Tag:2011 NBA lockout
Posted on: July 18, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: July 18, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Chris Paul says the lockout is not about stars

Posted by Matt Moore

Chris Paul is not like a lot of the other NBA stars. Most of them only became interested in the lockout within the last year and a half (really All-Star 2010). Paul's been active for years in the executive side of the NBPA. And unlike a lot of stars, who are simply looking to protect the deals they've already signed, Paul's a free agent in 2012. He has the most to lose personally from this lockout and a potential restructuring of salaries. But in an interview with Business Week, Paul made it clear that he believes this lockout is about the good of the many, not the good of the few. From Business Week:
There’s a cross section of players on the executive committee, which has to represent everyone. I felt there should be a guy with a maximum contract to give perspective. [Paul will be paid $16.3 million by the New Orleans Hornets next season.] Whatever sacrifices have to be made are worth it to make sure we get a fair deal, a deal that represents the whole. Some kids go to college knowing they’re only playing one year before turning pro, and it was fitting that the last meeting we had with the owners came the day after the draft. We’re standing up for those players because they don’t have a say-so. We’re their voice: It’s a big brother mentality.
via Chris Paul on Risking a Lost NBA Season - BusinessWeek

Paul also talks about how the players have a responsibility to future generations of players, making the lockout seem like more of a moralist argument than a business deal. And Paul's right that players that aren't in the NBPA have no way of protecting their future. At the same time, the players need to make sure they don't overdramaticize the conflict any more than they have. This is a business deal and should be treated as such. 

But with Paul taking this kind of stance, publicly, it speaks to the resolve of the players. If it's just individual players looking out for their individual interests, there's a lot that can go wrong to fracture the union. But with the players looking to not only protect past work and present prosperity, but also the future, that becomes an ideological approach, which is much more difficult to crack. But in the end, this comes down to money, which is what always talks. The owners know all they have to do is survive and stretch out the lockout as far as the player's resolve will take them. It's a war of attrition, even if the players are rallying around their flag to stay the course. 

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 15, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 6:59 pm
 

So you want to win people's support: NBA Owners

How can NBA owners win the public relations battle during the NBA lockout? Posted by Ben Golliver.

silver-stern

On Thursday, Matt Moore took a look at how NBA players can curry favor from the general public during the ongoing NBA lockout. His plan included circling the wagons, being honest and educating fans and taking the high road. All great ideas for any negotiation, especially one as high-profile and public as the NBA's.

With the players' PR plan in place, how about the owners? What can this group of billionaires due to help gain support, if not sympathy, for their plight? 

Let's start off by acknowledging that this is an impossible task. The common man cannot relate to the billionaire. It's impossible. The gap is too wide, the lifestyles are too different, the realities are too disparate. Likewise, the billionaire, no matter how hard he tries, cannot put himself in the common man's shoes. Once your income hits the eighth or ninth digit, a bubble forms around you that is impervious to real, everyday struggles.  When people are hired to pick up your dry cleaning or answer your telephone or manage your Twitter account, it's over. There's no going back.

The goal for the NBA owners, then, shouldn't be unrealistic. They don't need to come off like Santa Claus. Instead, they just need to appear a little bit less like Montgomery Burns. Right now, the general air from ownership and the league is that it doesn't much care for the public relations side of this battle. It has remained very quiet, refused to open its books publicly and responded to only a few accusations with prepared statements. Otherwise, pretty much total silence. 

In that vacuum, the players have shined. They've put together funny spoof commercials, shown off their skills in pick-up games and camp across the globe, continued their massive presence on social networking sites and done a very good job of communicating their desire to not miss any games. Put all of that together, and the owners have a tough uphill battle to climb.

Here are five things they should do to get started on the public relations war:

1. Pledge To Protect All League Jobs

The No. 1 complaint against any professional sports team owner who locks out players is that he is greedy. That's the No. 1 complaint because it's pretty much always true. There's no good, direct answer to that question. The owners have made it clear they want more money, significantly more money, and that makes them look greedy.

A good work-around solution: Do what you can to make the players look greedy. Put all the pressure and attention on players' salaries -- they make millions to play a game -- while doing whatever you can to make yourself look like a philanthropist. Encourage your teams to increase their efforts in the community. More camps! More hospital visits by team employees! More everything! Then, to cap it all off, pledge to protect all jobs -- within the team and at the league level -- throughout the duration of any work stoppage. 

See what that would do? It would isolate the players, making them look like the bad guys. "We're all over here doing our jobs and protecing our hard-working employees and their families while you guys make so much money it threatens to put us out of business!" The general public highly values loyalty and commends those who put their employees' interests before their own. 

