Baller Bailout?

Posted February 20, 2009 by PC
Categories: Leaguewide issues

 Reported on Monday by Sports Business Journal, the NBA will borrow $175 million on Feb 26th.  According to an NBA source:

The money, which will be available to 15 teams, supplements an existing $1.7 billion league-wide credit facility that uses the NBA’s media contracts as collateral to secure loans for the clubs. The NBA surveyed its teams, and 15 responded they would like to tap into the new borrowing.

So who are the 15? Orlando‘s COO confirmed they asked for the line of credit in the article so that leaves us with 14 teams. Allow us to make a few educated guesses. We’ll consider the outward state of the franchise, attendance, locale and whether or not they are the New York Knicks.

Phoenix- It’s uncanny how the city of Phoenix and the Suns mirror each other. Expansion has been the key. Phoenix is the 5th largest US city largely because of its real estate growth with rising housing prices encouraging a sustained state of home-building, an industry feeding itself. Of course, Phoenix is now prepped for a second consecutive year of negative job growth and Maricopa county rapidly approaching 30,000 foreclosed homes, something tells me there isn’t much money to throw around on a Tuesday night game against the Kings.

The beauty of the D’Antoni-era Suns was the way they found undervalued players who worked for the system and excelled. Now they’re staring down the barrel of over $75 million in guaranteed contracts next season, nearly 50% of which is devoted to Shaq, Nash, Amareand J-Rich. Combine with withsigns that Steve Kerr is working witha mandate to cut salary and there is no reason to think Phoenix wouldn’t jump at the chance to access funding to help them cover operating costs sure to be impacted with what may be the lowest percentage of season-ticket renewed in the league next year.

Sacramento- The Kings were active at the deadline this year, seeming to be the weigh-station for most of the league’s action. With the California housing market depressed only slightly less than that of Phoenix, a rapidly rising unemployment rate and significant wage reduction in nearly all major industries, the Kings ranking of worst home attendance seems to make a bit more sense than our previous theory of a citywide rebuff of Quincy Douby. The Kings are set to shed about $16 million in cap space this year but they have a new arena in the works and are likely looking for something to keep that project viable more than anything else. They make the list.\

New Jersey- Just like Sacramento, the Nets are looking for some of that bridge money to carry them to their new arena. Devin Harris is an emerging star who looks like he may have been had for a more than reasonable contract extension and Vince is still waiting for that drop-off but, other than Stromile Swift’s expiring contract, they are committed to the same  group of marginal players next season. While they may make the playoffs this year, their attendance numbers are some of the worst in the league and the damage to the financial services sector has made it difficult to expect disposable income steered towards the Izod Center, particularly with their notably high ticket prices. If Ne Jersey has its sights set on the summer of 2010 and moving into a new arena, few franchises would be in more need of the credit line than the Nets.

Memphis- At the beginning of the year, it looked like Memphis might actually follow the path of the Mid-Atlantic cities and come out of the current meltdown stronger than before. Housing prices have remained relatively unchanged compared to the rest of the country but their growth was powered by three major industries: finance, real estate and a burgeoning auto-assembly industry. So… How do you think that’s working out? Memphis just traded away their best point guard for a draft pick, they’re only higher in attendance than the previously-mentioned Kings and their highest paid player is Antoine “Big Shimmy” Walker. List ‘em, Danno.

New Orleans- The unutold story of New Orleans is the other side of housing. While housing prices in New Orleans actually slightly rose in 2008, Chris Paul’s work in those NBA Cares commercials seems to be the only home-building in the Big Easy, the rise in price attributable to the decreased supply. The increased cost of a home has then slowed the already-glacial migration back to New Orleans following Katrina. The Tyson Chandler attempted trade was just another symptom.

Detroit- So goes Detroit, so goes the streak. February 4th saw the end of what was 259 consecutive reagular and post-season sell-outs for the Pistons. NBA.com recently publishedan article on the tough times ahead for Detroit basketball and things look grim; the 0-16 Lions are actually taking in more cash than the Pistons. Yes, the Pistons have over $36 million coming off the books next year with the expiring contracts of A.I., Sheed, McDyess and Walter Hermann and you have to applaud Dumars for being ahead of the curve, making his salary dump trade early in the season while GMslike Steve Kerr and Kiki Vanderweghe waited too long and were left holding the bag when the best that could be expected, let’s be honest to ourselves here, was a low playoff seed and a first-round exit. The Pistons are in full-scale rebuilding mode and with the 27th pick plus three second-rounders in the 2009 draft, it’s unlikely that those cap savings will be anything more than a cushion against what could be a crippling few years.

