Now that the NFL is back in full swing (no credit to the owners, by the way), the focus (or lack thereof) is on the NBA lockout. The NBA’s labor impasse may be nasty enough to last all summer and can potentially wipe out the entire 2011-2012 NBA season.
I was reading Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s commentary on the NBA lockout yesterday and he made some good points on how this mess can be fixed (hell, reading the part about his thoughts on NBA draft bust Michael Olowokandi is worth it) . I would like to expound on a few of his points and add some thoughts on my own on how this lockout can be resolved.
Improve revenue sharing among the franchises. The gap between the large- and small-market franchises is huge. The Grand Canyon thinks that gap is huge. At any rate, it’s obvious that the owners’ revenue sharing plan is not working. All of the franchises would be profitable if the NBA adapted the NFL’s model. That way, the Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks would be profitable just like my New York Knicks and the L.A. Lakers. Speaking of non-profitable franchises…
Contract some teams. The NBA has way too many teams. It has no business with teams in Sacramento, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Memphis, Charlotte, Indiana and Minnesota. It’s also worth noting that all of those franchises are bleeding money like a washed-up MMA fighter. I would contract all of those teams except for Memphis and Charlotte (both have expensive payouts to cities if their leases are broken). That would leave the league at 25 teams, which is an ideal size. That way, with those least profitable franchises out of the way, the money would not be spread so thin among the remaining teams.
Raise the age-limit of incoming rookies. Look, it’s not a secret that the product in the NBA has gotten a bit worse over the years. It’s even worse in the college game. The quickest (and best way) to fix that is to raise the age limit to 20. That way, it gives the college kids two years to improve their skills and the NBA better quality players to draft. It simultaneously improves the college and pro games. A win-win all around.
Implement a HARD salary cap. Let’s be real about something: the luxury tax renders the alleged salary cap useless. No team is penalized if they out-spend their competition for the sake of winning a championship (see the 2010-2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks). A hard salary cap (as in the NFL’s) would limit teams’ abilities to stock up on stars and other good players. It will do two things: limit player movement and spread the talent around.
Eliminate guaranteed contracts. I do not think an explanation is needed here. Pay for play is the only way that a lot of players will give it 100%. If you don’t believe me, see Derrick Coleman, Shawn Kemp, Eddie Curry, Jerome James, Baron Davis (I could go on). Oh and by the way, it also allows teams to get out of bad contracts.