Oh, wait. Wait. You're telling me the NBA announced less than two weeks into the lockout that it's laying off 11% of its workforce and then said it was due to a desire to cut costs? In other words, because the league wanted to keep more of the money it was generating? Oh boy. We're off to a rocky start here. 

2. Don't Make Idle Threats

Appearing tough is very, very important during a negotiation. You can't blink first. You've got to make it clear that every word that you speak is to be taken seriously and every demand you make must be met or the entire deal is at stake. Those are basic negotiating principles. Whatever you do, owners, do not make idle threats. If you say that you will take an action if something happens, you have to take that action when that something happens, or you look both soft and like you're blowing smoke. Your credibility gets crushed and the other side has no real incentive to take any of your other demands seriously. 

Unfortunately, the NBA has failed this one too. As soon as the lockout went into effect on July 1, the league made it very clear that a gag order was in place. No team employees were to make public reference to a current player or they would risk a $1 million fine. In addition, the NBA scrubbed its website of references to current players. 

Granted, that's a fairly ridiculous and petty decision, but it was their decision. What's happened since the gag order went into effect is even worse. Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn mentioned multiple players during a press conference streaming live on his team's official website. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle mentioned multiple players during a radio interview. Both were clear violations of the supposed gag order and yet the NBA has tap-danced around whether it will fine the offenders as threatened. Guess what? Until someone gets fined, and fined big, violations of the gag order will continue ad nauseum. Each time a coach or team executive accidentally steps out of line, the NBA looks less and less in control and united.

In the public's eye, they start to look like they're full of it. Why should the Average Joe believe the NBA is losing millions of dollars a year if the league won't follow through on its promise to fine people? Say what you mean and mean what you say. Hammer the offenders or offer a really, really good explanation for why you didn't. Otherwise, the impression is that you're tough-talking bullies who don't need to be taken seriously.

3. Take The Lead On Meetings

This is an easy one. Fans do not want to miss games whatsoever. The players seem committed to doing whatever it takes to not miss games. At least some portion of the owners seem content to miss a whole season. That's a huge public relations black eye.

The best way to fix it? Go way above and beyond to make it clear that you're willing to meet to negotiate at any time and place. No two-to-three week breaks after the lockout is imposed. No waiting until the players start to feel a pinch in the fall. No delay tactics. If you're seriously committed to potentially losing a season, you absolutely have to be able to point to your track record and say, "Look, we did everything in our power to prevent this from happening. We killed ourselves to make a deal." Get up early, stay late, use videoconferencing tools, use subcommittees. Whatever. It. Takes. If you want a new, restructured economic system then you must do everything in your power to prove your commitment to the goal. 

Missing a season would be a bitter pill to swallow, but it will be 10 times worse if it happens without continued negotiations and contact between the sides between now and the start of training camp. The general public hates billionaires and millionaires arguing over money. But the general public really hates billionaires and millionaires who can't even be brought to the same table to argue over money.

4. Use The Past As A Guide For The Future 

The NBA just completed a Collective Bargaining Agreement that both sides, obviously, signed off on. The owners chose to lock the players out because they felt an overhaul was necessary. Other than repeating a desire to guarantee a profit to its teams and increase competitive balance, the owners have not done a good job of communicating exactly what portions of the framework need to be reworked, and why. An important ingredient in this communication is explaining what didn't go according to the owners' plan at the time.

While the league has maintained that it won't conduct negotiations in public, finding a way to present the flaws or unexpected outcomes from the previous deal would help the general public have a much better idea of where they are coming from. Just about everyone can relate to changing interest rates on their mortgage, car loan or credit cards. No one likes to pay more after the fact than they were expecting, especially if it's something that is out of their control. The owners would be wise to own up and lay out the areas where that occurred. "We didn't anticipate this" or "This wound up costing way more than projections" or "This competitior came in and influenced this revenue projection" or whatever.

Lay those out as mistakes or needs for correction. Then, and only then, provide the remedies and explain why those remedies protect the league from future risk. Belts have been tightened across the country. People have spent more conservatively on discretionary items. Connect your goals to that behavior and you've got a real chance to make some headway.

5. Paint A Pretty Picture 

As any GM worth his salts knows, you absolutely must sell hope. There needs to be a pot of gold over this rainbow. All the dreary talk about losing money gets people down. Nobody cares if you're losing money. Again, you've got to flip this for fans. What is in it for them? 

