SBD/June 29, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
There has been an "injection of energy" in New Orleans regarding the Hornets for the last several months, and it was "cherry-topped by the team winning the NBA Draft Lottery," enabling it to select Anthony Davis with the first overall pick Thursday, according to John DeShazier of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. It is "not hard to envision a New Orleans Arena filled with fans honoring a certain physical trait of the prized rookie -- wearing colored-in unibrows, bowing to The Brow each time Davis blocks a shot, advising opposing teams to Fear the Brow whenever Davis steps on the court." That potential, along with team Owner Tom Benson’s "stated goal of changing the team’s nickname, has produced a buzz comparable to when the team relocated" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 6/29). In New Orleans, Albert Burford notes fans Thursday night at New Orleans Arena "gathered in the stands and spilled out on the court about an hour before the draft began." Soon after the team selected Davis, "an announcement came across the arena PA system -- Davis jerseys and shirts would be on sale immediately." There "wasn't any specific demographic in attendance," as businessmen and women "showed up straight from work wearing suits and ties while some Hornets fans showed off fleur-de-bee temporary tattoos on their faces to go with their sketched-on signature Anthony Davis unibrow" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 6/29).
FLYING HIGH: ESPN.com's Andy Katz writes Thursday night's selections of Davis and G Austin Rivers made the Hornets "one of the most intriguing teams to watch." The Hornets will now "look for success at the next level." Davis and Rivers "join a roster that will have a potential All-Star with a healthy" G Eric Gordon. The Hornets "have a chance to create their own big three." Katz writes this "isn't a case in which any of the players are wondering if they can win or are unhappy with the destination," as both Davis and Rivers "want to be in New Orleans." With new ownership in Benson, the Hornets now also have "an injection of the most heralded talent and biggest names in the first round" (ESPN.com, 6/29).
CLEVELAND ROCKED? In Clevleand, Pat Galbincea notes, "About 6,000 fans who attended the free party let out a round of boos and groans and some shrieks of shock" when the Cavaliers selected G Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick in the draft. However, the party "was salvaged somewhat" when the Cavaliers traded for C Tyler Zeller, who was selected 17th overall by the Mavericks. After the Wizards drafted G Bradley Beal with the third overall pick, fans "booed because he was the player they were hoping Cleveland would get" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/29).
Penguins GM Ray Shero and CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson on Thursday "finalized a 12-year, $104.4 million contract extension" for C Sidney Crosby, according Rob Rossi of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The deal, which begins with the '13-14 season, "is the longest and richest in terms of guaranteed dollars for any local professional athlete, and Crosby's $8.7 million average annual salary will continue to rank second in the NHL." Crosby was "eligible to command 20 percent of the salary cap, which was set yesterday at $70.2 million, pending a new CBA to replace the one that expires in September." More than "any NHL player, he could afford to leave money at the bargaining table." Crosby is an "endorsement magnet by hockey standards." The most "recognizable of his long-standing business partnerships" are with Reebok, Pepsi and Tim Horton's. The Crosby "brand will benefit from his commitment to the Penguins, whose local television rating were highest for any NHL or NBA team last season" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/29). In Pittsburgh, Dave Molinari notes Shero and Brisson "were tinkering with some details, trying to make certain the money in the contract is structured in a way that the league office won't balk at approving." The NHL's concern about "long-term contracts set up that way is that the team could be trying to reduce the salary-cap hit by adding several seasons at a significantly reduced salary at a time when the player might be inclined to retire" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/29).
RISKY BUSINESS: The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes given Crosby's concussion history, this "could well be the riskiest contract signed by a team in NHL history." The Penguins are "likely on the hook for the full value of Crosby's contract even if he suffers another head injury and can no longer play, which could hurt the franchise's bottom line for years." The good news in that scenario "is his contract could still be placed on injured reserve to free up salary-cap space for a replacement" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote, "This is a risk the Penguins had to take, and look at what could go right: The Penguins could have the best player in hockey for the rest of his career, at a salary-cap hit that allows them to surround him with a strong supporting cast." Cotsonika: "He was the Penguins. He is the Penguins. There is still uncertainty. There always is with concussions." But Crosby's value to the Penguins "goes beyond that of a normal superstar." It is the Penguins' "money on the table, no one else's" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/28). SB Nation's Bomani Jones said, "Despite Crosby’s injury issues, he still has an amazing amount of leverage because he’s the biggest star in the NHL. If you’re Pittsburgh, you do what it takes to keep him.” ESPN’s Jemele Hill said it “doesn’t seem like you should give someone that kind of money with a history of head injuries." Hill: "But he’s the face of the league, and you’ve got to keep that guy.” However, ESPN’s J.A. Adande said, “That’s too much money to invest in a guy who’s one hit away from maybe having to hang up his skates” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/28). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “Wish him good health. That’s a long time for a guy with concussion history” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/28).
ADDED VALUE: ESPN.com's Craig Custance wrote it is a deal "that has immediate ramifications extending beyond Crosby's paycheck." The Penguins "dramatically enhance their value as a free-agent destination." The annual cap hit of $8.7M "means the Penguins still have cap space to work with moving forward." Additionally, the deal "shows a willingness to gamble on a player with concussion issues." This is something "to which other players who have experienced similar problems will no doubt point." In some cases "insurance can protect teams in case of an injury, but even that has limits" (ESPN.com, 6/28).
