Take it in while you can. This NBA Finals may be the last chance you get to see Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd at the helm. While he is only coming off of the bench for Miami, it very well could be the last glimpse of former 'Fab Five' member Juwan Howard as well.
While the NFL lockout is clearing headlines like crazy, the looming NBA lockout will send shock waves through the sport amid speculation that if there is indeed a lockout for the 2011-2012 season, there is very little chance that any games will be played until the 2012-2013 season.
The NBA wants to negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement with the players union in order to revamp the economic model in place for the league.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has admitted that this is not breaking news. A little less than a year ago, Stern reported that the NBA had lost $370 million over the span of the 2009-2010 season. Similar figures for the 2010-2011 have yet to be published. Speculation is that the NBA has lost an equal amount in 2010-2011 as they did the year before though.
The business model that the NBA has ran with since the last lockout during the 1998-1999 season is broken.
How is it broken? NBA franchises are losing money hand over fist. Meanwhile, Washington's Rashard Lewis is the second highest paid player in the NBA at $20.5 million per year. For comparison's sake, Kobe Bryant, the league's highest paid player (and deservingly so), makes $24.8 million per year. Lewis is second with his salary. Meanwhile, LeBron James makes $14.5 million per year (tied for 22nd in the NBA with teammate Chris Bosh).
Boston's Paul Pierce reels in $13.9 million per year, which settles him as the 27th highest paid player in the league, well behind the likes of Lewis, Milwaukee's Michael Redd, Houston's Yao Ming, and Utah's Andrei Kirilenko.
The system which determines salaries for players needs to change. There is no reason why Kings center Samuel Dalembert should have made $12.2 million this past season, coming off the bench in Sacramento, averaging just 8.1 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. Mind you, this was a deal that the Philadelphia 76ers had given Dalembert before shipping him off to Sacramento in a deal that included Spencer Hawes.
The salaries of the players in the NBA is not the only detrimental aspect to the economic model in the NBA. While no definitive figures could be confirmed, the WNBA has to be dampening the financial resources of the NBA. Treating male and female basketball players as equals is fundamentally important but it should not be necessary when the finances do not provide substantial equalization between the two leagues.
Miami Heat superstar LeBron James has suggested, to the dismay of Lakers guard Derek Fisher, that the NBA should 'downsize' in order to make it more attractable to fans and bring in the costs to a more appropriate level so the league overall isn't losing money on an annual basis.
Currently, the NBA has 30 franchises. If Stern wants to take a bold, corrective action to fix the financial issues in the NBA, he should downsize the league to 28 or 27 teams. By getting rid of floundering franchises that do not bring much money in and do not spend much money in maintaining a competitive roster for the long-term, the league would be more beneficial.
The three lowest payrolls in the NBA are the Sacramento Kings ($44.03 million), Los Angeles Clippers ($52.6 million), and the Minnesota Timberwolves ($53.1 million). Common sense suggests that these three teams are not competitive in respect to the rest of the league. Sacramento is contemplating a move to Anaheim in order to retain their membership in the NBA. Regardless of how large the Los Angeles market is, having three teams competing for a share of the market should be a no-go financially.
After all, the Clippers can't throw their elbows around against the Lakers. What makes anyone think the Kings can come in and try to divide the pie three ways? Now, I know the Kings are staying in Sacramento for at least one more season, but what if the lockout subsides and there isn't a season?
The Kings should be candidate No. 1 on the chopping block.
In regards to the lockout, the head of the players union, Billy King, said that a lockout would "kill" the entire 2011-2012 season. Essentially, there would not be a shortened season like that of what we seen in 1998-1999.
We would have to wait until late October 2012 to see our favorite pros hit the court again.
This is not good news for the NBA. The NBA is meddling with its own popularity. NBA arenas struggle selling out while attendance at MLB parks continues to increase. As long as the NFL can hit the field, it will remain the most popular professional league in America. NASCAR even tops the NBA.
All in all, take a breath and enjoy the 2011 NBA Finals. It may be the last championship round we will see in the NBA until 2013.
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