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SBD/July 11, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Following the recent DUI charges brought against Broncos Pro Personnel Dir Tom Heckert and Player Personnel Dir Matt Russell, the team is "not providing a timetable" for when they will be disciplined, "but it may take up to a week," according to Mike Klis of the DENVER POST. Broncos Exec Dir of Media Relations Patrick Smyth yesterday said, "This is bigger than football. It's obviously very serious. We need to make sure we handle this the right way and give careful consideration to all of the issues involved. That process takes time." Klis notes Heckert on June 12 "blew a 0.162 on a breath test" and might "receive penalties similar to the 30-day suspension and $100,000 fine the league imposed" on Lions President Tom Lewand in '10 for his driving while impaired conviction. Russell's punishment "figures to be more severe." He was "arrested Saturday evening in Summit County after he rammed his Toyota Tundra truck into a parked Breckenridge Police Department patrol vehicle at approximately" 40 mph. Russell's "breath alcohol content measured at 0.246" (DENVER POST, 7/11). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Broncos spent yesterday morning "on the phone with the NFL discussing the process for discipline." The team likely is going to "step in, and before the league can even act, they're going to send a loud, unmistakable and aggressive message that they are not going to tolerate this type of behavior." Schefter: "It will not be a surprise ... if it winds up being lengthy suspensions for each of the front office executives" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/10). KCKK-AM's Peter Burns reported the Broncos' "first reaction was not to fire either man," but the team "will want to do something so the league doesn't dictate to them what the punishment is going to be" ("The Press Box," DENVERPOST.com, 7/10).
TEAM SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE EARLIER: ESPN Radio 102.3 Denver's Tom Nalen, who played for the Broncos from '94-'07, said he was upset with the Broncos because they "waited so long" about making a statement on Heckert's DUI. Nalen said, "Maybe on June 12 if they had come down with something stern with Tom Heckert, maybe Matt Russell's weekend last weekend is different and maybe the team is not embarrassed the way they are right now. I just feel like they could have handled it a different way." Nalen has publicly called Broncos execs "cowards" for not reacting more quickly to Heckert's arrest, and he said, "I felt like they could have done something. They could have turned a negative into a positive with Tom Heckert, and the 'coward' part is because of the words they're using right now, how they're going to be proactive and do all these wonderful things now. Well, why not on June 12 were you being proactive with it? Why did it take two guys to get to this point?" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 7/10).
ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER: ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said that the lack of attention given to the Broncos' DUIs is a "little surprising,” as if Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway had been arrested instead, it "would’ve gotten plenty of attention." Le Batard: "But this happens all the time in sports. We’re not penalizing the crime, we’re penalizing how famous you are.” ESPN's Bomani Jones said, “If you had two players on one team get DUIs, you’d have a discussion about the culture, you’d have a discussion about how these guys think that they're above the law. But if they think that they're above the law, what about the guys that could put them on the street and send them into unemployment with a phone call?” ("Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 7/10).
SUPER BOWL OR BUST: In Colorado Springs, Paul Klee notes most people can agree the charges against Russell and Heckert "demand punishment," but he writes, "Be honest, though. What you really want to know is how this affects the Broncos' chase for a Super Bowl, right?" Touchdowns and tackles "trump all," which is why it would be a "surprise if the Broncos slam Heckert and Russell with simultaneous suspensions during a critical time of roster development, training camp." That would "remove a pair of key decision-makers from the meeting room at the same time a Super Bowl-caliber roster is being fine-tuned" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/11).
