Consider this Part II of an earlier article I started yesterday, pre-Deron Williams trade: "Carmelo to New York Deal Exemplifies Why The NBA Will, and Should, Lockout."
Yesterday it was the Denver Nuggets and today its their divisional rivals, the Utah Jazz. Two teams in two days, what do you have to say for yourself Commissioner Stern?
If you are Timberwolves fan like myself, automatically you are thinking, "Hey, we actually might have a chance next year," (if there isn't a lockout) or your team wasn't actually worse.
What NBA commissioner Stern needs is a panel of season ticket holders and fans from small markets along with a few owners and executives of such to show him and explain to him on their level why his product isn't working and why there will be a lockout.
Now I know you are thinking this is falling on deaf ears because with Williams and Carmelo now in big markets—which is what Stern covets—he wins and we lose.
Only millions of dollars in lost-revenue will make Stern understand the fans' angst. Along with the lockout, it appears that contraction is inevitable under the current system.
If Stern had any guts he'd avoid this tactic by standing up to the owners and taking contraction off the table.
Rather, our league would be better served, if the NBA adopted an NFL style where instead of seven good markets (LA, NY, Boston, OKC, Chicago, Miami, San Antonio, and New Jersey) the league had 30 in which every team has an actual chance.
Sadly, Stern doesn't want it this way. The NBA was built on a big-city power imbalance, so this is the only life they know. Thus, this is why they adopt it. Old dogs can't be taught new tricks.
Mike and Mike has been doing an excellent job since the "Melo drama" officially ended by examining why the NBA doesn't work with parity and the NFL does.
Mike Greenberg has stated that in the past, the NFL's rich owners, like the New York Giants' Wellington Mara actually supported revenue sharing. And in the NBA it's such a pittance, the BS luxury tax, is just that—too low to make an impact.
Mike Greenberg also wondered why in the NFL there is never any worry of Peyton Manning ending up in New York when his contract is up.
That is due to the structure of the salary cap—mixed with the awesome TV deal that is equally distributed, he doesn't need a larger market for exposure exposure the same way the star-driven NBA does.
They note that in the NBA this isn't a new concept of having only seven good markets and 20 or so irrelevant teams, the only difference is, now we have the players calling the shots which is why fans like me have basically had enough.
It's one thing for a Yankees-esque owner to buy up the competition but its another to pick and choose where and who you play with, all the while cheating the system by giving a middle finger to logic and taking less money to create a Super Team.
I think even Stern didn't see this coming, but now, I imagine with his precious Knicks (keep in mind I don't hate the Knicks, in fact I want them to be good, just not this way) are good, he was an easy convert.
So that begs the question, without changes, what is the point of going through the motions if you are a Minnesota, Milwaukee, Washington, Indiana, or Memphis if you know that basically you are factory for the other NBA markets and as soon as star players' contracts are up, they are going to go to a bigger and better market?
Shouldn't we just contract and if so, how many teams?
Like I said in my last article, if they actually do it, and especially if it cost me my team, I hope they take as many teams down with them as possible. I mean, once the Wolves are gone, what do I care? If I have to suffer, may other markets feel what we felt.
Maybe then the public outcry will get Stern's attention?
The product is better sure, but is it enough to make a real difference? The answer of course is no, which is why six to eight is the only way to evenly distribute the displaced talent.
I wrote another article awhile back examining this possibility, "NBA and Contraction: Timberwolves, Memphis, Toronto, New Orleans In Jeopardy?"
As you can imagine I worried and angered the fans of the markets examined, particularly Raptors fans (I know, I didn't think they existed either but it's refreshing they do).
First wave of contraction
New Orleans, Sacramento, Memphis, Charlotte.
The first two teams are in dire straights one has the kiss-of-death league ownership (Hornets) while the other has officially been abandoned by the NBA in terms of finding a home in its current city (Kings).
The next two places are small markets that lose gobs of money every year so they make sense with poor attendance in college first towns.
I suggested contraction go in waves since you'd think they have to test how to do this considering it hasn't been done in a major sport in generations. Of these teams how many players are actually good that would help the bad teams get good?
