Looking Through The Players’ Eyes

Darius Soriano —  November 16, 2011

As we all know by now, there is no deal between the players and the owners to end the lockout. Furthermore, the players – through a an up and down vote of the player reps in attendance at Monday’s meeting – unanimously voted to “disclaim interest” in their union, a move that removes the NBPA’s authority to negotiate for the players and limits their power in a variety of other areas in relation to player rights (for a full explanation, read Billy Hunter’s letter to players explaining the ramifications). And while there’s still hope a deal can be reached, the light at the end of the tunnel has dimmed considerably.

The union’s decision to go down this path isn’t what I would have recommended. If I were in their shoes I would have put the onus back on the owners by stating “the players are ready to sign the deal if a few tweaks to the current offer were made.” The owners would then have to decide if the issues the players wanted changed were important enough to them to continue their hard-line stance and ultimately to derail the season because the owners simply had to keep them as is.

But that’s water under the bridge now. The players have made their move and now it’s in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Taking a step back, though, the question remains, why did the players make the choice they did? They’re now viewed by many as the people that have held up a deal when one was there to be made. Many smart people are attempting to argue that they’re now more at fault than the owners because they decided to reject the offer on the table. What about that deal was so bad? Let’s try to explore.

In the lead up to Monday’s players’ reps meeting in New York, the league did something I asked for on twitter just a couple of days earlier: they put their offer out to the public for everyone to see and evaluate. There was some spin involved and this maneuver could have also been motivated by wanting to pressure the players to contact their union to put the offer to a vote, but the end result is the same – we got to see the offer on the table.

Before the league got into the nuts and bolts of the proposal, they offered a few bullet points of clarification, stating “Contrary to media reports over the weekend, the NBA’s proposal would”:

  • Increase, not reduce, the market for mid-level players. Under the NBA’s proposal, there are now three Mid-Level Exceptions, one more than under the prior CBA: $5 million for Non-Taxpayers, $3 million for Taxpayers, and $2.5 million for Room teams. While the proposal would not permit Taxpayers to use the $5 million Mid-Level, that is not much of a change – since Taxpayers used the Mid-Level to sign only 9 players for $5 million or more during the prior CBA.
  • Permit unlimited use of the Bird Exception. The proposal allows all teams to re-sign their players through full use of the existing Bird exception.
  • Allow sign-and-trades by Non-Taxpayers. Under the proposal, Non-Taxpayers can still acquire other teams’ free agents using the sign-and trade. While Taxpayers cannot use sign-and-trade beginning in Year 3, this is not much of a change, since Taxpayers used the sign-and-trade to acquire only 4 players during the prior CBA.
  • Allow an active free agent market and greater player movement. Under the proposal, contracts will be shorter and remaining payments under waived contracts signed under the new CBA will be “stretched” – both of which will give teams more money each year to sign free agents. The proposal also requires teams to make higher Qualifying Offers and provides a shorter period to match Offer Sheets – thereby improving Restricted Free Agency for players. And the proposal contains a larger Trade Exception, which will foster more player movement.

After reading those points, the question from earlier stands: what’s wrong with this? If trying to examine this through the players’ eyes, most of these points are spin meant to create a favorable view of the NBA’s offer. Let’s tackle them one by one:

  • Point one speaks to a larger market for mid-level players by creating more salary cap exceptions to sign free agents with. However, these contracts are fixed compensation rates that eliminate the ability of players to create a market for their services to all teams at the same price point. This differentiation in compensation negatively affects contract negotiations for players.
  • Point two is essentially a carry over from the previous CBA. This isn’t a “win” for either side, but rather a continuation of the status quo.
  • Point three is another measure that limits players’ ability to move to any team that wants to acquire them. Players surely find any limitations on their mobility to be a big hurdle to an agreement as it limits their options and ability to find the best deal available.
  • Point four is trying to dress up the fact that players will have less security under this deal through shorter contract lengths and teams’ ability to waive players. The positives of more players being able to take advantage of free agency and trades are countered by the issues with points #1 and #3 where compensation rates and ability to trade for players vary by type of team. It should be pointed out, though, that higher qualifying offers and shorter “match periods” for restricted free agents do benefit the players positively.