The owners must start painting the dream. How great will the NBA be in three years if you get your way? How many homes will be watching games then compared to now? How many teams that would have had to move will be safe in their current locations? How many teams won't have to be contracted? How many jobs will be saved and/or restored? How many hours of community service can be added? What cool new events can be added to All-Star Weekend? What preseason showcase tours will pop up on the schedule? What interactive TV or internet programming will now be possible?

Sell. Sell. Sell. You made millions selling products or services. Do not stop selling the future of your league in your vision. People want to hear it. Just make sure it sounds better than the status quo for someone besides yourselves.

Conclusion

When it's all over, offer the fans a blatant kickback. Discounted tickets or jerseys. Public autograph sessions. Free NBA League Pass for an extra few weeks. Whatever. Have a goodwill gesture on tap because, regardless of how long the lockout extends, you'll need it. 
Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 10:56 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA



Posted by Matt Moore

Imagine you're the players of the NBA. You've known this was coming, you've hoped it could be avoided, you've even made a few compromises to try and avoid it. But here you are, locked out of the league you tried desperately for years to get into, staring at whatever the Istanbul version of Craigslist is. You know it's going to be a long fight, but it's one you're committed to winning (you even had T-Shirts made and everything!).

And while you understand that the people, the fans, the public have no real bearing on who ends up winning this thing, that neither side is going to look good in this lockout, every little bit helps. So how exactly are you going to get the public's support on your side of this ugly little spat with the powers that be?

Here's a five-step plan.

Step 1: Circle the wagons. And that means wrangling a few wild horses. You want the public to sympathize with you? Playing up the human interest angle isn't going to work here. You make zillions of dollars playing basketball while most people work in an office with a coffee machine that makes sludge and a terrible boss who likes baseball or something. But you don't need to engender sympathy, you just need to engender respect. And that means staying out of trouble.

It's the offseason. Guys aren't even under the leashes of their respective teams during workouts or events. But if the players want the public to take them seriously as a group of professionals fighting to protect their earning potential and wage-earning, they need to represent themselves as such. And respected professionals aren't arrested. When that happens respected professionals become disrespected (often former) professionals. DUI, assault, even things like speeding in extremely fast cars, all of these things contribute to an image the NBPA needs to keep at bay. This goes for every member of the union, regardless of age, race, or background. It's one thing when a player's irresponsible actions hurt himself, but now it can damage the collective efforts of the union.

Whether it's applying pressure to the right people, making personal pleas, or just downright babysitting, the player's union needs to make sure its athletes come across as suit-wearing professionals who are being prevented from going out and doing their job. That's harmed if it looks like they're having the time of their life, blowing the money they supposedly need to protect and getting in trouble.

Step 2: Spin the Euro bottle. Right now players escaping to Europe seems like a vacation. Fans feel like their favorite players (or Zaza Pachulia) are skipping out to go make money somewhere else while they're stuck without a team. The players need to first commit to who's going to go and who's not going to go. A decent combination of stars and role players should go, with players who have planned well enough to survive the lockout on their own staying home. Then the trick is to push this publicly as something they were forced to do. "Well, I need to play and I'm not allowed to here, so I went elsewhere." It should be made about staying in shape for their careers (for the NBA fans) and not about the money. In fact, players should pledge a certain amount of their income to charity, and a certain amount to a collective fund for the union.

The worst thing that can happen is this looking like a selfish avoidance of the problems here in the States. Every player is affected by the lockout, and every player should be working to bring it to an end. Pitching their European defection as an effort to do just that, to get the owners off their gulag-prison-guard-like stance, is the best way to go about it. Don't pretend your "family needs to eat" is the reason you're going. Make it about basketball.

Step 3: Level with the fans. A certain amount of PR in ugly situations like this involves saying things and taking stances you know make you sound like a moron. But those are often things to keep you out of trouble, a defensive position. What the players need to do is capitalize on the fact that they were the ones locked out, not put on strike, and level with the fans about how this looks.

When I asked Kevin Love about the lockout earlier this week, he said that fans "don't want to see billionaire owners and millionaire players bickering over money." This was a golden quote that could be dangerous if Love distanced himself from the rest of the union. But he didn't. He's firmly behind the union's efforts, but recognizing that people aren't going to feel sorry for the players, no matter how upset they are with the league's approach.

Being honest with the fans and acknowledging that there's a certain amount of ridiculousness to this process considering the amount of money involved doesn't hurt the players' case. They're not asking for change. They're just asking for things to stay the same. That should remain firmly in their wheelhouse of approach.

Step 4: Educate as much as possible. Your average person is going to be offended that players are doing anything but being grateful for the money they earn playing a game. Once again we return to the fact that so many people's jobs suck. It's offensive that someone who's life is awesome is saying his life isn't awesome enough.

