NBA PM: Stern Predicts League-Wide Profits
Surprisingly to some, and perhaps less surprisingly to others, commissioner David Stern said the majority of NBA teams will make money in this lockout-shortened season.
In an interview with “Political Capital With Al Hunt” on the Bloomberg Network, Stern said the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement should ensure that all franchises will become profitable.
“This year, we’ll probably have about 10 teams losing money,” Stern told Hunt, as quoted by Bloomberg.com’s Jonathan D. Salant. “And next year, I hope the number will be down to under five. And then after that, I would expect that all of our teams will have the opportunity to make money.”
Stern famously said that the 30 NBA teams had combined to lose around $300 million for three consecutive seasons, but apparently the league didn’t miss a beat with its loyal followers. It also doesn’t hurt that the NBA has a new revenue-sharing plan in place, coupled with a steep luxury tax, which helps to keep small-market teams in the black.
“It seems that we have come out of it just about where last season came off,” Stern said. “We’re pleased beyond pleased. We didn’t expect it to be this good.
“Under our new collective bargaining system, we have in place a system where those teams can clearly compete,” Stern continued. “There is a very high tax that will be imposed after next season. We think that will press down the salary level among the top teams. In addition, the highest grossing teams will be redirecting well over $200 million to the smaller teams. So we think, as a competitive matter, as an economic matter, we have leveled the playing field.”
And, in a somewhat self-congratulatory move, Stern said the league’s disciplinary problems have been curbed dramatically by stiff punishments.
Citing Ron Ar…. Metta World Peace, who recently incurred a seven-game suspension for elbowing James Harden, Stern believes violent incidents are become more and more rare.
“The recent incident demonstrates how much we have squeezed violence out of the NBA,” Stern said. “In the case of the gentleman formerly known as Ron Artest, he was a repeat offender and we dealt harshly, I think, with a seven-game suspension.”
And lastly, Stern addressed his political future by saying he doesn’t have one.
“My next career is not going to involve politics,” he said. “It’s only going to involve kibitzing of politicians, and talking to my friends in the Washington media about how the state of the world should be changed.”
For those who don’t know, “kibitzing” is a Yiddish word meaning “offering unsolicited advice,” which is funny, because players and coaches usually get fined for kibitzing with officials.
Norris Cole picks up valuable postseason minutes
Norris Cole had already gotten a taste of postseason basketball before his rookie season with the Miami HEAT. The problem was, it came as a member of the Cleveland State Vikings and instead of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Cole’s team was falling out the second round of the NIT after a loss to the College of Charleston.
Naturally, Cole’s experience as a point guard Mario Chalmers’ backup is a bit more intense this postseason. Sure, he was one of the leading scorers in the country last season, but he’s not only adjusted to his role with the HEAT, he’s learning to thrive on a winning team in the midst of a playoff run.
“It’s a bit different,” he told HOOPSWORLD before Miami’s Game 3 win in New York on Thursday night. “Intensity level is higher, the level of play is elevated but I’m learning. I’m definitely enjoying this experience.
“It’s a focused thing,” he continued, referring to the different atmosphere in practice. “You can’t practice as hard as you would during the training camp but there’s a focus to the details and everyone’s locked in.”
Obviously, playing 6.3 minutes per game in the HEAT’s first three contests against the seventh-seeded Knicks hasn’t been what he’s accustomed to. Cole averaged 19.4 MPG during the regular season, averaging 6.8 points and 2.0 assists per game.
But the former Dayton-area high school football legend didn’t bring any ego into this postseason. He knows the rotation changes this time of year and he’s excited to help when and where he can.
“Of course I would like to do more,” he said, “but I have to work my way up to that level and we have the best player in the world here with LeBron (James) and Dwyane Wade who is also one of the best players in the world with Chris Bosh, so I have no problem playing my role and learning, learning the point guard position and learning how to be a playoff point guard. I’m watching and learning so that’s the thing I’m enjoying the most.”
What most people know about the HEAT bench is that it contains veteran forwards Mike Miller, Shane Battier and James Jones. But what wasn’t discussed too heavily—at least not until they faced the Knicks in the first round—was that Miami’s bench ranked 27th in scoring during the regular season. Once Miami drew a first-round matchup with New York, people naturally started noticing that the Knicks’ one advantage was bench scoring, due to the presence of guys like J.R. Smith and Steve Novak.
But for the first two games, the HEAT bench more than held its own, outscoring its season average of 24.4 ppg in each contest. Miami’s second unit was a non-factor in Thursday’s win and Cole finished with a -6 plus-minus rating, but the overall message of this series has been that the HEAT reserves can’t get pushed around.
“We don’t get caught up in what other people are saying,” Cole said. “We just go out and play our role and try to win the game. That’s all we think about. We’re not worried about who’s better per se. Of course we feel that we’re the better team top to bottom so we just want to go out and try to prove that every night.”
Cole did have a legitimately impressive rookie season, and even if he does play limited minutes in May and June, the experience can go a long way towards molding the rest of his career.
Oklahoma City Thunder veteran point guard Derek Fisher averaged 5.7 minutes per game with the Lakers in his first postseason after playing 11.5 minutes per game during the regular season of his rookie year. That didn’t discourage him, and he’s gone on to average 27.9 minutes over 212 postseason games.
Cole won’t make or break the HEAT’s season, but this is another opportunity for him to cement a role with the team for years to come.
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