Washington- This seems counter-intuative. The D.C.-Metro area is one of the new urban centers in the country actually projecting growth over the next year, showing unemployment rates at percentage points below the national average. But unlike other regions holding steady (Houston, Dallas…), much of D.C.’s growth can be attributed to spending by the federal government- not the sort of dough that gets spent on corporate skyboxes. There will still be law firms, accounting firms and lobbiestswho will re-up those season deals but the future doesn’t look as bright as other regions that don’t demand a level of transparency. Combine this with a committmentof over $75 million next year, $16 million dedicated to Mr. Glass, a high draft pick with guaranteed money and attendance in the bottom third of the league and, unless an off-season trade brings them the relief they’ll need, the Wizards are in for a rough 09-10.

Miami- Not every franchise looking to borrow has the outward signs of fullscale economic meltdown. While Miami’s housing market was hammered over the past six months, many of the property owners were investors, not Miami residents. Further, Miami’s real estate market tends to be high-end so even a drop in value may not preclude Miamiansfrom making it to the American Airlines Arena. Oh, and the Heat just took on around $34 million worth of Jermaine O’Nealover this year and next, not the sign of a franchise underwater. So why does Miami make the list? They want a bridge. With their sights set on the summer of 2010, having the flexibility of some league bread over the next year allows them to float along next year or, if Riles is feeling punchy, make that much-rumored run at Carlos Boozer this off-season.

Los Angeles Clippers- The curse, dear Baron, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are Clippers. Los Angeles is in a similar situation as Miami. L.A. home values are depressed by more than 30% compared to last year but the difference between this depression and that of Miami is that these homes tend to be primary residences, not vacation homes. Foreclosures have yet to peak and the city faces double-digit employment in the very near future. Were the Clippers the only show in town, the slowdown might be tolerable but the Lakerseat up much of the available basketball revenue, averaging about 3,500 more tickets sold per game, with the highest average price in the league, the Lakers take in about $112,000 per game in ticket sales alone- that’s approximately one Steve Novak per every seven games. The Clippers also have some of the most significant contract commitments over the next two seasons ($30 million for Baron and Z-Bo alone in 10/11) and little hope of making the playoffs, there’s every reason to believe LAC would like to work with a safety net for a while.

Indiana- The Pacers looked primed for a playoff run this year. They have an emerging star in Danny Granger, serviceable bigs and a system that seems to play to the strengthsof the team. 56 games into the season, Granger is taking a few weeks off, Dunleavy is done for the season and the Pacers are on pace for a truly disappointing season. Home prices have remained comparatively stable in the region but wage shrinkage has limited household disposable income, not a great sign for a franchise that ranked in the bottom three in attendance for the past three seasons. Indiana’s manufacturing sector might benefit from President Obama’s “Buy American” provisions but it won’t be enough to grant comfort to a franchise who will likely have to work to avoid the luxury tax next season.

Golden State- There are no better fans in the league than those packing Oracle Arena every game. You can’t doubt their passion but we might have to start questioning their wallet. The Oakland/ San Fran housing market was torpedoed in Q4 ’08, job growth has slowed and unemployment is ballooning. Low ticket prices could keep attendance in the top third of the league but season ticket renewals are suspected to be down and corporate sponsorship has declined. Along with all this, Chris Mullin likely won’t be able to push the franchise under the cap this year unless Jamal Crawford opts out. Unless Monta Ellis has an obscene year in 09/10 and Mullin is able to sign a clever one-year deal (Rasheed Wallace or Lamar Odom, perhaps?), it will likely be back to the lottery for The City both this year and next.

Charlotte- This is a strange situation. Wall Street South was hurt badly by the purchase of Wachovia by Wells Fargo and Bank of America’s stock devaluation, as many BofA workers counted the high value of compensatory stock as their primary source of wealth. That said, there are some silver linings. Bank of America is aggressive in acquiring devalued assets which they hope to turn around and other finance firms are looking to move operations to the city and take advantage of a highly-skilled but currently displaced workforce. It would be nice to say this is partly the reason the Bobcats stockpiled overpriced vets during the season but the disappointing answer is likely that these are “Larry Brown Guys” and that’s the essence of the team’s current strategy. If you’re going to go that route and have attendance numbers that hover among the worst in the association, an infusion of cash to help address the red of basic operating costs should be the way to go.

Minnesota- This team wouldn’t have been listed prior to the McHale Surge. They’ve got a low cap number, a fair amount of cheap talent and desirable expiring contracts next year in Mike Miller and Brian Cardinal, prime targets for teams looking forward to, say it with me, the summer of 2010. So why are the T’Wolves on the list? Look for them to be active this offseason. With McHale now on the bench and young players like Kevin Love and Rodney Carney contributing, GM McHale might look to give Coach McHale a hand by throwing some money around and bringing in a vet or two. But if you build it, it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Despite a robust package heading their way from Obama’s stimulus package, unemployment is rising and it will take more than building a highway to get fans to the arena on nights when the Celtics aren’t in town. If McHale can time this right, he could have a rising franchise just has his city  is feeling a real economic boost. And if he doesn’t? Well, we’re going to need a bigger bailout.

