What The NBA Should Do
I made a vow to myself not t0 write or talk about labor issues in my two favorite sports. So far, I have avoided the idiocy that is the NFL lockout (you can’t split $9 billion?! Really, Goodell?!), but I have some advice for David Stern and the NBA. You can forget all of the verbage about the league losing $340 million, small markets vs big markets (that’s been an NBA issue forever, and will remain one), the length of contracts, guaranteed vs non-guaranteed contracts, & bums like Travis Outlaw getting $35 million & revenue sharing (good luck selling that idea to the Lakers, Bulls, & Knicks.)
What I am talking about is a word that makes David Stern’s skin crawl. It is a word that can save the future of the association. The word, of course, is contraction. Did you hear that? Stern just collapsed, and it wasn’t because he was reviewing the players latest proposal to the owners.
Stern prides himself (to a fault) about never having to contract a team. I’m fine with him pimping that like A-Roid pimps his homer runs. The problem is that he never should have added the Raptors and Grizzlies in the first place. And the Bobcats? Please. What purpose do they serve other than to prove that Michael Jordan has absolutely no clue on how run a professional basketball franchise?
Instead of arguing over numbers, Stern should have the foresight to take away two teams that are basically basketball dead anyway. What teams do I speak of? The Minnesota Timberwolves and the aforementioned Charlotte Badcats. Think about it, would you miss the T-Wolves or Jordan’s band of bums from your NBA life? I’m sorry Kevin Love, but it’s true.
What Kevin McHale started, David Kahn is finishing. The T-Wolves are stuck in a market that no superstar wants to stay (K Love), or wants to go to (name a star player). Kahn is putting on a clinic on why you never hire a sports writer to run your basketball team. Cool Johnny Flynn pick, Kahn. The Wolves are dead weight in an NBA world that would be better off without them. It’s like when Jimmy Conway started whacking guys after the Lufthansa Heist in “Goodfellas.”
It doesn’t matter what system is put in place after the lockout (revenue sharing, blah, blah, blah), the Wolves will never matter. Sorry, but Ricky Rubio isn’t going to keep them relevant like Kevin Garnett did. And when Love gets the opportunity, he will be on the first flight out of ‘Sota which will set them back even further. Why should they make it through the lockout, Commish?
It’s an honest question. The same goes for Jordan’s Bobcats. MJ said that he wants to follow the Bulls blueprint in building a team. That’s fine and well, but he will have to get lucky in the right draft (giving him the right to draft a D Rose type player), have a Joakim Noah & Taj Gibson type front court ( sorry, but Bismack Biyombo can’t hold those two guy’s nuts), and have a desirable market that free agents want to go to (let’s face it, nobody is going to Charlotte).
Jordan got the Bobcats on the cheap because he was, well, Michael Jordan. Only now is Jordan learning the hard way that teams in small markets have virtually no chance unless a Kevin Durant type falls into their laps. Even then, you are on a time clock until that guy wants to flee so he can build his brand. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?
Now, Jordan is laying off Bobcat employees including the team’s radio play by play announcer. And Charlotte has an NBA franchise why, again?
They are so irrelevant, even Ari Gold won’t go see them when they play the Lakers. And he has floor seats!
The T-Wolves and Bobcats need to go. I know people will lose jobs, and you will seemingly be admitting failure, but it is for the best long term interest of the league. A new CBA won’t stop those teams from making a permanent residence in NBA hell. Stern only cares about getting the owners more of the basketball related income (BRI. Players currently get 57% of all BRI…Get used to that term), he doesn’t want to think 5-10 years ahead, no matter what he says.
I know, the Hornets, Raptors & Kings can all be in the discussion of the contraction talk, but I left them out for a few reasons.
Either the Hornets or Raptors should be moved to Seattle if a new arena can be built. Seattle is a great basketball town, and deserves to have their Sonics back. With the Hornets and Raptors in the NBA dead division, both would suffice the great fans of the emerald city.
The Kings can try and build a new arena in Sacramento, but the same NBA hell rules apply to them as well. What star playing will go to or stay in Sacto? Sorry Kings fans, but I’m being real here. And if your horse shit owners ever do find a way to build a team like your 2002 squad, the league will make sure you won’t ever go to the finals, because you are still the God damn Sacramento Kings. Even if a hard salary cap is instituted, the Kings will never have the cache to land a franchise changing star. They are royally screwed, and Stern knows it. He needs to stop trying to embarrass the players & find a way to move them to Anaheim or Vegas to see if they can survive there. It can’t be worse. Until then, they are entering my extinct NBA franchise list. You are on notice, Maloof brothers. Just warning you.
Back to the Hornets. If they aren’t the team to move to Seattle, they enter the extinct list with the Kings. Where can they be moved to? If it were up to me, they would be shipped into the abyss because once Chris Paul leaves next summer, what value will they have? They are already a dying franchise and that is with Paul on the team. Since I only want to get rid of two teams right now, let’s move the Hornets to either Anaheim or Vegas (whichever city the Kings won’t go to). Wherever they go, it won’t be worse than rotting in New Orleans. Chris Paul has a giant smile on his face right now knowing that he is almost out of there.
I know I just wasted 1,000 words on contracting two teams (at least) from the league, but it is imperative to ensure competitive balance in the league. A hard cap, revenue sharing, amnesty clauses & anything else the two sides come up with won’t be enough to close the gap between the big and small market teams. Contraction would hurt a lot of people and the immediate image of the league, but there in no choice. The teams I listed are lucky to have NBA teams. It isn’t the big market/good teams job to support the B-Squad’s that occupy the interest of nobody outside if their city.
David Stern has long been the best commissioner in sports, but he needs to get over his stick it to the players campaign. Deep down, he knows what’s best for his league. It’s just a shame that his ego and arrogance will reign over what’s actually best for the NBA’s future. His legacy won’t be determined by this lockout, it will be determined by the shape the league is in by the end of the new CBA. Man up, Commish. Your league needs it.
Follow me on Twitter @Louie_Ruffolo8