Mo Money, Less Problems

Some lockout talk, and lo and behold, even some basketball talk.

The Raptors/Leafs season-seat holder party is happening right now and I don’t really know what’s going on there. I checked all the Twitter accounts of all the people who were there, and they’re not saying anything. Dwane Casey, Bryan Colangelo and Mugsy Bogues (what?) were there. The Sheepdogs performed as well. I haven’t seen them live, but I’ve actually seen a sheep dog perform his duties, and I can tell you without a shred of hesitation, that if every Raptor did their job as well as a sheep dog, we’d be running out of space at the ACC to stash championship trophies.

David Stern is once again speaking about how the NBA season is on the line if a deal isn’t reached soon. Of course, the best part about that interview is Stephen A. Smith yelling at Stern like he’s got Tourettes. There’s been enough written about the lockout from both angles, how the players are greedy SOBs, how the owners can’t control themselves, how haggling over millions in a struggling economy is asinine, blah blah blah. Here’s the bottom line: every player in the NBA makes a profit. 70% of the teams don’t.

If anyone expects the owners to buckle under fan or media pressure, they’re wrong. In these economic times, it’s about cutting your losses and only a “true fan” owner (read stupid) will agree to continue playing in a situation where losses are guaranteed. Stern can play the heartbroken commissioner all he wants by talking about those noncompetitive teams and the gulf in payroll between the Kings and Lakers, but it’s not about that. It’s about the league dealing with declining attendance numbers, a dive in disposal income across North America, competing sources of entertainment, and a product that until last year, had been declining.

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it and no matter what numbers you use, it is in the players’ interest to play. And they will. It’ll be at close to 50-50 of the BRI, and a hard-hitting luxury tax that will end up serving as a hard cap. That’s what the owners are offering and it’s also been confirmed by the players union, and if it weren’t for the hubris of the union, and the feeling of getting punched in the gut by giving up more than 7% of BRI in one summer, this deal would’ve been signed.

Here’s another bottom line: in a few years, the average player salary will rise from around $5.15 million to around $7 million under the deal the owners are offering (even the NBA median salary is great compared to other sports). To me, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I get it, I get the players perspective, it honestly sucks when the gravy train stops, but it eventually has to. It doesn’t matter if it has been the owners’ irresponsible spending that got them there, this is the time where they’ve set out to correct the system, mainly against themselves, and they’re not going to let it go until it happens. You can have all the “Let us Play” campaigns on Twitter, it doesn’t change the fact that the players are being given an opportunity to play, they’ll just have to settle for a 35% raise over 5 years.

I’m out of my depth here, but I’m going to venture a guess and say that the federal mediator is never going to order NBA owners to operate under a loss.

Some brief basketball talk. I was looking at some Jonas video from over the summer and reading some analysis from here and there, and what everybody is gaga about is his pick ‘n roll game. And what do you need if you have a big man who can run a great pick ‘n roll, why, you need a point guard who can play the pick ‘n roll. Which Raptor is easily the best at serving it up? Jose Calderon. You probably remember the Jose Calderon/Amir Johnson pick ‘n rolls from last season because he’s the only big who actually does the roll part consistently. I would think Valanciunas and Calderon would be quite a good fit on the play, and if the lockout kills this season, the Raptors would have only to pay Calderon one year of salary, and in that year he could (barring injury) partner nicely with Valanciunas, and also provide cap relief the following summer.

Jerryd Bayless will get another chance to prove that he’s starter quality, however, I doubt it’ll be a long look, and I seriously doubt he’s going to make the grade. If he is to fall by the wayside in a shortened season, then acquiring a point guard (hopefully from the draft) goes from a nice-to-have to a priority, and Calderon’s value to the team increases, both in a financial and basketball sense.

As far as team needs go, defensive center I suppose is still #1 because of Casey’s dependence on the position. Second would have to be three-point shooting as the Raptors were dead-last in that category, and you sort of need that if you have a center who likes to play in the paint. Third is the need for a small forward, maybe James Johnson is that guy, maybe not. Fourth…

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