Around The World Wide Web

Darius Soriano —  July 4, 2011

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: He was the first Lakers employee to scout Andrew Bynum back at the McDonald’s All-American camp in 2005 and the loudest Lakers employee to recommend the chubby 7-foot, 275-pound high school center from New Jersey with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft. Though Bynum is a grown man now, going into his seventh season whenever this lockout ends, when I caught up with him Thursday afternoon, Lester told the story of the first time he saw Bynum like it was yesterday. “Coach Bill Bertka and myself went to watch him during the week of practice they had before the McDonald’s All-American Game,” he said. “He was just so big. … The first time I saw Andrew Bynum come out of the locker room, I pointed and said to Coach Bertka, ‘Who is that?’ “He was overweight, chubby faced, chubby bodied. He needed to get in shape, but what a difference from the other high school kids.” Two months later he took a redeye to New York to watch him again. “I didn’t recognize him. He had lost 30 pounds,” Lester said. “That in and of itself, that kid losing 30 pounds in two months, that was pretty impressive right there. You knew the kid would work if he wanted something bad enough. “After the workout, I called Mitch … and told him ‘If he’s there at 10, I don’t know how you can pass the guy up.'”

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The story, though, touches on something happening not just with the Lakers but across the NBA, highlighting real and profound costs of a work stoppage often framed as an argument between the wealthy and super-wealthy. A lot of good people, many with “regular guy” salaries, are the first to feel the impact. It’s all very unfortunate. On the other side, some players are thrown into a deeper state of limbo than others. Drew Goudelock, taken by the Lakers with the 46th pick in this year’s draft with no guarantee of making the team, now loses the structure and support normally afforded rookies. No Summer League, no access to the facility, no contact with coaches to learn the playbook. Darius Morris, L.A.’s first second round pick, and other draftees are in the same boat. (Players who have scraped their way to a tenuous NBA career, hanging on to the back end of rotations and rosters suffer as well.) We spoke with Goudelock Saturday on ESPNLA On Air, not just about his feelings on being drafted by the Lakers and his strengths and weaknesses, but how the lockout impacts efforts to get himself to the NBA. “It’s tough for me because I don’t get to be in a summer league, and be able to show myself, and showcase my talents during the summer session,” he said. “But it’s my job to stay in shape, keep playing, and get ready for when it’s over.”

From Baxter Holmes, Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant may take his talents to China during the NBA’s lockout. There are preliminary talks about a basketball tour to China this summer — and perhaps beyond — in which the Lakers superstar, who has called China a “home away from home” and has an enormous following there, would be the headliner with several other NBA stars forming two or three barnstorming teams. Bryant and his agent Rob Pelinka are trying to put together the tour, said Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams, who also is represented by Pelinka. Williams said several clients of Pelinka’s agency, the Landmark Sports Agency, could be involved in the tour. “Hopefully I would be able to do that because I’ve never been out of the country and I think that would be the best thing for me,” said Williams, the former La Mirada High and University of Arizona star who was drafted second overall in June’s NBA draft. Pelinka’s agency lists 18 NBA players as clients, including Clippers Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon, along with former USC star and Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo, and Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer. If the barnstorming tour happens, the games are likely to take place at the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. Bryant signed a three-year deal with Mercedes-Benz in February to become the brand ambassador for Smart micro cars in China and he has already been featured in a TV commercial for the car.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Person is expected to continue to work with the defense under new coach Mike Brown. Person and Brown worked together in Indiana from 2003-05 when the Lakers’ current starting small forward, Ron Artest, played for the Pacers. “I’m very pleased to add Chuck to my coaching staff,” Brown said in a release. “I’ve seen firsthand his dedication and his desire to making the players he coaches better. The knowledge of the game that he has from his experience, both as a coach and as a former NBA player, is an invaluable asset that he brings to the team and I look forward to working with him once again.” Person has a long history in the league, starting with a 13-year playing career in which he was named Rookie of the Year in 1986-87 and continuing on through Cleveland, Indiana and Sacramento as an assistant coach before coming to Los Angeles. “Knowing coach Brown since our time with the Pacers, not only couldn’t I be happier with the opportunity to work alongside him again, but I’m thrilled to return to a franchise that I consider to be the best in professional sports,” Person said in a release. “Having been on staff for the Lakers’ 2010 championship run, I know what this team is capable of. I look forward to assisting coach Brown in helping our players regain that form and realize their potential.”

