Tag:CBA lockout
Posted on: July 25, 2011 8:00 am
Edited on: July 25, 2011 3:08 pm
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Warriors' Law plays the 'feed our families' card

By Matt Moore

It was going to happen eventually. Despite the NBPA's understanding of how it plays with the public, despite the advice from the NBPA to its members not to say it, someone, multiple "someones" actually, was inevitably going to drop it. A player will always wind up saying "we have to feed our families" in a lockout, as if they are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck. It doesn't look good on anyone. And it doesn't look good on Acie Law, a fringe player who spoke to ESPN over the weekend:
"I understand why a lot of guys are considering overseas," Law said. "I'm considering some options overseas. These are our livelihoods. This is how we feed our families, and guys want to play. If they're not going to negotiate a deal, life goes on. Bills still coming in, we still have to provide for our families, so hopefully they get something worked out."
via NBA players Jarrett Jack and Acie Law play in Dallas Fed X Pro-Am Basketball Classic - ESPN Dallas. 

Law's probably not the first to drop the line during the lockout, but he's as good a case as any to showcase why players should never say it. Law is as likely a candidate to have a right to say it as any NBA player. Law is a young player who hasn't gotten the big second contract, and was cut by the Grizzlies in December before signing with the Warriors for the rest of the year. 

But Law has made nearly $7.1 million dollars playing basketball over the past four seasons. It's certainly true that Law has financial obligations he arranged when he had a regular paycheck and that once those paychecks stop completely in the lockout this fall, he'll feel a significant pinch that may be severe depending on how he managed it leading up to the lockout. But the reality is this: he's part of a group of people whose every public statement is being considered in the light of the lockout, and that approach is never going to play with the general public. The owners have been the ones who have locked out the players, they're the ones who want more money, they're the ones asking for huge concessions. But still people reference the "greedy" players as if the players were the ones asking for a raise, as if this were a strike. Every PR mistake costs the union.

You're just not going to win any friends with the general working class by saying you're going to struggle to feed your family after making over $800,000 in a bad year. Not going to happen.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 9:38 am
 

The players may have enough loopholes to survive

By Matt Moore

When this lockout started to be discussed in real terms, there were more than enough questions about whether the players could handle it. There continue to be those questions.

NBA players are known to live extravagantly. A large portion of the league fit the same profile: men who come from low-income situations suddenly thrust not only into a situation where they are paid millions of dollars (and a million is still quite a bit of money today), but operate in a luxury atmosphere. The stark plummet off that cliff could crush the union, as could players complaining about it and then getting bombarded by the media for sounding wholly disconnected from the general public (which they are).

How would the players react if those paychecks stopped?

That's the whole argument for why the owners will win. Eventually, the players will cave because they'll need the money. 

Except, what if they don't?

There have been enough reports now to indicate that the union is as well prepared for this thing to go the distance as it can be. You've no doubt tired of a new report each day on a different player discussing going abroad. If you haven't, let me clue you in. Here's the formula.

"(Player X) is 'very interested' in playing overseas and plans to pursue opportunities there, though nothing is formal yet. The player is widely reported to be looking at (insert team who likely literally cannot afford to pay him)."

You've read about those other opportunities, like the Manila exhibition being planned this week.  There are endorsement and media opportunities, every manner of one-off chance for the players to pad their wallets while the lockout tries to starve them.

But what about a simpler approach? What about good old fashioned money management? 

The NBPA has been active in preparing its players for this lockout, much more so than 1999. The union distributed a handbook (which I keep imagining looks like the one in "Beetlejuice") that has information on everything from handling the media with their message, to how to conduct themselves around the owners. Most importantly, it talks about saving money. 

Now, that's not exactly penetrating advice. When you were 21 or 22, and your mother kept harping on you to open a savings account, did you do that, or did you go to that bar or buy that video game? If you did listen, congratulations, you're a momma's boy/girl. If you didn't, you're a normal person. But in the NBA, there are enough veterans that were around 12 years ago, and the NBPA has been proactive enough that it's likely made a difference. Players have been stashing cash away for this oh-so-rainy day. They have reserves to rely on if the lockout isn't resolved, some all the way through the season. 