New York- Really? The Knicks? The New York Knicks? New York should be raking it in. They have the second-highest average ticket price in the league and consistently rank in the top third in attendance. They play in the world’s most famous arena and sell more merchandise than few NBA teams. Sure, the New York economy has been hit as bad as anyone but the Knickerbockers are no Broadway show. That’s not the point though. Like a pampered prep school graduate, the Knicks are looking at a gap year. The world knows the Knicks are looking for two or maybe even three max contracts in two summers and have done everything they can to position themselves. That means taking on a lot of junk this year. The Knicks aren’t in trouble but it’s easy to see them looking for some extra capital to shore things up this year and next before they sign LeBron, Wade, Amare, Bosh, Yao and Darko. What, you didn’t know Darko’s contract was up after next season? Get with the program.

 

UPDATE:  Today is the day!

The WNBA: Expect Overtime.

Posted June 27, 2008 by PC
Categories: Leaguewide issues

I watched the NBA draft last night. So did you. You’ll find no Draft Night Scorecard’s here. No discussion of length. No Jay Bilas. This blog has no motor.

That said, I did learn three things from last night:
1. About 30 kids who can’t legally drink just made more money in one night than I will ever earn in my lifetime.
2. We really won’t be able to judge the depth of this draft for 5-6 years because that’s when most of the players who make up this supposed depth will be entering their prime.
3. The WNBA can sneak up on you.

Let me explain the third one. I watched last night’s draft with my soccer-crazy room mate and he insisted we switch to the ESPN2 coverage of FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo. I was fine with this until I realized the lead-in to the MLS game was what would become a 3 OT game between the New York Liberty and the Indiana Fever (No, they didn’t once play the Flint Tropics). This is possibly the worst “the-game-before-the-game-you-wanted-to-watch-is-in-overtime” option in American sports; the ironic thing is that MLS qualifies for the top 5 in this category too.

From what I’ve seen, most WNBA games tend to follow one of two paths: a 20 point blowout or a one-point score differential with 2 minutes on the clock that ends without either team scoring despite both teams getting at least two offensive possessions each and the coaches taking a cumulative 7 timeouts. Everyone moves at 3/4 speed until there is 7 seconds left on the shot clock in a mode that makes me wonder if there was some misunderstanding of the “7 Seconds or Less” concept. This is when we either get the dribble drive for a missed lay-up or a kick-out to the perimeter for a deep three. Just how they drew it up, right? Good thing we can tell for sure.

While the NBA broadcasts halftime pep talks or a coach arguing a bad call with the ref, the WNBA actually wires the coaches in the huddle and broadcasts their in-huddle play-calling live. Of course, the majority of these broadcasts is “Janel? You’re here. Essense? You’re here. Ebony? Ebony? You’re here. Now Shemeka, you need to prevent the inbounds pass. Okay. Teamwork on three. One. Two. Three. Teamwork!” I imagine Phil Jackson’s huddles sound similar. I also believe in 9/11 conspiracies and think Jimmy Fallon really is as funny as he thinks he is.

ANYWAY, every time we flipped from the draft to ESPN2 with the expectation that the game would be over, there they were, glacially pushing the ball up the floor and looking for their double-covered teammate for the hasty jumper. The highlight came in the third overtime when the Liberty made a deep three and seemingly ended the streak of identical even-numbered points accumulated by each team during the first two overtimes. This was immediately followed by a foul and 1-2 from the line and we’re back in business.

Watching this made me wonder how far off we are from a WNBA game going into 12+ overtimes with neither team scoring for successive periods. Could you imagine that? Europeans would love it. Just like Kosta Koufos.

Shaq’s Ass

Posted February 15, 2008 by PC
Categories: Phoenix Suns

Sports Illustrated’s time as the premier source for sports news has passed. While their print version is vastly superior to the New York Post of sporting magazines, the guys in Stanford have the digital scene locked up. This is the world in which we live.

That said, you can always cull one or two delectable tidbits from each issue. This week: Shaq’s biggest problem isn’t his age, his conditioning or his inability to dunk anymore- it’s his butt muscles. According to Phoenix medical staff, “He has a weakness in his gluteus muscles.” Stop giggling. I’m not kidding. And put that National Geographic down. You all have detention!

Seriously, can we really believe this? The Diesel’s derriere is what’s been causing his glacial pace this season? Are we sure it’s not from sitting on the bench all season?

I’ll believes is when I sees it.

Who Wears Short Shorts? Who Cares?

Posted December 31, 2007 by PC
Categories: Leaguewide issues

The Celtics beat the Lakers 110-91 last night,  capping a physical 4-0 road-trip for the Green with each game chippier than the last. More importantly, I think I caught a glimpse of Sasha Vujacic’s ballsack.

