Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BDT -- Boris Diaw News and the Future of the NBA (June 21)

$9 million for Diaw? What a deal!

Big news for Boris Diaw Time! Our very own Boris Diaw has exercised his $9 million player option for next season and will remain with the Charlotte Bobcats! Diaw averaged 11.3ppg and a big 5rpg last season...quite a stat line for the bargain basement price of $9 mill!

In a related story, the NBA is DEFINITELY going to have a lockout because the league hemorrhaged hundreds of millions of dollars last year. Details leaked out today regarding some of the details of the NBA owners counter proposal and, in reality, there is little reason for optimism regarding the situation. At this point, it seems as if the biggest hang up in the owners' proposal is their insistence on some form of a hard salary cap. Currently, the NBA operates under a soft salary cap with several exceptions in place that allow teams to exceed the cap. Given the massive losses, the league is seeking to significantly cut payroll, and their view is that a hard salary cap is the best way to do so.

While I'm all for fiscal responsibility in professional sports, as well as a level playing field, I'm in the minority of people who are against a hard salary cap. The NBA's current soft cap accomplishes everything I want a salary cap to accomplish; both leveling the playing field and allowing teams to keep their teams intact. Exactly what further purpose a hard cap would serve is beyond me.

There are two main issues I would prefer the NBA to focus on. One is a better revenue sharing model. According to the leagues financial statements, about two-thirds of the league's teams lost money last year. Of course, lowering payroll is one answer (more on that later), but finding a better way to split up the money is another. If the Lakers, Knicks, and Celtics are going to be able to hoard their higher revenue totals, then there is simply no point in allowing Memphis, Sacramento, New Orleans, etc. to even have teams. Those markets simply will not be able to compete! While I understand why the Lakers would want to claim their revenue, the fact is that all 30 teams have equal standing as a collective group and the revenue should be split up as such.

The other area is in player contracts. Here's why player contracts need a massive overhaul. In the summer of 2005, Eddy Curry signed a 6 year $60 million contract with the Bulls (and was subsequently moved to New York in a sign and trade). Curry was already an underachiever, but he hit an entirely new low after inking his Herbie Hancock. The 6-11 890lb Curry would never average more than 7.0rpg in a season, and by his fourth season with New York, Curry was already out of the rotation, playing in only 10 games in the final three years of his deal...all while making superstar money. You see, contracts are fully guaranteed in the NBA (unless otherwise negotiated, which is almost never). Stories like Curry, Erick Dampier, and Gilbert Arenas are prevalent all throughout the league. How is a team supposed to recover from a disaster like that, even with a soft cap in place?

The answer is shorter contracts and non-guaranteed contracts. I'm not offering a specific solution, but the owners are on the right track when they discussed guaranteeing only the first three years of a contract. The ability to wipe wastes of space like Curry off the books would do wonders for the league's payroll problems. How much of a difference? Let's look at some numbers from the 2010-2011 season and find out:

Rashard Lewis - $20.5 million
Michael Redd - $18.3 million
Andrei Kirilenko - $17.8 million
Gilbert Arenas - $17.7 million
Vince Carter - $17.3 million
Kenyon Martin - $16.0 million
Peja Stojakovic - $15.6 million
Boris Diaw - $9.0 million

(Believe me, I could have listed these all day)

There's $132.2 million slashed from team payrolls right there...in only 8 players. The league has been asking for the players to give up around $750 million in previous offers (seems like that has been reduced to $500 million), and this represents a large chunk of what the league is looking for. Obviously this won't replace the salary rollbacks/cuts the owners are expecting current players to give; I only use those numbers as an example of how much the league has left on the table with guaranteed contracts.

With all this in mind, it's important to understand the differences between the NFL labor dispute and the NBA labor dispute. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has serious financial problems. Teams simply cannot lose money year after year and remain financially viable. The current model is clearly broken and significant steps need to be taken to fix it. At this point, it looks like a work stoppage will be necessary to accomplish that task, but fans need to understand that sacrifice is necessary to set the NBA straight...even the sacrifice of regular season games.

My hope is that David Stern is fighting for the right things. I'm not convinced the hard cap is that thing. Perhaps Stern is employing his usual tactic of asking for the world so he can negotiate down to what he really wants. Already, the league has softened its stance a touch, referring the cap in its current proposal as a "flex" cap. At this point, I need to do more research into the proposal to better understand what is really being offered, but it seems as if progress is being made.

I could be wrong in my views of the hard cap, but I know one thing for sure...any system where Boris Diaw is getting paid $9 million is completely broken.


Don't worry about the code here. I submitted Boris Diaw Time to a blog directory and this is the tracking code to verify I'm the owner.

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