NFL'S BAD OFFSEASON MAKING LATE-NIGHT SHOW: The number of NFL players and execs arrested during the offseason has become a recurring theme in Jay Leno's monologue on NBC's "The Tonight Show." Leno last night said, "I’ve been watching that new TV series about pro football called ‘CSI: NFL.’ If kids want to know what it’s like to be in the NFL now they don’t play John Madden football anymore, they play ‘Grand Theft Auto’” (NBC, 7/10). Leno Tuesday night said, "A new report form sociologists has discovered that the No. 1 cause of prison overcrowding: The NFL. Thirty-two NFL players have been arrested since the Super Bowl. Given how bad it’s gotten, now when a team says they’ve hired a new defensive coordinator, they're talking about a lawyer" (NBC, 7/9). He started off the week by saying Monday night, "Thirty one NFL players have been arrested just since the Super Bowl. Isn't that amazing? Here's how bad it's gotten: Marshals now have the first pick of the next NFL Draft. It has gotten so bad at most NFL training camps now, they practice walking backwards with their hands behind them. In fact, a lot of teams are switching to the no-huddle offense because players aren't allowed to associate with known felons. You know the show ‘Cops?’ It is now on the NFL Network” (NBC, 7/8).
The Jaguars yesterday would not comment on a U.K. report that team Owner Shad Khan is “on the cusp of purchasing” EPL club Fulham FC for an estimated $224M, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The London Daily Mail yesterday first reported that Khan “could complete negotiations” to acquire Fulham from Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed as soon as tomorrow. The acquisition would “further expand Khan’s footprint on Europe in general and on London in particular.” The purchase reportedly “could be completed in time for the club’s season opener Aug. 17 at Sunderland” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 7/10). In London, Jack de Menezes noted Al Fayed “has been at the helm of the club since he purchased it” for US$9.44M in ‘97, and he “loaned them the money as he oversaw a rise from the fourth tier of English football to the Premier League.” Al Fayed last year converted his $302M “worth of loans into equity,” meaning Fulham is “essentially debt free in an attempt to make the club more attractive to any potential investors, and also to comply with UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules.” The club “also gained planning permission to redevelop the Riverside Stand to take the maximum capacity up to 30,000, and remove another stumbling block that any new owners might encounter.” Still, much to “the frustration of manager Martin Jol, Fayed has reduced his spending at the club over the last 18 months” (INDEPENDENT.co.uk, 7/10).
HAVING MORE OF A PRESENCE IN LONDON: YAHOO SPORTS’ Frank Schwab wrote Khan “buying a well-established and popular Premier League soccer club in London doesn't seem to be a random decision by a smart businessman.” Having a presence in the London soccer scene “wouldn't be a bad thing for Khan if he plans to heavily promote the Jaguars there.” The NFL “seems set on becoming more international,” and the Jaguars “appear to be as good of a candidate as any to be that international team.” Khan's interest in buying a London soccer team “probably won't quell those concerns in Jacksonville” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/10).
The NBA Kings have "signed a two-year deal to take over basketball operations" of the D-League Reno Bighorns, according to Bizjak & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive said that the deal gives the NBA franchise the "authority to hire the team's coaches and choose team players, using the Reno squad as its minor league affiliate, similar to the relationship between major and minor league baseball teams." Ranadive added that he "initially tried to buy the Bighorns outright, but the owners declined to sell." However, the new arrangement "gives the Kings first right to purchase if the Bighorn owners decide to sell." Bighorns Managing Partner Herb Santos, Jr. "will retain control" over the team's business operations. Ranadive said that the arrangement "helps the Kings connect better to fans in Northern Nevada" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/11). Santos said, "This is where the D-League is going. This is going to put a stronger, better team on the floor." In Reno, Chris Gabel notes the deal will be "the eighth 'hybrid' model in the 18-team D-League, while six other franchises are owned outright by an NBA team." Santos purchased the Bighorns from SK Baseball, owners of the Triple-A PCL Reno Aces, two years ago "after he served as a minority owner since the team began play in Reno" in '08. The Bighorns have "served as an affiliate to the Kings since then" (RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL, 7/11).