But what about going farther than that? What about simply managing your paychecks for last season to last through the current one? It turns out, from a report from USA Today, that's exactly what some players have done.
Players normally receive bi-weekly paychecks from Nov. 15 to May 1, although some opt for a November to November schedule. But Aminu will receive payments from last season until Nov. 1, 2012. Randolph will be paid through May 1, 2012.
via Some NBA players planned ahead for lengthy lockout - USATODAY.com.

The owners can't lock the players out of money owed before the last CBA expires. Players that set up their paychecks this way will still be receiving paychecks, albeit smaller ones, throughout the course of the year. In short, they're fine. More than fine.

So let's just review here.

The owners have installed a lockout based on their debated losses stemming from an economic model they agreed to and the poor decisions they elected to enact as well as a flawed revenue system. Their entire plan is to starve the players into submission, but not only did they leave the door open for a possible mass exodus to Europe and other potential revenue sources, but they actually agreed to pay some players throughout the terms of their lockout. 

How could this plan possibly go wrong?

So the question has to be asked. Is a two-year lockout what it's going to take for the owners to get their petulant little way? What's next in the never-ending stream of ways that the owners threw this situation together, and at what point is someone with a little reason going to grab the reins? Until people start to understand that the players aren't asking for more, just not that much less, and that they are more than prepared to go the distance here, it's hard to see that day in sight. 

This is a Cold War, and both sides are waving their flags strongly. The only question is whose wall will collapse first.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:23 am
 

Could compartmentalizing help end the lockout?

By Matt Moore

As the lockout rounds into its true form now that we're about to start missing dedicated training sessions with players and the rhetoric ramps up with every passing interview, the new reality has sunk in for most. Those hopeful of a 2011-2012 season that starts on time are losing hope as the sinking realization of just how dedicated the two sides are to gaining/protecting ground sets in.

With Ken Berger of CBSSports.com's recent report that a full labor meeting featuring the key figures on both sides is unlikely to happen until August, there's definitely cause for doom and gloom.

But wrapped in the information that neither Billy Hunter nor David Stern would be deigning to meet with the other side until August is this little known fact. These staff meetings, which were dismissed because of their lack of star power, have a substantive subject matter. They're focused on the smaller issues. From KB:
But this time, the two sides have met once at the staff level -- last Friday -- and are scheduled to gather again this Friday for a second meeting. In the smaller sessions, which have not included commissioner David Stern or union chief Billy Hunter, the focus has shifted from the larger economic issues that led to the labor impasse to smaller-ticket system items such as how a new salary cap would be structured, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
via Full labor session not likely before August - CBSSports.com

Wait a tick. So the lower staffs are meeting to discuss things like the salary cap, which is a huge impediment between the two sides? And we're supposed to feel bad about this because the big guns aren't in there to overcomplicate matters with politics and a media presence? 

NBA lockout
The reality is that this is a genius way to approach the lockout. Both sides are so far apart, there's got to be something done to bring the two sides to a closer chasm. Breaking out the issues into smaller groups and hammering those consistently to get the framework of a deal done is best for both parties and the fans. Get an agreement on everything but BRI, then hammer home the rest.

The question is whether there can be any substantive work done on the salary cap with the owners still pushing for that hard cap. If there's wiggle room there, that could get the players out of the corner, brandishing a chair against the lions. The players know they're not "winning" this negotiation, they've already conceded that there will have to be compromises based on the global economy and the economic model of the league. It's a matter of degrees. If these smaller meetings can just get some movement by both sides toward compromise, it could open the door for things to be settled outside of the BRI split.

And that's just money, which is what this lockout should be about, as opposed to the ideological split it's become. You can solve a disagreement over cash, even if it'll take awhile. It's trying to initiate a protocol revolution that puts both sides at Defcon 1.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 9:24 am
 

NBA Lockout: Where did the money go?



