In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with Ken Berger, the CBSSports.com senior NBA writer talks the reasonableness of the new CBA, flexibility, Lin's return to New York, and getting ready for a brand new season. You can follow Ken on Twitter at@KBergCBS.
1. Ben (Golliver, Eye On Basketball blogger) mentioned this week that the $111 million, 6-year deal for LeBron in 2010 sounds crazy now because of the new CBA. In that regard, is it mission accomplished for the owners? Most of the deals this summer seem pretty reasonable compared to what we saw 2-3 years ago. We were arguing about $8 million a year deals which were nothing under the old CBA. Are salaries more reasonable now, even if the overall approach and design of the lockout was insane?
KB: You mean LeBron's deal sounds crazy because he's actually worth $250 million over six years? That's the thing people forget. The marketplace for NBA talent was skewed when the individual max salary was imposed in the '99 CBA. The superstars still get the max, but deserve a lot more, and other players also get the max when they actually deserve less. The hallmark of the NBPA's run under Billy Hunter has been an expansion of the so-called middle class, i.e., average players who make too much money. I think the smaller and shorter mid-level deals negotiated in the current CBA are making some headway in that area. But if James Harden, for example, gets a max deal, that's not exactly "reasonable."
2. Mark Cuban was pretty vocal this week about some of the decisions that were made around the league, but I wanted to single out one in particular. He said during the presser to introduce the new Mavericks that the Nets, with their spending spree, that's their team for the foreseeable future. Setting aside the awkwardness of essentially saying "we got great deals because we can get rid of these players" with them sitting right next to him, and considering the kind of deals we saw the last two years, many of which are two-year deals, is flexibility no longer just a luxury, but a necessity, even for the bigger markets?
KB: Flexibility is everything under the new rules. For billionaires like Cuban or Prokhorov -- and for teams with massive regional TV deals like the Knicks and Lakers -- it isn't so much the money/tax that's important. To an extent, a guy like Prokhorov will just pay the bill. But when you're above the tax, certain tools that allow you to churn your roster and improve your team are taken away from you (mid-level exception, sign-and-trades, uneven financial trades). That's the statement Cuban made loud and clear this summer. It's not that he's unwilling to pay the piper. He doesn't want to get caught with an older, mediocre roster that he can't change.
3. Of what you know about the new revenue sharing agreement, is there any change to the structure of the television revenue sharing deals? I ask because based on the new Time Warner Lakers deal, I'm pretty sure the Maloofs could double their income.
KB: Technically, there is no change to the formula. In other words, teams like the Lakers with huge local TV deals don't have to put a certain percentage of that revenue into the revenue-sharing pot. However, a team with enormous revenues (like the Lakers) does have to contribute more -- a lot more -- to the overall revenue-sharing pool than teams with lower revenues. In 2013-14, the Lakers are projected to kick in about $50 million -- more than any other team. The owners' planning committee, charged with handling revenue sharing, meets next week in New York to discuss all of that. The enhanced revenue-sharing plan actually goes into effect this coming season, although the numbers won't be in full force because last season was an aberration due to the lockout-shortened season and the approximately $400 million dip in league-wide revenue that resulted. The first year of enhanced revenue sharing based on a full season's revenues will be 2013-14.
4. What's going to be more exciting, Lin's return to New York or Ray Allen's return to Boston?
KB: Well, the New York media frenzy will make more of Lin's return. But from a basketball and news-judgment purity standpoint, it's Allen by a mile. A Hall of Famer and original member of the Celtics' Big Three returning to the place where he solidified his Hall of Fame resume -- with the Celtics' sworn enemies, the Miami Heat? Put it this way: I live in New York, and if both those events were happening on the same night, I'd be shuffling off to Boston in a heartbeat.
5. We had the lockout, which was exhausting (for you). We had the lockout-schedule season, which was exhausting (for all of us). We had the lockout-schedule playoffs, draft, and free agency. Are you recovered enough to be excited for the season with training camp kicking off in two weeks, or are you still pretty much wanting to crawl in a hole and sleep for another year?
KB: Don't remind me. Starting with the opening of post-lockout negotiations in early August, it was non stop through the end of the lockout, to the season, to the playoffs, to the draft, to free agency and finally, to the Dwightmare. After the big-to-medium names came off the free-agent board, I think everyone has noticed that the NBA offseason has been quieter than usual. From the media who try to cover all the stories to the folks who make the news in the front offices, everyone needed to breathe. All things considered, I'm ready to go. And I'd much rather have the certainty of a normally scheduled season to prepare for than the uncertainty followed by regular season sprint we had a year ago. By the way, how u?