Tag:David Stern
Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:42 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:58 pm
 

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

The NBA is open to the idea of contracting its less successful teams in the face of a potential lockout. A painful process, no doubt, but a good idea?david-stern  Posted by Ben Golliver

Contractions are painful; if you don't believe me, ask your mom.
And today's news from Ken Berger , that the NBA is open to the idea of contracting its less successful franchises, is painful for the NBA and its fans on a number of levels.
In another staggering development Thursday, CBSSports.com learned that salaries may not be the only area cut as the NBA tries to gets its financial books up to speed with the explosion in popularity the league will experience this season. A person with knowledge of the owners’ discussions said the league “will continue to be open to contraction” as a possible mechanism for restoring the league to profitability. The owners’ ongoing talks about competitive balance, profitability and revenue sharing have included the notion of whether teams are operating in “the best available markets,” the person said, and whether reducing the number of teams from the current level of 30 would help improve the product and the bottom line for the league.
Contraction brings so many negatives. For the city, a loss of history, pride and identity. For the organization, a loss of, well, everything, including the office supplies, which will have to be liquidated on Craigslist. For the league, contraction is a major blow to its overall image and long-term prospects, hard facts running counter to plans for international expansion and global domination jingoism. Despite all of the pain and Seattle-style heartache that would result in any city that saw its NBA team folded, a strong argument for cutting off the foot (contracting struggling franchises) to save the leg (avoiding a lockout) can be made here.  It's no secret that the NBA's business model isn't working and that it adversely affects owners in small markets, who are, in turn, most likely to want to take a hard line with the players, because they 1) have less to lose and 2) have more to gain. Need proof? Look at the league's latest proposal , which aims to shave off $750 million or more off total player salaries, an astonishing figure. Those kind of demands dare the players to walk and are so dramatic that they could only arise from a contingent of owners who aren't invested in, or profiting from, the current system.  Owners pushing the player pay envelope are operating in their own best interests, first, and the league's second. So it's only right for the league, if it is audacious enough to publicly demand these concessions from the players, to take a long, hard look in its own house to make sure everything is in order.  An honest appraisal of its ownership groups would find a wide variance in commitment to excellence and profitability. On one end, you have the Los Angeles Lakers, global brand with fistfuls of championship rings, more than 1.6 million followers on Twitter and untold merchandise sales. On the other, you have someone willing to turn over the keys to the car to David Kahn. Instead of trying to find a solution that's in the best interest of every owner along that continuum, it would seem from the outside that a compromise with the players would be easier to reach if the league's poorest, least profitable ownership sisters simply weren't at the table. Perhaps, then, this early contraction talk is a nudge for certain owners who might be on the edge of relocation, selling their franchise or reconsidering their financial commitment to their team. Something like, "It's about to get rocky, guys. Do the rest of us a solid and parachute out now while you have the chance." Am I a gung-ho advocate for contraction? No, not particularly. But am I in favor of contraction if it means that a labor stoppage can be avoided, or minimized, and an easier path to a successful business model for all can be found in the future? Definitely.  The long-term global benefits to the league for keeping the product on the court - in terms of continuity, fan loyalty and image -  far outweigh the costs of losing the game in a few courts across the country. In the end, basketball and those who play it cannot be made the scapegoats for a system that is too large and inefficient for its own good. The NBA owes it to the game and its players, past, present and future, to establish the best business climate for the product. And if that doesn't include the David Kahns, Michael Heisleys, or Donald Sterlings of the world? So be it.  Coaches love to say that basketball is a team game, bigger than any individual player. We shouldn't forget that it's bigger than any individual executive or franchise, too.
Category: NBA
Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:44 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2010 2:11 pm
 

The tree of complaint, KG, and you

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.
Posted on: October 8, 2010 1:18 am
 

David Stern admits Isiah mistake

NBA commissioner admits mistake in approving Thomas re-hiring as consultant while employed as FIU coach.
Posted by Matt Moore


Isiah Thomas was the worst.

I'm not using the phrase colloqually. I don't mean it as in, "Chris Kataan's movies are the worst." I mean, he was literally the worst front office executive in the history of sports management. ABA franchises that crashed inside of a year had better runs. You've had bowel movements with more consistency than the work Isiah Thomas put in durin his Knicks run. Donnie Walsh just this year actually cleared the slate enough to make some progress with the roster he inherited from Thomas.

So, yeah, it was kind of a mistake for James Dolan to hire him. That's nothing new. Nor is the awkard blundering attempt to hire Thomas back as a consultant despite not only nearly violent protests from Knicks fans who were rapidly approaching "threats to jump off a bridge" level, but the fact that Thomas is prevented from working as a consultant for a pro team due to his current position as head coach of an NCAA basketball program at FIU. Again, we're all aware those are obvious foul-ups. But what's interesting is that David Stern was part of this particular foul-up.

