Today will be a tidying up day… Let me start with a report I read that said the NBA salary cap will jump from about $72M per team this year to approximately $90M next year as a result of ginormous new TV contracts kicking in. That is good news for the owners and the players; there is more money for all to share. I am not so sure however that this is completely beneficial for fans.
In addition to seeing “superstar salaries” go through the roof over the next 24 months, the other thing you are likely to see is that “role players” and “bench players” will also get big raises. Instead of that genre of player making somewhere between $2.5M and $4M per year as they tend to do today, they are going to start earning $5M and up. That is great for their personal exchequer but it also presents them with a dilemma that has practical implications.
If “Sixth-Man Sam” is making $2.5M today and he gets a minor strain in his oblique, he may or may not tell the coach that he needs to sit out a game or two. If he is making $5M a year, he might be far more inclined to sit out with even a minor ailment because:
a. He wants to maximize the likelihood that he will play like a $5M player when he on the court and not look like a guy the Front Office made a mistake on.
b. He wants to maximize his stat lines because there is always another contract negotiation coming up and for “Sixth-Man Sam” the likelihood is that he does not have a 7-year deal.
I am not implying that players should play hurt no matter what; of course they should not. Nonetheless, when there are big paydays at stake, a player is logically inclined to consider every minor problem in the context of it possibly becoming a major problem. If that sort of mindset prevails, then the fans are going to watch more and more games where players sit it out. The fans who pay to go to the arenas will see more games where teams participate without their full roster and the fans who tune in to see the games on TV will watch more games of the same type. The salary cap explosion might not be a great deal for the fans…
Another downside of the cap expansion is that it comes as a result of the explosion in TV rights fees that the NBA collects. Sadly, that assures that any revolutionary thinking on the part of the league to shorten the season will be squashed immediately. There is no way the league would even consider putting a control on the flow of TV cash into its coffers; TV is major component of the revenue so putting as much content on TV is the mandate for the league.
Sadly, from a fan’s perspective, what the NBA really needs is to cut down on the number of meaningless games – say 95% of the ones played before Feb 1st – and increase the number of games it shows to fans that really matter. I have been thinking about ways to do that – without simply cutting back on the regular season and thereby removing content from the networks – and all I have come up with so far are half-baked ideas. But I shall continue to contemplate this issue and hope to have a reasonable proposal to offer somewhere down the road.
In other NBA happenings, the Memphis Grizzlies fired Dave Joerger as their coach and the Sacramento Kings snapped him up 2 days later. Joerger had been with the Grizzlies for 3 seasons and his cumulative record there was 147-99 with playoff appearances in all 3 seasons. Now, Joerger takes his coaching skill to Sacramento where he gets to try to get along with “Boogie” Cousins and crew. Oh, and he also gets to deal with a mercurial and meddlesome owner too. Consider:
The last time the Kings made the playoffs was in 2006. That year the team fired Rick Adelman as the coach.
Joerger is the eighth coach of the Kings since the start of the 2007 season. Only Paul Westphal managed to stay there for the equivalent of 2 full seasons (He coached 171 games).
“Boogie Cousins arrived in 2010 – with Westphal in charge. Since his arrival in town, the Kings have gone through 5 head coaches and Joerger is the 6th.
Good luck to Dave Joerger; he is going to need it. Oh, and I assume his agent made sure that the deal is guaranteed for whenever Joerger gets fired by the Kings.
The last thing I read about the possible move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas painted the local issue as a contest between building a football stadium or expanding the Las Vegas Convention Center. I guess I can understand why Nevada and Las Vegas cannot come up with enough money to do both projects at the same time and given my longstanding skepticism about the worth of building stadiums with public money, I am not about to advocate for one here. However, I would like to make an observation not as a citizen of Las Vegas but as an annual visitor:
There is a Convention Center in the city near the Westgate Hotel where we often stay. I have not been inside the building but from the outside it looks big enough to house the assembly of NASA’s Space Shuttle and the parking lots around the building look big enough to park at least 10,000 cars – maybe 15,000?
I recognize that Las Vegas is the home for some of the largest conventions and trade shows in the country. Nonetheless, I am surprised to learn that the current facility is so small and/or so antiquated that it would need an upgrade that would cost even a fraction of what a new football stadium might cost.
Obviously, this is an issue over which the citizenry and the local pols can arm-wrestle for a while. I am not taking sides in this purported struggle.
I will however comment on two things that Raiders’ owner Mark Davis said recently after meeting with some of the Las Vegas pooh-bahs. First he said that he had no intention of using Las Vegas as leverage to squeeze a favorable stadium deal out of the city of Oakland. On this point, I have to say that I believe him because I do not think that there is any way that Oakland could come up with the money to build an acceptable NFL stadium in the near future. I think Davis recognizes that.
However, he also reportedly said that putting the Raiders in Las Vegas would “bring worldwide attention to Las Vegas”. I am not so sure that is the case. In fact, I suspect that “Las Vegas” has greater name recognition worldwide than either “Oakland Raiders” or “National Football League”. That may seem like nit-picking but it does not make a lot of sense to me to try to sell the folks in Las Vegas on a “billion-dollar expenditure” on the basis that it will help Las Vegas be more widely known.
Finally, here is Bob Molinaro cutting directly to the chase in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“This year’s model: Reportedly, Caitlyn Jenner will appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated this summer – ‘wrapped in nothing but an American flag and her Olympic medal,’ as one story put it. It will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Jenner’s golden decathlon performance at the Montreal Games. For some, the cover will help show how far we’ve come as a society. For others, it will demonstrate the lengths to which a magazine will go to move product.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………