SBD/Issue 40/Franchises

NBA Franchise Notes: Jerry Buss Willing To Pay Luxury Taxes

Jerry Buss Says Possibility Of Kobe Bryant
Playing In Europe Is Not A "Real Threat"
In an interview with the L.A. Times' Mike Bresnahan, Lakers Owner Jerry Buss said that he "would continue to pay luxury taxes on an annual basis 'if that's what it takes to win.'" The Lakers this season are on pace to pay about $10M in luxury taxes, and "might pay a similar dollar-for-dollar penalty with a commitment of already more" than $75M toward nine players on next year's roster. But Buss said, "We have to do what we have to do. I certainly don't like to pay the luxury tax, but if that's what it takes to win, then we're going to pay it." Buss "alluded numerous times to the sagging economy and the possibility of its trickling down to the NBA." On Lakers G Kobe Bryant possibly opting out of his contract after this season, Buss said he "would probably have to sign off" on a new five-year, $135M deal. Buss also said that he "could not picture Bryant playing overseas." Buss: "They have fewer games, smaller arenas and cheaper tickets and very little television. I can't see it, but there are people who are wealthy enough in the world that could make astronomical offers, and I certainly couldn't compete with that. But quite honestly, I just don't think that's a real threat" (L.A. TIMES, 11/10).

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FACING THE HEAT: The Heat this season launched a new ad effort under the tagline, "Something2Prove," which includes TV, radio, Internet and billboard activations. Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said of the campaign, "The reality is we do have single game inventory to sell in large enough quantity to justify a real advertising push for the first time in a while." The campaign, via Southern Brand Collective, Miami, was shot in a "gritty, documentary style" and shows Heat players "speaking to the media about what or to whom they must prove something" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/9). In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay noted ad execs and fans are "impressed with the honesty of the message" of the campaign, but the "question remains will all this effort lead to more ticket sales" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 11/9).

NOTES: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote it takes a "particularly vicious nature to stage a personal vendetta against" Warriors Exec VP/Basketball Operations Chris Mullin, but Warriors President Robert Rowell "has managed" to do so. Rowell is on a "big-time power trip, spinning wildly beyond all reason." If Rowell "really wants someone else in Mullin's seat," he could have "shown some class, quietly letting Mullin's contract expire at season's end." But Rowell instead has "chosen to portray Mullin as a clown," making sure to "publicly ridicule Mullin's stance" when announcing a suspension for Warriors G Monta Ellis (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8)....In St. Paul, Charley Walters reported the T'Wolves could "play exhibition games in China in two years," as Owner Glen Taylor has become NBA BOG Chair and is an "influential member of the league's China committee" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/7).

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