Posted by Matt Moore

So here's a quick question.

Where did the money go? No, I mean, seriously, where did the money go?

The NBA is in the midst of what may end up being its longest lockout in league history. The owners are claiming losses of up to $300 million and attributing it almost entirely to the players (and, apparently, staff as they've become fire-happy).  But this isn't the dark days of the late 70's and early 80's, where games are shown on replay late at night and the league is skating a fine line between survival and bankruptcy. The league isn't trying to find its niche. The NBA is one of the largest sports entities in the world. 

How about a $7.4 billion media deal ($930 million a year) extended in 2007? How about $50 million a year in revenue from China alone? How about all that money from concessions, sponsorships, ad sales on the floor and in every spot you can find in every arena? How about suite seats, custom lunchboxes, jersey sales, deals with some of the biggest companies in the sports world like Gatorade, Nike, and AutoTrader.com (that last one was a joke). How about NBATV, which exists on most cable packages. How about League Pass Broadband, League Pass Mobile, League Pass Digital Calculator (again, last one, jokey-joke)? How about BRI being estimated at $3.8 billion for 2010-2011 alone? 

No, for real now, where did all the money go?

Well that gets to the heart of the NBA lockout. The owners believe not only that the players' slice of that revenue pie, the 57 percent of the $3.8 billion (Berger estimates it at $2.17 billion) is what does the damage. From there, it's costs. Costs, costs, costs that pull them under, and all of those costs are things which they feel are not a result of their own decision making, but of all these greedy people wanting too big a cut of what they feel is their pie. 

Before my blood gets boiling, go check out how I feel about those non-player cuts of those "greedy people."  

Here's an interesting question. Reports came out last week from the New York Times and Forbes about how the NBA had cooked the books. Those reports earned a swift rebuttal from the league regarding their accuracy. Naturally, the Times was pretty skeptical about the league's denial of the claims. It should be noted that in the pieces discussing how profit/loss was estimated, one blogger with a financial background took the reports to task independently. I would explain it to you, but my head would explode. 

Lost in all the shuffle about how the losses are calculated, what the ticket sales revenue is, or other complex accounting claims which would pretty much bore you to tears, there was one factor which was overlooked by most of the traditional media outlets. The "mystery meat."

Tom Ziller of SBNation.com wrote a piece earlier this month outlining an intriguing element included in the Forbes data (which may, or may not be Ziller fashion, the man made a chart so you can process it more easily. Republished with permission here. 



It's that "Other" percentage that has Ziller so up in a huff. From SBNation.com: 
In 2007, 2008 and 2009, "other expenses" grew more than revenue or payroll did. From 2006 to 2007, revenue and payroll each grew 6.6 percent. Given the NBA's claimed losses, non-payroll expenses grew 9.8 percent between those seasons. That's a massive uptick in comparison. The gap exists in 2008 and 2009, as well. Strangely -- very strangely -- the 30 NBA teams actually shrunk non-payroll expenses in 2010, despite modest upticks in revenue and payroll. Non-salary expenses had been growing at 4-10 percent over the previous years ... and the NBA cut it by almost 1 percent out of the blue.
via NBA Lockout: Have Owners Spent Themselves Into This Mess? - SBNation.com.
 
 Allright, so the question's got to be asked. What's in that "Other" percentage? Maybe it was partially those employees the league's been laying off that we've been complaining about. But if so, why did it take them so long to figure it out? And if that kind of problem is so big, shouldn't that be the focus of the league and not the players? Maybe they're unavoidable expenses. But if that's the case, why werent' those factored into the last CBA negotiation? The questions go on and on. 

Now, the League's going to say it's irrelevant. They say the data isn't wholly accurate, therefore no conclusions can be gleaned from it. Which is fine. Setting aside the Times' point that there's no way to confirm the league's claim that the data is inaccurate without the league releasing its own data (which will happen on a day when Satan has to break out a parka due to a severe temperature drop), the point's still going to be there regardless of how the data is formulated. Where did the money go? How did the NBA make this much, and wind up losing it? 

