Blog Entry

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:42 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:58 pm
The NBA is open to the idea of contracting its less successful teams in the face of a potential lockout. A painful process, no doubt, but a good idea?david-stern  Posted by Ben Golliver

Contractions are painful; if you don't believe me, ask your mom.
And today's news from Ken Berger , that the NBA is open to the idea of contracting its less successful franchises, is painful for the NBA and its fans on a number of levels.
In another staggering development Thursday, learned that salaries may not be the only area cut as the NBA tries to gets its financial books up to speed with the explosion in popularity the league will experience this season. A person with knowledge of the owners’ discussions said the league “will continue to be open to contraction” as a possible mechanism for restoring the league to profitability. The owners’ ongoing talks about competitive balance, profitability and revenue sharing have included the notion of whether teams are operating in “the best available markets,” the person said, and whether reducing the number of teams from the current level of 30 would help improve the product and the bottom line for the league.
Contraction brings so many negatives. For the city, a loss of history, pride and identity. For the organization, a loss of, well, everything, including the office supplies, which will have to be liquidated on Craigslist. For the league, contraction is a major blow to its overall image and long-term prospects, hard facts running counter to plans for international expansion and global domination jingoism. Despite all of the pain and Seattle-style heartache that would result in any city that saw its NBA team folded, a strong argument for cutting off the foot (contracting struggling franchises) to save the leg (avoiding a lockout) can be made here.  It's no secret that the NBA's business model isn't working and that it adversely affects owners in small markets, who are, in turn, most likely to want to take a hard line with the players, because they 1) have less to lose and 2) have more to gain. Need proof? Look at the league's latest proposal , which aims to shave off $750 million or more off total player salaries, an astonishing figure. Those kind of demands dare the players to walk and are so dramatic that they could only arise from a contingent of owners who aren't invested in, or profiting from, the current system.  Owners pushing the player pay envelope are operating in their own best interests, first, and the league's second. So it's only right for the league, if it is audacious enough to publicly demand these concessions from the players, to take a long, hard look in its own house to make sure everything is in order.  An honest appraisal of its ownership groups would find a wide variance in commitment to excellence and profitability. On one end, you have the Los Angeles Lakers, global brand with fistfuls of championship rings, more than 1.6 million followers on Twitter and untold merchandise sales. On the other, you have someone willing to turn over the keys to the car to David Kahn. Instead of trying to find a solution that's in the best interest of every owner along that continuum, it would seem from the outside that a compromise with the players would be easier to reach if the league's poorest, least profitable ownership sisters simply weren't at the table. Perhaps, then, this early contraction talk is a nudge for certain owners who might be on the edge of relocation, selling their franchise or reconsidering their financial commitment to their team. Something like, "It's about to get rocky, guys. Do the rest of us a solid and parachute out now while you have the chance." Am I a gung-ho advocate for contraction? No, not particularly. But am I in favor of contraction if it means that a labor stoppage can be avoided, or minimized, and an easier path to a successful business model for all can be found in the future? Definitely.  The long-term global benefits to the league for keeping the product on the court - in terms of continuity, fan loyalty and image -  far outweigh the costs of losing the game in a few courts across the country. In the end, basketball and those who play it cannot be made the scapegoats for a system that is too large and inefficient for its own good. The NBA owes it to the game and its players, past, present and future, to establish the best business climate for the product. And if that doesn't include the David Kahns, Michael Heisleys, or Donald Sterlings of the world? So be it.  Coaches love to say that basketball is a team game, bigger than any individual player. We shouldn't forget that it's bigger than any individual executive or franchise, too.
Category: NBA

Since: Aug 14, 2008
Posted on: January 9, 2011 6:49 pm

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

Just cut the Lakers and the Heat and every things all good.

Since: Jul 27, 2007
Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:55 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

You are really, completely out of touch here... Jordan has been a huge asset to both the Bobcats and the city of Charlotte since he took ownership of the team. He's courtside for most every home game and a number of road games. He's donated tons of money to local charities/schools and done a lot of things in the community already. More so than Bob Johnson ever did. And the attendance you speak of? The Bobcats have a 94% season ticket holder renewal heading into this season and also have over 2,000 new season ticket holders (I'm one of them) which puts them in the top 5 in the league. So, to me it's pretty obvious they've done something to sway the local folks here. Sorry you're not one of them. 

Since: Jun 26, 2009
Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:17 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

Anyone consider that floating the contraction idea is nothing more than a way to scare the players?
"Listen guys, if we don't get the salary concessions we're after, we'll be eliminating a couple of teams.
In other words, up to 30 of you guys can go play in the D League".