So instead, focus on putting things in terms people can understand. "If your boss walked in one morning, even though your company has experienced record growth and critical success in the past year, and asked you to take a significant paycut, how would you react?" While spending time and resources on investing the public isn't going to win you anything with the players, it does remove something from the owners. The players aren't directly beholden to ticketholders and sponsors. The owners are. So the players need to spend some time to make the average season ticket holder understand that the players want to play, they aren't being allowed to.

No one needs to hear about BRI, or the difference in a hard cap. Just make it plain, that "billionaire owners made poor decisions and now say they want more money, and they want it from us, their workers, while they've fired their staffs until they get what they want." That's the reality of what's going on with the owners, and it paints them in about as bad a light as possible. If you really want to get in the trenches, release some information about how much some of these owners are actually worth, compared the amount of money they're squabbling with the players over.

But above all, follow Step 5.

Step 5. Be the better men.

This "negotiation" process quickly turned into one of prideful bickering and overdramatic gestures. The owners refuse to provide a counterproposal. The players release statements about how ridiculous the owners' proposal is. The owners bully up and take a hard line. The players show up in synchronized t-shirts. The owners let Stern do the talking. Kevin Garnett yells in a meeting.

This is not how business should be conducted.

This is not "Norma Rae." There's no moral high ground to be won. This is a business deal between two entities, both of which are doing exceptionally well in life. The players have every right to stand and fight for what they believe they deserve and protect the future earning potential of those in their profession. Anyone would do that, from plummers, to software designers, to middle management, to media members. No one wants to be sold up river or sell future people who will share their position up the river.


But behave with superior class. Don't get dragged into the mud. Peel back on the rhetoric. The public isn't sold that the players are greedy, they just haven't been sold on their requests being reasonable yet. By being the bigger men and taking the high road, they let the owners hang themselves by looking ridiculous and petulant, all the while the union is earning income through exhibition games and European contracts. The world's a smaller place, which means voices can carry more loudly. All the more reason to speak quietly, but firmly, and simply let the owners' red-faced bombastic approach peter out as the tide turns against them.

The union needs to be vigilant, reasonable, and clear. Do those things and their chances of putting the pressure back on the owners to crack will improve significantly.

Check back tomorrow for Part Two of our series and how the owners can crush the union's public support.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 12:41 pm
 

NBA threatens Blazers GM Buchanan with $1 M fine?

The NBA reportedly threatened Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan with a $1 million fine. Posted by Ben Golliver. lockout

The second the NBA lockout went into effect on July 1, the league took great care to make its players disappear. The NBA ordered mammoth fines if team executives made public reference to current players and, in a particularly petty move, scrubbed NBA.com of references to current players.

As of yet, no fines have been publicly announced for violating the league's lockout-induced gag order on team executives.

However, the Portland Tribune reports that at least one has been threatened with a $1 million hit for a seemingly innocuous comment.
The league office has prohibited the teams’ employees from commenting on players. Employees can talk about team issues, evidently, but not about players.

“There’s a line in the sand that the NBA has drawn for everybody, but nobody knows exactly where the line is,” one NBA team employee says. “Everybody is scared, not wanting to be the first to be hit with a fine.”

Witness a recent interview with Trail Blazers acting General Manager Chad Buchanan. When it was observed that it’s too bad there is no summer league scheduled, Buchanan replied, “Yeah.”

Shortly thereafter, the league threatened Buchanan with a $1 million fine, according to one source. 

Update: Buchanan went a little further than simply saying "yeah," telling The Oregonian in June that the cancellation of Summer League was "disappointing" and "not ideal." 

Clearly, that's ridiculous. It's also a little scary that the NBA league office is monitoring public comments that closely. But, hey, it's their perogative and their policy.

That policy faces a much more interesting test case thanks to Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn.

On Tuesday, the Timberwolves called a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Kurt Rambis. During the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, Kahn made reference to at least two current Timberwolves: center Brad Miller and guard Ricky Rubio.

Speaking about the youth of his team, Kahn said it was possible that even with the addition of the 35-year-old Miller, who was acquired in a draft day trade with the Houston Rockets, the Timberwolves could still have the youngest average age in the NBA. Kahn also briefly discussed Rubio in response to a question about what the Spanish point guard would do during the lockout.

To make matters worse, Kahn's comments were streamed live on video on the team's official website, NBA.com/Timberwolves. In other words, the NBA league office can't help but be aware of them. (An edited, condensed version of the press conference archived on the site leaves out the references to both Miller and Rubio.)

