Around the World (Wide Web): More Lockout Talk

Phillip Barnett —  October 26, 2011

From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Assuming the owners are as entrenched as ever at 50, what is there to talk about today? The system — which is really a bundle of issues that determine exactly how hard the NBA’s salary cap will be, and, related, how certain NBA players’ incomes will be. Hunter’s core concerns: “We’re not prepared to let them impose a system on us that eliminates guarantees, reduces contract lengths, diminishes annual contract increases, eliminates the other [salary cap] exceptions, really restricts Bird [rights for teams to exceed the cap to re-sign their own free agents]. That’s the kind of system they want. And we say no way. We have fought too long, and made too many sacrifices, to get where we are. We’re talking about a system that’s going to generate billions of dollars in the next few years and we were prepared to take a step back, to take a cut, to help them. We have presented them with a proposal that would address all of their losses, so that minimally they would have broken even. So that’s where we are.”

From Tom Haberstroth, TrueHoop
: You notice that Stern did not sell the unfairness of payroll disparity by pitting the Orlando Magic against the Chicago Bulls. The Magic spent $110 million last season (the same as the Lakers) and the Bulls shelled out a lowly $55 million, or half as much as its Eastern conference foe. And the result? The poor Bulls won more games than any other team and reached the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic? The nine-figure payroll bought them an embarrassing first-round exit. If you scan through team payrolls, you begin to see that money doesn’t decide games. If cash was king, then the Bulls wouldn’t have a chance against the Magic. If spending power ruled all, how do we explain the Utah Jazz and their $80 million payroll winning 16 fewer games than the Oklahoma City Thunder, who spent just $58 million? The Toronto Raptors boasted a higher payroll than the Miami Heat, so why did the Raps lose 60 games while the Heat came within two games of a title?

From Brian Windhorst, TrueHoop: Multiple league sources have emphatically told ESPN.com in the past several days that the sticking points with the players’ union do not solely break down market-size lines and that there’s unity among the owners on the need to win significant economic concessions from the players. But there seems to be a difference between unity and harmony. TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott reported Tuesday that the owners were holding a hastily-scheduled meeting in New York to further address revenue sharing issues. It comes on the heels of an owners’ meeting last week where enhanced revenue sharing was discussed — a conversation that has been going on for nearly as long as talks with the players — but no plan was agreed to. Stern has promised a new system that will at least triple the money being shared by teams. But so far that has just been a promise, as no plan is in place.

From Ian O’Connor, ESPNNewYork: Of course, there’s a difference between a 50-50 split of BRI and a 50-50 split of income. NBA owners grab $600 million in expenses off the top, and some sources of revenue don’t fall under the BRI umbrella. So the players’ half is actually less than half. Even at the risk of a lost season at the worst possible time, a time of exciting stars and healthy ratings and developing storylines, the players can’t accept this demand. “It’s more than a compromise; it’s a folding,” Miller said of the prospect of the players’ union, or any union, making such dramatic concessions to management. “That’s the nature of the beast, too. You start to retreat, and the next thing you know you’re on your back.”

From Shaun Powell, NBA.com: In the past, the owners could always count on players to crumble after missing a few paychecks. But that’s so 1990-ish. Today’s player isn’t nearly as reckless or dumb about financial matters. That’s not to say a fair amount of players don’t buy three houses and five cars and 50 pounds of bling. But the NBA actually helped today’s player wise up by implementing programs and workshops, mostly during the league’s mandatory rookie orientation, designed to teach players how to manage their money better. Plus: Thanks to that 57 percent slice of the basketball related income-pie, players over the last decade saw their salaries rise to roughly $5 million on average, almost to the point where the players make too much money to blow all of it. So anyone who thinks players will start shivering just because of a few missed paychecks is being a bit foolish.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: The NBA canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, and could cancel more. The players lose $160 million in salary for every two weeks of missed games, while the league loses $800 million. The concession and team employees continually feel worried for their jobs. The average fan feels no sympathy for either side fighting over $4.3 billion in this sagging economy. And the NBA continues to put its popularity in jeopardy. That’s why both sides need to change their negotiating tactics when they meet Wednesday in New York.  For one, it’s a small but encouraging sign the owners dropped their precondition of demanding acceptance of a 50-50 revenue split, as SheridanHoops.com’s Chris Sheridan reported. But they need to do more. It’s inevitable they’ve won this labor battle because they have the leverage, but there’s no need to kick the players union when it’s already down.