As we’ve covered in this space before, any provisions that limit player movement or limit/prevent players from seeking market level deals from every team are going to be difficult for players to agree to.

When you then pair those concerns with the owners’ approach to negotiating this deal (asking for unprecedented givebacks in relation to the last CBA, moving off far-reaching hard-line demands and calling them “concessions”, placing ultimatums with threats of resetting to worse offers if an agreement isn’t struck) it’s easier to understand the players position and why they’d reject the deal on the table.

In the end, it seems the players feel the owners have simply asked for too much. It also seems that after looking at the deal on the table and examining the last points of contention that both sides were haggling over, the players realized even if they “won” this last round of talks, the overall loss they were taking would be too big.

This isn’t to say the players are completely in the right and the owners are completely in the wrong. Both sides are to blame in this fiasco that’s cost us the game we love to watch.

But in examining this offer as if I were a player, I can better understand why they didn’t simply sign on the dotted line this past Monday.

Darius Soriano

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38 responses to Looking Through The Players’ Eyes

  1. Darius,

    Maybe you could make it clearer why you feel the players share in the blame?

    Before entering into serious negotiations, the owners locked the players out and fired most of their staff at the most adventageous time to control costs/losses in obvious preparations for an extended lockout. They then presented the players with a proposed contract radically different in percentage splits and terms from the previous agreement–on a take it or leave it basis.

    Rather than decertifying and challenging the lockout in court, the players negotiated patiently, making numerous suggestions and counterproposals. The owners responded with only superficial cosmetic changes to their take it or leave it initial proposal.

    The players continued to make concessions, until they had no more concessions to give.

    Are you saying that the players should just have accepted the ultimatum in the first place–or are you saying that the owners made real changes in their terms to accommodate the players and reach an agreement somewhere in the middle that the players should have accepted?

  2. Something just occurred to me. In the summer of 2007, when Kobe was making noise about being traded, I remember one of the potential hangups of the deal was that his contract was structured to have the first payday of the season be some significant portion of his annual salary, upwards of 80 percent.

    This would have put the recipient team (had the deal gone off) in the position of laying out $15 or 20 million in the first month of the season for Kobe’s services.

    Now that the players have officially missed their first payday, what does that mean for an unconventional contract like Kobe’s? Is he playing for 10 or 20% salary for the rest of this season (if it happens at all), or does his bulk payout simply happen on the “first paycheck of the season”?

  3. #1. The players share in the blame – though a very small portion. Yes they bargained in good faith and no, I don’t think they could have done too much different than what they did. However, their original position was one that little needed to change from the last CBA and their first offers reflected that. I think they’d have been much better off admitting changes needed to be made and proceded to paint the owners into a corner as early as they could as people that were being unreasonable, but do it in a way where more people could have identified with their cause.

    That said, as I’ve stated countless times before on this site (and every other outlet I have at my disposal) I feel the owners deserve most of the blame. Nearly all of it, in fact. But I’m not so blind to say that the players deserve no blame or that they couldn’t have done things differently in order to avoid the place the negotiations are in now.

  4. Union reps got played by Billy Hunter. A disclaimer of interest is not nearly as good as decertification, from what I’m told by several legal-minded people, in terms of seeking an injunction or damages from the league. Billy Hunter did this to protect his own salary. Shane Battier was right from the beginning; Hunter should have given up that ridiculous $2.5 million salary. Kessler gets paid more and more the longer this gets dragged out, you think he wants a deal or wants to play hardball?

    Plus with decertification, there was that 45-day window to get people back to the table and hammer out final details. Now that lawsuits against the league have already been filed, the owners will be looking to fight back strong and will be more focused on lawyering up than negotiating. I just think decertification would have been a much better way to go, and I think Hunter hoodwinked the player reps.

  5. Way off topic:

    Jonesing for hoops, I finally watched Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals. This is a phenomenal documentary that, for two hours, made me forget about the lockout.

