NBA PM: How Will 2012 NBA Draft Work?
You’ve probably already asked this question.
If the 2011-12 NBA season doesn’t happen, how will the 2012 NBA draft order be determined?
First and foremost, the truthful answer is we don’t know. The NBA has never had to confront the issue, and hopefully it won’t be necessary this year, either. But if the NBA Players and Owners can’t find common ground on a new collective bargaining agreement in time to salvage at least a shortened season, we can make some educated guesses about how the NBA might proceed with the draft in June.
What makes the most sense is that the NBA would take a long, hard look at what the NHL did after they lost an entire season to a labor dispute in 2004-05.
The loss of the 2004–05 season meant that there were no results on which to base the order of the 2005 entry draft. The league settled on a lottery system in which all teams had a weighted chance at the first pick, expected to be Sidney Crosby. The lottery was tilted so teams with fewer playoff appearances over the last three seasons and fewer number one overall picks over the last four seasons had a better chance of landing higher picks. The complete order was determined by the lottery, and the 2005 draft was conducted in a “snake” style, meaning in even rounds, the draft order was reversed. This system was an attempt to compromise between those who felt all teams should have had an equal chance at the first pick and those who felt only the weaker teams should have been in the running.
Of course, talking about what the NHL did is really putting the cart before the horse. In fact, talking about the 2012 draft – even if we postulate that the 2011-12 season is lost – is premature.
There can be no NBA draft without a collective bargaining agreement in place. There can be no draft combine, no contact with potential NBA players by NBA teams (so no workouts), and draft picks cannot be awarded without the rules that create the entire structure . . .which are all part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Interestingly, decertification doesn’t make this any easier, as under the mentality that’s driving the push for decertification views the draft as a method of restricting a player’s ability to maximize his earnings. Instead of finding the best offer on the open market, players must sign with the teams that draft them.
The question of how the 2012 NBA Draft looks if an entire season is missed is a legitimate question, but the reality is that with no collective bargaining agreement in place there is no draft. There are no rules to govern the proceedings, there is no legal means for teams to have any contact with potential draft picks, and there is no draft order.
Until we have a new collective bargaining agreement, there is no 2012 NBA Draft.
Rise of A Dynasty
The Boston Celtics were not the first NBA dynasty; that honor belongs to George Mikan’s Minneapolis Lakers, circa 1950′s. Yet while the Lakers were the first team to put together a run of championships – five straight – something was brewing in Boston that would eclipse the Lakers’ accomplishment and virtually redefine the term “dynasty” altogether. That Boston team is the subject of Bill Reynold’s new book: Rise Of A Dynasty: The ’57 Celtics.
Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn were two of the stars of that dynasty, but the real centerpiece and the driving force behind one of the best teams in the history of the NBA was center Bill Russell. It’s almost unthinkable to fans of the modern NBA that Russell was fighting just as hard for racial equality in America as he was fighting for championships on the basketball court, but we’re talking about the 1950′s, a time when African-Americans were just beginning to find a place in professional basketball.
When the St. Louis Hawks and the Boston Celtics squared off for Game 7 of the 1957 NBA Finals, there was a lot more at stake than a championship trophy. The NBA was hardly a hot ticket at the time, and the future of the Celtics in Boston was anything but assured. So aside from the challenge of winning a title, there were quite a few distractions that could easily have prevented the Celtics from beginning their dynastic quest.
It didn’t help that head coach Red Auerbach seemed to create a contentious relationship with everyone from opposing coaches and players to the referees who called the games.
Reynolds does a brilliant job of detailing these challenges, while also creatively giving the reader a taste of the time, inserting little details like the price of gas that help the reader really transport themselves back in time to an America that has long since been wiped clean and rebuilt in a very different image. These were hard times, and it’s important to the backstory of this first Celtics dynasty to understand the big picture.
The NBA itself also bore little resemblance to the polished and glitzy game we know today. The St. Louis Hawks owner had an orchestra pit built under one of the baskets, and would offer entertainment options varying from singer Glenn Miller to comedian Jack Benny as a way of drawing fans to his games. The visitors’ dressing room was in what amounted to an attic room, which Bob Cousy called “a little Mickey Mouse room” because of its size.
If the legends of the past look a little dazzled when you see them sitting courtside at NBA games, it’s because what they see today is completely unlike anything they experienced in their day.
Of course, the cities themselves were hardly the bustling metropolises with skycraper-studded skylines that we think of today when we think of Boston, circa 2011. Reynolds also takes some time to put us in that time and place, helping the reader appreciate the difference. In addition, while sports fans today often think of the Celtics as a huge part of Boston’s history, in 1957 they were barely a blip on the radar behind the MLB Red Sox and NHL Bruins. The Celtics had a hard time winning over their own fan base, let alone that of the country.
By the time we actually get to the 1957 NBA Finals and Game 7, which is the subject of the book, we have a detailed working knowledge of who the players were, where they came from, and what made them tick. We can almost smell the air in Boston, taste the disdain coming from the St. Louis fans, and sense the very real outside tensions that threatened to tear the NBA apart long before players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson made it a prime time sport. The subtitle of the book is “The Dawning of a New America,” and that’s exactly what Reynolds gives us.
But, of course, without an amazing NBA Finals Game 7 as the backdrop, there is little reason to care about all of the storylines behind it more than 50 years later. And Game 7 of the 1957 NBA Finals did not disappoint. Thirty-two lead changes, twenty-eight ties and a final play that Bob Cousy calls, “the most incredible physical act I ever saw on a basketball court.”
Rise of a Dynasty: The ’57 Celtics, subtitled The First Banner and the Dawning of a New America, does not disappoint. It delivers the suspense and thrills of one of the greatest Game Sevens in NBA Finals history, but it also gives the modern day reader an appreciation of everything it took to get the NBA to where it is today.
It seems especially appropriate, given the destructive conversations taking place in New York today.
The Small Market Rallying Cry
Count Forbes among the outlets taking a careful look at the NBA’s books, trying to determine just how much of the rhetoric about NBA teams losing money is really true. Not surprisingly, as columnist Mike Ozanian writes, there is definitely fire sending out all of that smoke.
During the 2009-10 season 17 teams had negative operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), meaning they bled cash. Five of these teams (Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets) will lose less money by not playing games this season under the current CBA than they would if the season were played. There is no reason for these owners to agree to a salary cap that will give the players more than 50% of the league’s revenue.
This means of the 25 remaining teams only 10 have to join the five teams above to keep the owners unified behind Stern. And many of those teams, like the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, would be borderline profitable. There simply would not be enough profitable teams above the 50% split to make the owners cave.
There is definitely division in the ranks of the owners, just as there is division in the ranks of the players. Many on both sides of the labor dispute want to give in on critical issues and just get back to playing basketball. Not surprisingly, in many cases, it is the richer owners and the poorer players. The bottom line, however, is that there is a strong contingency among the owners who really are willing to lose an entire NBA season if it means leveling the playing field and helping the smaller market teams compete with those in the big markets.
Yesterday Eric Pincus and I debated whether or not the players should take this deal before the next one ends up being worse. One of the reasons I said the players should take it is because David Stern is not bluffing. There is a growing number of owners, like those mentioned in the article above, who legitimately want to scrap the season in favor of radical changes to the CBA.
The players had better get it while the getting’s good.
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