On the evening the NBA lockout started, our conversation centered around owners vs. players. Did you favor the owners' attempts to force a hard cap on the players, or the players' refusal to accept the huge cuts the owners were demanding? Frequent commenter jc79 astutely noted that:
An excellent point, and one that Kelly Dwyer echoed in a piece posted this morning to Yahoo Sports. The NFL lockout was settled with the loss of only one preseason game, the only other impact being that their free agent signing period has been tightly compacted. All in all, the NFL lockout left most parties largely unscathed. That probably won't be the case in the NBA labor dispute, in large part because NBA owners haven't figured out revenue sharing the way NFL owners have.
For good measure, Dwyer pounds on our beloved owner Robert Sarver for his perceived mismanagement of Suns' finances, and questions why other owners would be willing to share revenue with Sarver only to see him "needlessly overpaying for middling talent".
Follow the jump for more on the potential infighting among the owners.
Much like Wil's story Sunday night regarding the players potentially decertifying the union, I'm sorry to report that there isn't a lot of optimism in Dwyer's piece. As neither the owners or players are unified among themselves, and since little is being lost by either side yet, meaningful, productive negotiations are not close to starting. Dwyer:
The factions are just too far apart -- and we're not talking about the players and owners. The owners and owners have to come up with a better revenue sharing system, and swallow the fact that certain owners ignored the dozens of ways small market owners failed to take advantage of the myriad ways to improve a team all without spending like the New York Yankees.
The interesting twist here is that Dwyer's not blaming large market owners for helping to ensure their teams' success by using their bountiful resources to hold onto players even as they go over the cap, driving salaries up overall. Instead, he's blaming middle and small market owners for failing to take advantage of ways to improve without spending a lot. Here, he calls out Sarver specifically:
You think the Los Angeles Lakers want to send a single penny to Phoenix's way after Suns owner wildly overpaid for the team years ago, then spent the next six years either needlessly overpaying for middling talent or outright selling off draft picks to add to his bottom line? Why should they help fund Phoenix's stubborn choice to hang onto Steve Nash(notes) instead of parlaying their best asset into something that can help them become a better (and, holy cow, cheaper) basketball team?
At the risk of sounding like a Sarver apologist (I'm not really, and freely acknowledge his mistakes), this isn't entirely fair. First, yes, it's possible to field a competitive team without being in a huge market or going overboard on salaries. Teams like the Spurs, Jazz and, yes, the Suns have helped prove this point. But the fact that the highest paid teams seem to always reside at the top of the standings is evidence that having the ability to spend a lot surely provides an advantage. Building a sustainable winner can be done without a huge market enhancing a team's revenue stream, but it leaves little room for error.
As I have written here before, all 9 of the teams who exceeded the salary cap last year made the playoffs. When those teams are in doubt about whether to pay a player, they err on the side of keeping him. Smaller revenue teams don't have that luxury, and that luxury helped the Mavericks to be one of the league's deepest teams in their championship run last year. Making the best of the salary level you can afford to pay is one thing, but lower revenue teams are still screwed when the high revenue teams also maximize their value. It's not possible to compete, at least not for a championship.
Dwyer's suggestion that the Suns trade Nash, and that doing so would help them become a better and cheaper team is oversimplified at best, and asinine at worst. There is little chance that trading a 37-year old Nash will return the Suns a bevy of blue-chip young players or premium draft picks. Nash is almost certainly worth more to the Suns than he is to any other team. Furthermore, it's highly unlikely that the Suns could replace what Nash provides on the court and at the box office for the $11M Nash is due next year. The conventional wisdom that a team on the decline should trade its most valuable veteran player doesn't always hold true, and it doesn't in this case.
It's true that the owners need to put their house in order and get serious about revenue sharing to be able to arrive at a lockout settlement anytime soon, and for the league to have more competitive balance. Blaming the middle and small market owners for the way they're being streamrolled by large market owners won't help the owners get to that point.
