In the midst of an intriguing and entertaining NBA season is an enormous white elephant: a lockout.
Player Union chief Billy Hunter said he is "99 percent sure" that there will be a lockout in a statement just before Thanksgiving. The idea, let alone the realization of a work stoppage would cause the NBA to lose fans that it sorely depends on to operate.
With roughly six months before an agreement needs to be reached, a fistful of things need to happen for a new collective bargaining agreement to be reached.
Joe Johnson is the poster child for the lowering of player salaries. J.J. is a great talent and a main reason for Atlanta's recent success, but he should never make more than elite players like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
To a degree, Wade and James' Miami Heat are an example of what teams need to do to cut layer costs.
James could have made J.J. money with any other team that wanted him, but chose to play with friends in what appeared to be a situation that would breed championships. So far, this has not come to fruition, but if this year flops, the Heat will have another five years to win it all.
James, Wade, and Chris Bosh all are making less money to win, so why not hope or express to players to worry about winning more than money. Players will get paid, but they cannot if they do not play.
A large factor that may cause a lockout is 57 percent take-in players get from basketball-related income, or BRI.
If player salaries come in below 57 percent of BRI, the owners write checks to the players out of an escrow fund accumulated through payroll deductions. If at any point salaries are more than 57 percent, the players have to write checks to the owners.
An escrow fund, according to Wikipedia, is an arrangement where an independent trusted third-party receives and disburses money and/or documents for two or more transacting parties, with the timing of such disbursement by the third-party dependent on the performance by the parties of agreed-upon contractual provisions. The parties are the NBA owners and NBA Players' Association.
In short, the players want to keep the BRI because they allege salaries have dropped the past three years. However, despite any drop, players are still seeing their 57 percent no matter how much money is spent on salaries.
If the BRI is eliminated, owners would get a little more control over their books, and could, in essence, spend more without worrying about giving away money in any situation.
82 games is a long season. Travel, grinding play, and mental stability are all issues in an NBA season, and unless you are Greg Oden, a full slate of games drains you as a player.
Schedule adjustments have been a hot topic in every league in some fashion, and needs to be in the NBA. Start the season at the same time, but finish in mid-to-late May at the latest as opposed to a week or so before the NBA draft.
A cut in days off during the playoffs could not hurt either.
A hockey player in a basketball article?
New Jersey Devil forward Ilya Kovalchuk made news this summer by agreeing to a 17-year, $100-million plus deal that was rejected. Why? Years and money.
Money was already addressed, but years is another issue with NBA contracts. Could you imagine a player in his late-20's signing a 17-year deal? Most players are lucky to get five years on the court, let alone a second contract that would last them until they get their AARP card.
The NHL is going to set a limit on years for contracts once negotiations get rolling for their new CBA.
The NBA needs to take note and limit the length of contracts.
The only thing to watch in Memphis never touches the basketball
The white elephant's cousin in the room is contraction, an ugly, yet necessary move to help the NBA going forward.
You can argue it would put players out of jobs, but can you with lack of attendance to go along with rising costs in markets that cannot support that situation?
If you lose two teams, let's say Memphis and Toronto (one in each conference), disperse those players (roughly one per team, with maybe monetary compensation for teams who do not select a player if given the chance), and provide help for office employees looking for work, you could save a lot of money, and make teams more competitive.
It may be harsh, but the NBA cannot hemorrhage money much longer.