From Howard Beck, NY Times: The owners remain unified for now in seeking big givebacks from the players — even at the cost of canceling games. But their views cannot be easily categorized by market size, revenue, personal wealth or championship aspirations. In a Venn diagram, the owners would show overlap in their core objectives, but different preferences for achieving them and different thresholds for how many games they are willing to lose. “Externally, they have uniformity, but internally, there is a debate and different interests by different teams,” said Marc Ganis, the president of SportsCorp, a sports consulting firm. “There is uniformity on meaningfully changing the system. But what that means can mean different things to different people.”

Phillip Barnett

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21 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): More Lockout Talk

  1. I understand where the small market owners are coming from… but do they understand how businesses work? It is just simple real-estate. The better the location the more money you spend and more than likely the more money you bring in. The more customers you have the more money you make. If you buy a business in Sacramento you know its different than if you buy a business in Los Angeles. They already get a hand out from the big markets… when is enough enough?

  2. #1 – Aaron, your entirely reasonable question reminds me of the old MTV tagline: “Enough is never enough.”

  3. I just think, logically speaking, that some owners are blood-sucking leeches with no talent for basketball decision-making. And, the owners who have winning franchises, just have to find a way to pluck the leeches from their skin and deposit them in jars of gasoline.

  4. 3,

    Now this lockout is making a congenial fellow blogger, Dave M. angry. That’s understandable because normally there is a Laker game on Nov. 1st., it replaced by mean- spirited tricky owners like MJ who are thirsty for more blood and jealous on the success of other vultures or vampires. Why punish the whole NBA, just because they can’t make money in Charlotte or in Arizona? Why not sell the teams and move on…..for God’s sake give your fans a break!

  5. I disagree that money spent on a team’s players makes little or no difference in the chances that a team makes the Playoffs, or at winning a Championship. Maybe the East example worked out that way, but I believe Cuban’s payroll was fairly high, and the players he grabbed were perfect to counter the Lakers, at the same time. As far as the Heat go, they got three great players to sign, and they all took pay cuts to play together, from what they could have gotten by going separately to other teams.

  6. Can I just say how beautiful the Internet is? This is the first work stoppage in professional sports where the majority of people are behind the players. No longer can owners control what newspapers and television programs put out.

  7. Aaron – it may or not be true the majority of people are behind the players, or maybe its just readers of FB&G, or just those who post here.

    In any event (sadly IMO) it doesn’t matter because the folks who control most of the resources are not behind the players.

    It’s the golden rule on display: whoever has the gold, rules.

  8. I was tempted in recent days to say something about NBA owners and their ability to use losing money with teams as a tax write-offs to offset their tax liability for their other businesses.
    But with out real numbers to work with, that was a difficult point to make.

    Steve Achburner’s (NBA.com) interview with NBAPA’s economist, Kevin Murphy makes the point even clearer:
    http://www.nba.com/2011/news/features/steve_aschburner/10/27/lockout-q-and-a-kevin-murphy/index.html

    This is a must read for any serious fan of the NBA and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a real eye-opener.

  9. the interview with kevin murphy does an excellent job of logically pushing the NBPA’s points. kinda interesting how it’s on nba.com.

    here are some good thoughts from nash and grand hill:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/nba-lockout-steve-nash-grant-hill-right-wing-conservatives-owners-are-hypocrites-want-wall-street-bailout-from-players-102611

  10. Hi Guys, I see this a little differently. I think that the owners who have made poor decisions on contracts want a system in place that protects them from themselves. (reasonable). I also see a certain amount of jealousy with regard to market. Its interesting that so many cite the Lakers as big spenders (yes they are) but they spend to put a premium product on the floor that people will pay to see. Hence their TV deal. Of course some of the small market less profitable franchises want a cut. But the way the NBA ownership works it is every man for himself. If Im the Buss’s why should i give away the profits ive made, after ive invested heavily to get the best product out there. So the other owners decide to go after the players to offset their flwed system of mismanagement and lack of sharing.

    The Third and I think most telling point is the backlash of “The Decision”. How galling must it be for the Dan Gilberts of the world to see their employees effectively telling them to shove it. Deep down they want a system that doesnt allow their “hired hands” to take their talents to the highest bidder or control the competitive balance. Just in the last year, The situation in Utah that caused Sloan to retire and D-Will to be traded or force a trade. The Melo sage in denver. The bosh bron wade collusion. Isnt it interesting that the owners of these franchises are the ones who are driving the rollbacks and changes. Then throw in the Paul Allens and some of the owners who gave out massively stupid contracts and are now seeking protection from themselves. In my mind thats what is dragging this out.

