Ever since the NFL Draft, there has been a flurry of journalistic activity surrounding the issue of where Julio Jones will play football in 2021. There have been multiple “insider reports” on the subject; there have been tons of “listicles” suggesting what the best fit for Jones might be; there have been columns suggesting trades that the Falcons might make with the “Whomevers” to acquire Jones. It has become a little cottage industry within the world of NFL coverage.
From the top, let me say clearly that I have no inside information here nor can I realistically structure a trade that might actually happen to pry Julio Jones from the Falcons. However, there are two NFL teams that might want to give serious consideration to finding out what Jones’ price might be:
- Green Bay Packers: If even half of the rhetorical gas offered up regarding the source of dissatisfaction between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is true – – i.e. he wanted more assets in the pass catching corps – – trading for Julio Jones ought to put some salve on that butthurt. Julio Jones is going to be in the Hall of Fame one of these days. Five times in his ten-year career, he has averaged more than 100 yards per game receiving. Last year, he played in 9 games – – hamstring injury sidelined him for the others – – but even so he averaged 85.7 yards per game and 15.1 yards per catch. If Rodgers wants a big-time asset at WR, Julio Jones would fit that bill.
- New England Patriots: My thinking here is that the Pats’ WR depth chart is simply a mess. In alphabetical order, their WRs of note are Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. Let me just say that array of pass-catchers will not cause any defensive coordinator to lose even a moment’s sleep. Julio Jones would provide the Pats with something important for the offense above and beyond his pass-catching ability. What the Pats’ offensive braintrust can count on is that Jones will draw the double coverage meaning they can call plays for those other folks knowing it will be single coverage.
Jones has been a Pro Bowl selection 8 times and has been a first team All Pro twice in his career. He says what he wants now is “to win”. [Aside: I am still waiting for the first athlete or coach to say that what they REALLY want is to lose.] The Packers and the Patriots provide places where winning has been commonplace over the past decade or so and both teams seem to me to have reasons to seek out his services.
Moving on … I read a report by Michael Grange at Sportsnet Central that contained this paragraph:
“It’s widely believed the NBA will expand for the first time since rounding out to 30 teams in 2004 partly to recoup losses from the pandemic. Returning to Seattle as part of the process is almost a given (with Las Vegas as the other likely city) now that the arena issues that led to the Supersonics leaving for Oklahoma City in 2008 have been resolved.”
Frankly, I was unaware of this widely believed sentiment in the NBA, but it does make some sense. Back before the NBA regular season began, Mark Cuban said that the Mavs would lose $100M over the course of this season if the attendance restrictions that were in place back in December continued to obtain for the entirety of the regular season. That did not turn out to be the case as attendance restrictions were eased in the time between last December and today, but it is probably safe to say that NBA owners operated “in the red” for the 2020/21 regular season.
Let me do some back-of-the-envelope calculating here:
- About 5 years ago, Steve Ballmer bought the LA Clippers for $2B.
- Since then, the Rockets sold for $2.2B and the Nets sold for $3.2B.
- If the NBA “charged” new ownership groups $1.5B apiece for two expansion franchises, the league would take in $3B.
- If the league office does not take a significant cut from this “income”, each of the 30 existing teams would get a check for $100M.
- Does that number sound familiar…?
That “math” suggests that there is a “quick fix” available, but I think there are caution flags as well.
- Caution Flag #1: The NBA is already terribly unbalanced. When the regular season began in December 2020, it was well understood that only a handful of the teams had realistic chances to make it to the Finals. Moreover, there were significantly more than a handful of teams where even rosy predictions would involve winning half of their games. Adding two expansion teams will not make the unbalanced nature of the NBA better; it will make it worse.
- Caution Flag #2: Closely related to the caution flag above is the inexorable fact that regular season NBA games are not events; they are occurrences. Most of them really do not mean anything and with a minor injury here or a load management situation there, fans – in the arena or watching on TV – cannot count on seeing their favorite star players on any given night. It has been a while since I paid real money to see an NBA regular season game live and in person; it is simply not worth the cost. And it is the absence of fans that leads to Mark Cuban projecting a $100M loss for the Mavericks at the start of the 2020/21 regular season. Adding two expansion teams will only exacerbate this problem because they will be 5 years old before they draw even a smidgen of national interest or attention.
Finally, since today’s rant concerned itself with the NFL and the NBA, consider this remark from Dwight Parry of the Seattle Times linking those two leagues:
“Michael Jordan’s only known game-worn North Carolina basketball jersey sold at auction for $1.38 million on May 8.
“Imagine, then, what a once-opened Rob Gronkowski textbook from Arizona might fetch.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………