You would think the massive amount of income from the profitable teams would cover it. And you would be wrong for thinking so, so sayeth the league.

From the NBA's statement:
The Knicks, Bulls and Lakers combined net income for 2009-10 does not cover the losses of the 23 unprofitable teams. Our net loss for that year, including the gains from the seven profitable teams, was -$340 million.
via NBA responds to NYTimes.com blog based on inaccurate info | NBA.com.

So despite a system that allows big market teams to set their own prices, including what can only be considered an obscene new deal for the Los Angeles Lakers, your costs are still so high that you can't make a profit despite all that?

The league responds, "Of course not! Player salaries are too high!"

As if it were that simple. As if that accounts for why there isn't enough to go around, or why we still saw opulance this season and every season. Are we really to believe that the owners made every decision in good conscience and the system simply wouldn't allow them to profit? That they designed a system that denies their ability to profit?

If we're going to take the stance that failing teams get to fail (as the current revenue sharing system allows), shouldn't we take the same ideals for the league's approach before we start backing their demands to simply be gifted what they want?

These are the questions you ask as the lockout only really gets started, that leave you perplexed about why we're here in the first place.  And if we want to get to the bottom of those questions, there's only one way out. for the league to reveal its financials. They're under no obligation to do so. They have every right to keep their data to themselves as private businesses, and to simply keep swatting at these reports that pop up like gnats. But if they really want to tell us that they deserve the support of the media and fans, they need to be open and honest about what's happening and why. 

Otherwise we're just watching kids get sick in the cafeteria, munching on mystery meat and blaming the salad.  
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:24 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Pacific Division

Posted by Matt Moore

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and, more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central DivisionSouthwest Division, and Northwest Division.  We finish our series with the Pacific Division.

Los Angeles Lakers

The quick answer here is: it depends. A lost season would remove what could be the final year of this Laker core together. Kobe Bryant will be 34 in the summer of 2012. Bryant will be able to play until he's 40 thanks to conditioning. But his body is already showing significant wear and tear at age 32. Losing another year of Bryant, along with 30+ players Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol guarantees the end of meaningful contention, most likely. That doesn't mean it's not possible. It just becomes more difficult.

But on the other hand, if the team's already moving toward the future, making the requisite good faith effort to keep this core together but planning around Andrew Bynum (as rumors have suggested), then the lockout doesn't affect things much. The question is whether the team believes the run is over. It probably doesn't, but their actions over the last few months haven't exactly spelled confidence. They haven't indicated an "abandon ship" attitude either. Far from it. But there's enough there for it to be confusing.

Some other good news from a lockout for L.A.? Matt Barnes comes off the books, Lamar Odom enters a non-guaranteed year, and Derek Fisher, Luke Walton and Steve Blake enter contract years, so their contracts finally become easily movable. The bad news? Bynum enters a contract year without a fully healthy season in four years. Good times.

Phoenix Suns

The lockout would probably be a good thing for Robert Sarver's organization, based simply on the fact that the Suns' salaries will drop by close to $40 million from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. (Note: Vince Carter and his bought-out contract make up $18 million of that, so it's kind of a fake $40 million. But still!) They lose the last year of Steve Nash's contract, which is a bummer. But considering most of us think Nash deserves to be freed from a sinking ship like the Suns, it's not that terrible. Plus the Suns manage to clear off Mickael Pietrus and Aaron Brooks (assuming they decline to match him in free agency, which they may not, but it's a nice thought) and Hakim Warrick and Robin Lopez could both enter contract years depending on if the Suns elect to pick up or not pick up various options.

That would leave just Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Josh Childress as their only long-term contracts. And don't get me wrong, those contracts are horrible. But if the Suns want to rebuild (and they need to rebuild), they'll be in a great position to do so. The Suns are unlikely to improve next season, so there's no big risk in losing next season. Imagine paying no salary for a year plus the money Sarver will make when he sells his 2012 first-rounder! (A joke, and a bad one. Sorry, Suns fans.)