The NBA has reached its first pivotal fork in the road during this lockout period when it comes to this policy. Commissioner David Stern can either look the other way on a blatant violation of his very clear, oft-repeated and referenced  gag order policy or he can fine Kahn as his office has reportedly threatened to fine Buchanan. If the league chooses to fine Kahn, who was fined $50,000 last year for comments made about forward Michael Beasley, does it keep its word and go for the full million dollars? After posing in dictatorial fashion for the last two weeks, the NBA can't let the first obvious violator off easily, can it?
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 7:10 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:23 pm
 

Thunder G Nate Robinson wants to play in the NFL?

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nate Robinson wants to play in the National Football League during the NBA lockout? Posted by Ben Golliver. nate-robinson

What better way to avoid a lockout in one professional sports league than taking on a lockout in another professional sports league?

That's apparently the plan for Oklahoma City's Nate Robinson. The diminuitive Thunder guard told SlamOnline.com that he would consider making a switch to the NFL if the NBA continues its lockout. 
“I might go play football,” Robinson told SLAM on the phone. “Do something that nobody’s tried to do.”

“If I can, I would love to play football a little bit,” says Robinson, less than half-jokingly. “I’ve been doing a little bit of training.”

“Why wouldn’t you want to have an NBA player that can play football try out? That’s a lot of publicity for your organization.”
While both leagues are currently in a lockout, the NFL is said to have been making progress in recent weeks while the NBA owners and players are not even at the negotiating table.

Robinson has a football background. As a freshman, he played cornerback for the University of Washington, intercepting two passes and making 34 tackles. His father, Jacque Robinson, was a star running back for the Huskies and went on to play one season in the NFL.

Does Robinson have a chance, or is this idle chatter? An NBA/NFL hybrid career is unprecedented in the modern era, made impossible because of their concurrent schedules. That said, elite athletes in the NBA are likely to be elite athletes in the NFL, given the similar demand for quickness, strength and agility. One would think the outside positions, wide receiver and cornerback, along with special teams would be the easiest places for a basketball-to-football transition to occur. And, at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Robinson is in the right ballpark to play corner and clearly has superior leaping ability, evidenced by his three NBA Slam Dunk crowns.

Still, the injury risk in making this type of transition is astronomically higher than playing basketball overseas. Re-learning a new, more physical game is a much more difficult proposition for a professional athlete than playing the same game you've always played in a different environment. Anyone giving Robinson -- who is just 27 years old and entering the final year of his contract -- good, sound advice would tell him to let the football dreams die hard.

Although it's far-fetched, this is a tantalizing possibility to think about. For a good time, check out this highlight reel of Robinson starring on the gridiron during his high school days at Rainier Beach, uploaded to YouTube by user atlhawks3.




Posted on: July 12, 2011 5:35 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:22 pm
 

NBA players to receive $160 M in escrow cash

NBA players will reportedly receive $160 million in escrow money this summer. Posted by Ben Golliver. lockout

Just because the NBA has locked them out doesn't mean that the league's players can't get paid.

NBA.com reports that the players are in store for a nice mid-summer cash infusion of $160 million, as funds that are held in escrow will be returned. 
The escrow funds -- representing eight percent of each NBA player's salary -- are held back each season to ensure that the players' share of basketball-related income does not exceed the contractually agreed-upon percentage, currently 57 percent. This year, for the first time since the system was introduced in the collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 1998-99 lockout, the cut to players will fall short, sources with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association confirmed.

That cash could ease or delay the point at which some players begin to feel financial hardship from the lockout. Based on the "average" NBA salary of $5.7 million, the escrow rebate would be worth $456,000. A minimum-salaried player ($473,604) would be due $37,888 while a $16 million superstar could expect $1.28 million coming back.

Ca-ching. 

Certainly, this doesn't help the ongoing negotiations. The owners are driving the wholesale changes while the players are essentially cool with the current setup; A transfer of money from owners to players doesn't impact the philosophical stances of either side. It does give the players a bit of breathing room, but 8% of one's salary is not a game-changing amount. It's certainly not enough to carry financially irresponsible players through a canceled season, for example.

But, as NBA.com notes, this could be a bit of a pressure reliever, and it comes at an inopportune time for fans and observers who want to see progress towrds a deal. A resolution won't be reached unless the two sides are exchanging proposals and finding avenues for compromise. Anything, even a cash infusion like this one, that impacts either side's desire to negotiate and compromise pushes back the timeline for a resolution. Guess what? There are no negotiating meetings scheduled between NBA owners and players right now.

Enjoy this pay day, players, you completely earned it. But please find a way to turn this into an opportunity to demonstrate your seriousness and urgency to continue to work towards finding a resolution.
Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com