    If there’s anyone else here who hasn’t seen it yet: highly recommended. A masterful and deeply emotional piece of filmmaking.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled lack of programming.

  6. DS: Nice summary. Points #1 and 4 are terrible options for the mid-level player. Players will have much less freedom to negotiate longer contracts or higher salaries. This is a very important issue since the typical NBA career lasts less than 5 years. One extra year could represent more than 20%+ of a player’s career earnings! Faced with a lower BRI% and shorter contracts that pay less, is it any wonder that the players rejected the latest proposal?

  7. As much as I love the Lakers and the game, I’m considering boycotting the season. The fact that billionaires and millionaires can’t find middle ground is ridiculous to me.

  8. Darius,
    The players deserve a lot of blame. And too many reporters covering the lockout are falling for the (Bully/Nerd) trap. It takes a nerd to allow for a bully after all. The NBAPA went into to these negotiations with battle tested nasty businessmen like highschool kids ready to split the dinner bill. The players could have done a number of things that would allowed them an offer resulting in NBA basketball this fall. They could have decertified July 1 like all the agents were screaming for. They could have not given so much ground so soon before the Owners even really began negotiating. I mean they fell for the oldest dumbest ploy in the book. They let Stern amd the owners move the center. Just because asks for fifty dollars for a pack of gum doesmt mean agreeing to pay 25 bucks is a fair compromise. The owners are smart. They smelled blood and went for the kill. The only mistake they made was not allowing one small concession in the process. They could have taken 99% in this new CBA but they wanted 100%. And nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal… Which is what the players currently are. They are lashing out, unpredictable, and now just like the owners all along going for the kill. Just like in my (Bully/Nerd) example… Most bullies were once bullied at one point creating that monster. Well… The owners bullied the players for one too many lunches.

  9. #8. So, essentially, you’re blaming the players for not being better negotiators…to a certain extent, that’s fair. I’m blaming them in sort of the same way, but am using different examples. I simply feel the players did what any reasonable group would do – the negotiated in good faith thinking their opposition actually wanted to do the same. What they found was that the other side was not, in fact, reasonable.

    Again, what I would have advised was admitting earlier in the process that teams are losing money and been sympathetic about that. Instead, the union argued over how many teams are losing money and how much and then they too looked out of touch and not caring about hard times in a tough economy. This made their position look just as selfish as the owners. I’ve always said that when you take the low road and play in the mud, you get dirty.

    But, that’s neither here nor there, now. My point of the post above is why the players would have turned *this* deal down. I’ll always maintain the reason we got here is partially to do with the players but so much more to do with the way the owners negotiated throughout this process. I really don’t see a good faith effort. Which, coincidentally, is what their lawyers will argue now that this is moving to the courts.

  10. With the negotiating history over the last 6 months, the players may have a better court case that the owners haven’t operated in good faith. If that becomes the case then the desertification threat becomes much more potent.

    That is really the only good thing I can come up with to justify how the players have handled this bargaining.

  11. I am kind with Craig W on this. Hunter has said in the past he saw this day coming (they were killing him on Simmons podcast over it), i.e. going to court. I think the players strategy was to bargain and concede. In essence, doing what Darius suggested (admit the current model didn’t work), knowing the owners were going to go for the jugular. They realized the owners had all the leverage in negotiations. But now if it shifts to the courts, the players do have leverage because they did bargain and make concessions and they didn’t decertify until there was real damage to themselves, i.e. it is no longer a sham because real money is being lost.

    I don’t know how it will play out in court, but I agree with Boies, the owners overreached and now the players have leverage they never could have had without getting to this point. By sticking with it, they strengthened their case in court, knowing that was the only place they would get anything approaching a fair deal from the owners. Their only other option was to accept the deal from the owners. Whether that was a better option, I don’t know, but I am pretty sure the Players’ Association strategy was looking long term to the courts.

  12. I agree the players now have a better court case… But negotiating usually doesn’t end up in a judges hands. The players should have had better leaders and a better plan. The owners have a shark in David Stern, after all when you’re going against a LeBron you need to hire an Artest. I’ve all along sided with the players, but when assigning “fault” in this blowout owners victory I’ve got to half blame the players for not putting up much of a fight till this point.