From Ben R, Silver Screen & RollPerson in particular appears to be an important figure, as he will be the sole bridge between the Phil Jackson and Mike Brown eras, seeing as he was hired as an assistant in 2010. In addition, Person designed the Lakers’ defensive scheme last year, notably the decision to place Andrew Bynum in the lane on pick-and-rolls to deter the threat of penetration, which worked beautifully during the Lakers’ 17-1 streak after the All-Star break but sputtered during the last stages of the season and the playoffs as the team’s overall execution withered away. As Brown will undoubtedly incorporate much of his own defensive philosophies on the court, having the architect of the previous defense present to ease the transition will be valuable. Person and Brown previously worked together as part of Rick Carlisle’s staff in Indiana from 2003-2005. As for Snyder, it appears that he will adopt a behind the bench role, similar to his previous gig as a player development coach with the Sixers. His resume is certainly not lacking, as he started his career as an assistant with the Clippers in 1994 before joining the staff of his alma mater at Duke in 1995, and was widely credited for Duke’s success from 1997-99 after he become Mike Krzyzewski’s top assistant. He is likely best known for his success as the head coach of Missouri from 1999-2006, including several surprisingly deep runs into the tournament. After leaving Missouri, he became the head coach of the Austin Toros, the Spurs’ D-League affiliate, and was fairly successful during his time there as well. Given the extent to which the Spurs maximize the utility of their D-League resources and the similar systems that are run there from the parent club, he should be able to come in and mesh nicely with Brown’s San Antonio-based philosophies from the get go.

From Zach Lowe, The Point Forward: Lots of smart people — economists, lawyers, students of sports and business — have told me that no matter what the NBA does, it might not be able to achieve the kind of competitive balance Stern and Silver say they want. A hard cap and some revenue sharing might help, but they will not change the fact that local television will always rule. Plus, the NBA can play many more games than the NFL (football players cannot play any more for physical and medical reasons), basketball’s seven-game playoff format is a better way of determining a champion and the distribution of truly great players — and truly great tall players — might determine more than anything else who is truly in contention. “The NFL is the outlier here, not the NBA,” said Gabe Feldman, a law professor at Tulane and a sports law expert. “Whether it’s because of the 16-game schedule or the national TV deal, the NFL is not the norm. The NBA model is much closer to the norm, where you’ve got local media deals and ticket sales and parking and things like that driving the success of a team. It’s difficult to find a way to split up those local revenues.”

From Ken Berger, CBS Sports: Despite the doom-and-gloomy way the word “lockout” sounds, and all the uncertainty and risk it implies, there’s virtually no time pressure on the NBA and its players’ union to rush back into the negotiating room any time soon. That’s precisely why no compromise was reached Thursday, because there was little or no risk associated with not reaching one. But based on how the league’s most recent lockout played out in 1998, there will be a series of drop-dead dates on the calendar. We’ll get to the big ones, but the first date is one that should be filed under the category “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The first date is July 15, two weeks from Friday. The only time the NBA has ever lost games to a lockout, during the 1998-99 season, there was a gap of 36 days between the imposition of the lockout on July 1 and the next bargaining session on Aug. 6. That’s 36 wasted days, days that could have been used to constructively negotiate at least some aspects of a deal — perhaps even a better deal for both sides than the one that ultimately was agreed to in January 1999, at the cost of 32 regular season games. There is one key factor that could alter this entire timeline, so it’s worth addressing now: If the NFL fails to end its own lockout in the next few weeks, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will have no choice but to rule on that league’s appeal of a district court’s decision to briefly lift the lockout. The three-judge panel made clear during oral arguments on June 3 that the two sides should work this out themselves, because neither one would be happy with its ruling. But if the NFL negotiations stall and the 8th Circuit rules, both sides in the NBA labor dispute will pay close attention.

Darius Soriano

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17 responses to Around The World Wide Web

  1. If the purpose of a new NBA collective bargaining agreement is to provide a fiscal environment that can assure that all 30 NBA organizations make a profit, then goodbye season, goodbye NBA future, goodbye league. It will never happen.

    NBA owners of bad teams seem to consistently;
    • overpay medium-to-good level players far beyond their worth,
    • draft very badly, and
    • Make horrendous trades.

