NBA PM: Does NFL or MLB Model Work Best?
The NBA and its players are still at odds, but, as the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney points out, the dynamics of the dispute have changed considerably.
Last month, when there was a sudden rush of optimism that a deal was close, we were told that if the players made major concessions on basketball-related income, the owners’ proposed systematic changes (i.e. hard cap, etc.) would cease to be an obstacle.
“If we can address these economics, we’re not going to lose the season over the system,” union president Derek Fisher told reporters. “So that’s something that’s been clear from the beginning and will remain from our perspective.”
Now the exact opposite might be true.
The closer and closer the two sides get on BRI (the players are willing to move down from 57% to 53%, which Mahoney writes would shift $1 billion to the owners over a six-year period), the more the structural issues have come to the forefront. Now the league must decide whether it wants to be like the financially restrictive NFL (our country’s most popular sports league) or the freewheeling Major League Baseball.
“The numbers are close enough that that wasn’t going to doom the season,” players’ union attorney Jeffrey Kessler told the Associated Press on Monday. “The hard salary cap is what’s going to doom the season right now. That’s the sticking point because the numbers are close enough that if there was a fair system, the parties would find a way to get there.”
From the periphery, it appears the players have done all of the compromising while the owners are willing to sit back and wait for the union to hit their magic number. If most of the owners have been losing money, they’re not the ones who are rushing to start the season. It’s the players that will feel the pinch first.
But nothing is ever that simple. As much as the fans want to think that this whole dispute is about money, it goes much deeper. Yes, money is at the heart of the issue, but without a fair playing field for all 30 NBA teams, there’s still a hole in the revenue bucket. Now the NBA’s have-nots (Cavaliers, Bobcats, Timberwolves, etc.) are having their voices heard. If the league is going to be profitable for everyone, 30 teams need equal footing and the owners have to make the players agree to those terms before a CBA can be completed.
These aren’t the demands of the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics and Bulls. A hard cap—or something approaching a hard cap—would kill off most of the league’s exceptions and veteran free agents might find themselves searching for a $1 million offer in the offseason as opposed to a mid-level deal. So there’s plenty of opposition to such restrictions on both sides of this labor dispute.
But from the macrocosmic perspective, this might not be the worst idea. As New York Times beat writer Howard Beck pointed out, “8 of the top 10 spenders made the playoffs in the last four seasons, while just 3 of the bottom 10 qualified.”
Beck goes on to write that every NBA champion since 2005 has been in the top 10 in terms of payroll.
The other option, as many of you know, is a more stringent luxury tax. In other words, the league would have the top spenders paying for the right to spend more money while the bottom spenders recoup some of their losses. That could deter the Celtics or Bulls from splurging on unnecessary mid-level deals, but it would hardly elevate the bottom rung of the NBA ladder. They’d have more revenue yet they still wouldn’t be able to approach the luxury tax threshold.
You’ll notice the luxury tax debate sounds oddly similar to the national dialogue over taxation. The top teams don’t want to be punished for generating more revenue while the bottom teams don’t want to be punished for unfair circumstances (in their case, playing in small markets hurts the bottom line).
And much like President Obama and congress, the players and the owners from all markets are going to have to build a clear majority in one direction or another. Does the NBA want to be the NFL, with a hard, restrictive cap, or Major League Baseball, which still operates like the Wild West of professional sports?
Late Breaking News
Commissioner David Stern told New York’s WFAN that the league will bring a revenue-sharing plan to committee on Wednesday and the board of governors on Thursday. Stern also went on to say that if a deal is not made by Tuesday, his gut is telling him “we won’t be playing on Christmas Day,” which is obviously a big circle on the league calendar.
Barkley Donating Salary?
Charles Barkley is set to make a decent chunk of change, whether the NBA season happens or not. So in the spirit of the times (have you seen the Dow Jones since 2008?) Barkley told a radio show that he’s willing to help out.
“I don’t think it’s cool to take money I haven’t earned,” he said, as transcribed by FoxSports.com. “My decision is either going to be defer it or give it to charity.
“The problem I have is if these guys hold out all season, it’s going to be a lot of money,” Barkley continued. “That’s why I have to make that decision. I haven’t made the final decision.”
So some charity might score big if and when the season gets cancelled.
Here’s to hoping.
Is Kobe Worth $1 million per game?
Kobe Bryant’s latest overseas offer is for $1 million or $2 million, and that might just be for one game. According to various reports from Italy, Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini said he has the sponsors and television deals for a “Kobe Night,” according to Il Resto del Carlino, which is an Italian newspaper and not a day spa.
Obviously any deal for Bryant would have to include an insurance agreement and an out clause, but with this much money at stake that doesn’t seem like it would be a hurdle.
Check Out: Larry Coon
HOOPSWORLD’s Larry Coon knows more about NBA economics than you or I, so it’s no surprise that he has a different take on what’s happening than most. In this piece for ESPN.com, Coon explains how Game Theory enters into the labor dispute and uses something known as the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” to illustrate the current set of circumstances.
Even if you don’t learn how to end the lockout, Coon can still teach you about this somewhat obscure field of mathematics.
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