  11. R,
    I agree. I was more speaking to everyone I have talked to as well as the people on this site. In both cases it’s people who love basketball, are somewhat intelligent, and aren’t racist. And if you love basketball and aren’t racist its hard to side with the owners even if you understand they have a ton of leverage while being entitled to a ton of money. I think the owners should get whatever they can negotiate. Same with the players. But personally… I want the players to make 95 percent of the profits since they are the NBA. Having said that… I mainly want a new CBA that’s going to favor the Lakers ;) So keep the max contracts cap down so the Lakers can get a ton of superstars on their team, minimize revenue sharing, and keep the MLE low while maintaining a low salary cap with a sever luxury tax that only the big market teams can pay ;) Done. Now let’s win five championships in a row!!!

  12. Aaron-11

    This was the first post that you have written that I can absolutely agree with 100%!

  13. Wow. I think we can all agree that the lockout has gone on too long when other posters are spontaneously agreeing with Aaron.

    But in all seriousness, I have some vaguely positive feelings about how things have allegedly progressed in the last couple of days. It sounds like it’s at least POSSIBLE to get some agreement by the weekend. Fingers crossed.

    (And for the record, Aaron’s suggestion of a Lakers-friendly CBA is something I’d be willing to support!)

  14. After watching the thursday night pressers. it’s pretty obvious that friday is THE day. These benchmark days seem to crop up with weekly regularity, and each time, I wind up disappointed and venting. I’m not sure that I’ve seen Stern voicing things in such a conciliatory manner before (at least during these negotiations) and once again, I find myself going to that hopeful place.

  15. 11,

    I like the Lakers to win two more dynasties but also prefer a level playing field. The owners created all this mess when they started pirating players & offering them a very attractive contract in absence of clear cut rules. Once the market has been stirred, well others responded and bid for higher until it became uncontrollable and no longer profitable for small markets. On the other hand, it’s not also good to have a collusion from the owners at how much they can buy or trade in a free market.

    Looking on the other side of the picture, we want to support the masses which usually represented by a union of underprivileged and under paid workers. Would you consider Kobe, Melo, the big 3, KG as underprivileged and under paid. Once you consider their other income, b’ball contract is just their per diem. They all belonged to the 1% on income strata.

    In a nutshell, all of these guys (owners or players) have too much money to quarrel over their supplemental loot such as media and others. Are they discussing how to cut their pay, cut cable costs, cut prices of tickets to accommodate the fans in the main street who were responsible in nurturing this league frpm the 60′s to the present. We are the hungry masses without any union yet with real everyday problems with money, nobody represents us in this collective bargaining sessions. Precisely, we enjoy watching basketball as our source of entertainment to deflect us from all the gridlocks in: daily living, traffic, politics etc. Unfortunately, we encounter another hurdle therefore, I’m term this lockout as the “meeting of the vultures” discussing ways how to scheme, churn or divide the loot coming from the underprivileged fans.

  16. I’m glad I got everyone behind a “Lakers friendly CBA” ;) . On another note I’ve said the last couple years Phil Jackson wouldn’t leave the Lakers till he thought they couldn’t win anymore. He isn’t in the business of turning down championships ;) Phil recently was told he would be coaching the Heat pretty soon (something I predicted last year). It’s a great interview especially with no basketball going on.

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/7156363/phil-jackson-los-angeles-lakers-clutch-2011-playoffs

  17. Aaron @ 16 – I keep agreeing with you – how odd!

    Except … I’m thinking Riles would rather die than hire PJ.

    Just out of morbid curiousity, where did you pick up this nugget of “Phil recently was told he would be coaching the Heat pretty soon …”

    Also please document your alleged predictions about PJ joining the Heat and leaving the Lakers once their championship potential vanished. :0)

  18. R,
    Haha… I’ve said it on this site a few times last year. Only because Phil likes to win championships and I don’t blame him much. Click link I provided and play the podcast on the side of the page.

  19. R,
    Whoops… I now realize you probably meant where in the podcast… It’s the very last 10 seconds.

  20. The thought of Phil Jackson coming out of retirement to coach the Heat is… devastating. Given his health situation, he wouldn’t last very long, just enough to win back-to-back titles. Which is too much already. So, PJ, stay in Montana reading, smoking and taking care of your bad back. NBA fans all around thank you.

    As for lockout chatter, I realized I haven’t read any article or comment on the matter since… well, more than a week at least. Bums me out. Get done with it already. Let’s play some bball already damnit

  21. 20,

    Haha. I’m sure he smokes too. But rumor around the Buss family is he mostly now takes THC pills to get “Zen.”