New QB, Brighter Future. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Amid all the post-lockout chaos in NFL rosters, you must be wondering how this correlates to the NBA, when they finally resolve their debt-ceiling debate CBA negotiations.

Will NBA free agency be a whirl-wind of chaos just like the NFL this past week? The Arizona Cardinals have signed 51 of 90 training-camp players in the last 5 days. At least 6 of them are starters and a dozen more are regular rotation players.

One similarity is certain: the NBA free agency period post-lockout will be just as abbreviated as the NFL's (one week or less before training camp begins). Free agency will be a free-for-all. Guys will sign contracts and go directly to training camp. No waiting to see how it turns out. No prosthletizing over "fit" and chemistry. BOOM. Answers within days instead of months.

But will we see new signings every hour for a week? No

Major roster turnover on nearly every team in the league? No.

Fortunes and futures changing in the span of mere days? No

As long as the NBAPA and player-agents have a say in the matter, the NBA will never be as sexy (and solvent, and competitive) as the NFL.

Here's why...

1. The NFL does not guarantee salaries for the length of the contract; whereas nearly every NBA contract is 100% guaranteed

In the NFL, nearly every player has to earn his paycheck year over year. There are no guaranteed contracts beyond year one after your rookie contract expires. That's why player-agents and NFL front offices use huge signing bonuses. Nearly 40% of many contracts are paid on day one as a signing bonus, which for cap purposes can be spread out over the length of the contract's term even though the money is in the player's hand already.

Consider Kevin Kolb, the recently acquired QB who got $21 million last week for every win on his NFL resume ($63 million for a lifetime total of 3 wins as a starting QB). Sounds crazy right? Not really. Only $21 million of that is guaranteed (signing bonus, year 1 salary, year 2 salary). Considering a rational team would give the talented 26-yr old Kolb 2 seasons to settle in regardless of what happens, that's only $10.5 million per year for your starting QB which is about the league average for a good starter. Kyle Orton in Denver is getting nearly that much already, and what has he done? He led Denver to a 3-10 record last year.

Yet now the Cardinals have a great situation: Kolb is both a stop-gap AND long-term option. If Kolb works out as a good NFL starter, he's locked up for 5 years. If he fails, the Cardinals can start over in 2 seasons and only spend the same they would have invested in, say, Orton.

Does that happen in the NBA? No.

What's interesting is that the NBA's old CBA DID allow for non-guaranteed deals, but for some reason the NBA has never used it on a regular basis. Nearly all contracts end up guaranteed 100%, the only exceptions in the owners' favor being "early termination options" which are rarely included and even more rarely executed.

 

2. If an NFL player is not living up to his contract, he can be released in the offseason and his annual salary drops off the cap; whereas in the NBA he stays on the team at full price

Wouldn't that be nice. This is what Amare Stoudemire and the Suns haggled over last summer. Sarver wanted to give Amare a max money "NFL" contract, guaranteeing only 3 of the 5 years (no signing bonuses in the NBA). Amare wanted "an NBA contract", so he signed with the New York Knicks who were happy to give him all 5 years guaranteed.

Now Amare is on the Knicks payroll at 16-20 million a year for the 5 years, regardless of whether he plays the games or not. Eddy Curry. Allan Houston. Jerome James. Tracy McGrady. Just a few players with exorbitant contracts on the Knicks cap in recent seasons who barely contributed. And that's just one of the 30 NBA teams.

 

3. The NFL uses signing bonuses liberally, because the cap impact can be spread over the length of the contract years; the NBA... doesn't.

In the NFL, a large portion of money can be paid immediately as a signing bonus. This is a MAJOR carrot in negotiations on several fronts.

It's great for the player, because the more you get as a signing bonus, the happier you feel on day one. Like winning the lottery. Second, the more you got on day one, the more you can stomach the idea of being released a year later. Why? Cuz then someone ELSE can give you a brand new signing bonus when you sign with them.

In the NBA, there is a modest max on signing bonuses, and they count fully on the year-one cap.

 

4. More on the wonder of NFL signing bonuses

In the NFL, there is no correlation between the size of the bonus and the annual salary. The cap-hit of the bonus is spread out over the life agreed contract, regardless of how many years are guaranteed.

Example: An NFL team can sign player X to a 5-yr/$35 million contract, structured as $10 mil in signing bonus, then $5 mil per year for 5 years ($35 million total contract). Player A takes home $15 mil in year one, then is scheduled for $5 mil per year for 4 more years (none guaranteed). The team's cap hit in each year, including year one, is $7 million.

The team now has options. If player X is not worth a $7 mil cap hit in a subsequent year, just release him and his cap hit drops to $2 mill (the prorated signing bonus "money", commonly called "dead money"). The team can now spend $5 mill on anyone they want to replace the released player. BAM.

Wouldn't that be a nice option with Josh Childress (not that I want Childress gone - I love that guy), or Marcus Banks before him?

