Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NBA Lockout: Winners and Losers

Now that the NBA lockout is in the books, here are some of my winners and losers.

NBA Lockout Winners

David Stern- The longest-serving Commissioner in professional sports, Stern’s legacy depended on getting a deal done.  In Stern’s tenure at the NBA helm, he’s overseen 28 new arenas, the addition of 7 teams and revenues top $4 billion.  His most lasting accomplishment may be saving this NBA season.

NBA Owners- Arguably the biggest point of contention in negotiations was the division of basketball related income (BRI).  Players received 57% of BRI in the last labor deal, which resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars lost annually for owners.  In the new CBA, the players cut of BRI won’t top 51%.  For owners, that amounts to nearly $3 billion in savings over the length of the deal.

Small Market Cities- Portland, Memphis, Oklahoma City and others rely on their NBA teams as the only major league professional game in town.  Sacramento is looking for a new arena, or else the Kings might move to Anaheim. And in Orlando, where the NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for late February, $100 million of local economic impact hung in the balance.

(Most) Players Overseas- Deron Williams went to Turkey, Tony Parker to France and Rudy Fernandez to Spain.  They made some extra money, stayed in game shape and head home without major injury.  There is, however, one exception to this “winner” (see Losers).

Player Movement- Sign-and-trades, a mid-level exception and a soft salary cap all are preserved in this new CBA.  More opportunities for movement mean more money for players.  Earlier CBA proposals didn’t include some of these provisions.

NBA Lockout Losers

Billy Hunter- The NBPA eventually got a deal, but a) it wasn’t the one Billy Hunter wanted, and b) it wasn’t without lots of division amongst the players association ranks.  His decision to hold off decertification is the biggest reason a deal wasn’t reached sooner.  If the last couple of CBAs favored the players, this one likely will favor the owners.

Small Market Teams w/ Superstars- Dwight Howard and Chris Paul both are free agents next season.  Neither seems likely to stay with their current team beyond this year.  Early CBA talks included a NFL-like franchise tag that would allow teams to keep their superstar players.  Without one, Howard and Paul could be gone next season.

Players in China- When NBA players began signing overseas, guys going to China went with the understanding that they would have to play in China until the regular season ends in March.  That’s tough luck for guys like Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and JR Smith.

NBA TV- During the football lockout, NFL Network did wonders for its credibility and viewership by tackling the issues head on.  The same can’t be said for NBA TV.  Instead of talking about the lockout, NBA TV showed dozens of reruns of Teen Wolf and other old basketball movies.  At one point in October, the network had the second lowest viewership on cable.

Agents- If NBA players are “giving back” $3 billion over the next 10 years, that’s more than $100 million in agent commissions lost.  No wonder they tried so hard to oust Billy Hunter before he agreed to a less-than-desirable deal.

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