NFL commissioner Roger Goddell announced earlier this week he'd cut his pay to $1 if there is a lockout in the NFL. That got me thinking once again about the state of the NBA labor situation. No, I didn't expect David Stern to quickly announce he'd cut his pay to .75 cents but clearly 2011 stands to be a very interesting year in professional sports.
With the looming labor contracts hanging over the heads of the two biggest professional sports entities in the world, the NFL and NBA. The NFL will have a chance to remedy their issues sooner simply because of the calendar of where their season falls. Once the Super Bowl is over they can truly focus on the labor issue especially with their deadline being March of this year.
The NBA does have 1 window coming up to try and begin making some real headway before the season ends in June with the NBA finals. The upcoming All Star game in LA will be the final opportunity for all the necessary parties to come together for an extended period to put any new ideas and or proposals on the table. Now, I'm not expecting a deal to get hammered out during the All Star break but if the league and the players union are serious about getting something done then these three or four days must be used wisely.
In the last two weeks word was quickly sent out via email and the social networks to all players and NBA personnel to save your money because a lockout was coming. This message has been sent out several times now over the last year. The question is how many players will actually heed the warning and do just that, save their money? And if they aren't saving money and indeed there is a lockout might some of those players be enticed to play elsewhere?
David Stern has often said that the NBA is a global game and come next season that might be more true than he ever imagined or at least sooner than he imagined.
What are the 2 things professional athletes love most (generally speaking of course)? Playing their sport and making dollar bills! If they aren't able to do either do you think they might entertain the possibility of going somewhere they can?
Just this week the Suns newest signee (10-day contract), Zabian Dowdell told Sports Illustrated that he turned down making $70,000 per month for a Euro league team just to play in the NBA. Now that's a man who loves the NBA and I can appreciate his conviction of wanting to make it on the big stage. Now fast forward a year from now. What if the big stage is dark and the doors to the stage are closed. Dowell's decision becomes pretty easy. He's heading to Europe.
So who else might join a Zabian Dowdell? Carlos Arroyo, Michael Redd, Andrei Kirilenko? These are all players who will be unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. They are three of many who will have no official ties to an NBA team when July 1 rolls around.
If you follow the Euro league at all you know that they love their hoops and they love to have marquee names to attract fans. There have been former college stars from the US who have gone to play in Europe and make very nice livings. Yes you're away from your family and there are many comforts that you aren't afforded that are available in the states or the NBA but at the end of the day it's all about the Benjamin's isn't it?
The other little important note about the Euro league is that their owners will pay top dollar for a big marquee name. Would a David West or Zach Randolph consider taking their talents to Europe to make big bucks and ride out the uncertainty of the NBA labor mess? And if they go who else might follow?
It's not a subject that many folks have discussed and while I don't think you'd see a huge number of players head to Europe I do think it's something that has to be considered very seriously. The players who have made top dollar are likely to be okay for a while but it's the mid-level guys and league minimum guys who you have to figure will need those paychecks to keep coming.
The big stars I'm not so worried about, but this league is more than just big stars. You have to have bench players, role players and these are the very players who make up the bigger percentage of the NBA than the stars do. What if the league lost half of its bench and role players to lucrative deals in Europe while they try and get something settled. If the people running these Euro league teams are smart they'd be on the phones with the agents of these players and begin discussing the possibility of acquiring their services. Could they construct a contract that would prevent the NBA player from immediately dumping their team in order to return to the states if an agreement is reached let's say in mid-season?
Does the Euro league even compare to the NBA? We all know the answer to that. But I do believe that the NBA and its players' union can't overlook anything when it comes to getting a new deal hammered out and the possibility of losing players to European team's short term & long term has to be considered.
Here's hoping that in the end cooler heads prevail and come October of this year we're talking about the season tip off and not about how long the lockout will last and who will fall victim to its impact.