Thursday, November 10, 2011

Catching up on the NBA lockout: contract may be resolved today, but a lost season would hurt the Brooklyn-bound Nets far less than rival teams rooted in their cities

What does the continued NBA lockout--which may finally be resolved today (see links at NetsDaily)--mean to the New Jersey Nets? Well, consider the post by Forbes magazine's Mike Ozanian, who considers the team among Five NBA Teams Would Lose Less Money With No Season.

That's consonant with one report--though they haven't been widespread--portraying principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov as a hardliner. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger wrote 11/6/11, in For hardliners on both sides, 96 hours left to save NBA season
Prokhorov, who according to sources is fine with a strategy that would blow up his mediocre team's last season in Newark, is lucky in that he doesn't really have a fan base to hold him accountable. But where are the city attorneys, district attorneys, attorneys general and editorial page writers in some of those other cities to ask who's going to refund taxpayer money that's funding empty basketball arenas during a canceled season?
Then again, playing this season might help keep star point guard Deron Williams, who can opt out of his contract, on board. More importantly, under the owners' proposal, the Nets will have a lot of flex in their salary cap to sign free agents to complement Williams.

The impact on Newark

The Nets had a short-term strategy in Newark--a two-year stint at the Prudential Center--where they were welcomed. Newark, where the arena's in a mostly undeveloped zone below the main part of Downtown, is hurting, as the New York Post reported 10/30/11.

What if this had happened after the team moved to Brooklyn? Well, some businesses that sprang up in response to the arena likely would be hurting, but most retail businesses near the arena site seem to be doing well enough based on existing available customers.

Prokhorov being quiet?

One commenter on NetsDaily observed:
The key here is that Proky doesn’t attach his name or face to the heated argument. I feared as a Nets fan that my owner would come out strongly against the players and thus leave a bad or enemy impression on the same players that he’s trying to convince to sign.
Proky is being silent in the background which is the stance to take. He can let his opinion be known to the owners group, supporting the hawks or doves, without turning players against him.
(Emphasis added)

My owner? I know that's shorthand, but sports fandom eases such casually irrational language

But the commenter has a point: Prokhorov can afford to wait.

Players need equity? Sure, and what about fans

In an 11/7/11 column headlined N.B.A. Needs Drastically Different Approach, New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden observed:
But by missing one innovation — forging a true partnership with its players — the league threatens to choke its growth. Commissioner David Stern likes to talk about partnership, but in the rough-and-tumble world of stalled labor negotiations, the fundamental relationship is anything but.

Shame on the league for not pushing for true partnership, but shame on the players for not insisting that equity in the league become a nonnegotiable plank in the labor talks. Instead, the currently stalled negotiations have involved the same wage-based scuffles between employer and employees: we give you a piece of the pie, and we’ll fight over the size of the slice every few years.
He offered the hip-hop industry as an example where the talent has taken equity, and thus has more of a stake in the outcome.

The ultimate mix might include not just the players, but the fans, as with the Green Bay Packers, the only fan-owned team in pro sports.

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