QUICK MONEY: In L.A., Helene Elliott noted the Kings have "reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension" with Stanley Cup Conn Smythe Trophy winning G Jonathan Quick. They did it "at a reasonable price that should give them room to upgrade their scoring on the left side through a free-agency splash or trade." The deal is "worth $58 million over 10 years, with the biggest portion due in the first seven years." The average annual value of $5.8M is "manageable enough to fit under whatever salary cap the next labor deal will bring, even if owners get the big salary decreases they're expected to pursue." Ten years is "a long time to commit to a player," but the Kings are "paying for what Quick has already achieved and could easily accomplish again" (L.A. TIMES, 6/29).
The Senators on Wednesday launched the "We Mean Business" campaign, an initiative to inform prospective clients about the impact that doing business with the club can have on their organization and in the community. The business-to-business marketing program is aimed at helping the Senators achieve a goal of selling 500 pairs of season seats in the 100- and 200-levels of Scotiabank Place during the offseason. The Senators are projecting to have 11,500 seats committed for next year, before any additional new season seats are sold. Renewal rates currently sit at 93% for full-season seats, and 89% for half-season packages. The "We Mean Business" campaign will push toward the Senators' goal of 13,000 season seats for the '12-13 season (Senators).
THINKING SMALL: In Ottawa, Wayne Scanlan noted the Senators have "a fight on their hands to get their ticket numbers in line with other NHL franchises" in Canada. Individual fans have "done their part, filling in the crowd gaps on a game by game basis." If there is "a weak link in the chain, by dint of the Senators calculations, it is the role of smaller business." Senators President Cyril Leeder, during a luncheon for local businesses Wednesday at Scotiabank Place, said, "We generally have 20,000 people in here on a nightly basis, we don't want to sound like we're complaining, because we're not. We just know the gap, if there is one, in our ticket plan has been in season seats, particularly in small to medium sized-businesses" (OTTAWACITIZEN.com, 6/27). Leeder said that in return, businesses holding season tickets "will develop better relationships with their clients and help them retain and motivate their own employees." In Ottawa, Tony Spears noted Senators prospects, including first-round draft pick D Cody Ceci, "stopped by to help Leeder sell his spiel" (OTTAWA SUN, 6/28).
Warriors GM Bob Myers said the team is "going to stand by" coach Mark Jackson after he said he had been the victim of an extortion attempt. Myers said, "He was great for us last year. We look forward to him coaching this team and we’re going to see this through with him” ("NBA Draft," ESPN, 6/28). In S.F., Henry Lee reports the extortion attempt comes from an "ex-stripper who authorities say threatened to release nude photographs of the married former NBA star." Alexis Adams and an acquaintance, Marcus Shaw, "were arrested and charged this week with extorting thousands of dollars from Jackson." The charges "were filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, where Adams and Shaw live." Investigators said that during a nearly year-long relationship six years ago, Jackson "sent nude pictures of himself to Adams." FBI Special Agent Beth Alvarez in her affidavit stated that on April 3 of this year, a "stranger approached Jackson at a hotel in Memphis and showed him a folder containing similar photographs of the coach." Authorities said that Jackson eventually "gave Shaw $5,000 in cash in exchange for the folder with the photos and the CD, which he then destroyed." Jackson notified the Warriors "of the alleged extortion scheme, and together they contacted the FBI" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/29). In San Jose, Monte Poole writes although the incident "will not threaten Jackson's job security, it gives the Warriors valid reason to sit with the coach in an effort to discover if there might be any more ... unpleasant surprises." This is the "second unsavory episode related to Jackson" since he was hired last June, and even though "nothing suggests the coach is involved in criminal behavior, being connected to these matters pierces his character." Poole: "The Warriors, who made it clear they don't condone Jackson's behavior, probably will forgive. ... He must know, however, that every eye in the building is watching his every move" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/29).
In L.A., Dylan Hernandez reports the Dodgers on Thursday agreed with Cuban OF Yasiel Puig on a seven-year, $42M contract, in what is “perhaps the most significant statement made to date by Guggenheim Baseball Management, even more than the signing” of RF Andre Ethier to a five-year, $85M extension. The Dodgers offered Puig “the most lucrative contract ever awarded to a Cuban amateur, reintroducing themselves as players in an international market that was neglected” under Frank McCourt's ownership. The Dodgers “expect to spend money when the new international signing period opens Monday.” Hernandez writes, “They will spend money at the trade deadline, if necessary. And they will spend money next winter in free agency” (L.A. TIMES, 6/29).
QUESTIONS REMAIN: In San Diego, Kevin Acee writes of the Padres bid group led by the O'Malley family, “What I really care about is where the O’Malley group is getting its money -- and how much of it the consortium will have to invest in the on-field merchandise after being fleeced" by Chair John Moores. The “almost-completed purchase of the Padres could leave the O’Malleys on food stamps and their group’s ownership might still be an improvement over Moores’ fraudulent indifference.” Moores remains a "commendable philanthropist and shrewd businessman, but he only used to be a good team owner.” What he has “done lately is simply scam the people of San Diego” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/29).
GIVE IT TIME: In Illinois, Barry Rozner wrote under the header, “Here’s Hoping Cubs’ Ricketts Stays Course.” Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts, “so far, has allowed the new front office to work without interference.” Rozner: "Here’s hoping he doesn’t go for the quick fix. It’s no guarantee that [President of Baseball Operations] Theo Epstein will get it right. But we have seen the results of so many getting it wrong. Give the man a chance. You’ve come this far” (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 6/28)