Sarver may actually sabotage the negotiations.

Golden State Warriors

Lacob and Guber spent a pretty penny on this franchise. So you can imagine they'd want to get started early. On the other hand, after spending that much, they need the profit-guaranteeing, value-increasing measures the lockout is geared toward. They're likely to commit to a full-season lockout, especially since it chops off $20 million they'd have to pay David Lee and Andris Biedrins for what will naturally be a losing season.

And hey, it's taken them two years to figure out what to do with Monta Ellis. They could use another twelve months.

But the Warriors still have a lot to fix, and they need to get on it. Time's a wastin'.

L.A. Clippers

The Clippers would see their payroll drop by $20 million dollars if they lost the entire 2011-2012 season. They've already activated Blake Griffin's 2012 option, naturally. Mo Williams would be entering a contract year, taking the sting out of the money they paid to get rid of Baron Davis (now about that draft pick...). Eric Gordon would have to get paid, but the fact remains that the Clippers would only have six players on roster, and two of them would be entering expiring deals.

Thanks to their market, the Clippers make a profit no matter what happens, so this wouldn't harm them tremendously. But for a franchise with so much promise, they need to get started. Because otherwise Griffin could enter restricted free agency in 2014 (if restricted free agency exists) with only one year to convince Griffin to work with them on a reasonable extension. Fun stuff.

Sacramento Kings

It's another year for the Maloofs to figure out how to get out of Sacramento. It's a year to take out the full-blown momentum of the fan uprising. But it's also a year that loses all that young talent, and a small-market team like Sacramento can't really survive losing an entire year of revenue. The Maloofs may have to fake a death to cover debts otherwise.

This could get awkward.



Posted on: July 12, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 3:29 pm
 

NLRB investigating NBPA's claim

Posted by Matt Moore

Back in late May, the NBPA got out in front of things and filed with the National Labor Relations Board, charging that the NBA failed to bargain in good faith. That was two months ago, and since then we haven't heard a thing about it, distracted with the Finals, the Draft, and oh, yeah, this lockout we've got on our hands. 

But Sports Business Journal reports that the NLRB is still very much investigating the union's claim. From the SBJ on Twitter; 
SBJ: In recent weeks an NLRB investigator has interviewed 7-10 witnesses in @TheNBPA's unfair labor practices charge against the NBA.
via Twitter / @SBJLizMullen: SBJ: In recent weeks an NL ....

So the charges are still out there. If the players' perception that the owners have stonewalled them by barely negotiating (i.e. sending a counterproposal only after a prolonged delay, etc.) carries with the board, there may be some fire with the smoke. But the owners likely have a similar feeling about how the players have approached discussions. It's also not clear yet how a ruling would affect the lockout or negotiation process, but you can be sure it would be somewhere between "really bad" and "a disaster" for the owners.
Posted on: July 9, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 10:21 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Atlantic Division

Posted by Matt Moore



Talk of losing an entire season is a bit ridiculous to us. There's just way too much at stake. Money, momentum, fan support, money, loyalty, money -- it's just hard to imagine losing any games much less a whole season.

But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise. We continue with the Atlantic Division.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics have already started keeping an eye on the future past this core. Their trade of Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green and the Clippers' draft pick were both aimed at the future. In 2012-2013, the Celtics have less than $30 million comitted. But their best shot at a title is now. Losing 2011-2012 ends the Big 3 era in Boston. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen's contracts would expire just as their ability to anchor a championship team also goes the way of the dodo. Losing next season means they wind up with a single championship for all that money invested, all that excitement created. 

On top of that, no city needs the current structure to hold as much as Boston. The ability to outspend the small markets under a flex-cap, using its big market status combined with its superiority as a historical powerhouse are both tied to the current luxury-tax system. Savvy spending, reasonable contracts, creative maneuvers? Does any of that sound like the team whose current core is the product of Kevin McHale pitching his old team a favor?

