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“Player X” and the NBA Lockout

In the last issue of ESPN the magazine they featured one of their popular and controversial (same difference)  “Player X” articles. This one being about the seemingly (to him) inevitable NBA lockout that will destroy all that is good.

Let’s look at some of the more interesting tidbits of the article. (If you want to read the article in its entirety click here (insider only)

On July 1, the NBA will lockout its players. That is for sure.

As bleak as this may look, it may not be too bad. We’ve known (even if we haven’t wanted to admit it) that a lockout is afoot. What we don’t know is how many (if any) games will be missed. Technically the NBA can lockout its players July 1, and lock them back in (?) July 2. So there’s some cause for optimism here.

And it may do more than wipe out next season. I’ve been told to prepare to miss the following one, too. The owners and players are that far apart.

Or not…..

O crap. This isn’t good. Now, “Player X” may just be making use of some good old fashioned hyperbole. While the prospect of missing the entire season was always a threat it was always kind of a distant one. After all the owners couldn’t possibly afford to miss out on an entire season of collecting revenue right? And a full season missed would be disastrous for the League. Stern would have to step in and do his “Morgan Freeman in every movie Morgan Freeman’s ever been in” impression and make everything better right?

But now we hear not only one but TWO seasons could be missed? Since I haven’t read that there was a prospect of missing more than one season I feel fairly confident in dismissing this a a scare tactic, albeit a freaking terrifying one (yes i’m in denial).

He goes on to list five things both sides should remember.

1) Remember the stakes.

Without basketball, our fans will turn to the NFL and MLB. And once they go, it will take a long time to win them back.

The most obvious point. 04-05 NHL yadda yadda. Not much to discuss here. Moving on:

2) Find new resources.

Owners say they’re losing money. If that’s true, it’s their fault and makes me think they’re not very bright. 

Interesting point. I like that he blames the owners for losing money. After all for the most part they’re all brilliant businessmen. They did make enough money to actually buy an NBA team. And those don’t come cheap. There’s no reason they should suddenly lose their business acumen upon buying in. Am i being a little facetious? Probably. Well definitely  But the point still stands.

3) Clean house. 
The owners need to stop blaming us for their hardships and start scrutinizing the “geniuses” in the front office who handle their dough. Our teams are run by one weak GM after another, guys who blow millions on overvalued players, then blame the rest of us for driving the league into the ground. The only way to win is to spread the money around. You can’t max out on a bold-faced name like Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson and still fill a roster with a worthy support crew. And you can’t get a ring with that kind of incomplete team. Owners need to find some new GMs, or become de facto GMs themselves, like Mark Cuban. When you hold your own purse strings, you open them more carefully.

Could not agree more. So many teams are plagued with incompetent GM’s. That’s my biggest argument against the “NBA is rigged for big markets meme”. Small markets can succeed if you have a good front offense. Look at the Spurs. Look at the Thunder. The formula for a small market team is simple:

1)Land a high lottery pick.

2) Don’t Darko/Kwame/Thabeet up that pick.

3) Build around your superstar by nailing at least one of those lottery picks you have while your star is maturing and nail at leas one late- first round, early-second round pick (preferable but neccesarily required).

4) Use free agency only to acquire role players who fit your system, compliment your core, and don’t tie up your financial flexibility.  Now this is the key point. We’ve seen so many franchises screw up their cap by paying borderline all stars like Andre Iguodala and Danny Granger as if they were Lebron and then lament afterwards that the League is skewed to big markets. If your a small market team do not hand out 20 million$ plus contracts to the likes of Drew Gooden and Amir Johnson. It’s as simple as that.

Side note: Thought it was interesting that he included Carmelo in the “All stars but not building blocks” group. While I would disagree with the notion that Melo is in the same class as Gay or JJ it might be telling that a player thought so. Then again Player X might be someone like Javale “Pierre” Mcgee and it could mean absolutely nothing. It’s a crapshoot.

4) Lower the max salary. 
Hear me out, players. Owners want to cut our salaries by a third, and that’s just ridiculous. They’ve built a billion-dollar business on our shoulders, and suddenly we’re worth a third less? Of course we’re never going to go for that. But if they brought that max number down, owners could put a little something in their pockets and still build a contender. Kobe can live on a few million less, I promise you.

Vehemently disagree. If anything true max contract worthy guys (Lebron, Howard, Durant etc..) are underpaid. The salary cutbacks should be geared towards “Borderline All-Stars” like Granger, Iggy, and purely  awful players who inexplicably get big contracts ala Gooden, Outlaw, Darko etc..  Also how many max contract guys are there? ten? fifteen? Lowering their salaries by a few million as Player X suggests won’t really do much good overall. There’s alot more money to be saved by not overpaying mediocre guys than by lowering the max salary.

5)Take a look in the mirror.
We players are our own worst enemy. The guys I know don’t watch their bank accounts or even know how to do their taxes, and we lend money like crazy. I haven’t seen a dime on 70 percent of the loans I’ve given out. If family wants money, cool. Friends? Forget it. Most of us aren’t good with investments, either. Ever since real estate went to hell, we’ve been buying car washes (dumb) and record companies (really dumb). We have to go back to the basics. I know few NBA guys who carry cash or can even find their checkbook. While we’re at it, the league, or maybe the union, should start requiring every rookie to take a business class.

Not being all that familiar with the specifics of how NBA players spend their cash i don’t really have a comment other than i like the rookie business class idea. Maybe It’ll teach guys that it’s bad business practice to cheat Tony Allen in a poker game.

6) Change the tone.
I don’t sit in on the negotiations, but from what I hear, David Stern is a beast — a tough bargainer, to say the least. Now, we have a lot of smart fellas — guys like Derek Fisher — running the Players Association, and we stand by them. If my union asks me to march with signs or to hand out PB&Js, I’m there. But deep down, I blame them, too. We need to chill the hell out. This isn’t war; it’s business. We have a chance to save our season and strengthen our league. I pray we do. Because, damn, I hate watching baseball.

And there you have it. “We need to chill the hell out”. Maybe Chris Bosh was onto something.

Anyway for all of our sakes let’s hope Player X is wrong and the lockout is avoided. Because I too (I’m a Mets fan) hate watching baseball.

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