    Trying to make them profitable will be a herculean task. The only to save the NBA is to find some foolproof way to keep the owners from killing themselves.

    What the NBA and NBAPA need to do to is:

    1. Develop a system that can eliminate fully guaranteed contracts for a certain percentage of an NBA roster – say 50% of the roster
    2. Let each team designate an under contract “Franchise Player” each year. (Can’t be traded, can’t leave the team)
    3. Allow the team with the worse regular season record to automatically get the first pick in the draft.
    4. Allow teams to trade players regardless of salary considerations and comparisons.
    5. Remove all remnants of a salary cap and let teams spend whatever they want.
    6. Reward the NBA champion with an NBA sponsored parade each year.
    7. Do not allow teams with lottery picks to trade them to none lottery pick teams.

  2. Bigern,
    “NBA owners of bad teams seem to consistently;
    • overpay medium-to-good level players far beyond their worth,
    • draft very badly, and
    • Make horrendous trades.”

    Actually, every NBA team does that, including the Lakers. Some teams just have more room for error.

  3. @1) 3. Allow the team with the worse regular season record to automatically get the first pick in the draft.

    The league already has teams going into the tank to get into the lottery. This option would only exacerbate the NBA’s current problem with the lottery and draft picks. Say for instance, the Clippers have Blake Griffin and a good young team, and the 2012 draft had a player eligible for the draft that is projected to be the next Michael Jordan and is actually displaying those skills during the college season. Then the Clippers have nothing to lose by tanking the entire season in order to get the number 1 draft pick and look to win a championship in 2013.

  4. From Ramona S. of ESPN, it is nice catch by Ron Lester and Bill Bertka in spotting Drew Bynum. After he was taken @ 10th, I saw him played at the Summer League in Long Beach. Indeed, he was raw, even Ronnie Turiaf and Smush Parker were much better hoopsters than him. Well, the Cap taught him some rudiments of the game, pivot moves using his height and weight and putting an arc in his shooting free throws. Drew now is much improved player.

    Five years later, Bill and Ron are now out of work because of the lockout. Kareem is sick with a “C” who was also moody and jealous for being left out at the proliferation of statues at Staples against AEG and the Lakers. Perhaps, he is running out of funds too, he’s getting only meager royalties on books and past B-movies. It is possible that by ranting he gets paid from those TV interviews and an advanced promotions of his books.

    Going back to the finished product, I wonder if there is any report expressing words of gratitude or consolation from Drew with regards to his job headhunters or scouts who spotted him at his high school team and the legend who painstakingly developed him to be a first class NBA Center?

  5. What’s amazing about these owners is that they were rich enough to own the franchise to begin with.

    The way they overspend money and make bad decisions makes you wonder how they made their fortunes in the first place – if they ran their business like that, they’d be bankrupt.

    This also tells you that the owners don’t take ownership seriously. They obviously want this to be profitable, but could in general care less even if it isn’t – they can afford the losses, but not the time and effort to make it profitable.

    So they’re coming up with excuses and ways to make it profitable while paying perhaps even less attention to the basketball side.

    As much as I think there should be some way to penalize players who aren’t giving at least 80% every game, there is absolutely no need to award owners who are obviously not giving even 10% of what they are capable of.

  6. Skilled labor negotiators could come to an equitable agreement very quickly. The players’ end of the CBA is really being used as a smokescreen for struggles between owners vis-a-vis revenue splits, parity, etc.. If anybody really thinks it’s about the players, just ask this question – does Jerry Buss essentially have an issue with Kobe, Pau and Bynum? Or, does he have an issue with lesser organizations wanting to put their hands in his pockets?

    The thing that bothers me the most is the way players, employees, vendors and fans, are used as expendable chits. The robber barons are alive and well, and always have been.

  7. When NBA owners claim they are losing money, do they take into account the (likely) capital appreciation of their franchises over time?

    I don’t think so, either.

  8. 7) R,
    I suspect that a number of the franchises are not gaining in value.

    dave m..,
    I think that’s too simple – it doesn’t take into consideration how wildly overpaid mediocre players are, and how well-paid the end-of-the-bench players are.

