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Old 07-06-2011, 03:34 PM   #1
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Default Why There May Be No Basketball Next Season

I like this article from GQ (my bible), as it gets right to the big issues:
NBA Lockout

The Issues

1. Length and Size of Contracts: The owners feel that contracts are too long and too extravagant, leaving many franchises tied to massive busts that doom their rebuilding hopes for years. An example: Last season Rashard Lewis, Michael Redd, and Andrei Kirilenko combined to make more than the entire Chicago Bulls roster, but gave their teams next to nothing in return. The owners never want to guarantee another contract for more than four years, which would be a massive change from the current system. Players don't feel that they should take a hit because James Dolan couldn't figure out that Eddy Curry isn't Hakeem Olajuwon.

Threat Level: 6/10. Both sides know that contracts are a little out of control (proof: Gilbert Arenas owns an aquarium filled with sharks), but it'll take some time to get them to agree on new terms.

2. Salary Cap: Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a "soft" salary cap, meaning that teams can exceed the spending ceiling under certain circumstances. (One example is the Mid-Level Exception, which permits teams with bloated rosters to still sign new players to the league-average salary even if they're over the cap.) Owners would like to see a shift to a "harder" cap, but would also like to have some way to retain their superstars. The players love the way the soft cap enables more spending on salaries, so a hard cap seems very unlikely. What we could see, though, is a soft cap with fewer exceptions (now being dubbed a "flex-cap"), and an adoption of the NFL's franchise tag, which allows teams to lock a player into a lucrative one-year contract to prevent him from leaving. Sorry, Knicks fans—if only Chris Paul's parents had met a few years earlier.

Threat Level: 10/10. The owners and players are greatly distanced on this issue. Last year the "soft" cap was $58 million; this year, the Dallas Mavericks had a payroll of $90 million. A harder cap would make for a dramatically different league, and the players will be relentless in trying to minimize change.

3. Basketball Related Income (BRI): Currently, the players receive 57% of the BRI, which includes things like merchandise sales, stadium naming rights, and league sponsorships. This year their slice netted the players $2.1 billion in total salaries, $750 million of which the owners are trying to recoup, while also bringing the player's annual share closer to 50%. NBA Commissioner David Stern is griping about the over $1 billion in losses the owners have suffered since the current collective bargaining agreement took effect five years ago. The players beg to differ, pointing out that A) the NBA just enjoyed a season of record revenues, and B) giving the owners 50% would be like giving Rob Schneider half of the revenues from The Waterboy.

Threat Level: 10/10. BRI and the new salary cap will go hand-in-hand. If the cap remains soft, the owners will have to spend more on player salaries to stay competitive—but if it becomes significantly harder, the players' share of BRI will be reduced.
It sucks the NBA could lose all its momentum with a long lockout. But from what I've heard, the league has been putting this off for years, each time making a "band-aid" quick fix to keep playing. Finally, it's boiled over and both sides have to address these issues. I'm with the owners on the contracts issue; they are getting screwed too often when players get long-term deals, though I'm hardly advocating the NFL's non-guaranteed contracts. They need a happy medium.

Do you think the season will even happen?
Marc James - SCMB Administrator | Sports Central Managing Editor & Founder
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