Posted by Matt Moore
In this week's return edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we look back on "The Decision," the future of Chris Paul, how a hard cap affects trades, and who among the owners could end this insanity.
1. Well, it's been a year since "The Decision." Beyond the context of the lockout, how does the Decision look to you now?
KB: It still looks as self-serving, tone-deaf, and poorly orchestrated as it did then. But I think everyone's sensitivities have been muted -- even residents of the great state of Ohio. You can't be mad forever, right? Plus, LeBron managed to carry himself even worse during the Finals than he did during the Decision, so there's that. As far as your caveat, it's impossible to look at anything in the NBA through a prism other than the lockout. The way free agents flexed their muscle last summer, I think, was at least part of the motivation for owners to put the hammer down with this lockout. They want cost cutting, but they also want control back from the stars who owned them last July. One important point that bolsters the players' argument for a flexible system with maximum player movement: Look at how much revenue and interest were generated by last summer's player movement. If the NBA wants to maximize both, wouldn't it want a fever-pitched free agency period every year?
2. Compared to the relative calm of the lockout, how do you look back on the insanity of last summer's 2010 free agency period?
KB: With horror. I mean, from a coverage standpoint, it was one of the most challenging things I've ever had to deal with as a sports writer. I'm not whining or complaining, but we're talking about three hours of sleep a night, days without shaving or seeing family members, just a flat-out bunker mentality in a small bedroom in our apartment, talking, texting, and emailing until well past 3 a.m. every night for weeks. There are a lot of incomparably good things about the job, but the first two weeks of July last summer were pure hell.
3. You unloaded The Berger Plan Part II late this week. One question for the hard cap. How's that going to impact trade movement? In the NFL we hardly see trades at all, and in basketball, that flexibility is crucial as you said. How does a hard cap influence that kind of player and contract movement?
KB: Trade restrictions are one area I didn't get into too much, but I agree, it's an important topic. I favor doing away with base compensation and other impediments to trades. I think the Sept. 1 cap-casualty deadline will add to the player movement as sort of a second wave of free agency. But I also believe for competitive balance to be maximized, teams need to have as much flexibility to trade players as possible.
4. Lot of talk about the fact that if David West leaves, CP3 will be right behind him. What's the temperature of the water in New Orleans right now?
KB: Hard to say, because everyone is in lockdown mode for the lockout. Personally, I've always believed that CP3 was going to leave New Orleans anyway -- provided the new CBA allows it -- so I don't think having David West or not having David West was going to make a whole lot of difference.
5. If there was one owner we could put in charge to get a deal done to end the lockout, who do you think it should be?
KB: I think Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, is reasonable and has enough clout to bridge the gap between high- and low-revenue owners. Mark Cuban is the smartest, the most creative, and the best businessman, but he's too much of a radical hard-liner to get any sort of consensus or compromise with the players. Clay Bennett is indebted to David Stern for helping him move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, and his clout is on the rise. I'd probably say Holt, who gives you the best and worst of both worlds -- a small-market owner for a team that carries a high payroll and, at least in terms of gate receipts, brings in big-market revenues.