Posted by: Danny Hansen on October 21st, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
“Take it or leave it.” That is what the owners asked the players to do in regard to a 50/50 revenue split in the NBA lockout negotiations. And the players, in move which I can only classify as a boneheaded one, left it. Talks then broke off, each side went to their respective sides, and we now await the announcement of more canceled regular season games.
After taking this all in and processing as much information as I could, I have only one message for the players: TAKE THE 50/50 DEAL! At this point of the negotiations, there is much more to gain by taking the deal then waiting out the owners. Let’s break it down.
First, it became quite evident that the small-market teams are running this show in the lockout. Billy Hunter even admitted as much. He said big market owners, such as James Dolan (New York), Mark Cuban (Dallas), Jerry Buss (Los Angeles), and Mickey Arison (Miami) were the owners looking to deal, but other small market owners were not. Point being, that the small-market teams are the teams that are losing money. The teams that are losing money are enough to control a super majority on a vote on a new CBA. Spurs owner, Peter Holt, said that his team has lost money two straight years. Utah Jazz ownership and management has said multiple teams on media outlets that they recently have either lost money or broken even each season. These teams are not hurt by missing a season. It may even be more profitable for some to miss a year.
So with that in mind, let’s look at what the players would be missing if a season is missed (since we have shown there are enough owners that won’t be hurt by a missed season). Currently, the players stand at 52.5% to 53% and the owners are at 50%, which is basically a difference of 100 million dollars a season. The owners are proposing a 10 year deal. So if the players agree to 50/50 split that is 1 billion dollars they would be giving up over the course of those 10 years. However, if they were to miss the season, they would lose 50% of BRI for this season. Projected BRI is about 4 billion. So 50% of 4 billion is 2 billion to the players. The players will lose more money by sitting out the season waiting for the owners to come up to 53%, which I bet will never happen. So, while the players say they are ready to miss games to get what they want, all I hear is that they can’t do the math and like punishment.
Let’s not forget that the most popular sports league in this country, the NFL, has star players, such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, that don’t even have guaranteed contracts. The NBA players have guaranteed contracts. They are guaranteed millions of dollars just to be on the roster, and it doesn’t matter if they are hurt or healthy, or if they live up to that contract or not, they still are guaranteed that money. Now you may make the argument that the owners gave them those contracts. This is true, but let’s look into why. In 2003-2004, the Jazz were experiencing life without Stockton and Malone. They surprised everybody by going 42-40 that season. However, looking at that team the Jazz really only had one good, almost great, player. Andrei Kirilenko. After that season, Kirilenko and his agent demanded a max contract. They had basically handcuffed the Jazz. If the Jazz let Kirilenko walk because they weren’t ready to give him that contract, they would risk losing their best player, they would risk fielding a team that can’t compete, and they would risk losing fans and revenue. Or, they could just pay Kirilenko his money. They chose the latter and it back-fired. Kirilenko went from Mr. Do-Everything to Mr. Scared-To-Do-Anything except shoot jumpers when you didn’t want him to. And this situation has happened with multiple other teams. More examples include Michael Redd, Peja Stojakovic, and Kevin Garnett. Small market teams paying top dollar for players they can’t really afford.
Finally, there is the hard cap issue. A true hard cap is out the window. The fact that a mid-level exception starting at 5 million has already been agreed to, shows that there is not a hard cap in the owners view. How can you have exceptions if there is a hard cap? So, now there is a proposed harsh punitive luxury tax on the table, which still needs to be discussed, but thus far the players are still very much against it. So why are the players so against such a system? The players want to be able to choose their team. They want to be able to go to the Lakers, even though they are well over luxury tax levels. They want to be in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. A hard cap, or harsh luxury tax will mostly spread the money instead of having one or two teams 40 million over the cap. But players don’t want that. They don’t want to be in small markets like Cleveland, Utah, or Sacramento. It has created an uneven playing field, and it is just plain unfair for fans in those markets.
So what needs to be done? The league and players need to get back in contact. The players should agree to the 50/50 split. The league should come off a little on the strict tax levels they earlier discussed, but not that much. Players should look at other ways to keep their jobs longer, such as making players play 2 years of college before coming into the NBA and taking veterans’ jobs. Then, they can get back to work and we can start talking basketball and not BRI.
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