Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 12:35 pm
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger discusses contraction , Denver trades, and the upcoming season.
Posted by Matt Moore
Posted by Matt Moore
Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .
1. Your report on the CBA discussions sent shockwaves through the blogosphere as you reported the league is considering contraction as an option. But with small-market owners Peter Holt and Glen Taylor as powerful as they are, aren't they two guys that would deeply oppose this concept?
Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Yes and no. In Taylor's case, I believe he'd oppose it only if his franchise were being eliminated. But business would be better for him if another struggling franchise were axed. In Holt's case, remember that the profitability challenge isn't about market size. It's about revenue. Yes, there are big and small markets, but that's not the point. The point is, there are high-revenue teams (such as the Lakers, who rake in nearly $2 million at the gate per home game) and there are low-revenue teams (such as the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, who make $300,000-$400,000). There are small-market teams that generate at or close to $1 million per home game (Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah), and there are teams in large metro areas that struggle (Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia). What the league has to constantly look at is, are the low-revenue teams doing as well as they possibly can in the markets where they're doing business? If the answer is yes, there are three ways to deal with it: 1) enhance revenue sharing to the point where those teams can compete and profit; 2) relocation; or 3) contraction. No. 3 is clearly a last resort, but you'd have to be the most rose-colored-glasses type in the world not to see that the NBA would benefit immensely from getting rid of two teams. The league as a whole would be more profitable, and the product would be better.
2. Let's turn to our best-selling show, "As Melo Turns." You reported this week that Denver's exploring a series of one-on-one deals. We have serious questions about how good of a deal this is for Denver, particularly the whole "Anderson 'Flopsy' Varejao" angle. So what positions do you think they're aiming for with these one-offs? Or is it just any upgrade they can get?
KB: Denver's top priorities remain as follows: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. In recent weeks, after the four-way fell apart, they've added something to the list: getting rid of Kenyon Martin and/or J.R. Smith in the deal. Executives familiar with their strategy say the Nuggets appear close to abandoning another component of their wish list: a veteran player who is a decent replacement for Anthony. The thought being, if you're getting worse in the short term without Melo, why not go all the way and set yourself up to rebuild the right way? Why not "be Sam Presti," as one exec put it to me. So the long answer to your question is that the Nuggets' approach is in flux on every level, but there are certain things they feel they have to get out of this: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. If they decide to go ahead and move K-Mart and J.R., and give up the notion of trying to patch the hole with, say, Andre Iguodala, they'd be in a position to get more of all three.
3. This week you saw a big peelback of the number of technicals compared to last week. It seemed like both sides were starting to find that "middle ground" you talked about last week. Do you think this is going to be a non-issue or do you think the union really is going to get involved legally?
KB: For once, I agree with David Stern. Cooler heads will prevail, and the union will realize that this isn't a battle they want to wage. (Better to save their time, lawyers and money for the real fight over the CBA). Stern even budged a little Thursday when he admitted that some officials have overstepped in the enforcement of the new policy, and that they'd have to adjust. So as you and I have said from the beginning, that's what's going to happen. The players will back down a little, the refs will give them a little more leash, there will be marginally more techs doled out early in the season, and then everyone will move on.
4. Al Horford, Jamal Crawford. Clock's ticking, at least on Horford, and we don't hear anything. What's the lastest on that front?
KB: The Hawks have until June 30 to extend Crawford, so there's no rush there -- despite Jamal's understandable desire to get it done now. But with regard to both Crawford and Horford, Hawks GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing veteran extensions. This was his approach in Seattle with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, and he did the same with Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Johnson in Atlanta. (Note: Johnson was the only one of those players who got a max deal from Sund.) The point is clear: If this has been your philosophy in the past, early or mid-way through collective bargaining agreements, then it will most certainly be your strategy in the last year of a CBA. You can't 100 percent rule out Horford getting an extension by the 31st, but I doubt it. Unless the Hawks are getting a home-team discount, what's the incentive for them to pay Horford now when they don't know what market value will be under the new deal?
5. Okay, Ken, last Friday 5 before the start of the season. We know you're least looking forward to the LeBron show. But what are you most looking forward to as the season starts Tuesday?
KB: I'm not least looking forward to LeBron at all. I was least looking forward to "The Decision" and its aftermath. I'm very much looking forward to watching him play alongside Dwyane Wade. It will be compelling theater, everywhere they go. Aside from that, just to mention a few things on my radar: I'm interested in seeing how Kobe Bryant's knee holds up; whether Kevin Durant and the Thunder are ready to take the next step; whether Amar'e Stoudemire will bring the buzz back to Madison Square Garden; whether Dwight Howard is as determined to dominate as he says he is; my first chance to listen to Stan Van Gundy eviscerate someone in a pre-game diatribe; my next chance to hear Howard imitate Van Gundy; the first of a million times this season that Jeff Van Gundy says, "I just don't understand that;" where and when Carmelo gets traded; and LeBron's first game in Cleveland Dec. 2.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 9:50 pm
Player's Union intends to file suit against league for rule regarding player's acting like four-year-olds.