- New Orleans: Paul, Landry (traded there today), David West, Okafor, Ariza
- Sacramento: Evans, Cousins, Thompson, Thornton,
- Memphis: Gay, Gasol, Randolph, Mayo, Conley
- Charlotte: Wallace, Jackson, Augustin, Thomas
Does rearranging 18 guys even make that much of a difference? There aren't even that many impact players for the 26 teams left so the better clubs would be wasting their time picking up scraps.
In all, the greatest impact however would be the dozens of guys not on this list that would be forced out of the league and back to Europe in some cases, because they aren't good enough anymore to collect a check.
Cleveland picks up Paul, Minnesota gets Evans, Toronto gets Gay, Washington gets Cousins, New Jersey gets West. etc., that's not enough impact to make a difference in those markets, thus the swath must be greater.
I'd propose instead doing it all at once, of Minnesota, Washington, Toronto, Cleveland, Indiana, Denver, Utah and Milwaukee. "Utah and Denver! Hey aren't you going overboard?" you ask. "All they did was trade one guy each."
No, what they did was prove to their bases, and the rest of the league that they are giving up under the current system of ever competing which is the only reason you trade a franchise player in each case.
Why should they exist if all they are going to do is lose their talent to the larger teams in the end?
So now with 12 teams gone, suddenly the 18 team league looks like this:
NBA Atlantic: Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets
Note: The "NBA South Central" division plays perfectly to the urban culture the league tries to hide but has been its very pillar since the 1980s when the demographics shifted.
The me-first players would probably embrace this, sadly.
Two nine-team conferences but in reality Orlando once they lose Howard, and San Antonio once they lose Duncan could themselves be candidates to go as what is the point of Orlando's existence if they lose the only piece keeping them from a .500 team they are, at best, without him?
However, Stern would likely save San Antonio the embarrassment citing their four recent titles as evidence to save them, but there are those in the media who believe once Duncan is gone, they are done but I think the NBA would see to it they stay relevant (cough ping pong balls) as a way to thank them for their service and impact on the sport.
The revised playoffs would be top four teams making it in each conference so:
Eastern Conference: (1) Boston vs. (4) New York and (2) Miami vs (3) Chicago
Western Conference: (1) San Antonio vs. (4) Dallas and (2) OKC vs. (3) LA Lakers
Hey, I know Stern's watching this! That's basically his vision anyway and we are basically already at that point.
What about the dispersed talent?
Suddenly with 12 fewer teams the talent dispersed is even deeper:
- Minnesota: Michael Beasley and Kevin Love
- Indiana: Darren Collison, Danny Granger,
- Washington: John Wall, Nick Young, Andray Blatche
- Toronto: Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozen, Leandro Barbosa
- Cleveland: Antawn Jamison
- Denver: JR Smith, Raymond Felton, Danilio Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler
- Utah: Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Derrick Favors
- Milwaukee: Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings
That's 22 desirable players, which added to the original 18 gives 40 players to distribute to the remaining 18 markets. Suddenly, at two additions per team, roughly, suddenly it's more even.
Consider if the worst record-wise teams left in the league (based on this year's standings), the Pistons and Clippers and were able to add Kevin Love (Pistons) and Chris Paul (Clippers).
Now, does a Clipper nucleus of Paul, Griffin, Kaman, and Gordon entice you to care? Or the lowly Pistons of Stuckey, Love, and Hamilton?
Sure, in the Pistons' case its not much but when you add that second player from above in the second round of a dispersal draft, pretend that player is Marc Gasol, well now they've addressed another need and look to be that much deeper, and that's just one example.
The third worst team left in the new league, the Golden State Warriors add Danny Granger to Steph Curry and Monta Ellis. Now with Dorrell Wright back on the bench, they become that much deeper.
We could go on and on but you get the point. Essentially, I am de facto making Stern's argument for him, ironically that contraction would be best.
Yes, unless you are a fan of one of the "have not" markets.
Information and references from ESPN.com as well as ESPN"s Mike and Mike in the Morning directly contributed to the content of this article.