Since: May 29, 2010
Posted on: October 22, 2010 10:49 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

Seattle's 13, but OK City is 45, so your point is taken.  However, I betcha that OKC is one of the few franchises that is actually profitable right now.

The NBA thinks that it's sparking record interest in their product, but they're really committing suicide.  They don't realize the big markets still need the smaller markets to thrive.

Since: Oct 22, 2010
Posted on: October 22, 2010 9:59 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

As a Seattle Supersonic fan I love this.  Way to move a team from a top ten TV market to one in the 30's.  Great business model.  Seems the blackmailing of cities for new arena's has stopped and now Stern can break the hearts of many more fans.  Just another sign that fans do not matter.

Since: Apr 3, 2007
Posted on: October 22, 2010 7:40 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

Reducing the league to 24 or 26 teams would be great and would improve the overall quality of the league.

In fact it would be nice for all the big 4 to lower the amount of team and make the teams left better overall and more competitive.

It wouldn’t be nice if say my Islanders are one of the teams culled in the NHL, but if it improves the standard of the sport then so be it.


Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:16 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

You guys freaking out about contraction and how to decide who would get cut amuse me.  It's actually very simple, fan support is the measure.  I live in NC and the Bobcats are an abomination.  Their original owner alienated the local fan base because citizens didn't want to give a multimillionaire a few more million in taxes to build an arena.  Going even further back, an NBA that allowed a beloved Hornet team to be stolen from a city that sold out the coliseum for a few hundred games in a row, and by an owner that continues to try to sell the franchise even today.  Now the Cats routinely can't fill half of the building night in and night out, and Jordan is merely an owner-in-abstentia.  When preseason games began and he could've had his first look at this year's team he was instead preening for the cameras at the Ryder Cup.  Even the primary owner isn't interested enough to attend.  Charlotte deserved and earned an NBA franchise back in the 90s and the Stern-led NBA allowed that team to be taken from the city.  Now the NBA doesn't deserve the support of Carolinians and Bobcat ownership has done nothing to sway the huge Charlotte fanbase.  Come on in and contract in Charlotte Stern-the-Powerful, should be easy since you've done it once before.

Since: Jul 31, 2007
Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:35 am

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

I couldn't agree more. All of the owners that profited from the expansion can't cry poverty now. Plus, how will the contracted teams be decided upon? Past record? Current financial situation?

If nothing else, David Stern stands to take a black eye over this. He had the good fortune of presiding over the Magic-Bird years through the Jordan years and now into the LeBron years. He pushed for expansion when his product (post Jordan) was no longer as viable. He and the NBA owners kept pushing for more and more cash while sacrificing the future of the league. And now he is expecting the player's union to give up 3/4 of a billion dollars because the state of the NBA is in turmoil? If I were in the player's union, I would have a hard time accepting that. Stern is going to end up looking like Bud Selig in the end. He should have quit 5 years ago to avoid dealing with the fallout from his bad decisions.

Since: Jul 30, 2007
Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:40 pm

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

We'll get the labor stoppage AND the contraction. The numbers the league is talking about cutting from salaries are totally unrealistic, just a (non-) negotiating position. 

Since: May 25, 2007
Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:38 pm

NBA contraction: painful but necessary?

Number 1 fact is that the owners dug this hole. And David Stern's ineptness has in effect kept handing them a bigger shovel. All of the owners more than happily took their share of the franchise / expansion fees when the league was handing out franchises like free beer to an alcoholic. Who is going to finance buying out these contracted teams? Is anybody stupid enough to think that these contracted owners are just going to walk away? What about their arena leases? Contracts owed to vendors? Remember when baseball was going to contract Montreal and Minnesota? Both teams now have new stadiums. Minnesota despite being a small market, continues to make the postseason on a very regular basis.
Stern has run this league into the ground pure and simple. In his little kingdom the league does no wrong. From the horrible officiating to the absurdly inconsistent fines handed out by Stu Jackson to the thug like atmosphere that has pervaded the league. This has happened all primarily under Stern's watch.
The owners are saying that they are losing all of this money, where is the proof? They say that they will make financial disclosure but have said that they will not make full disclosure. That sounds like someone going thru a divorce that does not want to tell their spouse where all of the money is, so that they don't have to do a full split. And who was holding a gun to their heads to sign some of ludicrous contracts?
If they lose a season to a lockout or whatever they are going to call it, then maybe they will have to fight with the NHL to get their finals aired on Versus. Way to go Czar Stern.

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