New Jersey Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov did not get into this business to lose an entire season, the last he has Deron Williams under contract before an extension he hopes to sign him to, and then begin to build a contender under a system which negates every advantage moving his team to Brooklyn provides. But that's the reality that faces the Russian mogul.

Deron Williams is the big key for the Nets. They sent a fortune in the trade for Williams, with the understanding they would convince him of their grand vision and build around him on his next contract. It was a gamble. But they need the 2011-2012 season to convince Williams that the plan works, that the vision is in place, that they can succeed as the team Williams wants to commit to. Without the 11-12 season, Williams will end up entering free agency with his only time as a Net filled with failure. He may wind up with more wins with his team in Turkey than he won with New Jersey.

From there, Prokhorov would actually be better suited to a system that allows for overspending. If small market teams succeed under the new CBA, his advantage is leveraged. And in such a scenario, New York's power would be amplified within the market. If you're getting paid the same amount regardless, going to the team with the most cache is the best idea.

New York Knicks

Speaking of the Knicks, they have quite a bit to lose in this scenario. A harsher cap drives up the likelihood they won't be able to build effectively around Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, if at all. They're already struggling to fill in the gaps (as Donnie Walsh put it in his conference call after stepping down), with a lower spending ceiling that job only gets more difficult. Dolan has failed to succeed when he's broken the bank open. What happens when he can't spend his way out of a problem?

Bigger than that, however, are the risks of the actua lockout. Amar'e Stoudemire is an injury risk. Despite the fact that he's had no problems since microfracture surgery five years ago, scouts and execs are still hesitant about him. Stoudemire is talking about heading to Israel to play during the lockout. Any uninsured play could wind up wiping out time for Stoudemire which devastates the Knicks' prospects for contention. They need to have the stars available so build around, and another year to see what direction they need to go to build a complete team. Losing the season is a disaster. 

Philadelphia 76ers

Hey, look! They could spend a whole year thinking more about whether to trade Andre Iguodala! They haven't really done enough of that so far.

The lockout could actually help the Sixers on two fronts. First, their attendance was terrible again last season despite making the playoffs. They need the kind of financial overhaul the lockout aims to create. Second, losing the 2011-2012 season means they lose out on a year where they are on the books to pay Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, and Andres Nocioni (remember him?) over $37 million next season. They can probably do without that with a fanbase that still hasn't bought in.

Elton Brand has an early termination option for 2012-2013, but he is unlikely to exercise it. Instead, the Sixers will be hoping for the amnesty clause to allow them out from under that final year of Brand's contract.

If any team could use all of the ramifications of the lockout, it's the Sixers, big market or not.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors won't be winning the title any time soon. Their huge contracts won't be moving off the books any time soon. Their fanbase is still angry over giving Andrea Bargnani his extension and the damage done by Chris Bosh's departure.

So pretty much the Raptors are fine with however the lockout works out. Lose the season, they get Jose Calderon into a contract year, and have more time to come up with inventive ways to ditch Andrea Bargnani, plus Jonas Valanciunas is available to come over from Europe. A new salary cap may mitigate the uphill climb they face with their market and location.

They're pretty much fine with however this shakes out.
Posted on: July 2, 2011 2:34 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 4:55 pm
 

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix



Posted by EOB Staff

Well, now you've done it, NBA. You've locked out the players with neither side willing to budge. The owners want to set back decades of negotiations to the Stone Age by implementing a hard cap and decreasing the players' share of the profits. The players want everything to remain the same, basically, and not to lose their diamond-studded shirts. This thing's going to take a while. That's pretty clear. 

So we thought instead of us just sitting around moaning about this lockout, which, trust us, we're going to do, we'd actually do something positive. In that spirit, we thought we'd take a look at what we feel the owners and players should work on changing about the NBA, while they're locked out. As long as you're blowing up the NBA universe and starting over, you might as well be comprehensive about it. 

