First, apologies for the extended down time during the summer, etc. Call it NBA lockout depression.
Second, thanks to Joe Goodman for jumping back aboard the blog.
Now, to some of the things that have been floating around in my head today, as the NBA players meet in New York to decide how to handle this newst proposal from the owners and see just how real this latest ultimatum is from David Stern.
If the league is essentially trying to restrict movement for the highest-paid, or "superstar" players, I'm not certain that puts all 30 teams in better position to win championships. In fact, it might keep certain franchises in extended ruts until they're lucky enough to draft a franchise-changing talent.
Here's just one example: Let's say, hypothetically, Tim Duncan retires from the Spurs in the next year or two, and that franchise gets stuck in mediocrity. San Antonio is a small market, yes, but it's also a respected enough franchise that a big-name player to seriously consider going to in free agency.
By discouraging a superstar from going in that direction, and with so few truly elite, franchise-elevating players to go around, that would leave the Spurs basically hoping just to make the playoffs, or tanking a season with its fingers crossed that it can score one of those great players in the draft, which is certainly no guarantee.
Sure, the Spurs have won some titles in the past 15 years, so it's hard to feel sorry for them in that scenario, but replace them with the Suns, Sixers, Hawks, Blazers -- any decent team in a decent city -- and you'll have the same story. Does that really help them "compete for a championship," as Stern keeps repeating is the goal, or does it just make luck more of a factor in terms of the draft? Sounds like the latter to me.
When you allow players like LeBron James or Chris Paul to be more mobile, you're essentially sharing the wealth of championship possibilities. Think about it: Cleveland had legitimate "championship aspirations" for probably five of the seven years LeBron was there. It was that franchise's poor decisions, along with a few head-scratching performances from LeBron that didn't bring a ring there.
Almost the same thing in New Orleans. Paul was MVP caliber, particularly in the 2007-08 season. That franchise didn't spend or make moves designed to truly compete for a title. It was happy appeasing its fans and making money off Paul's ability. The fact that CP3 wants to go to New York has more to do with the fact that that franchise wants so badly to win a title, and not necessarily because it's in New York and he can be marketed better. I mean, he's a North Carolina kid.
Even once you get lucky in the draft, you need smart decision makers in your franchise to make it a true contender. Even Kobe Bryant wouldn't have won titles four and five if the Lakers didn't fleece the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. Is that an indication that the previous system was broken, or that the Grizzlies weren't nearly as interested in winning as the Lakers were?
I guess my point is that the owners should stop selling this as a competition issue and just admit they want to make more money by putting limits on how much they spend overall. Add that to the new BRI split, and these guys are getting everything they want while making it look like it's for the betterment of the league and its fans. That's nonsense.
That said, players really have no choice but to take this deal or lose the season. The reason Stern keeps saying this is the last deal before a "reset" deal is put in place is because this is as far as the hardline faction of owners will allow him to go.
If the players say, "we want to negotiate a few more details" just to put the onus on the league to decide, all that does is let the owners who are willing to lose a season have the final say. Stern has clearly twisted enough arms to this point, and it's doubtful he'll be able to do anymore before those owners take over. Thanks, MJ.
Other quick thoughts: If contraction is real possibility, it's probably something the better players in the league wouldn't mind happening. Remember LeBron wondering aloud last season what it would be like if Kevin Love was on another team because T-Wolves didn't exist? That would only make the league more competitive and more interesting.
What I don't understand is why it would be forced into this CBA unless there are a handful of owners who've already decided they're going to sell their teams in the next few years.
Last thing is this, and it goes back to the league trying to limit movement. If players want to move to the bigger markets, a salary hit from the NBA isn't going to restrict them. I think we've learned, both from actions and from numbers that sports business people have researched, that players are willing to lose money in NBA salary to change teams because they'll make even more money through marketing deals when they play in New York, L.A., Chicago or Miami. So getting rid of extend-and-trades and limiting sign-and-trades will only get players to find new ways out. It won't force them to stay put.
I'm gonna stop typing now so I can officially cross my fingers for the rest of the day.