Last night was thrown further back than any previous promotional night, taking the NBA’s current obsession with dressing players in uniform styles worn by teams with a national fanbase. Not only did the Laker Girls dress in vintage dance team attire. Not only did Phil Jackson regain the ability to walk five steps without crumpling to the floor in excruciating pain. Not only did… The Lakers wore short shorts. That’s where we were going with this.

The game itself was fun to watch. The Celts scored 110 with only 13 coming from the bench. Reserve PG Tony Allen played 42 minutes and scored 16 points before fouling out. Kobe was held to 6-25 from the floor and 0-6 beyond the arc. Andrew Bynum also fouled out with only 8 points and 2 rebounds, forcing L.A. to go to the bench early and often. It wasn’t Magic’s baby hook or Havlicek’s steal but it was worth the time it took to play. Yet every recap I’ve read, the game is glossed over in favor of the shorts. It was like ever article was ghostwritten by Paul Lukas. What a travesty.

But not really. Basketball is a game. In The Breaks of the Game, David Halberstam gives his account of the history of basketball up through the late 70s. In in, he writes:

Television had changed the nature of the audience too, from a tiny handful of passionate fans who went to live games and paid real money, and insisted on real performances, to millions and millions of watchers, loosely connected to the game, who sat in their homes and accepted what a given network offered because it happened at the moment to be somewhat more pleasing (or less displeasing) than what the other networks were showing.

While I can’t account for the passion or even existence of the cro-magnon fan Halberstam describes, it’s clear he saw the evolution, or devolution, of the game in 1981. The obsession with short shorts are an illustration and an aftershock.

We, the writers of Rebuilding Year, care about the game of basketball; we appreciate the precision of a good forward pass.  We’ve also written more about the New York Knicks than any other team this year. They’re a poor collection of players who play an unexciting brand of basketball and often make fundamental mistakes which put them in the hole early only to pout about it during the game. But everything they do off the court- from “You getting in the car or what?” to “Get me out of here. Please get me out of here.” – is fascinating.  And we like to write about what we find fascinating. 

It isn’t fascinating as a basketball fan though; it is fascinating as sniffers of dirty laundry. My interest in international basketball is nil except during international competitions in which NBA players are involved, which foreign players may be drafted and the occasional game of Pin Paul Shirley on the Euroleague Team. Despite the focus on fundamentals and team play, this form of “pure” basketball lacks the style and flash of today’s NBA. I never much cared for George Mikan.

More than any other large domestic sports organization, the NBA sells a product more happening than sport. David Stern, meet Allan Kaprow. The sport itself is the foundation but the dance teams and the t-shirt guns and Derek Fisher wearing hot pants can easily become the focus. For everyone, fans and players alike. The Lakers wore the short shorts, knowing they would make them feel uncomfortable, feeling  “naked” according to Kobe. But they did it because they’re performance artists.

That’s where the conflict comes, the disconnect fans and athletes always seem to have. We’re inclined to complain about players not playing hard or maintaining a commitment to winning (It’s Vin-sanity!) yet our fanhood is just as fickle.In this same game (were the uniform styles reversed and the final scores flipped, it would be known as ShortShortsGate), everyone played physical, Garnett was split open above the eye and Lamar Odom speared Ray Allen to the ground like he was Bill Goldberg.  You only need watch the game to see the majority of players truly invested in the outcome but we’re more interested in short shorts. Right, Chris Broussard?

The worst part of all is how reasonable this all is. Basketball players are business men and be it Damon Jones refusing to come off the bench or Alonzo Mourning throwing in the towel, they’ll always do what they believe is best for them.  As fans, we say we want the best for our team but we really want what’s best for us, the happening with the highest subjective entertainment value. Some of us enjoyed the game while some of us enjoyed the happening and we did so because both were there to enjoy.

Merry Christmas

Posted December 25, 2007 by PC
Categories: Leaguewide issues

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Miami @ Cleveland – 2:30 PM

Phoenix @ L.A. Lakers – 5:00 PM

Seattle @ Portland – 8:00 PM

And to all a good night.

Do Over

Posted December 21, 2007 by JR
Categories: Leaguewide issues

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The Miami Heat are formally protesting a recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks and are asking the NBA to replay the game. You can read more about it here

I had no idea this option was available to teams. Is it too late to replay Game 3 of the Spurs-Suns playoff game??

Zo

Posted December 20, 2007 by JR
Categories: Archives

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My cohort beat me to it below but I just wanted to spotlight this video.

It’s all you need to watch to understand Zo as a warrior/poet and how his defensive energy was key to Miami’s 2006 title.

Enjoy retirement Zo – We’ll miss your spirit.


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