  13. The player’s California lawsuit claims that the owners stated in 2007 that the deal was going to be 50-50 along with the “system” changes they wanted or they were prepared to lockout the players for 2 seasons. This position never changed, instead, to give the appearance of “give and take”, the owners would demand additional system changes and negotiate those, while never considering any change to the 2007 bottom line.

    Maybe the players could have handled it better, but, as they say, you can become experienced in a hurry.

  14. And have the owners ever opened up their books to prove their losses are real and not Enron accounting?

  15. Craig – Even if the player’s “win” the court case, there’s always appeals that can easily delay a resolution of the case until mid January, at which point the season will be cancelled. From hat point forward, an order to lift a lockout is moot and the players would now have to carry out a normal lawsuit against the owners for lost wages – and that will take years. Even if the players win that case 2-3 years down the road, that will not resolve the current collective bargaining issues.

    I think a lot of us are getting caught up on making a “fairness” argument here, when the true legal standard is “good faith.” The problem is that, while fairness is a component of most court’s interpretation of “good faith,” in the context of negotiating a contract, the court’s often recognize (and allow) that one party may be in a position of power that is more advantageous to the other. What I think will be the driving factor here is whether a court thinks the owners are refusing to budge for petty reasons (i.e. because they want the union membership to “pay” becuase they are mad at the “decision”) or for economic reasons that are reasonable and valid (i.e. we have teams that are losing money and one way to remedy that is by adjusting BRI and restricting player movement).

    I will say that Hunter’s letter to the membership does nothing but help the owners in their case. For one, it states that the parties had over 50(!) negotiation sessions. Second, it fails to inform the membership of any bad faith on the part of the union – which is the single most important part of their case. I’m no antitrust lawyer, but I can tell you that the players will have a hard time arguing bad faith based on the volume/duration of the negotiation sessions, the fact that both parties have made some concessions and the fact that the owners will likely come up with economic reasons behind each factor that they have not moved on.

    In short, I see two options here: Either the players agree to the next offer from the Union or we have no 2011-2012 season.

  16. So with the thing going to court, are the judges going to demand for the owners to open their books?

    That would bring the season back in a second…

  17. I do Civil Rights, not anti-trust, but opening the books would be at the top of the list of things I would want in discovery.

  18. #15. I think the bad faith argument will stem from Stern/the owners making offers with ultimatum’s attached that stated “accept this offer or it gets worse” or when they outright stated “we’re done negotiating, the offer will not change”. Both of these statements were made in public press conferences and on the record. Obviously the league attorneys would argue that threatening a worse offer isn’t bad faith bargaining because they’re not ending negotiations, they’re only saying they’ll continue with a worse offer. However, getting around that second statement will be more difficult, I’d imagine.

  19. Also, my day job has been crazy today so there may not be an updated post today.

  20. I have two things to add:

    1) Remember that, relative to the last CBA, the players gained ****NOTHING****. There is not a single provision in the owner’s “final” proposal that was a concession to the players relative to what they already had.

    One might argue that requiring teams to spend 90% of salary cap at minimum was a player benefit, but all that does is shift how much each team contributes to the 50% of BRI, because the players get that 50% one way or another. Also, by forcing bad teams closer to the sal-cap line, it lessens available money to offer free agents.

    So when people want to “blame both sides” or complain that “the players are too greedy”, I have to question what more the players were supposed to do and why.

    2) I think one huge overlooked factor here is that the NBA owners are so used to having a collective bargaining arrangement that they forgot how much its very existence ****BENEFITS THEM****, and they severely undervalued that inherent benefit.

    The NBA could open for business tomorrow. They could even honor existing player contracts. What they could ***not*** do is enforce team salary limits (either for individual players or overall team payroll), require draft picks to sign with particular teams, limit how much teams could offer free agents, limit how teams traded players (“Dwight Howard for Steve Blake and Metta World Peace? Sure!”), etc.

