Friday 5 with KB: Moving plans aplenty
Posted on: December 10, 2010 5:25 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 7:10 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
1. Okay, so New Orleans has a few buyers mulling around, the league is all set to take ownership of the team, KC and Louisville are getting their checkbooks out, and meanwhile the Hornets have gone down the drain a bit. If I'm a New Orleans fan on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being a Hindu cow and 5 being that Saved by the Bell chick when she got addicted to stimulants, how freaked out should I be?
Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Well, about what? If it's the Hornets' recent struggles on the court, I'd go Hindu cow. If it's the team's long-term prospects in New Orleans, we better find you some tranquilizers. In the first game after the league purchase was announced, the Hornets grew barely more than 10,000 -- and that's paid attendance, which is easily manipulated. I can't imagine who'll show up for the Sacramento game Wednesday night. If the Hornets don't meet an attendance threshold by Jan. 31 -- and they're on pace to wildly miss the mark -- the team can opt out of its arena lease with the state. The Hornets being the deeply indebted, toxic asset they are, clearly this would enhance the potential value of the franchise in a sale because it would open the floor to more bidders and buyers. Nothing will happen this season, and I doubt any serious conversations will occur until after the lockout. But the future certainly looks grim.
2. You dropped word in the post-ups that the Nuggets are finally ready to deal Melo. Knowing the time crunch the Nugget are in with the deadline two and a half months away, is it possible teams could be applying pressure back on Denver in order to sweeten their deals?
KB: Certainly possible -- and maybe even a reason the Nuggets have quietly conveyed the impression to rival executives that they're inclined not to ride out the season with Melo if he refused to sign the extension before Feb. 24. This is the next, inevitable step in the process. In other words, step right up, folks. Bring your best offers. The landscape changes a bit Dec. 15 -- in five days -- when players who signed this past summer become trade-eligible. So far, sources say the Nuggets haven't received any offers that are better than the Nets' package centered around Derrick Favors and two first-round picks. Could that change? Any potential Melo suitors know the time is now to begin trying.
3. How much longer is the Andre Iguodala trade rumor Groundhog-Day-esque nightmare going to continue?
KB: As long as he has $56.5 million coming to him over the next four years, as long as there's one team possibly willing to absorb it, and as long as the Sixers are no better than a borderline eighth seed with him on the team.
4. You talked about the Knicks' resurgence in your quarterly report. What does New York have to do this season to take the next step, or have they hit their ceiling?
KB: Their run of 11 wins in 12 games is a little deceptive because of the competition they've faced, particularly in terms of defensive competition. But there's no doubting the potency of their offense -- and as you've pointed out, they're not benefiting from some ungodly 3-point shooting percentage that can't be sustained. They still need the same two things they needed and tried to get over the summer -- a rugged interior player to defend the basket and a dynamic wing. If they can get one of those between now and the deadline, they'll be on their way to a sure playoff berth -- maybe even a four or five seed. If they can't get Melo, they just have to make sure they don't jeopardize their future flexibility for sloppy seconds.
5. You wrote about how the Players Union's proposal has been completely ignored by the owners this week with so many non-starters. My question is this: Most of the Players' proposals only really hurt the top three to four teams in the league and would help all the little ones. Why are the smaller market teams not demanding the owners take a harder look at this proposal? Is it simply that damaging across the board or are they being bullied by the established big market teams?
KB: Let's start backwards: It certainly seems that the hard-liners are governing the owners' negotiating tactics, because there has been not a word of pushback from small-market owners to the league negotiators' treatment of the players' proposal -- which has been largely to ignore it. The owners -- at least the vast majority of them -- clearly view the players' plan as tweaks and Band-Aids where major reconstructive surgery is needed. When David Stern and Adam Silver have publicly stated on numerous occasions that they're aiming for massive changes to the sport's economic structure, no one is going to cross them publicly and give the players credit -- which they deserve -- for coming up with a handful of creative solutions.
Those solutions clearly don't go far enough in the eyes of Stern and his staunchest supporters. Plus, here's something else to chew on: The small-market owners, in particular, either believe or have been led to believe that they'll lose less money by shutting down the sport than they will by putting on another 82-game charade under the current system. In a way, Stern has gotten exactly what he wanted: By hitting the players over the head with a guillotine in the form of his draconian initial proposal, he boxed Billy Hunter into a corner. Hunter had no choice but to come back with an equally one-sided proposal, so as not to let the owners sense weakness. If a lockout is what the owners want, a lockout is what they are well on their way to achieving.
You can ask Ken a question for the Friday 5 with KB by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or hitting us up on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA .