Blog Entry

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Posted on: July 2, 2011 2:34 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 4:55 pm

Posted by EOB Staff

Well, now you've done it, NBA. You've locked out the players with neither side willing to budge. The owners want to set back decades of negotiations to the Stone Age by implementing a hard cap and decreasing the players' share of the profits. The players want everything to remain the same, basically, and not to lose their diamond-studded shirts. This thing's going to take a while. That's pretty clear. 

So we thought instead of us just sitting around moaning about this lockout, which, trust us, we're going to do, we'd actually do something positive. In that spirit, we thought we'd take a look at what we feel the owners and players should work on changing about the NBA, while they're locked out. As long as you're blowing up the NBA universe and starting over, you might as well be comprehensive about it. 

From Matt Moore:

Finally Put Up For The D-League -- The owners like it because it gives them somewhere to stash talent they can keep an eye on. The league likes it because it helps reduce the bust rate. The coaches like it because it gives them somewhere to send head cases when they're bugging them. The players like it because it means more jobs, conceivably. So why on earth won't both sides agree to substantial changes to the NBA D-League to make it a true development system?

Whenever the NBA starts up again, the following teams will own either part or all of their D-League affiliate: the Lakers, the Spurs, the Warriors, the Thunder, the Mavericks, the Nets, and the Knicks. That's seven out of 30 possible teams, leaving only nine D-League teams without an owner, and forcing 23 NBA teams to share those nine teams. Clearly, there's a trend towards buying in. 

When you look at the number of players out of the draft each year who bust, wouldn't it be worth investing in a legitimate development system so that those players can grow into the players teams need them to be before they're cast aside? But the keys to a viable D-League don't just end with actual development. Elton Brand, among others, has expressed a willingness in the past to play for a D-League team while rehabbing from injury. Instead of forcing a player back early, where coaches will be nearly forced to overplay them to try and win games, the D-League could serve the same function as minor league baseball, helping players recover from injury on a timeline, with controlled minutes and longer rest. Worried about a player's conditioning coming back from a year-long absence? Instead of having him sit in a suit game after game, have him go five minutes at a time for a week in the D-League, then 10, then 20, before returning to the main club. 

Most confusing about the lack of progress for the D-League is just how cheap it is. Essentially, for the cost of a single year of Sasha Vujacic, you could not only buy a D-League franchise or set one up from scratch, but actually make substantial improvements in training, staff, travel and organizational structure. Everything is cheap in the league, and cutting corners won't set you back.

Instead of wasting two roster spots for guys who sit on the bench in a league that doesn't really practice all that much, assign two roster-spots to the D-League. Those players are paid under $1 million on non-guaranteed contracts (just like most mid-season call-ups), and if they are brought up, another non-guaranteed player is sent down, if applicable. Teams can also develop coaching staff at that level as well. 

The league has flourished under Dan Reed, and has proven it can work as a development system for talent. Look at Aaron Brooks, Reggie Williams, Jordan Farmar for starters. It's time the NBA and the players' association actually commits to it. 

Close The Trade-Buyout-Re-Sign Loophole -- This one's tricky to deal with, but it needs to be expressed, if only for the sake of not annoying us. You throw an aging, expiring contract in as filler for a trade. That player agrees to a buyout with the salary-shredding team that traded for him and waives him. The player then returns to the team he was traded from and immediately re-signs. It's pointless, it's ridiculous, it needs to go away. Either we need more lax agreements on trade rules to allow these deals to go through without needing those players traded, or a measure to prevent the teams from re-signing that player. I don't believe it's any sort of unfair advantage like some coaches do, any team can pull off the same type of deal. But it still seems skuzzy and takes away from the integrity of the game for very little advantage, in a way that could be avoided. Player movement needs to be maintained under the new CBA (beware the hard-cap), but this is one facet that could use a little more restriction. 

From Ben Golliver:

Season-Ending Injury -- In recent years, both the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers have dealt with serious rashes of injuries that, at times, made it difficult to field a full roster of healthy players. The NBA currently has an emergency system in place to help teams who lose multiple players to extended injuries: the league grants a "hardship exemption", which temporarily creates a roster spot until a player comes back healthy. This system is a bit cumbersome, forcing teams to sign and waive players regularly and really only serves as a stopgap solution when disaster strikes multiple players. A better idea would be to allow a team to slap a "season-ending injury" designation on a player, subject to league approval. Once approved by the league, that player would be removed from the team's 15-man roster for the rest of the season, freeing up a spot for the team to sign a replacement player. The current system penalizes a team twice when a player suffers a season-ending injury: They suffer both the loss of the player and the difficulty of replacing him. This tweak wouldn't fix the first issue (nothing can heal injuries) but would alleviate the second problem. If a team had a rash of injuries at a particular position, they could go out and find the best available replacement player at that position rather than scrambling together unconventional lineups made up of their current healthy players. Ideally, teams would be able to do this up to two times a season.

International Buy-Outs -- Ask almost any top European player and they will say that it is their dream to play in the NBA. Ask almost any NBA executive and they will tell you they are committed to scouring the globe to find the best available talent. The only thing standing between the two sides in this globalized, modern reality? Complicated buyouts inserted into European contracts and an arcane NBA rule which says teams can only contribute $500,000 to help a player out of his contract. The current system is incredibly inefficient and leads to worst-case scenarios like the Ricky Rubio situation, which dominated headlines for multiple years, tying up the Minnesota Timberwolves and causing his stock to plummet on draft night because teams were uncertain about his contract status. With the rising size of buyouts, there's no question the $500,000 limit needs to be raised. To where? $1 million? $2 million? One idea is to simply not cap the contribution amount in any way. There is serious merit to this idea. European players already sacrifice financially when they come to the United States because they are subject to lower-dollar rookie deals when drafted. Often, stars are taking a pay cut to follow their dream. Asking them to contribute their own money to the buyout on top of that to make the transition is excessive. If an NBA team wants a player, it should bear the full financial burden of acquiring him. Will European teams respond by increasing their buyouts even further? Possibly. But competition between European clubs for a young star's services should keep the buyouts at a reasonable level if it's clear that player is using his time in Europe as a stepping stone to the NBA.

Revenue Sharing -- An article wrote that there is a "chasm" between the owners and players in their labor negotiations. There's a similar canyon between small-market owners and big-market owners in terms of revenue generating potential, especially when it comes to television deals. The NBA has preached its commitment to creating a new system where all 30 teams have the opportunity to compete for a title -- a noble goal. That can only happen when all 30 teams have a more equal ability to spend on player salaries. On their new TV deal, the Lakers will make $150 million a year, more than enough to cover their $90 million payroll (which is tops in the league). A small market team might be lucky to make $10 to 15 million per year on its TV deal, which equates to roughly one-third of their payroll. Expecting the Lakers and other big-market teams to make up all the difference between the two poles is excessive, but surely there's a compromise that can be reached to make the division more equitable. The only viable alternative is contraction, which is a far worse eventuality for the league, even if its big-dollar teams might not think so.

From Royce Young:

No more inactive lists -- Can anyone really explain the point of this to me? Why are teams allowed 15 roster spots but three of those guys can't dress? What sense does that make? 

Those final three guys aren't going to play much anyway, but take a team that has a project big man on the roster. Every night, he's in a suit. But in certain blowout situations, it would probably be nice to get him two or three minutes of run. Except you can't, because he's wearing dress shoes and a tie.

I suppose it requires a bit of strategy in the end for a coach to select guys to be active, but that's just silly. Maybe it's an owner thing. If coaches could dress 15 guys, more teams would fill up the roster meaning more salaries for an owner to pay. But that's a horrible reason for it.

Get rid of inactive spots and just make it a simple 15-man roster where everyone is eligible. If a guy gets hurt, add a disabled list type of place so that guy doesn't hog a roster spot, but allow everyone to dress. It definitely makes a lot more sense than forcing three guys to wear suits. 

Eliminate the second round of the NBA draft -- On the surface, this idea doesn't seem like it should matter much. All second-round contracts aren't guaranteed and all teams have are the rights to a player. But restructuring the draft to eliminate the second round helps players find a home. 

Instead of a team using the 34th pick on a good college junior because he's a good third point guard to have on the roster, if everyone was simply a free agent in the second round, that player could find a fit that's a lot better for him. 

Most second rounders don't make it anyway, but there are always five or six that are quality pickups for a team. Some get signed, some don't. And the ones that don't end up going to Europe or the D-League, sometimes because they're a small forward and were picked by the Heat. If the contracts aren't guaranteed anyway, what purpose does the second round really have other than it's decent TV?

Since: Jul 7, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2011 6:19 pm

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Let me be clear...I don't fault the ref for calling a charge when a guy flops.  That's a HARD call to make.  Sometimes they get it wrong and that will ALWAYS be the case.  I don't think the refs are trying to get those calls wrong because they like flopping.  The problem is that a PLAYER is no longer trying to beat the man in front of him......he's trying to fool the referee rather than beat his opponent according to the rules of the game.  THAT is what breaks the integrity of the competition.  The referee should not be considered by the player.

But on the other point, I agree 100%.  Refs DO call things inconsistently and it usually goes hand in hand with the status of the player.  And it's OBVIOUS to anyone with half a brain.  That's another integrity issue.