    Such an NBA would be even more lopsided as free-spending owner would happily gobble up every decent player.

    The players, just by the very fact that they collectively bargain, give up huge benefits, and the league gains huge benefits because all of their collusive limits on what players can make, where they can go, etc. are illegal unless the players shield them via the CBA.

  21. I was always interested in the so-called B-issues, which never really came to the fore except for some rumors towards the end. If the players had accepted the larger concepts, would negotiations have bogged down in secondary areas? I suspect, that owners largely viewed the current franchise players as temporary by nature of time – that the larger battle was this notion of boxing the next generation in.

    Throughout the negotiations, there would be these peaks and valleys and moments where a “deal” finally seemed within reach. Invariably, a well-timed monkey wrench would get tossed in. It seems likely that the B-issues would have become the next major roadblock. And if we ever got over that wall, guess what would have come next? Yup, the C-issues. Existing somewhere, in the hardliners’ arsenal.

  22. Here’s a question no one has asked: we keep discussing the loss of the current season as the worst-case scenario.

    But if the owners are so hell-bent on getting what they want, is there a chance this spat could push beyond this season and affect the next one too?

    I know that sounds dire and doomsday to the Nth degree, but what makes everyone so sure one lost season is all that could be in store?

    There’s too much money to lose, I’d like to think, which makes me hope cooler heads would prevail. But if that were the case, we wouldn’t be where we are now. I’m losing faith pretty quickly.

    Oh, and screw Boston. (Always a good day to say that.)

  23. 22 – Chris J – I am glad you mentioned screwing Boston. We must always stay in touch with our bedrock values!

  24. Buzz – The players decided to form a Union. The Union was not forced upon them by the owners. Being in a Union is a benefit- not a punishment. And yes, the CBA benefits the owners, but don’t make it sound like it does not benefit the players. Without the CBA, players not named Kobe and Lebron would get non-guaranteed contracts contingent on the number of games played, performance, etc. So, while guys like KB and LJ would make about $50m a year, the majority of league players would make very little or would make great salaries but would live in fear of being released for non-performance, injuries, etc. Also, without a CBA, there would be no sharing of any BRI, no Union retirement plan (it would vary from team to team), no standard healthcare coverage for players and their families and no limits on player discipline (fines, suspensions, etc.).

    Darius – absent a showing of something unreasonable that I am not aware of, it is not “bad faith” to make a “final offer” or a “take it or leave it offer” after 2 1/2 years and 50+ negotiation sessions. Negotiations must end at some point, even if the end result is that no agreement is signed. The “good faith” concept does not require that an agreement be reached.

    inwit – I think you nailed it. I’ve been on the owners side up to now because I believe that the league, as a whole, is not as profitable as we all think it is (mainly because of crappy teams like the Hornets, Sacto, Cavs, etc), so I think that certain changes need to be made to make it healthy and more competitive (including eliminating at least 2 teams from the league). However, if it turns out that the owners are lying about the true financial situation of the league, then I will jump ship to the player’s camp faster than you can say Metta World Peace. Oh, and I’m sure that a lie of such magnitude would be sufficient to constitute “bad faith” in any court.

  25. #22 – I doubt that owners will tolerate missing more than one season. Owners are still responsible for staff payrolls (GMs, coaches, office staff), arena leases, and other team-related expenses. With no ticket sales, no broadcast revenues, and diminished merchandise sales, owners will be faced with mounting losses. Those on shakier financial ground may be forced to sell their teams or relax their demands.

  26. You know, Calvin’s post has me thinking: I read reports from the last meeting he attended with the player reps that he told others that he was for rejecting the deal if everyone else was ready to fight for this until the end or as long as it took (or something like that). I’m thinking that if the owner’s scrap the season, the best strategy for the player’s is to go into hibernation and threaten to boycot a second season. I’m sure the owner’s are willing to let one season go, but two seasons? I see them panicking at that point.

  27. First, I don’t think the owners are losing money if you count the increasing value of the franchise into account as you should.

