Blog Entry

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

Posted on: July 10, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 5:38 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier, we took a look at the Southeast, Atlantic and Central Divisions. Let's continue on with the rough and tumble, yet aging, Southwest Division.

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets easily present the most interesting lockout case of any team in my mind. First off, the league owns them. Secondly, and related to that, Chris Paul is a free agent in 2012. The league took on the responsibility of the Hornets because David Stern wasn't about to see a franchise lost on his watch and wants to do everything he can to keep the team there.

But a prolonged lockout resulting in a lost season really might end professional basketball in New Orleans. Chris Paul would have the ability to walk with the Hornets never having an chance to get anything in return, meaning the one draw the team has could be gone and the already struggling franchise might not have anything to show for his exit. On top of that, David West opted out and is an unrestricted free agent currently. So not only could the roster be entirely turned over, the already suspect fanbase might take another blow.

Now of course if Stern and the owners can negotiate a deal that makes a franchise like the Hornets profitable no matter what, then the league can sell the team and potentially pocket a bit. That's obviously something in the back of Stern's mind. The Hornets really make this lockout all the more intriguing because now Stern has a stake in things directly. He's not just the mediator trying to produce a good system for his league, but he's an owner too now.

Dallas Mavericks

Here's one benefit of a prolonged lockout: The Mavs get to be champs for two years instead of one. Bonus? I don't think they'd think so. Especially because the window the Mavs have to remain serious contenders isn't going to stay open much longer. Dirk is aging, Jason Kidd is like 78 and there are a bunch of questions surrounding players like Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea.

Mark Cuban is a big market owner, but I can see him as someone leaning toward making sure there is basketball over the owners guaranteeing profits. He's a fan first and foremost and he's tasted the top of the mountain. Granted, he gets the chance to soak it up a little longer, but if he wants his roster to keep going, losing a year might be the beginning of the end for the current Mavs.

San Antonio Spurs

There's no hiding that the Spurs are getting older. A year lost means another year tacked on to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. A year lost means Gregg Popovich gets a little older and as the longest tenured coach in the league, he might not have many left. The Spurs have a fanbase that will absolutely return in force and Peter Holt is maybe the finest owner in the league, especially in terms of managing a small market franchise, but I'm sure a year of lost basketball isn't something that sits well.

Holt obviously would love a system that levels the playing field a bit and helps smaller markets on the road to basking in the same light the Lakers, Bulls and Knicks get, but basketball is a priority in San Antonio. The window won't be open much longer. Even Tony Parker acknowledged that. And that roster still wants to try and make one more run at it all.

Memphis Grizzlies
Really, Michael Heisley probably isn't all that terrified from losing a season. He's a small market owner who has spent big as of late and saving money on Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley isn't all bad for him. The core of the team, sans Marc Gasol, is all locked up long-term so while a lost season would mean missing out on all the positive movement and momentum from last season, there's still a lot of opportunity ahead for Memphis.

Still, it's a risk to mess with a potentially fragile fanbase like the Grizzlies'. The FedEx Forum has never been known to be full, but during the postseason run, the Grizzlies emerged with one of the most passionate, loyal crowds in the league. There's clearly something working right now and Heisley and the Grizzlies don't want to jade and sour those fans that have come around by damaging all that goodwill they worked so hard to build.

Houston Rockets
Hard for me to guess how the Rockets see this thing. They are an in-between franchise, not necessarily small market but not big either. Their roster is set up to withstand a lockout and return with good pieces intact. They don't have any major lingering free agents of concern.

What I think would scare them a bit though is missing out on the opportunity to compete in the trade market for players like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams all season long though. The Rockets have quality trade pieces and good assets to dangle in front of teams and I'm sure Daryl Morey would have some interesting proposals to make. Sure there's always 2012's free agency but opening it up to that puts the Rockets a bit behind the other, more intriguing, brighter markets. A sign-and-trade might be their best chance to land that superstar player Morey so desperately wants.

Since: Jul 11, 2011
Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:13 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

I think what the writer is saying about markets is correct.
While Dallas and Houston are both about the same size market, (which makes both of them medium size markets), Mark Cuban spends like a big market owner.  Just look at salary cap figures.  Only the Lakers and Dallas spent north of $90 million.

For metropolitan population, both Dallas and Houston have around 6 million people, which puts them in the same approximate population level as Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, and Boston.  Officially, Houston has the 11th largest media market.

The only true large media markets are New York and Los Angeles (which have populations around the 20 million mark).

The next level has cities that have populations closer to 10 million than 5 million.  These include Chicago, Washington-Baltimore, and the San Francisco bay area. 

Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: July 11, 2011 1:39 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

I hope the Hornets do leave New Orleans.  Damn George Shinn for taking them out of the Carolinas, where the team was successful.  Well, until he started the new arena talk.  Maybe the NBA could stick them in LA so there can be three teams playing in the Staples center.  What other city could use an NBA team?  Move them north to Nashville? Pittsburgh? New York could add a team to the Bronx.  Seattle may want a team back, Cincy loves basketball right? 

Chris Paul will be a Knick the first chance he gets and the Hornets will be without their star player.  Good Luck with that. Imagine that, a player from the state of NC could ruin the franchise that was stolen from NC.

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: July 11, 2011 1:25 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

It is really hard for Hornets fans here right now. They are really pushing hard to sell season tickets but with all the uncertainty with the team and the NBA it's a tough sell. I thought that when they traded away the draft pick for cash that said they were really going to push hard for a free agent to help Paul. The Hornets do mean a lot to the city but there just doesn't seem to be the same commitment to winning that the Saints finally showed the last few years. Still we would hate to see them go. Hopefully both the NBA and the NFL come to their senses soon.

Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:40 am

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

I pity Hornets fans.

Regardless of whether there is a season or not, the Hornets are in serious trouble. David West is all but out the door, and CP3 is very unhappy and the team has done very little to quell his frustration. Trading their only pick away for cash considerations sealed the deal in my mind, NOLA management aren't willing to work hard to keep Chris Paul content. After all that I knew that Paul is gone, 100%, no question about it. It now is just a matter of how he goes, and when he goes. I would like to think quietly in a trade for picks and some decent talent, but knowing this franchise it'll likely be after a blowout or outburst and he'll be let go with the Hornets getting nothing in return.

Seriously, the only team that has worse management in the NBA than the Hornets are the Raptors, although the T-Wolves certainly can do some awful things too. 

Since: Feb 7, 2007
Posted on: July 10, 2011 10:11 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: July 10, 2011 9:26 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

Houston and Dallas are.   

San Antonio... despite being technically one of the 10 largest cities in the US for some time now, is not a major market.  Because almost all of its metro area is the city, there are a few outlying municipalities but nothing like Houston or Dallas.   Taken as a city, it is one of the largest in the country.  Taken as a metro area, it is one of the smallest markets for an NBA franchise.  And tv networks care about the entire market, not just that contained within the municipal boundaries.


Since: Mar 10, 2009
Posted on: July 10, 2011 9:20 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

so the largest city in texas isn't a major market ? 

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: July 10, 2011 8:49 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

Wrong on a couple of things.... 1) Houst is a large market.  I am not sure who would consider that metropolitan area as anything but a major TV market.

2) Dallas and San Antonio would BENEFIT from a shortened season.  They don't need training camp or long grinding seasons.  Both are playoff ready and more dangerous if the season were shortened.  Younger teams need the training camps and long seasons to bond.  The short season actually helps the older teams like Boston, LA, SA, and Dallas avoid injuries.  Young teams can heal and handle an 82 game grind more healthy.

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