by Ryan Isley
That’s it – I have had it with the current state of the National Basketball Association.
Earlier this week on More Than A Fan, Hayden said that he is going to boycott the NBA (besides the Cleveland Cavaliers) because the NBA has become a shell of what it once was. I can’t say that I blame him.
With the news this week that the New Jersey – oops, I mean Brooklyn – Nets have agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Hawks in which the Nets will receive Joe Johnson, they re-signed Deron Williams and then rumors that they still somehow have a shot at obtaining Dwight Howard, enough is enough with this league.
The last time I checked, the NBA had a lockout at the beginning of this past season because owners were worried about player salaries getting out of control and also about the players having too much power within the league.
Don’t we still have this problem?
There is a simple answer to fix what ails this player-first league. If they want superteams, give them their superteams. But to do that, we need to whittle down the number of teams in the league so that ALL of the teams have the chance to be superteams.
In one of his contributing articles on Yahoo! Sports, Josh called for contraction, stating that the NBA needed to get down to 28 teams in the league instead of 30. While I like the idea of contraction, I am about to take it even a step further than Josh ever dreamed of doing when writing that piece during the NBA lockout last October.
Forget 28 teams – that is still too many. How about 24? Nah – let’s go even further. 20 is a nice round number. But that is still too many.
Let’s take this league down to 16 teams – 8 in each conference. Keep the 66-game season from the lockout if you want, or make it an 82-game season like the league has had in the past. The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs in a best-of-7 format in each of the three rounds.
Sounds easy enough, right? But how do we get down to 16 teams from 30?
Well, we start by looking at the teams in each conference that would make the most sense to contract. In the Eastern Conference, that would be Milwaukee, Washington, Toronto and Charlotte. In the Western Conference, eliminate Sacramento and Minnesota right off the top.
To finish off the East, I selected to get rid of Indiana, Atlanta and Orlando. Hell, nobody is busting down the doors to play for any of those three. Besides, Howard wants out of Orlando and the Hawks just traded Johnson. And Larry Bird walked away from Indiana – that can’t be a good sign, right? I could have swapped one of these teams for Cleveland, but I am getting enough hate from the fans on the Cuyahoga recently, so I didn’t need to fan those flames for right now.
In the West, I eliminated Memphis, Utah, Golden State and Phoenix. Let’s be honest – not very many people will miss any of those teams anyway.
That leaves us with these 16 teams:
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
NEW YORK KNICKS
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
SEATTLE (FORMERLY LA CLIPPERS)
As you can see by the last team in the West, I have decided that Seattle deserves a team so I awarded the Clippers to them. At least that way, the Clippers won’t be their city’s red-headed stepchild anymore. There is a Mike McQueary joke in there somewhere, but I digress.
For the sake of this column, we are assuming that the Nets get Howard, creating the beginning of their superteam.
The first thing we would need to do is create the salary cap for the new league. Let’s say we just start at $90 million. Within that cap, you would eliminate the exceptions, such as the mid-level exception and Bird-rights, etc.
While the salary cap seems a little high – $32 million higher than 2011-12 – part of that would be to expand the rosters. Instead of having 15 spots on the team with 12 active players each night, we would bump that up to 18 players with 15 available players each game.
The way we could work this out as far as players and building the teams would be pretty simple as well. All of the players who are currently free agents would remain free agents. All players on the teams who have been contracted would be thrown into a draft pool for the remaining 16 teams – a draft that would last 10 rounds.
The one catch is that each player that is in the draft goes in with their current contract, meaning if a guy still has four years and $30 million left on their deal, that is what the team drafting him would assume of his contract.
Since David Stern still runs the league, we would of course keep the draft lottery for this contraction draft – it would only be right.
So that teams who already have their rosters front-loaded can’t take the best players available, any player who has made the All-NBA first, second or third team over the past two seasons will cost their team a pick. For example – if Team A had a player on the second team All-NBA in 2011-12 and a player on first team All-NBA in 2010-11, they would lose their first two picks.
Based on this, the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers would give up their picks in the first four rounds, the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks would give up their first three picks, the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets would give up their first two picks and the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls would each give up their first round pick.
After the 134 players are drafted, any player remaining would become a free agent and their contract would be voided, allowing teams to negotiate a new contract with them following the draft.
This is what the players want – an AAU-type league – so if the owners and league office are going to continue allowing them to run the league, why not just let them go all out with it? We already know they don’t care about the fans, so let’s quit pretending that fans matter and just let the millionaires have the league the way they want it.
They will figure out soon enough that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Agree with Ryan? Or do you think he has finally lost it? Leave a comment here or email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org