Stern told New York reporters during his trip to Paris that he OK'd the hiring of Thomas. No complicated reasoning, no sidestepping. Stern simply told them he screwed up . Via the New York Post :

"It's fair to say I missed the issue,'' Stern said. "I told them they can do it. And when it was announced, my guy said it's not allowed. I blew that one pretty good. "It didn't comply with our rules and ultimately wouldn't have complied with NCAA rules.”

And that's how the commish rolls. Just goes out, admits he was wrong, moves on. It's also of note given the close relationship between Stern and the Knicks organization, including Donnie Walsh. The move still remains confusing due to Stern's concerns for the welfare of his biggest market. Why would he want the guy that brought the franchise to not only ruin but disgrace back on the payroll? But if he was just answering the question of if it was okay or not, maybe the answer with Isiah should always be "I'll get back to you."
Posted on: September 29, 2010 7:22 pm
 

The owners are not kidding about a hard cap

Washington owner reveals onwership desire for a hard cap in labor negotiations, no one is pleased.
Posted by Matt Moore


The NBA labor talks had been pretty cordial so far . Both sides had made some noise in the other's direction, but things looked like they might be headed towards progress. That's great news for those of us wanting to avoid a lockout and get back to the business of watching basketball. And then, Ted Leonsis decided to get all loose-lipped.

Leonsis spoke to a group of Washington businessmen Tuesday and accidentally, or perhaps "accidentally" let slip a significant aspect of the NBA owners' approach to the labor talks. In short, they really do want a hard cap, and they intend to get it. Buckle up.

"In a salary cap era -- and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it's in the NHL -- if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter," he said.
Whoops. NBA commissioner David Stern was quick to bring the hammer down to try and contain the damage today in a statement to reporters.

"We're negotiating and that was one of our negotiating points," Stern told the Associated Press, "but collective bargaining is a negotiating process, and that was not something that Ted was authorized to say and he will be dealt with for that lapse in judgment."

Geez. Hope Ted doesn't own any horse stables. The NBAPA obviously did take notice of the little slip of the tongue, and commented the following on Twitter.

Wiz owner Leonsis likes NHL-style hard salary cap. Must like lockouts, too. http://tiny.cc/jikrx @dwadeofficial @kingjames @carmeloanthony
Yikes. Message received, loud and clear, NBAPA.

This is a pretty big tip of the hand by the owners, and an attempt to gain public favor for a hard cap represents a pretty big violation of unspoken rules for the negotiations. This is all beside the fact that a hard cap? It's going to be total war for the owners to get. There's no middle ground here. The NBA currently has that middle ground, with a salary cap exceedable by various exceptions. A hard cap is an all-or-nothing element of the negotiations, and it represents a total victory for the owners. It's also the last line in the sand for the players, who in no way will want to play under something which restricts their salaries to that degree.

Leonsis either intended to reveal the ownership's desire for a hard cap, in a calculated effort to get the issue into public discussion, or really did slip, in which case he's not nearly the braniac we thought he was. This complicates the negotiations in general and enflames both sides.

Like I said, buckle up, kiddos. This is going to be a a long, hard lockout.


Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:31 pm
 

The lockout discount

Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger's report on the upcoming meeting of the players' union and ownership is probably only going to go as well as the last meeting did. Here's a little dramatic re-enactment of that exchange:

Players' union: "Psshaw!"

Owners: (GUFFAW!)

Players' union: "As if!"

Owners: (Rabble rabble!)

Etc.

But among the information KB passed along , there is the one that keeps coming to life:

Like partygoers ordering the last few rounds of drinks on the Titanic, owners doled out more than $1 billion in salary commitments during free agency. Five-year deals north of $30 million for the likes of Channing Frye, Drew Gooden, Amir Johnson and Travis Outlaw were among the head-scratchers -- or, as one person on the players' side of the debate called it, "the height of stupidity" for owners heading into a labor fight.

In politics, I'm told there is a drive to create easy-to-digest slogans. And "You gave Darko Milicic $20 million" is the union's new rallying cry. And it's certainly a valid one. But wrapped up in all this two-faced jesterdom is a question that started bugging me. KB notes that teams gave out up to a billion dollars in free agent money this summer. But then later, there's this sobering, theoretically unrelated note, again, something we know but that bears repeating:


"There's a concept known as the self-fulfilling prophecy," one of the people involved in bargaining said. "When you have both parties saying there's going to be a lockout, the likelihood of it happening is very high. ... My interpretation is, I don't think either one of these guys is ready to move."