The player is happy cuz he got $15 million for one year's work. The team is happy cuz they can replace him if he doesn't work out.

 

5. Restructured contracts make everyone happy

Of course, (taking that same example above) sometimes the player is worth a lot MORE than the $5 million you're paying him in those later years. And sometimes that player gets REALLY unhappy about it. This happened with Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett of the Cardinals in recent seasons. They all "forgot" about the big day-one payout on their first non-rookie contract and started complaining with several years left on their deals.

The team has options there too. The first option is to make the player finish his contract. Teams has control in all cases. Dansby, Dockett and Boldin had to play for Arizona or no one.

The second option is to restructure, giving the player another pot-o-gold bonus while the team can once again spread the cap hit across multiple additional seasons. Dockett was rewarded this way because he was a professional and never held out of camp. Boldin complained regularly, was never renegotiated and eventually got traded. Dansby just kept signing his Franchise tenders, then bolted when he was able.

 

Summary

That's just a few of the differences between the NFL world and the NBA world. Due to guaranteed contracts, NBA owners are over a barrel, completely help captive by the players they've signed, and limited in their rebuilding efforts.

Here's hoping an outcome of the new CBA is more closely align with the NFL's much more successful version.

I'll share this again:

Rebuilding and competing in the NBA is hard. In the NBA, two teams have won half the championships (LA and Boston) in its history. In the NFL, there have been 10 different NFC representatives in the last 10 Super Bowls. And half the league has won a championship in the last 30 years. Half the league. Now THAT'S competitive balance.


When the Phoenix Suns were preparing for June’s draft, general manager Lance Blanks made it perfectly clear that his team needed to improve in the post. That viewpoint became all the more...

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NBPA President Derek Fisher and Executive Director Billy Hunter hope to address systematic issues rather than detailed finances in Monday's meeting.

Well, at least they're meeting.

A month after NBA owners locked their players out as the former CBA expired, owners and union representatives have a negotiating session scheduled for Monday in New York. Union President Derek Fisher, Executive Director Billy Hunter and league commissioner David Stern are expected to attend, but Fisher has announced modest goals for the session. As per Royce Young of cbssports.com:

"It's more about getting the process started again," he (Fisher) continued. "Kind of rolling the sleeves back up and starting to do the hard work that it's going to take to try and get something done between now and October 1st or when the start of training camp would be. I don't know if there's going to be any major movement on Monday."

That's not exactly cause for optimism, but conversation is better than no conversation. After the last month, which had zero progress of any kind aside from a lot of players making noise about playing overseas and the owners essentially saying, "go ahead, and tell us how that works out for you", getting the parties to the table is a start. But of course, it's only a start in what figures to be a protracted conflict. Neither side has much interest in making real compromises now because nobody's incurring any serious losses yet.

Not all analysts are so pessimistic about the prospects of a settlement. Memphis Grizzlies beat reporter Ronald Tillery is convinced that, because Hunter and Stern learned valuable lessons from the 1998-99 lockout and want to avoid repeating the same mistakes, no more than a month of regular season games will be missed. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

If any games are lost, I'd give it a month tops. I'm in the minority in terms of being an optimist about this situation. Sure, the NBA is looking to radically change its financial structure, unlike the NFL's simple dilemma of slicing the pie. It's a much harder situation to agree on in the NBA. But having worked the 1999 lockout, I just believe that all of the key negotiators know what's at stake.

I wish I could say I agree with that, but I think it's most likely that the pressure to settle won't really be on until closer to the end of 2011 and the end of football season, the time of the year when interest in the NBA tends to take off.

In fact, I'd suggest you go ahead and grab a Snickers. It's gonna be awhile.


According to a short blurb found on the popular basketball blog Hoopsworld, Phoenix Suns' point guard Aaron Brooks is supposedly considering an offer from a team in China to come and play overseas during the NBA lockout.  The report also mentions that he is already very popular in China due to playing with his former teammate Yao Ming and his success with the Houston Rockets in the 2009/10 season.

Earlier this week, Brooks also expressed his desire to re-sign with the Suns when interviewed at a Charity Basketball event in Seattle.  However, with the NBA lockout in full effect and no resolution in sight, Brooks like many other players around the league may very well be weighing his options for the near future...Including the possibility of signing overseas.

Although many people have mixed emotions about the possibility of NBA players playing overseas, this could be advantageous for Brooks.  After suffering an injury last season and then coming back with a disappointing performance in both Houston and then Phoenix, Brooks may benefit from the additional playing time.  Time will tell if he ultimately decides to go overseas, but playing in China during the lockout may give him the chance to get comfortable on the court again, and regain his confidence after such a difficult year.

Source:  Hoopsworld 

 

 


Football fans everywhere rejoiced Monday when the NFL lockout officially ended with nothing more than one exhibition game missed. That outcome of what was an ugly situation may have provided...

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