Posted on: July 22, 2010 12:31 pm

Presti, Thunder agree to multi-year extension

Posted by Royce Young

In another brilliant move in no-brainerness, the Thunder have signed general manager Sam Presti to a multi-year extension.

Presti inks Durant to a long-term deal, Clay Bennett signs Presti to a long-term deal. Makes total sense.

Said Bennett in a release: “We are fortunate to have Sam leading our basketball organization. He is extremely committed to the growth of our franchise, of our players, and this community. He has helped build an identity for this organization that we can all be proud of. I look forward to our continued work together as we experience the challenges of creating sustainable success.”

Since taking over as GM four years ago, Presti has basically reconstructed the entire roster. The only player remaining that was on the team before Presti arrived is Nick Collison. Presti has drafted (or acquired draft rights of) eight of the Thunder's current roster players, signed two in free agency and traded for the other four.

Presti has said from day one since arriving in Seattle that his strategy was to build a group of players that can grow and mature together. He constantly preaches process and plan and can't go five minutes without talking about development. Presti is a GM that's truly ahead of the game and never lets outside sources influence his decisions. He's held on to Oklahoma City's cap space like grim death and honestly, there's no sign of him really using it any time soon.

And his process is working out. After winning just 20 games his first season in charge, then 24 the next, Presti's Thunder jumped to 50 last season and a playoff birth against the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Everyone praises the Thunder for their moves and for doing things right, but it honestly can't be that hard when you're just extended people like Kevin Durant and Sam Presti. Not too many people could really screw those moves up.

Posted on: July 19, 2010 1:22 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2010 1:30 pm

Rich Cho to be named GM of Trail Blazers

Posted by Royce Young

Rich Cho will be the next general manager of the Trail Blazers, The Oregonian reports .

The Oklahoma City Thunder assistant general manager interviewed with the team last week in Las Vegas and will be named today. Cho has built a reputation as a young and bright executive who has degrees in engineering and law.

Cho replaces Kevin Pritchard, who was fired on June 24. Cho will step into a great situation roster-wise in Portland with a star already there in Brandon Roy, a great coach and a number of quality supporting cast players. But besides managing questions about Greg Oden's health and keeping one of the best and most passionate fanbases in sports happy, Cho also has to deal with an ownership group that has been characterized as "meddling". So that should be fun for him.

Cho was known as the Thunder's cap expert and has been with the Thunder franchise for 11 seasons and served eight as assistant GM. He was responsible for contract negotiations, salary cap and Collective Bargaining Agreement matters, player contracts and all player personnel issues.

Cho is a native of the Pacific Northwest and a member of the Washington State Bar, a graduate of Pepperdine Law School and achieved his undergraduate at Washington State University.

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 4:23 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 4:26 pm

Larry Ellison: "I was the highest bidder"

Posted by Royce Young

If you didn't see, the Warriors were sold today to Joe Lacob, managing partner at private equity firm Kleiner Perkins, and Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment. Most thought super-billionaire and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was the favorite to win the bid.

So when the reports came out today that Guber and Lacob were awarded the team, most, including me, wondered why Ellison didn't win. He had the money to beat the $450 million the team reportedly sold for (Ellison is worth an estimated $28 billion - that's billion with a "b"), so either he low-balled for some reason or just mis-estimated his bid.

Actually, it was neither of those. San Joe Mercury columnist Tim Kawakami fills us in : "Whoa. Ellison statement: 'Although I was the highest bidder, Chris Cohan decided to sell to someone else.'"

Whoa indeed.

So Chris Cohan, the owner every Warrior fan basically loathes and is considered by many to be maybe the worst owner in the NBA, doesn't sell the team to the highest bidder. Not only that, but he doesn't sell the team to the guy most everyone agrees will be a great owner not just for Golden State, but the entire league. Instead, he takes less to sell it to Guber and Lacob.

Obviously, it's Cohan's perogative to sell to who he wishes. But taking less money? Was he trying to get at Ellison for some reason? What could possibly be the reasoning here?

But as most Warriors fans would tell you, they found themselves asking that last question a lot under Cohan. So this likely doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 15, 2010 1:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 1:42 pm

Report: Warriors sold to Lacob and Guber

Posted by Royce Young

Both Darren Rovell of CNBC.com and Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com are reporting that the Golden State Warriors have been sold to Joe Lacob, managing partner at private equity firm Kleiner Perkins, and Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who was thought to be the front-runner, obviously didn't win the bid. As to why, Rovell tweets : "When u r worth $28 BIL, what's another couple MIL? Think he miscalculated." Yeah, evidently.

The new owners aren't entirely new to the team ownership game. Lacob bought a share of the Celtics in 2006 and Guber's Mandalay Entertainment owns and operates multiple minor league baseball teams, including two affiliates of the New York Yankees

The team was reportedly sold for $450 million, topping the previous NBA high of $401 million, which is what Robert Sarver paid for the Phoenix Suns in 2004.

Chris Cohan bought  the franchise in 1995 for $119 million and as of December of last year was valued at $315 million by Forbes.

As San Jose Mercury columnist Tim Kawakami puts it , if Lacob and Guber keep the current front office, they're an immediate failure. Hard to disagree there. The Warriors are one of the most intriguing franchises because of the unwavering passion of the fanbase and consistent revenue the team generates. But for whatever reason, through hapless ownership and front office management, the team has been a massive failure over the last 15 years, save for one shining moment in the 2007 playoffs against the Mavericks.

Since now former owner Cohan bought the team 16 years ago, the Warriors have yielded the second worst record in that span, second to only the Clippers. So clearly the price wasn't about the on-court performance of the team. It's about the product and the overall franchise is in good shape with the city, the arena and the fanbase. There's really no reason the Warriors shouldn't be better. And now with Cohan out and new owners in, maybe things will turn around.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 12, 2010 3:11 pm

Pacers will not be Thunder'd, staying in Indy

It was coming down to the wire, but it looks like the city of Indianapolis has locked in the Pacers to keep the franchise in its native city, which it has been in since 1967.

Think about that for a tick. When the Pacers started playing basketball in Indy, the Beatles had three more years left in them (kind of). They pre-date the musical Hair . The Super Bowl is a hair older than them. But times are tough, and the Pacers' basketball decisions tougher, and there's been talk of the team relocating if a new arena deal couldn't be hammered out, with team ownership looking for the city to absorb operating costs at Conseco Fieldhouse.

But the Indianapolis Star reports today that ownership and the city have come to an agreement , where the city is not fronting a majority of costs for the arena, but is taking on over $33 million over the next three years. To coincide with that payment, strict penalities of up to $15+ million have been put into place if the team were to attempt to leave early. That's in addition to an early termination penalty of $20 million, essentially locking in the Pacers until 2019 and keeping the franchise home.

It's a good agreement, with solid compromise on both sides, that is being met with fierce opposition, as pretty much anything that involves tax dollars is these days. Billionaire owners wanting a hand with cleaning the floors does not go over well, in this, or any economy. Seattle decided as a city to stick to their guns and not buckle to ownership demands about the arena, and paid the price when it gave Clay Bennett the opportunity to relocate, which he was looking to do anyway. This is an issue that will continue to be fiercely debated until a standard is set in the courts or elsewhere.

But for right now, Pacers fans can breathe easy knowing their team will be playing in Indy for the forseeable future.

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