So just to go over this once more. The ownership group lays out $1 billion dollars the summer of free agency and takes on water for it. At the same time, the ownership group is steadfastly moving towards a lockout with seemingly no concern over how long it will go on. Anyone else picking up a paradigm here? The owners gave out a considerable amount of money over a given number of years... but are almost positive they will not be giving the full amount.

A lockout season prorates the players' pay. With players paid twice a month, if the lockout lasts into half the season, that scrapes off half that first year's salary. Take a swing at how much less those salaries become depending on how long the lockout lasts? Meanwhile, the ownership group negotiates for a tougher deal which will curtail spending in the future. So we've got a primary element of the union's case that probably won't be true. It won't stop the union from being able to use it as an argument, but then, the more the union uses it, the more likely a lockout becomes, which of course, drops the price off the contracts.

Even if the lockout only lasts a month into the season, that could drop millions off a team's payroll. Combine that with whatever revisions the owners force the players to concede, particularly those top-end players, since they aren't making their presence felt at the meetings, and there's a pattern forming here. The owners seem like they're a step behind. But it's possible that Berger's source was right:


"[The owners] are not remotely worried. They're fully prepared to shut the thing down."



The union's campaign slogan may ring true in theory, but it's possible the owners are a step ahead, regardless of how these talks develop.
Posted on: July 30, 2010 8:45 pm
 

CBA talks mean two houses divided

Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger's column today touches on the future of the league through the ever-narrowing window of the upcoming CBA talks. The column itself specifically touches on the viability and reception of an NFL-style franchise tag in the NBA. But a salient point might get lost in the column, one that belies another level of complexity in the talks that will occur over the next 12+ months.

From KB's piece :

 

“The league would love to have [a franchise tag] in place to maintain competitive balance,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the Sports Law Program at Tulane University. “The small-market owners would love it, but the big-market owners wouldn’t. It’s not just a struggle between the owners and the players. It’s a struggle between the owners and the other owners.”

 

The point belies something lost in the offer-counter-offer-counter-counter
-offer talk between the union and owners, and the ongoing PR fireworks that have laced these talks since last All-Star Weekend. There are really four sides to these negotiations. The players' union, the league, the big-market owners, and the small-market owners.

The league will first and foremost side with the owners. They have a responsibility to ownership to protect their interests. But the league is also torn on the interests of the big-market teams versus the small-market teams, who have competing interests within the owners contingent.

For example, a franchise tag as Berger outlines would have helped Cleveland keep LeBron for another year, buying time to make another run at a title, provided the Cavs targeted an “exclusive” tag for James. Even a non-exclusive tag would have prevented the Big 3 from forming by demanding two first round picks in exchange for James, making the sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh that much harder, especially if Toronto also oped for a franchise tag on Bosh.

And that's great for Toronto and Cleveland, but the teams that have led the labor negotiations have been the very teams that would hate a franchise tag, those teams that were in contention for LeBron this summer. New York. Chicago. New Jersey/Brooklyn. LA Clippers. And the Miami Heat. It's those owners, along with those in Boston and LA who have the most to lose from restructuring, that could prevent change at this level.

But the franchise tag is a concept. There's a very real battle that will be fought during these negotiations, one that could drive a wedge of confusion into the owners' obtuse fortress.

Revenue sharing is a players union issue. At least that's how the union sees it, and it has been pushing for changes to the revenue sharing system aggressively. David Stern said at the All-Star game that revenue sharing was a priority for the league, but also made it clear that it would be a separately negotiated process internally with the owners, not something the league would allow the players to negotiate during the CBA talks.

This is likely to be a major issue of contention, to the point where the union may have to employ labor law in order to force the issue onto the table. But the owners may not just be having to fend off this push from the union. Forces within the owners group may have a rising contingent of newer owners who are unhappy with the current model, which essentially gives the big market teams significant advantages at every turn, trapping small-market teams at the bottom in a rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer model. There are obvious exceptions in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Orlando, but both the Spurs and Magic have spent a considerable amount of money in order to overcome that gap, and the Magic have yet to claim a title while the Thunder are merely projected towards success.

As a few examples, in the NFL, which is clearly the most successful sports league in America, television revenue is split among all the teams while in the NBA, the home team negotiates its own television deal. The NFL home team splits the gate 60/40 with the away team, while the NBA home team keeps all its revenue.

An adjustment like this may seem indicative of a move towards welfare ownership that could lead to bad ownership allowing to float, but it's hard to argue that's a worse arrangement than the massive gap between the small market teams and the big markets. Newer ownership, though, has made noise about wanting to move away from the status quo.