    Second, even if they are, I don’t think the losses are systematic but simply bad management. Surely having a small market team limits your options, but you have to manage with what you’ve got. Most teams think by signing a few overpriced players that they can recoup costs by advancing further into the playoffs, which itself is not a given.

    Third, the problem has never really been big market teams who put greater price tags on players. It’s just that all else equal, players have definite preferences regarding their destinations, and small market teams have been the ones that drove up prices by trying to counter that. An overall cap will only mean that the big market teams will suffer less from small market teams driving prices up.

    Fourth, I do think injuries and not-doing-their-best are important factors, especially as a fan. Maybe the players should be responsible for having their salaries and services insured in case of injury, as opposed to the team? Also, an option to poll coaches, players and season ticket holders at the end of the season regarding ‘effort’ of a said player could be built into contracts to dock as much as 20% of a contract… maybe not, but at least I think these points are valid and needs to be addressed.

    Fifth, the negotiating process left a lot to be desired with David Stern siding with the owners from the get go. He is responsible for all THREE parties involved, including us fans. He neglected two parties up to this point and should be held responsible.

    Sixth, Hunter is an idiot. He is overpaid and incompetent from the news thus far. The union should have seen this coming a mile away and should have had player meetings and votes well before the actual negotiation process.

  28. @24 – MannyP

    You bring up good points. I think the NBA and its players forming a collective bargaining arrangement benefits both sides.

    Otherwise, as you note, we would have a 6-team league of high-payroll superpowers and probably another 6 teams feeding on the scraps. Milwaukee, Utah, Cleveland, et. al. would fold.

    The CBA between the owners and players creates conditions that subsidize small-market franchises and middle-salary players

    And I reiterate, in the “final” proposal(s) from the NBA, the players gained ****NOTHING**** compared to previous CBAs. They agreed to give back $300 million/year of BRI. They agreed to shorter contracts. They agreed to smaller annual raises. The agreed to a more punitive luxury tax.

    As I wrote in an e-mail to columnist Mike Wilbon, the NBA owners took the players’ lunch money, punched them in the face, and knocked them on their backsides. The players took all that and said “please don’t stick our head in the toilet and give us a swirly”. But the owners couldn’t let it be. In fact, they told the players “Accept being given one swirly today, or tomorrow we’ll insist upon two swirlies and a Melvin”

    But people still blame the players for this situation. I find it baffling.

  29. 28)
    Because those people are uninformed, racist, or both. As far as I can see. Or they always look up to the rich guys. Any other options?

  30. Bottom line, the issue here is all about money and not the state of professional basketball. Both camps employed highly paid lawyers, accountants and marketers to get hold of their money. When a lawyer intervenes, you bet he’s after his legal fees. Delays will eventually mount legal fees too. In the near future, they will eventually settle when greedy owners and players are already hurting. In essence, their ultimate goal as professionals is to make money, profit and nothing else. Are they concerned of the paying public or unemployed people as a result of this lockout? Nope, it’s all about their money.

  31. @ Manny — I’m not so sure the risk of losing a second season wouldn’t scare the players more than the owners.

    Most owners have other sources of income; if they aren’t forced to make payroll they have other options for meeting whatever fixed costs they may have, such as arena rent and what not.

    But as Patrick Ewing so famously said back in the 1998 labor spat: “NBA players make a lot of money, but we also spend a lot of money.” Some could live off what they have, and some could play overseas to raise their income a bit during the lockout.

    But the majority of the players aren’t that rich, relatively speaking. I say they collectively feel the financial pressure first, not the owners.

    Lousiest part of this is the people who are getting screwed through no fault of their own, the Rudy G’s and other team staffers; the parking attendants; beer salesmen; sports bar owners, bartenders and waitresses, etc. I feel the worst for those folks.

  32. Interesting thread. I do not think though that the players could afford a second lost season, if it came to that. I would hope they all properly managed their millions as they received them, but I am sure after a year or so of no income, that they would want to work. Now, I guess there are other options for those players to make money, but only the better players can get overseas work anyway. I just saw Chris J’s comment, I agree of course.

    Yeah, screw Boston…

  33. @29,

    Pretty much. The comments on Kurt’s blog at NBC are a good sample.

