ESPN’s Bill Simmons noted the NBA's upcoming luxury tax “really scared people off” at Thursday's trade deadline. Simmons: “Everybody is so afraid to not only just take on salaries, but also trade first-round picks or even second-round picks because you have these fixed-costs littler-salary guys, and those are bigger assets than they used to be.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said a team exec told him the “new CBA and how punitive it is for being over that threshold is what had people saying, ‘Whoa.’" Wilbon: "I saw scouts who were just chomping at the bit to make deals and they figure they had players lined up for their teams to improve themselves. [They're] not going to do it” ("NBA Countdown," ESPN, 2/22).
PERSISTENT PROBLEM: In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner and MLB Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred “both understand that despite the most comprehensive joint drug testing program in all of professional sports, baseball is still being dogged by a performance-enhancing drug problem” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/24).
RED LIGHT, RED FLAG? The GLOBE & MAIL’s David Shoalts reports when NHL GMs “gather on March 21 in Toronto for an abbreviated version of their annual meetings one thing is certain -- they will recommend increased use of video replay in overturning or confirming the decisions of the on-ice officials.” The “most popular solution” appears to be to “give each coach one challenge and limit it to goals” (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/25).
GRASS IS GREENER: SI’s Alan Shipnuck writes LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan has “taken the LPGA back to its roots as a tour that offers some of the rarest commodities in professional sports: intimacy, value and player interaction with fans and sponsors.” The result has been “a stunning comeback.” This year’s schedule “features 28 tournaments, and a 29th will most likely be announced soon.” The LPGA has "undoubtedly received a big boost from the emergence" of golfers Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis, who became the first American to win player of the year since ’94 (SI, 2/25 issue).