Posted by Matt Moore
Tantrums. That's apparently what the NBA's Player's Union feels is the hill to push litigation over . Not a better pension plan, or fewer regular season games, or even revenue sharing, apparently. They're going to pursue litigation over their right to stomp and yell and scream and curse the officials who are only doing their jobs. Because, really, when you think about it, that's what the Union needs most of all.
Perhaps you were curious about what the union is actually saying. Here's their press release, courtesy of KB:
The new unilateral rule changes are an unnecessary and unwarranted overreaction on the league’s behalf. We have not seen any increase in the level of “complaining” to the officials and we believe that players as a whole have demonstrated appropriate behavior toward the officials. Worse yet, to the extent the harsher treatment from the referees leads to a stifling of the players’ passion and exuberance for their work, we fear these changes may actually harm our product. The changes were made without proper consultation with the Players Association, and we intend to file an appropriate legal challenge.
Let's go through this line by line, in the most often-replicated-never-really-dupli
cated way possible, shall we?
"The new unilateral rule changes are an unnecessary and unwarranted overreaction on the league’s behalf."
Unnecessary. An ironic word to use since, considering no referee has ever reversed a call on the basis of a player's complaint, the complaint in and of itself is unnecessary. So the rule to prevent unnecessary actions is unnecessary, which would of course make the complaints necessary, but they of course are not necessary. Now, that's some faulty logic, but the point's still the same. The rule is necessary. It's how it's execute that you can argue may not be.
"We have not seen any increase in the level of 'complaining' to the officials and we believe that players as a whole have demonstrated appropriate behavior toward the officials. "
I'll believe there's been no increase, but that doesn't mean the level is appropriate. Because it's not. Watch Tim Duncan. Or Kobe Bryant. Or even Kendrick Perkins. Or, you know, Kevin Garnett (or look at the gigantic picture above). Even Celtics fans complained about how much the team complained last year. But maybe that's just an accent thing.
"Worse yet, to the extent the harsher treatment from the referees leads to a stifling of the players’ passion and exuberance for their work, we fear these changes may actually harm our product."
This as opposed to players taking games off in the middle of the season because they're "bored" or the fact that officials being influenced towards not calling fouls leads to a physical game like existed in the late 90's, AKA the most boring brand of basketball on the planet. But whatevs. The players are clearly worried about the product. That's why they're so easy to coach.
Right, because the change wasn't discussed for weeks and the players weren't given a heads up on it. That's how that went down. It was a sneak attack! Like Pearl Harbor, only with Kevin Garnett being ejected for yelling and screaming!
I tend to side with the Union on most issues, including those regarding the upcoming CBA and the essential need for a better revenue sharing model. But to pick this as the issue they want to sue over in a season with as many issues to discuss as this one is absurd. Just tell your guys to chill out and go play.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:44 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2010 2:11 pm
For the love of Stern, can we relax about the new tech rules?
Posted by Matt Moore
In the beginning, there was complaining.
It's pretty natural, really. You're body-to-body, struggling, fighting, adrenaline rushing, and the whistle blows. You can't possibly think you did anything that could be considered a foul (especially not after how you were just elbowed at the other end of the floor!) and so you complain. It probably wasn't all that bad in the beginning, a hundred years ago.
It is now.
Then, there was the complaining about the complaining. And lost in this newest wave of outrage is the fact that there genuinely was a great deal of complaining about the complaining. Casual NBA fans? They loathe what they see when there's a whistle. Grown men, professionals, whooping and hollering, badgering officials, acting like they've just been stubbed on the toe by a whistle. Most of the time for a foul that was pretty easy to call. It reflects poorly on the game and every time it happens, a friend will point and say "that's why I don't follow the NBA." As if that were to somehow overtake the athleticism, the tactics, the chemistry, the powerful emotion of the game. But it does. It reflects poorly on the game.
So the NBA decided to do something about it, finally.
And now, finally, we've reached the zenith of this ridiculous story. There's now complaining about the rules designed to help with all the complaints about the complaining.
Welcome to the Catch-22, David Stern. Have fun trying to make people happy who cannot be made so.