    The NBPA is bad at PR, and they don’t seem to run the union all that well, but the bottom line, as others have said, is simple: the players gave up 7 points of BRI and some other stuff, and it wasn’t enough.

    Added to that, the history of the league and the nature of the sport show the flaws with the “competitive balance” argument. Furthermore, the owners have never gotten serious about revenue sharing. The picture is pretty clear.

    Whether that is enough to nail the owners in a lawsuit….no idea.

  34. Just because there is no CBA does not mean that there will be no NBA. Without a union, players will be free to sign with any team for any type of contract imaginable. There would be no “minimum,” no “max contract,” no “rookie wage scale.” It would be similar to our job market.

    A few, such as CEOs, company presidents/VPs, are able to negotiate huge contracts and perks. They get high salaries, guaranteed contracts, severance pay, use of company jets, personal “loans,” mortgage payments, personal security, etc. The rest of us get paid relatively little. We are often the first to be fired when finances go south. We end up fighting for scraps while the superstars order off-menu.

    An example of a free-market sports league is European soccer. The English Premier League is basically a free market. Since 1992, only 4 teams have won the championship. Manchester United (12), Arsenal (3), Chelsea (3), and Blackburn (1). The first three have payrolls exceeding $100m. Average team payroll is ~$50m. Top teams look like all-star teams. Smaller clubs don’t have a real chance as winning. Aging stars such as Beckham play abroad. Young stars from poor teams get rented out to richer clubs to raise money.

    What would the “new” NBA look like? Young stars like DRose might start off playing for a few years in Europe before coming here. LBJ, Kobe, would be paid $50m/yr. KG would finish his career abroad. Guys like KMart would be superstars in the CBL or Russian league. Players like Blake would bounce around teams and leagues, playing for the minimum. Daren Collison might play in NY for a season while “on loan” from Indiana. Meanwhile, big teams like LA or NY would be stocked with talent and dominate the standings. Smaller teams like Charlotte might fold (leaving Jordan without a job). Casual fans would abandon the NBA.

    This free market system may pay players “more,” but would hurt the league overall. It would not guarantee owners profits, either. The Premier League owes $5.2b and is discussing the possibility of wage limits (NBA owes $2.3b right now).

    #27, 31 – Losing 2 seasons would hurt the average player much more than the elite. With the average NBA career lasting less than 5 years, very few players can tolerate losing 40% of their career earnings.

    Owners will see the value of their teams drop while continuing to lose money. The Lakers are only as valuable as the quality of their players. If the team was stocked with NBDL players, do you think it would really be worth $584m?

    A prolonged lockout hurts both sides AND the NBA. This is the real “nuclear” option.

  35. You guys. I’ve been going crazy with no NBA. Please help me. I’ve been watching a lot or European soccer. Amd I’m loving it. This is what it’s been coming too. Imagine if there wasn’t Fox Soccer channel?

  36. 36- I fell in love with soccer a few years ago. I hated soccer growing up because, frankly, American players aren’t very good comparatively speaking. So I (foolishly) thought most other soccer players weren’t worth watching either. I was wrong, very wrong. My “breakthrough moment” came from watching some games from the Copa America in 2007. I saw Brazil’s national team play for the first time and I had a conversion experience. I had to change my ideas of soccer because they played a totally different game from what I had come to know as soccer here in the States. I started watching some of the South American leagues and really got into the European leagues.

    Still as much as football from the European leagues has grown on me there is no substitute for NBA basketball. It is my first love and that will never change. But that’s not stopping Stern, Hunter, and company from trying.

  37. 37,
    Haha. I had the same experience. I grew up playing soccer very competitively on club teams and in high school. I don’t want to brag (yes I do) but I was All League in Los Angeles. But because there was no way of watching real soccer players play back then I never got into watching the game. Then with ESPN showing the EPL and Fox Soccer channel popping up for the first time I got to watch real soccer. I was shocked. It was a different game. I didn’t even recognize it. It was like an epiphany. “Ohhhh. This is soccer.”