    The players are disingenuous when they talk about the owners being to blame for this because they make poor decisions, because the players are the ones who benefit from those poor decisions. If the owners actually paid players what the were worth, they would probably be making at least 25% less on the whole.

  9. ex,
    I’ve commented before about certain issues that might be looked at as more complex or even over-reaching, such as profit definitions, new market exploitation and verticle integration (which includes team retraction) but I think it’s important sometimes to look at things in the simplest manner.

    You mention the amount paid to mediocre players but as far as I can tell, those are judgement issues, not CBA issues. It’s up to owners and GMs to decide if they’re going to pay more than minimum or mid-level or any portion of mid-level. It’s the upper-level salaries that most affect salary caps – Kobe, Pau and Andrew alone fill a budget. Owners like our own Jerry Buss go deep into the penalty willingly, but it’s not in order to pay end-of-the-bench players, at least not IMO. There will always be guys that don’t pan out and earn their keep – I just don’t see that as a reason for a lockout. I do however, see internal league and ownership differences, as being more culpable when it comes to our current situation. Certainly, the ability of ownership on whole to make a profit, is a part of it. And parity vis-a-vis revenue sharing, is a thorny issue.

  10. dave m,
    “It’s the upper-level salaries that most affect salary caps – Kobe, Pau and Andrew alone fill a budget.”

    Yes, if you’re strictly looking at percentage of budget. But assuming that those top few players provide the majority of the production, then the other 9-12 contracts are where the majority of the “waste” is.

    IMO, the biggest part of the problem is the long-term guaranteed contracts.

    Address that, include a hard cap, with a hard floor, and some limited amount of revenue sharing.

  11. dave m,
    The key to your response was you acknowledged that the issues are much more complex than most fans want to try to understand, much less comment about.

    I agree with your comment about the higher paid players being the lion’s share of the budget. However, whether or not these are truly stars – i.e. people who bring in the customers – or whether they are simply who the owners could bring in, is a real argument and a difference between you and exhelodrvr. Many of these players, i.e. R. Lewis or even Andrew Bynum, do not truly put customers in the seats, though they do help win some games.

    exhelodrvr,
    You are looking at player greed and saying that is a problem. That greed is the way a lot of this kids get out of their previous lifestyles (see the number who get in trouble because they are not able to change, even with money). When you comment about player greed, you have to take into account what is advertised on tv and also how greedy the owners are – they want a monopoly where in they determine all the rules and the players are simply serfs. The only way that doesn’t happen is if the players stick together – which they probably won’t.

  12. I may be wrong (please correct if so) but I think the issue of guarantees was addressed with what the owners termed a major concession a couple weeks ago. Derek didn’t view it as a major give because it’s already established precedent.

  13. Re: last though, I may simply be remembering guarantees in of themselves as opposed to the idea of length of guaranteed contracts? Regardless, I think owners are divided over mechanisms aimed at parity and unified in a desire to break or severely weaken the players union.

  14. #13. The league wants a hard cap, fewer guarantees on deals, shorter contracts, etc, etc. And yes, they want to weaken the union.

    In the end, it seems to me that the owners understand the value of better revenue sharing but before agreeing amongst themselves to make that happen, want to gain profitability for their businesses on the backs of the players.

  15. Dave and Darius,
    “…on the backs of the players.” instead of solving their internal problems first, then coming to the players with what they should give back.

    That should be the correct way of addressing the NBA’s problems, unless your aim is to take as much as you can from the players, then to address the other problems as little as possible to still have a functioning sports league.

    Here’s to losing a year or two and most of the players finding a job overseas. Perhaps then the players could start a new league in the U.S. and become owners in their own right. Then it would only take about 20 years for them to start addressing things like the current owners are doing.

    The players definitely have to give something back, but how much should depend on the owners resolving the differences among themselves first.

  16. #15. The players certainly need to make concessions. How much they should give back, over how long a period, and what’s most valuable to them only they can determine for themselves.

    And don’t get me wrong, I don’t sympathize with the players that much (just as I don’t sympathize with the owners). Many a player have gotten rich playing a game (a popular game, mind you) and I won’t portray them as victims.

    That said, there is a middle ground and both sides should work feverishly to find it.

  17. Craig W,
    If you look at what I posted, it addresses both player greed (long-term guaranteed contracts and hard cap) and owners greed (salary floor and revenue sharing.)