Meanwhile, as the owners are trying to shore up their own front, they are likely to tailor their proposals to the union to benefit the non-superstar players while restricting the top percentage of players. Appealing to these players with concessions could help them with their overall goal of capping exorbitant spending (on non-Darko players, of course). This sets up a scenario of there being five separate entities in the CBA talks. The superstar players, the role players, the big-market owners and the small-market owners, with the league trying to keep tabs on everyone in the hopes of getting a resolution (that obviously favors their constituents, the owners).

Things are going to get a heck of a lot messier before they get better.

Posted on: July 19, 2010 12:54 pm
 

NBAPA filing collusion charges against league?

Posted by Royce Young

If you didn't think the relationship between the league and its players was already strained, then sit right down and take a sniff at this story today from Sports Business Journal .

Basically, the Players' Association is strongly considered filing charges against the league and the owners. Why? Last summer the NBA was telling teams that basketball revenue was dropping dramatically and that would mean a cut in the salary cap this year. The league projected the cap could drop below $51 million, but more likely settle in the $53 million range, down from the $57.7 million it was this season.

Where did it land? Up at $58.1 million. That means basketball revenue went up last season. That means the players feel like they were duped by the league. Would the league release low cap projection numbers in an effort to pull down the amount teams could spend on salaries? The players are sort of thinking so. Hence the potential charges.

Last week in Vegas, David Stern said the league lost $370 million. Yet, the NBA recorded all-time highs in revenue. Of course the league credits slashes in ticket prices and merchandise costs, plus other clever ideas to push through the recession.

Then there are things like the recent sale of the Warriors, where a team was purchased for more money than in league history. Players like Nick Collison see that as fishy business. He tweeted :
"Warriors sold 4record 450 million after being bought for119. if nba is "broken" why are teams always sold 4profit? ... Also is the appreciation of the franchises when sold (warriors, Suns, sonics etc) factored into the 400 million loss claim??...no ... My point is these very smart businessmen would not continue to invest is a failing system paying record numbers team after team."
A fair point indeed. All signs point point to the league thriving. But what we keep hearing is that money is flying out by the truckload.

Owners want shorter non-guaranteed contracts. Players want longer, guaranteed contracts. The league says it's losing money. The players see how revenue is at an all-time high. We keep hearing the two sides couldn't be farther apart. And at this point, I'd say they're about as far as east is from west. Right now, there's no avoiding a lockout it seems. Unless something dramatically happens, next summer probably won't be as fun as this one.
Posted on: July 15, 2010 11:32 am
 

Delonte West and the Cavs at a crossroads

Posted by Matt Moore

It's important from time to time to take stock of how quickly life can turn. How it can go from roses to ruin, and that's certainly the case with Delonte West.

West arrived in Cleveland in 2008 in a trade as what was considered an expendable piece of the puzzle the Cavs were trying to put together. But almost immediately, he and LeBron James developed an on-court rapport that was exactly what James needed. Someone to get out and run with, who could hit from the outside, and was always looking to find James to finish in transition. He fit in with the culture in Cleveland, was close with his teammates, and seemed to be gelling. Delonte's career was looking up like it never had.

But then, those same dark forces that bring down so many people in our world began circling West. West had previously admitted he suffered from bipolar disorder, a serious mental condition that inherently creates mental instability and mood swings. Before the 2009 season, West was arrested on gun charges while driving a three-wheeled motorcycle. After being pulled over, he was found to have a 9MM Beretta, a Ruger .357, and a shotgun in a guitar case. All loaded. The jokes were out of control from the media and blogosphere. Mad Max , Rambo . My personal favorite was Once Upon a Time in Mexico . But it wasn't funny. West's intentions were never made clear as to why he was driving with that much firepower, but things became even scarier when he skipped Cavs' training camp while dealing with "personal issues ."

West was in need of help, but wasn't accepting it, and his team and teammates were focused on a championship.

Quietly, West slipped back into the Cavs. The season began, the Cavs were winning, and all the troubles seemed behind West again. Then a second-round exit paved the way for a LeBron James exit. There were salacious rumors not suitable for post here that insinuated West was partially to do with James' departure. Then Thursday, he pled guilty to those same gun charges he was brought with a year ago. He faces electronic monitoring and extensive counseling, though his plea deal did help him to avoid jail time.

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports this morning that David Stern is likely to follow up on that sentence with a 3-6 game suspension for West. Windhorst also reports that he's not expected back with the Cavaliers.

West has shown so much promise, and his problems have not been sourced by simple bad decisions (though there have been many) or a laziness on the floor. By all accounts he's been a good teammate and someone that coaches tend to like. He was a pivotal part of the East's top seed's playoff run. And within a matter of months, it's all gone, along with LeBron James.

Life can turn on you in an instant if you make the wrong moves and don't watch out for yourself, or if someone's not watching out for you.

Hopefully someone is watching out for Delonte West right now.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com