21 season.”

The Wisconsin Herd (33-10) and Salt Lake City Stars (30-12) finished the season with the best records.

The G League did take care of its players, which was the right thing to do.

With the NBA starting next season in December, the G-League will follow that schedule, with games through the winter and spring. There is a real possibility of expanded NBA rosters next season due to coronavirus fears, which will impact G League rosters as well, but there are a lot of details still to be determined.

Goodbye NBA regular season, hello NBA ‘seeding games’

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA regular season is over.

The league’s statement on its plan to resume the season made that abundantly clear.

The 22 continuing teams will play exhibitions, eight “seeding games” (not regular-season games) and maybe play-in games.

NBA release:

Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups.  At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.

The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs.  These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11.  The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

So, the lottery odds are set for the Warriors, Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets. The Wizards can’t tank their way past Charlotte and Chicago.

That’s a good setup, which raises a question: Why doesn’t the NBA freeze records for the lottery with a month left in normal seasons? By not doing so, the league creates conditions for an annual tanking wasteland.

Calling these “seeding games” also positions the league to hold award voting soon. The NBA’s major awards – Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, All-NBA, All-Defense, All-Rookie, Coach of the Year – are regular-season awards. If the regular season is over, those can be picked now. That could be a good way to fill time and attract attention before play resumes.

This is probably mostly semantics.* The term “seeding games” allows the NBA to differentiate these games for the lottery and awards.

*It could also allow the league to cancel more regular-season games and expand force majeure. But owners would still have to negotiate with players on how to pay them for these new “seeding games.” So, that’s probably a wash.

The term also makes enough sense. The 22 continuing teams are playing for seeding.

But what happens if two teams clinch certain seeds before their scheduled seeding game? Would that game still be played?

I’m confident the answer would be yes, even if “seeding game” would no longer be accurate.

“Tune-up games to generate more revenue” just isn’t as catchy.

Report: NBA sets dates for draft (Oct. 15), free agency (Oct. 18), next season (Dec. 1)

Leave a comment

NBA owners have decided to finish the season by holding games between July 31 and Oct. 12.

Now, the surrounding key NBA dates for training camps, free agency, NBA draft and the start of next season are filling in.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The NBA’s reported tentative plan to open next season on Christmas? It was apparently pretty tentative.

A Dec. 1 start to next season would mean an incredibly short break for teams that advance deep in the playoffs. But the NBA is already spending a lot of time not playing games and making money. There’s an urgency to getting revenue flowing.

There will also be a massive disparity in time off between the eight done teams and continuing teams for the key NBA Dates. Who knows how that will affect next season? This is an unprecedented situation.

Which is a good reminder: Coronavirus can disrupt the best-laid plans.

NBA owners approve 22-team format for resuming season with only Trail Blazers opposing

Leave a comment

We already knew many key details of the NBA return format plan for the season:

  • Only the top 22 teams will continue.
  • Games will be held at Disney World in Orlando.
  • Each team will play eight more games (maybe with this schedule).
  • If the ninth-place team is within four games of the eighth-place team after those eight games, there will be a play-in series between the eighth- and ninth-place teams. To advance, the ninth-place team must win two games before the eighth-place team wins one.

Now, that plan is one step closer to becoming reality.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA approved a 22-team playoff format:

It’s shocking the Trail Blazers, owned by Jody Allen, cast the protest vote. Portland – currently outside playoff position – will resume with a real chance to make the playoffs. What more did the Trail Blazers want?

Players must still approve the NBA return format plan. National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said they wouldn’t necessarily vote on it. Union leadership has worked closely with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, certainly agreeing on the system before having owners vote on it.

However, given the NBPA’s haphazard methods for polling the larger membership, I’m not sure how widespread support is. There is room for significant disagreement on how players – continuing vs. non-continuing – will have their salaries affected.

Still, I expect players approve the plan, maybe tomorrow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Everything is just too far down the road to turn back now. The financial incentives are too high not to keep trying to play. Silver has successfully rallied nearly everyone toward uniting.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Most of the remaining issues are minor details… like codifying a plan for health and safety.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press: