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Monday, February 15, 2010

Superagent David Falk on the NBA's Labor Woes

I suppose it's time to pile it on the NBA's labor woes this week, but superagent David Falk also believes that the NBA has big problems.

Falk has one major lament -- that marginal players are making too much money and some possible solutions -- enabling the players to share in all revenues of the NBA, including sales of luxury boxes, revenues from overseas, etc. Read the whole thing to get his take on the problem.

As for salaries, isn't a perennial problem a) that teams sometimes have woeful GM's and therefore can't get out of their own way (read Bill Simmons' book on that score and see, e.g., Isiah Thomas' work in New York and Billy King's in Philadelphia, among others) and b) that too many teams often seem saddled with long-term deals that they can't get rid of, ensuring that their teams will be bad for years because they've lost the flexibility of those deals. That seems to be a recurring theme in the NBA.

The players' union would argue that it's not responsible for saving teams from themselves and hellacious personnel moves, and that argument will have some legs. The structure of the current collective bargaining agreement, though, puts teams in the "I'm afraid to lose this guy" mode that helps make a bad situation (the overall status of the NBA) worse by having 'fraidy cat GMs give long-term deals to too many middling players. Sure, it was Billy King who offered the long-term deal to Samuel Dalembert (and I haven't heard that the 76ers filed a police report alleging that three masked gunmen held guns to their head at the time). But, by the same token, the game is hurting for reasons other than salary woes. You can read my post from yesterday for some solutions.

Make no mistake, the players' union and the league need to make progress -- and soon -- and do their laundry in private. They cannot afford a lockout or a lost season the way the NHL did. The hockey owners benefited from shutting down their league before the recession; if they NBA misses a season now, it might be harder to get fans to come back. As I've written before, the battle for the marginal sports dollar is fierce, and those marginal dollars might find other alternatives if the NBA doesn't show up for a season.


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