Last night in a meaningless exhibition game, Jermaine O'Neal was whistled for a bad technical foul. At least, that's what it seemed like to the camera's eye, which is what everyone uses (we'll get into how that's a flawed start in a minute). It certainly didn't seem like O'Neal was worthy of a technical foul. It was a bad call, the same kind of bad call that's been made since the invention of the modern game and will be made for as long as officials are human. As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported last night , it's probably an issue with both sides trying to find where the line exists.
Kevin Garnett? That was not a bad call. I understand that the paying fans at Madison Square Garden didn't come to see Garnett ejected. I get that we want players like KG to be able to play with emotion, with their passionate hearts on their sleeves. You're absolutely right that emotion is a pivotal part of the game's heart.
What Garnett was doing? What he usually does? It's not. It's intimidation at worst, and overreaction in the least, and he needed to be tossed under the new rules. Arguing the call by trying to show the foul, that's debatable. If he was calm, cool, and collected, then the first technical would have been completely wrong. Let me ask you this:
When was the last time you saw or heard of Kevin Garnett being calm, cool, and collected on a basketball court?
We have no idea what he said to the officials, and that's the biggest problems here. He could have said "Good sir! I heartily object, and though I respect your opinion, I was wondering if we might discuss the issue for a brief moment!" We don't know. We're reacting based on microphone muted interpretations of what we see on screen, without a clue of what was actually said by these players. I'd imagine if the officials were able to come out and say what the players said to them, we might feel differently. We'd also probably feel differently about the players, and that's not something the NBA wants at all. For all the talk today about how the league is victimizing the poor players, they could just mike up everything, let the profanity be released in a transcript, and then see how those endorsement dollars come rolling in.
But, no. We side with the athlete because it's his work we appreciate. His work, being the key phrase there. These are professionals. They always want to talk about that. How they are professionals and deserve to be paid as such. That they'll switch teams because they're professionals or hold out because they are professionals or don't care about the fans because they're professionals. But they can't control themselves on the floor? We're talking most often about guys who are 25 years of age or older. Grown men, who can't control their own reactions to something they know won't change no matter what they say or do? Do you think Kendrick Perkins screaming "What?!" or Tim Duncan's eyes bulging or Kobe Bryant making faces will actually convince a referee to say "Oh, you know what? When you put it that way, you're right. You didn't foul him. I'm sorry. Let me change this call."? No. The calls won't change. It's just complaining for complaining's sake, or it's an attempt to influence the outcome by pressuring officials. And that's a serious problem.
You don't want to go down that road, and it's one that gets tread upon a lot in an NBA season. It's not an epidemic, but it's enough to want to force the players to pump the breaks. It's the same as Phil Jackson flexing his muscle in press conferences. Last night, after the first technical, Kevin Garnett had to be restrained by another teammate from coming at the official. He wasn't going to hurt him. He wasn't going to do anything but scream and yell. That's pretty obvious. But let me ask you something. If a man of KG's height, width, and intensity is charging at you screaming like a lunatic, are you going to get a little rattled? Because I would wet myself and call games however it is the big scary man wants me to. And that's not how you want NBA games called.
The final piece of this ridiculous counter-reaction to a call for responsible, mature behavior is the "robot" argument. "I want my players to play with emotion, not be robots!" As if this behavior has anything to do with the emotion of the game. The new rules don't prohibit a fist pump after a big shot down the stretch. From a defeated collapse or hitting the floor after a player knocks down a tough shot over you. It doesn't prevent the hip bumps, chest bumps, high-fives, fist-pounds, jersey-popping, or any of the other things that produce imagery we've come to love about this game. There isn't an ounce of in-game emotion that's being sapped by this rule set.
It's just a measure to force grown men to act as such. If you're capable of shrugging through that mid-March game with the zeal and intensity of a manic-depressive tree slug, you're capable of keeping perspective enough to know that the call was made on you, and whether you like it or not, it is. And it will happen again within the hour, no doubt. If you're mature enough to be paid millions of dollars for your role on a team vying for a championship, you should be mature enough to not badger and scream when something doesn't go your way.
Complaining in the NBA isn't an epidemic. It was simply something that reflected poorly on the game and needed to be corrected. The league took an initiative as such. People say that the market research the NBA is claiming is somehow fabricated, because no one's actually complaining about the complaining. Right. Just like no one wants to hear about LeBron James, as traffic on Heat posts grow to phenomenal numbers.
The NBA does things badly sometimes, like any sports league. And officials will often get calls wrong, like the call on Jermaine O'Neal last night. But in this instance, asking the players to temper their reactions isn't just reasonable, it's the right thing to do, and the game will be better for it, for casual and hardcore fans alike.
You can consider this the complaining about the complaining in response to the rule brought about because of complaining in order to limit complaining.