As the NBA Lockout comes to a standstill, with no constructive meetings between the player's union and the league likely to occur until lost games and lost paychecks are imminent, the Greed Theatre between the players and the owners grows, furthering the contempt and mistrust of loyal NBA fans everywhere.
Matt Moore from ProBasketballTalk recently wrote an article about NBA agents having a principle role in creating what eventually was partially responsible for the lockout: wanting the most money and the longest-term contracts possible for their players, and thus taking advantage of a broken system to guarantee that.
Moore interestingly seperates the "sides" in the NBA Lockout Greed Theatre into not two, but six pieces: " the rich owners, the poor owners, the moderate owners, the superstar players, the role players, and… the agents". Each piece plays a part, each piece wants the most money possible, and everyone knows that it's simply not possible for everyone to get their way. That's why negotiation is a lofty but reasonable goal: because in this lockout, nobody is going to score a home run.
The drama that we're seeing now is nothing compared to what it will be in a few weeks when additional pressure on the players, agents, and owners causes everyone to lose. Then all we can do is sit back and watch the action unfold, hoping that someone will fold.
One of the most significant and contentious issues facing the Phoenix Suns and their plans for the future is the decision they must make about the two-time league MVP, seven-time NBA all-star, and current face of the franchise, Steve Nash. The 37 year-old veteran point guard is currently under contract with the Suns until the end of the 2011/12 season (assuming it is played), and although his age may cause some people to question his worth, Nash has shown little if any signs of slowing down. Steve has lead the NBA in assists in five of the last seven seasons, including the last two in a row. He has also continued to shoot the ball at a very high level with .492% FG, .395% 3pt, and .912% FT stats in the 2010/11 season.
Michael Schwartz from the blog Valley of the Suns recently wrote an article detailing the three options the Phoenix Suns are currently facing regarding Steve Nash. First, the Suns could choose to trade Nash either before the season or prior to the trade deadline in exchange for another star player and or future draft picks. Second, the Suns could re-sign Nash to a two or three year extension and allow him to retire as a Sun. And finally, the Suns could opt to simply let Steve Nash walk at the end of this season to save cap room going into the 2012 summer of free agency in hopes of landing another superstar.
Steve Nash has proven that he is still one of the best offensive point guards in the league, but without any other legitimate stars playing along side him there is little hope of winning a championship. With the Suns' decision to let fellow perennial all-star Amare Stoudemire sign with the New York Knicks before the start of last season, rather than to offer a guaranteed max contract deal, the Phoenix Suns all but conceded their quest for a title and instead chose to re-build. Many people believe that it makes much more sense at this point to either trade Nash for value in return, or to let him walk at the end of the season and officially rebuild. But with Steve Nash being the only real draw left for season ticket holders and merchandise purchasing, can the Suns afford to lose him?
I have no worthwhile haikus to contribute this month. I am so sorry I’ve failed you. Actually I don’t *really* care, but I want to be consistent – so please feel free to add your own in comments as usual. Also, I should mention that I’ve spent most of the last few months on vacation and/or working very hard, so basketball has taken a backseat lately to exploring new restaurants in big (actual) cities and bitch-slapping deadlines that try to bring me down. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Until we get some momentum on the upcoming, slow/late starting season, my haikus will be more like hai-poos. Oh, me.
We’ll start out easy:
Hot but not humid
Typical Phoenix summer
Still waiting for rain
Come on, it’s just blowing dust
Phew, I wasn’t here
It rained after all!
But only for ten minutes
And that’s all we’ll get
Then add some Suns references:
When I heard the news
(NBA released schedule)
I smashed butterflies
No October games…
Halloween will take their place
It is just so sad
Paychecks will go missing soon
Our team grows older
Waiting for resolve
And to wrap it up:
Unless it was one of those
Britney Spears moments
Our resident thesaurus
Verbose and prolix…
I hope my fellow BSotS are enjoying summer, despite the current state of NBAffairs.