With the Heat's payroll currently at $88M for the '13-14 season after re-signing F Chris Anderson to a one-year, $1.7M deal, the franchise would have to "write a tax check to the league of $33.6 million at season's end,” according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The Heat are $16M over the $71,748,000 luxury-tax threshold set Tuesday by the NBA and under the league’s “new formula that goes into effect starting this coming season." To put that ‘13-14 “tax figure into perspective,” ShamSports.com data shows that the Heat, over their history, have “previously paid a total of $36 million in tax payments, including $13.3 million on last season's championship roster” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/11). In Miami, Barry Jackson notes using the amnesty provision on F Mike Miller “would save at least $17 million.” Heat President Pat Riley said that he was “disinclined to use the amnesty provision on Miller unless owner Micky Arison mandated him to do so” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/11).
PAY UP: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes there is "no inkling" Arison "won’t pony up $33 million in luxury tax to keep his championship team together." Heat Fs LeBron James and Chris Bosh took $15M "less than they could have to sign" with the Heat, and G Dwyane Wade took $17M "less than he could have to re-sign." Hyde: "The point is, everyone has sacrificed something for this run. Arison has profited nicely from having the best show in American sports right now. ... There shouldn't be room for cheap here." Arison has been "a model owner." He made sure "everything was in place for a first-class team and he doesn't meddle in the basketball work." This will be "his lastest test" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 7/11).
Barclays Center parent company Brooklyn Arena LLC yesterday announced that it will offer oversight of the Islanders and that Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark will lead the business side of the NHL team. Yormark will retain his duties with the Nets and the facility. Arena personnel will work with the Islanders' business operations department before and after the team's move to Brooklyn for the '15-16 season. Islanders hockey operations remain under the leadership of team President & GM Garth Snow (Barclays Center). In N.Y., Josh Kosman notes one of Yormark’s "first big decisions will be advising Islanders owner Charles Wang on whether to change the look of the jersey and the fate of the team’s royal blue, orange and white colors." Yormark said, "Our goal is to be sensitive to the legacy. At the same time, we want Brooklyn to embrace the team and connect in an authentic way." He added that he had "finished the marketing studies in Long Island and Brooklyn to see how fans and potential supporters felt but had not made a decision." A source said that the Islanders "might introduce an alternative third jersey, with a basketball Nets-influenced basic black feel, that they would wear at some home games" (N.Y. POST, 7/11). In New Jersey, John Brennan noted the Islanders have "seen a surge of 2,200 new season tickets and an 86 percent season ticket renewal rate coming off a playoff season and a feisty postseason round" against the Penguins (NORTHJERSEY.com, 7/10). Meanwhile, on Long Island, Joye Brown notes Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano made a "good move in requiring contracts from the Madison Square Garden Co. and Forest City Ratner Companies" in their bids to redevelop Nassau Coliseum "rather than picking a winner based on a standard 'term sheet' that is open to change" (NEWSDAY, 7/11).
Blue Jackets Senior VP & CMO John Browne said that the team already has "sold 7,314 season tickets as of Monday," 4.5% above last season’s franchise-low total of around 7,000, according to Jeff Bell of COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST. Browne noted that the team’s season-ticket renewal rate is 91%, the "highest rate since the 2006-07 season.” It marks the “first time in seven years the club has been above the 90 percent mark." New season-ticket sales also are up 21% “compared with this time last year." That is the "highest new sales total the Jackets have had since after their one and only NHL playoff appearance" in '09. Browne said that the "sales momentum ... kept going after the NHL draft in June and gained even more steam when the team resigned" Vezina Trophy-winning G Sergei Bobrovsky to a two-year extensions and signed free agent RW Nathan Horton to a seven-year, $37.1M deal Friday. In addition to the player signings, Browne "chalked up the ticket sales gains to the Jackets’ strong run at the end of last season … and the team’s upcoming move to the Eastern Conference" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/9).
GETTING TO KNOW YOU: ESPN.com's Craig Custance noted the Blue Jackets' signing of Horton "utilized the spirit” of the NHL’s new 48-hour free agent interview process “almost perfectly." Two days prior to the start of free agency, Horton flew to Columbus and met with Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson and GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Because of the "extra time built into free agency this year, they weren't rushed in explaining the process in which the two plan on building the Blue Jackets into a winner." Another benefit was the team "asked for and received Horton's medical information." This new window gave Horton the "opportunity to get comfortable before committing the next portion of his career to a team." It was the "first indication that this window could be most beneficial to small-market teams that might have trouble attracting free agents otherwise" (ESPN.com, 7/9).
