The 3 Stories No One is Talking About

This NBA season has been pretty entertaining thus far. I got to thinking about stories that have been largely under reported, and not being talked about that much. Here are the 3 that come to mind.

The 2011 restructuring of the Players Agreement: David Falk beat me to the chase. Yesterday, TrueHoop quoted Falk about the restructuring of the Players Agreement. Here is the quote from the New York Times story by Howard Beck that I took from TrueHoop:

"In his view, the union botched negotiations in 1998, which led to the three-month lockout, the only labor stoppage in league history. The union tried to stave off a luxury tax and maximum player salaries but ultimately had to accept both in order to strike a deal in January 1999 and save the season. 'The players lost 40 percent of their salaries, and they got a worse deal in January,' Falk said. 'So as we approach 2011, my overwhelming feeling is, let's not make the same dumb mistake as in 1998.' The players, he said, must recognize that the owners have the ultimate leverage. Many are billionaires for whom owning an N.B.A. team is merely a pricey hobby. Some of them are losing 'enormous amounts of money' and would rather shut down the league for a year or two than continue with the current system. So Falk is urging the union to take a more cooperative approach. 'And if we don't do that, in my opinion, there's an overwhelming probability that the owners will shut it down,' he said."

I have given this issue some thought before Falk brought it up. Falk obviously got a little more in depth than what I initially thought about, but it is a very dark cloud hanging over the NBA. So the Players Union is going to ask for a lot more flexibility in terms of player contracts and some other things, including the "1-year out rule" and other such things. The reality is, owners don't care. The league administration and players do care. When it comes down to signing specific players and getting players, the player has leverage. When it comes down to decisions that affect everyone, the owners are the ones that matter. That is why the NBA is so careful about who they let own teams. I don't know how many of you have recently tried to buy a team, but the line is long. The league goes through a very extensive screening process in order to get "the right fit". They do that precisely for things like this. The owners have the final say for virtually every major decision when it comes down to it. In all honesty, the owners could almost overturn any decision if they collectively came to an agreement. The owners in any professional sports league have the leverage to do anything. Players want more money. Owners say no. That is the end of it. Well, that means the players don't play. Who does that hurt? The players and fans. The owners will go on about their lives. In the end, the 1999 lockout season could have as much of an impact as an unmade college dorm room bed compared to what the 2011 renegotiation could bring about.

The New Orleans Hornets changing cities: The city of New Orleans has made is clear that their $20+ million that goes towards the investment of their teams (Saints and Hornets) will all go towards the Saints. Initially, the city said that the Hornets needed to meet an attendance quota for the season in order to renew their lease. Well, they have done that, and more. They are actually winning! Of course, they have the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul that drives ticket sales up. They also have a deep playoff contending team to help their revenues. Now, the city has just asserted they won't invest in the Hornets any longer. A team that had to move to Oklahoma City during the Katrina period in New Orleans, and then back to New Orleans, is now faced with another strong possibility of having to move cities. Among the cities, the two most talked about cities are Kansas City and Anaheim. My personal opinion is that LA probably doesn't need a third team, but I'm such a huge basketball fan, I would love it. Kansas City could use the Hornets. Kansas City has shown that they have the market for a pro sports team, as evidenced by the Chiefs, and Kansas City has been the home to professional basketball teams in the past (Kings). They have traditionally been viewed as a college basketball town, but Oklahoma City was the same, and we all know how that has turned out. They also have the Sprint Center that is looking for a team. Despite all of their ability to host a basketball team, the city has stated that they are "uninterested" in acquiring any NBA team. David Stern basically discounted Kansas City as a possible destination for any NBA team in the future, but did say that a European city, such as London, is ready for a team. Keep an eye on this story because it will heat up in the summer for sure. (note: picture is of the inside of the Sprint Center)

Allen Iverson retirement/free agency: This story has been touched on by various sources, but no one has actually taken time to look at this. Iverson is a free agent this year. What is he going to do? AI's numbers tell part of the story, but if you just watch him, he looks slower coming off screens. Remember, this is a guy who has played as much as Kobe Bryant, but has taken a lot of injuries. He has played through pain, and has been a true warrior when playing basketball, but one can't help but wonder how much of a toll that has taken on his body. He is making some serious money, but he might actually be hurting the Pistons more than he is helping them. For Detroit, it is fine because AI's contract is up after this year, but we can't think that a team is going to pay him anywhere near what he is going to ask. AI is making $21.9 million this season. I suspect that whatever team picks him up after this season will pay him about half of that. It may be a serious blow to AI's ego. He still commands a lot of respect, but every so often, you will see AI put up a single digit night in the points category. Bad shooting night? Well, this is a guy who used to put up 30 shots a night on a consistent basis, shoot in the mid 30% range and still get 30+pts. He just is not the same player as he used to be. Maybe he just isn't inspired to play? I hope that is the case. Nonetheless, we may be seeing the final days of Allen Iverson's career. I do think he may retire if he cannot come to terms with a contract that he asks for. If not, I think Allen Iverson may go to a championship contender for a much lower contract. He has made enough money up to this point to set him and his 5 children up for life. I think that the one thing missing from his resume is a ring, and he knows that, and has admitted it. Wouldn't surprise me if he took the paycut for the ring.



Dmanlian said...

As a Detroit Pistons fan, I was pretty excited when AI came into town (though I like Chauncey better). But after seeing how far the team has fallen, I think it is time for AI to either call it quits are be open for a much smaller role on a team. With all these budding young stars in the league, there's no more room on any team for guys like AI to be jacking up 20+ shots a game, and only making 35% of them. If he is serious about wanting a championship, he should relegate himself to coming off the bench with the Pistons for the rest of this season.

Izzy said...

I agree with you 100%. After his contract is up this year, I think he walks. He will probably try to sign with a championship contending team. That is the only way he can be serious about winning a championship. We knock AI for the decline in his career, but he is still averaging 18ppg and about 6assts. Very good numbers by any margin. If he can put his ego aside, like Payton and Malone did in 2004, he will be able to get that ring. AI has done pretty much everything that he needs to do in order to be 1) considered one of the greatest players ever and 2) be a first ballot HOFer. This is the one thing that is missing. If that does happen, I think a lot of people will respect AI, and change whatever preconceived notion they may have about his persona. If he does sign with a team for the minimum, that would be a huge contribution for that team. AI can definitely help out a basketball team in more than one way. We are quick to chastise him because we compare him to the 98-2003 AI. It will be very interesting to see how that transpires this offseason.

Have Jumpshot Will Travel (a.k.a. Trashtalk Superstar) said...

I didn't the logic in either unloading Chauncey Billups or in acquiring Allen Iverson for the Pistons. Sure, Billups had sleepwalked through some big games. But he was the thing that made that team go. Iverson's game (and his attitude) didn't translate well to the style that the Pistons played, IMO. And his presence (when added to the questionable influence of Rasheed Wallace) was certain to push the Pistons from being a team-oriented squad, to being a team with attitude problems.

What's more, at 33/34 years of age, Iverson has put a lot of mileage on his body (especially considering his aggressive, full-steam ahead approach to the game). But he's never made a commitment to strengthening his body (or working on his athleticism) in the off season. As players age, they can keep themselves from losing quickness, speed and explosiveness (as well as help prevent injuries) by becoming committed to an off-season workout regimen. Nearly every professional athlete does it ... after all, their bodies are their moneymakers. But Allen Iverson never subjected himself to an adequate off-season strength and conditioning program. And he's paying the price for it now.