SBD/July 9, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Under First Year Of NBA's New CBA, Teams Quick To Spend On Free Agents

Rockets agreed to a $28.8M contract with restricted free agent Jeremy Lin
While NBA teams must wait until Wednesday to begin signing free agents, many teams already are “throwing around money as if salary-cap space has an expiration date,” according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. The numbers “are staggering” and in the first year of a new CBA it has left “many to wonder why the sides fought to keep the system essentially the same.” Washburn: “This excessive spending will be blamed on the players when the CBA expires. It’s apparent that general managers can’t control themselves when it comes to signing players.” The only thing that has “remained consistent from the previous CBA is that smaller-market teams aren’t making moves.” The new CBA was “supposed to allow them to pull some of those desirable free agents away from the larger-market teams.” But what the league “is now realizing is that regardless of how inviting the free agent market may become to certain owners, they are not going to invest their money.” They are “instead willing to take the cheaper route and compete for lower-level playoff spots with draft picks and moderately priced free agents.” Washburn: “This is why the same teams win every season. It’s not the model that is broken, it’s the owners who are willing to be mediocre that makes the NBA predictable” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/8). In DC, Jason Reid wrote NBA owners proved “yet again that the people who run the league are also the biggest impediment to its long-term financial health.” Despite all the “lockout-inspired talk about the need for change because of their massive losses, owners displayed a business-as-usual approach in making questionable eight-figure offers to non-superstars.” The league “handed out bad contracts as if it were the federal government.” The “hard-line owners in the recent labor negotiations were among the worst offenders” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/8).

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT: In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote people "keep hearing about the boatloads of money that Jeremy Lin will make for the Knicks,” but the team’s decision to match the four-year, $28.8M offer sheet Lin has signed with the Rockets “shouldn’t be about that kind of business.” It can “only be about the basketball business.” If it is not, then the Knicks "make it for all the wrong reasons, and waste valuable money, especially down the road, against the salary cap.” This “isn’t to say that the Knicks shouldn’t match the back-loaded offer." But if they do, they “have to believe that in a point guard league, that Lin can be one of the better point guards by the third year of this contract, when he starts making more money.” Lupica: “If they don’t -- and if he’s not -- Knicks fans aren’t going to want to hear about how Lin helped them grow their brand in Taiwan” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/8). SportsNet N.Y.’s Chris Carlin said, "This is a money decision, not a basketball decision. I don't think ‘Linsanity’ is going to be what it was during that brief stretch earlier this year, but you can't knock the fact that all of a sudden it brought attention to this guy. You walk around the city, you see people wearing Jeremy Lin jerseys. And you can't work against the idea that he has also opened up a new market to the Knicks in the Asian community. ... We’re talking about a whole new revenue stream for the Knicks. They were always bringing him back. Didn't matter what other teams were paying because they’re going to make their money back and more” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 7/6).
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