Prospective Coyotes Owner George Gosbee yesterday said that he was "pitched many times on becoming part of a bid for the NHL’s worst financial disaster," but he "never seriously considered it until the players and owners agreed to divide the league’s hockey-related revenue 50/50," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. Prospective partner Anthony LeBlanc "jumped in after Greg Jamison’s ownership bid failed in January," and he and fellow prospective partner Daryl Jones "courted Gosbee again." Gosbee added of the new CBA, "That’s when the business model made sense. There is more of a fair revenue-sharing agreement." Gosbee plans to "be an active owner." He will "serve as the club’s chairman" and LeBlanc "will run the business side." Gosbee and his partners "scored another revenue boost when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman decreed the Coyotes would always receive a full share of the league’s revenue-sharing plan, which is as much" as $20M (all figures U.S.) a year. Each NHL club "has to meet revenue and ticket-sales targets or its share is docked." Add the $15M a year to "manage Jobing.com Arena in a 15-year lease coughed up by Glendale, and Gosbee could see the possibility of at least breaking even" on a club that "routinely lost more than" $30M a year. An NHL source said that Gosbee is "responsible for" $35M of the $45M, with the other nine partners "in for much smaller amounts." However, Gosbee said that it is "divided evenly among the group -- although it does have two tiers of investors" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/11). Gosbee's partners said that they "were convinced to consider investing by the business case put forward" by Gosbee. Bonterra Energy Corp. CEO and prospective Coyotes investor George Fink said, "I really never thought I'd invest in a sporting franchise." He added, "But when we went through it, there were things that started to make sense" (CALGARY HERALD, 7/9).
In Akron, Jason Lloyd writes regardless of how C Andrew Bynum fares in Cleveland, his signing is “a signal to the rest of the league the Cavaliers are serious about contending again.” GM Chris Grant “spent less than" $7M in free agency in the three years since F LeBron James left. The Cavs gave $30M "in guaranteed dollars this month" to G Jarrett Jack, C Earl Clark and now Bynum, who yesterday reportedly accepted an offer that guarantees him $6M for '13-14 and "could escalate" to $12M with incentives. The Cavs also “hold a team option" for $12M guaranteed in '14-15. Bynum is “easily the biggest NBA free agent to ever declare he wanted to play in Cleveland.” The Cavs “credit the aggressiveness and willingness of owner Dan Gilbert to take such a risk” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/11).
BIRDS OF A NEW FEATHER: In Baton Rouge, Ted Lewis writes the “subtractions and retentions over the past two weeks makes clear that this is not your father’s Hornets, er, Pelicans.” The team recently traded the rights for C Nerlens Noel to the 76ers for G Jrue Holiday, as well as acquiring restricted free agent G Tyreke Evans and others. Lewis: “Certainly it’s not the franchise presided over by cash-strapped [former team Owner] George Shinn and then an NBA trusteeship during its first 10 seasons in New Orleans.” The “bottom-of-the-roster reordering of the past two days was necessary to avoid the luxury tax,” and it is “doubtful the Hornets ever faced that problem” (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 7/11).
MOVIN' ON UP: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes the Bobcats acquiring free agent C Al Jefferson provides the team “a dose of respectability and a new force down low.” Jefferson’s addition “also shows that owner Michael Jordan really will spend money,” with Jefferson signing a three-year $41M contract (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/11).
MOTOR CITY MARCH: In Detroit, Rod Beard notes by acquiring free agent F Josh Smith, Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars “believes the Pistons can become a destination for other high-level free agents.” Even if “those additions entail making some tough decisions on the young core players, Dumars is open to the conversation” (DETROIT NEWS, 7/11).