Blog Entry

Stern: No franchise tag in new NBA CBA?

Posted on: June 2, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:02 pm
NBA commissioner David Stern seems to indicate that there will not be a franchise tag in the league's new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Given the Miami Heat's smashing success this postseason, Superteams and the player movement that helps create them are a hot topic around the NBA.

Back in May
, we noted a report that the NBA had reportedly included a franchise tag designation in a proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would have provided greater protections for teams looking to increase their ability to retain star players. Unlike the National Football League's tag, the NBA's version would have simply strengthened the enticements available for a player's current team to keep a player rather than effectively locking a player up by preventing him from entering free agency.

On Wednesday, reported that NBA commissioner David Stern contradicted the report of a proposed franchise tag in his State of the Union speech from Miami before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. 
“That hasn’t been proposed,” Stern said. “We have historically tried to make it more attractive for a player to stay with his current team, and I’m sure that trend will continue, if not enhanced.

“But as you consider this with respect to the small-market teams, and you think about what a harder cap might do for them, and you consider what revenue sharing might do for them, there are sort of limits what the committee is thinking about, and the franchise tag is not one of them. Although a strong incentive for a player to stay with his team and the ability of the team to keep the player is there.’’

If the NBA did shift to a hard cap system, it would certainly help serve the purpose of keeping star players in place. Why? Because big-market and high-spending teams are the franchises that tend to attract stars in free agency and they aren't likely to have the patience to create significant room under the salary cap to be able to sign a player out-right and remain under the cap. Keep in mind how difficult it was for the Heat to create room under the soft cap system to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and then retain Dwyane Wade. They had to essentially slash-and-burn their roster. That process would be significantly more difficult to manage under a hard cap system. 

One other related point of discussion has been the elimination of sign-and-trades. This, too, would go a long way to keeping star players put. Without a sign-and-trade option, only teams that were under the cap could attempt to sign big-name and big-dollar free agents. With a sign-and-trade provision, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are able to acquire star players as long as they send back salary or assets in return to make the numbers work.

The player movement question is a tricky one. A modified franchise tag would have been welcome by the league's smaller markets and struggling franchises. Given that 22 teams are reportedly losing money this season and that everyone has quickly seen how powerful a team can become if star players move in unison, odds are something will be added to the new CBA that will at least slow down that flow.

We just aren't sure exactly what that is yet.
Category: NBA

Since: May 29, 2010
Posted on: June 3, 2011 6:15 am

Stern: No franchise tag in new NBA CBA?

No hard cap, please.  This makes it almost impossible to do anything....and it would ensure that the Heat are the most dominant team for the next 5-7 years because no team will be able to make moves to match them.  I hate the Miami Heat, but I like the arms race this is producing in the NBA.  The NBA offseason is actually interesting now.  I wish the NBA would lose franchises.  It's diluted now.  It makes me cringe when I hear them talking about expansion.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: June 3, 2011 2:28 am

The new NBA CBA

There are sound reasons for providing a team with the ability to out-offer its own free agents. However, if the cap does harden substantially there will also be players who are forced to find another team for lack of cap room. The small-market teams are likely to be able to keep some of its better players for lack of equal or similar offers from others.

That said, there is nothing proposed that will likely keep superstars in their drafting teams. There are always going to be teams which can offer a combination of big stage city with a decent salary. Endorsements can make so much more for a superstar than salary that the salary becomes secondary. An indication of this occurred last summer when the top salary went to Joe Johnson and Dwyane Wade (stayed home) LeBron James (sign and trade) and Chris Bosh (sign and trade) all took less to provide some cap room for teammates. Does anyone doubt that the three are making more money after all the free publicity of the summer in endorsements than salary? And that is before they even have won their first championship. With that win, if it comes, additional millions mount up. So superstars will continue to move roughly where they want and the league can do little to control it.

Parity is not necessarily about superstars. Hard cap reality is that one superstar per team is likely all that can exist in the future (when grandfathered contracts are over) in order to establish a good team. What fans really want is a chance to win the championship. That is where parity comes in. If every franchise has a reasonable chance to win once in every decade the league will prosper and fans will buy tickets and tune in. With only 20,000 tickets in a metropolitan area of 2 million plus (most of the teams) there is reason to expect sellouts if the product is good. Some will come to see the superstars on other teams. Some will watch broadcasts to root for the home team. But people do watch and people do attend games except when the teams have no chance to win. Memphis has perennially been among the lowest attendance in the league. But this year's team played well in the playoffs and next year season tickets should increase significantly. It is pretty much the same anywhere except in deeply depressed economies. The harder the cap the better the parity and the better the league future. This seems to be what the Commissioner is saying. I tend to agree.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:12 am

Stern: No franchise tag in new NBA CBA?

Like it or not, the NBA will not survive, in it's present form, without a way to keep star players in small market cities.  No one is simply going to want to pay top dollar for tickets to see second rate players.  Would you pay $75 or more for a ticket to see the 2010-2011 Cavs?  I sure as Hell wouldn't.  Without Franchise Player tags, the NBA could easily be forced to contract to 20 to 24 teams.   Winning basketball and star power attract fans to ball games.  If you don't have either, you will be playing to empty arenas nightly.  Teams are going to go broke, if things continue down this path.

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: June 2, 2011 10:24 pm

Stern: No franchise tag in new NBA CBA?

These things change nothing, living in a fairy land with the pixie dust will never stop player movement.  Owners certainly appear to be in denial about player movement.  The moment you keep creating things like a salary limit, the more often players will actually collude in order to be together during the off-season.

Playing in a less appealing market simply does not work with FAs when someone else can easily offer you the same exact contract.  These ideas on delay movement a year, two tops, otherwise you will easily have the same player movements.  Players wanna be on the ESPN every night, not be playing somewhere where viewers will not care for long these days.

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