The last integrity issue I'll bring up is the draft lottery.  Why NOT hold the lottery publicly?  Why have ANY lingering doubts about whether or not it's rigged from time to time?

Since: Jun 16, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:39 pm

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

The referees are a joke.  This is by far the biggest problem in the NBA.  A foul is a foul no matter who gives or receives it.  Flopping is a joke (thanks Euros).  If the refs wouldn't call the charges on flops, players would stop flopping.  I can't decide which is worse, the player flopping or the dip ref for falling for it.  The integrity of the game is in jeopardy.

Since: Jul 7, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:06 am

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Along with the refs, which is something Mark Cuban proposed LOOOOOOOONG ago......charting them, grading them, and holding them accountable, flopping should also be addressed.

How about this:  if a player flops and GETS the call, he is suspended by the league for one game.  Flopping is a pre-meditated choice to dishonestly represent the action on the floor.  It lacks integrity, but is currently perfectly legal.  I guarantee that if a guy got suspended for a flop, it wouldn't happen..or would only happen late in the 4th quarter of a must win game...which is far less than it happens now.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2011 8:44 am

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Re: the refs;
Yes, by all means do something here, even if it is an overseer watching/fining them for poor performance.  Can we go back to calling the rule book version of "travelling"?  This "25-steps-transitioning-to-the-act-o

f-shooting" stuff they get away with just makes the game unwatchable.  Why do they bother making them dribble the ball at all?

Since: Jan 5, 2011
Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:28 pm

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Change the REFS....send them to school so that a game is called down the middle.

Stop whining because the heats experiment was a flop. the refs had nothing to do with that, if anything the refs helped the heat get that far. You're "team" didn't lose because of the refs they lost because there was a true definition of the word team that played better than three individual guys. It'll always be that way if the heat keep up this idea that three individuals can win a championship, well if they always face a total team in the finals more than likely bosh is gonna be crying on the way back to the locker room when the series is over because they'll never get a ring that way. so yeah refs aren't the problem in your case, your strategy is the problem.

Since: May 7, 2011
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:57 pm

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Michigan/Ohio You are right that right now Cleveland has nobody worth the Franchise level payment, but they might have been able to get another FA after Lebron left like Bosh, or Joe Johnson by being able to offer the full 12 million while other teams like Miami could have only offered Bosh 5 million players say money isn't the only factor in where they sign when it is a difference of 15 million vs 18 million over 6 years but when it comes to 12 million vs 5 million on a 1 year deal there won't be too many superstars leaving to take significantly less money elsewhere.

Since: Jan 27, 2008
Posted on: July 5, 2011 10:52 am

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

I LOVE the idea of making the D-League the "minor league" for the NBA.  It helps players develop and could possibly bring more revenue in for a team.  Imagine a city that doesn't have any major sports, don't you think it would be nice for them to have a D-League team.  I mean you really only need a couple of thousand fans to make it work.  You could develop a pretty good following in some cities.  I also like the idea of rehab assignments, like in the MLB.

I also really like the idea of expanding the active rosters to 15 players.  I mean why not?  No one knows who the guys are sitting behind the players in suits, why not give them the opportunity to let us know who they are.  Plus you could save important players from playing meaningless minutes.  I think the worst thing that happens to any sport is injuries.  Why not cut that possibility down but letting more guys get into the game.  Plus you never know when you might find the next diamond in the rough.  Some guys just need a chance.

Overall I think this article was very well written and has some very good ideas.  They should get these guys in there to help negotiate.  Let them be the voice of the fans.

Since: Jan 5, 2007
Posted on: July 5, 2011 6:40 am

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Change the REFS....send them to school so that a game is called down the middle.

As for your slotted salary system(Dahly).  It looks good but it would NEVER work.  Let's take the Heat and the Cavs.  So who gets the Franchise Player from the Cavs?  And either way LeBron/Wade or Wade/LeBron both have more value than any player on the Cavs.

Since: Jul 30, 2008
Posted on: July 4, 2011 3:14 pm

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Here's something that needs fixing for many years RAISE THE GOAL AT LEAST 2 FEET AND MAKE IT SOMETHING TO DUNK THE BALL AGAIN. Most of the players only have to tippy toe to dunk the Ball make it a specticle again to see a Big man Dunk the ball...I'm tired seeing smaller players behind the back under the legs and yes jumping over a car (means nothing) but made a great add for TV. Raise it and Raise the Ratings!

Since: Jul 4, 2011
Posted on: July 4, 2011 11:12 am

While you're in a lockout... other things to fix

Do you not understand what this article is about?  What you say needs to be fixed is the reason for the lock out.  What the article is talking about are other things that should be done alongside the main issues.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or