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October 20, 2011

New revenue sharing big for Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has to be thrilled that his fellow NBA owners approved a new revenue-sharing plan that will nearly triple the redistribution of funds between small- and big-market teams.

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said at a Thursday news conference that revenue sharing going forward will be roughly $150 million annually, compared with about $60 million last season. It wasn't announced precisely what formula the league would use to redistribute those funds.

Jordan and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl lobbied hard for the idea that more generous revenue sharing was crucial to keeping all 30 NBA franchises competitive. The local television and radio revenue generated by some big-market teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, dwarfs what a franchise like the Bobcats, Bucks or Sacramento Kings can generate.

Players also wanted more wide-spread revenue sharing, so the league announcing a plan in place can only help owners and players come together on a collective bargaining agreement that would end the current lockout.

Posted by Observer Sports on October 20, 2011 at 04:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

October 15, 2011

McGee should be ashamed

    Sportswriters get roughed up a lot when players or coaches decide they don't like something that has been written. Check out Steve Spurrier's rant at Columbia, S.C., columnist Ron Morris.

    I'm not jumping into the Spurrier-Morris mess, because I don't know all the nuance. But the next time some player or coach claims he's been misquoted, I wish the public would consider the possibility that player or coach is simply looking to extract himself from an unfortunate choice of words, rather than the reporter failing to accurately reflect what he said.

    A wonderful example emerged at the NBA players association meeting in Los Angeles. Washington Wizards big man JaVale McGee had to leave early, and he was approached by a circle of reporters as he was retrieving his car. McGee said that while the majority of NBA players were standing firm with the union, some were ready to "fold'' to the NBA's demands.

    That strayed from the union's scripted message, so McGee took some flak when those comments were reported. So McGee goes on his Twitter account, claiming he never said that and implied this was classic media hype.

    Small problem: McGee's comments were recorded electronically by about a dozen media outlets. You know, it's awfully tough to be misquoted by a collection of tape recorders, smart phones and video cameras. But somehow that's what happened, right JaVale?

    Apparently there's been abundant eye-rolling and snickers whenever McGee's name comes up to union officials in the aftermath of this misadventure. Note to McGee: Wouldn't it have been better to apologize for saying the wrong thing than to lie out of embarrassment?

Posted by Observer Sports on October 15, 2011 at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 11, 2011

NBA's real issue: What is a "soft cap?''

Monday night they blew up the first two weeks of the NBA's regular season. Commissioner David Stern said there's a "gulf'' between the league's position and the union's.

I don't think the league and the union are massively apart on the key issues, so much as they're somewhat apart on a variety of issues. And it all comes back to the NBA's traditional reliance on a so-called "soft'' salary cap. Here's the problem:

The league sets a number, based on the previous season's revenues, that is supposed to define each franchise's maximum payroll. That number is habitually exceeded because the league has "exceptions'' -- specific situations that allow a team to sign a player beyond what the cap allows.

There were nine of those exceptions in the last collective bargaining agreement. The most famous is the "Larry Bird exception,'' allowing a team to exceed the cap to re-sign its own free agent. But there's also the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception, the minimum-salary exception, etc....

And that's why the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers can keep adding free agents with no regard to the cap, so long as they're willing to pay the luxury tax. The NBA says that has to be more heavily restricted, or there's no chance the 30 franchises can have something resembling competitive balance.

That's good news for the Charlotte Bobcats....eventually, once a new system is in place. But it's understandable why the union is bucking these changes.

The NBA's negotiators said about a week ago they were pulling back from expectations for a "hard' cap. The NFL has something closer to a hard cap, where there's less distance between the highest- and lowest-spending teams.

The union looked at all the changes the NBA demands -- a higher luxury tax and various reductions in the impact of these exceptions (shorter contracts, smaller raises, a lower first-year base), and determined, understandably, that they add up to a hard cap.

In this new world, it would be harder for the Boston Celtics to sign a Rasheed Wallace or the San Antonio Spurs to sign an Antonio McDyess. That worries the union, because the market would reduce, if not dry up, for these guys.

It would be great for the Bobcats if the Knicks couldn't just outgun them in pursuit of a free agent like Chris Paul. But you can certainly see these as blood issues for the union.

I thought the urgency to avoid cancellation of games might get the league and the union to compromise on all this. But as it stands, their separate definitions of fair and reasonable are too hard to bridge.

Posted by Observer Sports on October 11, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

October 07, 2011

A good read involving Kwame Brown

I wrote several times last season about how Kwame Brown had to rebuild his self-confidence with the Charlotte Bobcats, particularly at the offensive end. It helped him greatly that Boris Diaw was such a skilled and willing passer into the post.

    Diaw refused to ignore Brown when he was open. It also helped that coach Paul Silas' only firm rule is you must shoot if you're open, regardless of whether you make the attempt.

    The reclamation project that was Kwame Brown was one of the bright spots for the Bobcats last season. If you're wondering why Brown's confidence was so shot, read this account, in Kobe Bryant's own words, of his interaction with Brown when the two were Lakers teammates:


Posted by Observer Sports on October 7, 2011 at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

October 05, 2011

There's clearly a deal to be made

I haven't written much about the back-and-forth between the NBA and the players union for two reasons:

1. I'm not in New York, so I can't have a great understanding of all the nuances.

2. A lot of hypothetical talk about revenue splits and contract rules and layers of luxury tax probably makes many of you glaze over and turn to Cam Newton's quarterback rating.

But I thought I should chime in on what happened Tuesday. I'm surprised how quickly they moved toward compromise, both in terms of splitting up the money and contract rules. So I'm that much more surprised that the day ended with the union walking away from the league's informal proposal of a 50-50 split.

I can somewhat understand why the union seems put out that David Stern and Co., made all this public. It has the effect of making the players look like the bad guys, when in fact they've already agreed to give up a lot, relative to the last collective bargaining agreement.

But this sure seems like the time when both sides are -- or at least should be -- motivated to cut a deal and minimize the damage. They're just plain not that far apart if, as has been reported, each percentage represents about $40 million.

Stern seems to have taken the position that saving the entire regular season is important enough to find middle ground. That's a departure from what happened in the last lockout, when the season was trimmed to 50 games (Phil Jackson still questions the validity of San Antonio's title), and it took years to earn back the public's goodwill.

There have been warnings from both sides that if they can't come together now, positions will harden and it will be much tougher to make a deal in November or December.

Cut a deal and avoid the carnage. What they're fighting over just isn't worth what will be thrown away.

Posted by Observer Sports on October 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)