From Matt Moore:

Finally Put Up For The D-League -- The owners like it because it gives them somewhere to stash talent they can keep an eye on. The league likes it because it helps reduce the bust rate. The coaches like it because it gives them somewhere to send head cases when they're bugging them. The players like it because it means more jobs, conceivably. So why on earth won't both sides agree to substantial changes to the NBA D-League to make it a true development system?

Whenever the NBA starts up again, the following teams will own either part or all of their D-League affiliate: the Lakers, the Spurs, the Warriors, the Thunder, the Mavericks, the Nets, and the Knicks. That's seven out of 30 possible teams, leaving only nine D-League teams without an owner, and forcing 23 NBA teams to share those nine teams. Clearly, there's a trend towards buying in. 

When you look at the number of players out of the draft each year who bust, wouldn't it be worth investing in a legitimate development system so that those players can grow into the players teams need them to be before they're cast aside? But the keys to a viable D-League don't just end with actual development. Elton Brand, among others, has expressed a willingness in the past to play for a D-League team while rehabbing from injury. Instead of forcing a player back early, where coaches will be nearly forced to overplay them to try and win games, the D-League could serve the same function as minor league baseball, helping players recover from injury on a timeline, with controlled minutes and longer rest. Worried about a player's conditioning coming back from a year-long absence? Instead of having him sit in a suit game after game, have him go five minutes at a time for a week in the D-League, then 10, then 20, before returning to the main club. 

Most confusing about the lack of progress for the D-League is just how cheap it is. Essentially, for the cost of a single year of Sasha Vujacic, you could not only buy a D-League franchise or set one up from scratch, but actually make substantial improvements in training, staff, travel and organizational structure. Everything is cheap in the league, and cutting corners won't set you back.

Instead of wasting two roster spots for guys who sit on the bench in a league that doesn't really practice all that much, assign two roster-spots to the D-League. Those players are paid under $1 million on non-guaranteed contracts (just like most mid-season call-ups), and if they are brought up, another non-guaranteed player is sent down, if applicable. Teams can also develop coaching staff at that level as well. 

The league has flourished under Dan Reed, and has proven it can work as a development system for talent. Look at Aaron Brooks, Reggie Williams, Jordan Farmar for starters. It's time the NBA and the players' association actually commits to it. 

Close The Trade-Buyout-Re-Sign Loophole -- This one's tricky to deal with, but it needs to be expressed, if only for the sake of not annoying us. You throw an aging, expiring contract in as filler for a trade. That player agrees to a buyout with the salary-shredding team that traded for him and waives him. The player then returns to the team he was traded from and immediately re-signs. It's pointless, it's ridiculous, it needs to go away. Either we need more lax agreements on trade rules to allow these deals to go through without needing those players traded, or a measure to prevent the teams from re-signing that player. I don't believe it's any sort of unfair advantage like some coaches do, any team can pull off the same type of deal. But it still seems skuzzy and takes away from the integrity of the game for very little advantage, in a way that could be avoided. Player movement needs to be maintained under the new CBA (beware the hard-cap), but this is one facet that could use a little more restriction. 

From Ben Golliver:

Season-Ending Injury -- In recent years, both the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers have dealt with serious rashes of injuries that, at times, made it difficult to field a full roster of healthy players. The NBA currently has an emergency system in place to help teams who lose multiple players to extended injuries: the league grants a "hardship exemption", which temporarily creates a roster spot until a player comes back healthy. This system is a bit cumbersome, forcing teams to sign and waive players regularly and really only serves as a stopgap solution when disaster strikes multiple players. A better idea would be to allow a team to slap a "season-ending injury" designation on a player, subject to league approval. Once approved by the league, that player would be removed from the team's 15-man roster for the rest of the season, freeing up a spot for the team to sign a replacement player. The current system penalizes a team twice when a player suffers a season-ending injury: They suffer both the loss of the player and the difficulty of replacing him. This tweak wouldn't fix the first issue (nothing can heal injuries) but would alleviate the second problem. If a team had a rash of injuries at a particular position, they could go out and find the best available replacement player at that position rather than scrambling together unconventional lineups made up of their current healthy players. Ideally, teams would be able to do this up to two times a season.

