On Wednesday, ESPN released a “report card” of all NBA teams on how well they have done at improving their rosters in the offseason.
What ESPN didn’t do was release a report card on the NBA itself. Let me do that for you. It’s a D-minus.
Five years ago, the NBA commissioner, team owners and representatives of the NBA Players Association spent weeks haggling over what a going rate should be for a fielding an NBA and for paying the best players.
The league said it had to do something because too many teams were losing money because too much income was going into player salaries.
If the NBA happened to make a nice profit above what league officials projected, then that extra profit would be divided 50/50 with the Players Association.
Over the weekend, Adam Silver, who took over the commissioner’s post last year, announced that the NBA had made massive windfall above what was projected. That 50/50 share that the league would make to the players would be about half a billion dollars.
Soak that in for a minute. The NBA made $1 billion more than expected and had to share $500 million with the players. This is on top of the players’ regular salaries.
This announcement from Silver came just four days after the commissioner said that “a significant number of teams” are losing money right now.
How can it be that the league has record-breaking profits and some teams still can’t break even?
One national news agency reported that small-market cities like Charlotte received a big paycheck from the NBA as part of its revenue-sharing plan. The news report didn’t say exactly how much Charlotte received, but said that one unnamed city got as much as $20 million.
By the way, Adam Silver is a lawyer, so lying might be second nature to him. Still, his conflicting reports don’t add up.
Add in a new nine-year, $24 billion television contract with ESPN and TNT, and there just doesn’t seem any way possible that any NBA team could be hurting for profit.
If teams don’t have any spending money, then why the enormous shopping spree when free agency opened this month? And why is the salary cap going up from $63.1 million to $67.1 million?
And that’s not even considering the gigantic jump in cap that could occur over following two years. ESPN reported that sources in the league say the magic number could go to $89 million in 2016 and $108 million in 2017.
If the TV deal is going to make every team more profitable, then why not share that wealth with the people who really matter? You know, the fans.
Rather than seeing the average player salary skyrocket 40 percent over the next two years, why not keep salaries the same and cut ticket prices so more people can afford to go see a game?
The worst seat in the Hornets’ home stadium still costs $400 for season tickets, and sitting near the front of the upper level can cost more than $1,000 a year.
Want to go to a single game? Expect to pay more than $30 for the worst seats. Oh the ticket price is $10, according to the Hornets’ website, but then they add on $20.85 for fees.
The average NBA salary will be more than $5 million a year next season and could climb to $8 million in a couple of seasons. That’s not for your superstars. That’s just a regular, run-of-the-mill player.
Heck, the Mavericks re-signed J.J. Barea to a four-year, $16 million contract, and he’s only played an average of 18 minutes a game the past two years.
Wouldn’t it be better to reinvest in the fan base by making it easier to go to a game?
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.