International Buy-Outs -- Ask almost any top European player and they will say that it is their dream to play in the NBA. Ask almost any NBA executive and they will tell you they are committed to scouring the globe to find the best available talent. The only thing standing between the two sides in this globalized, modern reality? Complicated buyouts inserted into European contracts and an arcane NBA rule which says teams can only contribute $500,000 to help a player out of his contract. The current system is incredibly inefficient and leads to worst-case scenarios like the Ricky Rubio situation, which dominated headlines for multiple years, tying up the Minnesota Timberwolves and causing his stock to plummet on draft night because teams were uncertain about his contract status. With the rising size of buyouts, there's no question the $500,000 limit needs to be raised. To where? $1 million? $2 million? One idea is to simply not cap the contribution amount in any way. There is serious merit to this idea. European players already sacrifice financially when they come to the United States because they are subject to lower-dollar rookie deals when drafted. Often, stars are taking a pay cut to follow their dream. Asking them to contribute their own money to the buyout on top of that to make the transition is excessive. If an NBA team wants a player, it should bear the full financial burden of acquiring him. Will European teams respond by increasing their buyouts even further? Possibly. But competition between European clubs for a young star's services should keep the buyouts at a reasonable level if it's clear that player is using his time in Europe as a stepping stone to the NBA.

Revenue Sharing -- An NBA.com article wrote that there is a "chasm" between the owners and players in their labor negotiations. There's a similar canyon between small-market owners and big-market owners in terms of revenue generating potential, especially when it comes to television deals. The NBA has preached its commitment to creating a new system where all 30 teams have the opportunity to compete for a title -- a noble goal. That can only happen when all 30 teams have a more equal ability to spend on player salaries. On their new TV deal, the Lakers will make $150 million a year, more than enough to cover their $90 million payroll (which is tops in the league). A small market team might be lucky to make $10 to 15 million per year on its TV deal, which equates to roughly one-third of their payroll. Expecting the Lakers and other big-market teams to make up all the difference between the two poles is excessive, but surely there's a compromise that can be reached to make the division more equitable. The only viable alternative is contraction, which is a far worse eventuality for the league, even if its big-dollar teams might not think so.

From Royce Young:

No more inactive lists -- Can anyone really explain the point of this to me? Why are teams allowed 15 roster spots but three of those guys can't dress? What sense does that make? 

Those final three guys aren't going to play much anyway, but take a team that has a project big man on the roster. Every night, he's in a suit. But in certain blowout situations, it would probably be nice to get him two or three minutes of run. Except you can't, because he's wearing dress shoes and a tie.

I suppose it requires a bit of strategy in the end for a coach to select guys to be active, but that's just silly. Maybe it's an owner thing. If coaches could dress 15 guys, more teams would fill up the roster meaning more salaries for an owner to pay. But that's a horrible reason for it.

Get rid of inactive spots and just make it a simple 15-man roster where everyone is eligible. If a guy gets hurt, add a disabled list type of place so that guy doesn't hog a roster spot, but allow everyone to dress. It definitely makes a lot more sense than forcing three guys to wear suits. 

Eliminate the second round of the NBA draft -- On the surface, this idea doesn't seem like it should matter much. All second-round contracts aren't guaranteed and all teams have are the rights to a player. But restructuring the draft to eliminate the second round helps players find a home. 

Instead of a team using the 34th pick on a good college junior because he's a good third point guard to have on the roster, if everyone was simply a free agent in the second round, that player could find a fit that's a lot better for him. 

Most second rounders don't make it anyway, but there are always five or six that are quality pickups for a team. Some get signed, some don't. And the ones that don't end up going to Europe or the D-League, sometimes because they're a small forward and were picked by the Heat. If the contracts aren't guaranteed anyway, what purpose does the second round really have other than it's decent TV?
 
 
 
 
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