It seems like there in no major sports league that isn't having problems. The NFL is in there lockout for over 100 days. The owners and players are crying about having to share profits as far as the eye can see. The NHL in 2012 is going to have it's own problems with revenue sharing and labor. MLB's system is so far out of whack that small market teams get the shaft each and every year. Sorry, Derek Fisher, but the MLB system is broken. And the 4th sports league here in America that is having problems is the NBA. They have instituted a lockout, but this is different than the NFL. Why? Because both the owners and the players have acknowledged that there are teams losing money each and every year. So here is how I would solve the strife in basketball.
1. Basketball Related Income (BRI) should be set at 52% for the players. Yes, it is 5% less than what they are making now, but I didn't see one basketball player in 2008 or 2009 during the recession coming forward and telling their owner that I will give you 10% of my paycheck because of the economy. So you are going to have to take a hit on this at these negotiations.
2. No soft cap, no flex cap, but a hard cap. God, this would hurt all the top teams. I would put the hard cap at $69 Million. Just for 2011. Then we index the Salary Cap with the BRI. And we also bring out the dreaded salary floor. Of course we are going to be smarter than the NHL and not have a set $ amount for the difference between the cap and the floor. I say put the floor at 70% of the cap. So the floor for 2011 would be just over $48 Million. Considering that the Sacramento Kings were the lowest payroll in the league last year at $44 Million, that shouldn't be that hard to do.
3. The elimination of the "Larry Bird" Exception. With a hard-cap, the Larry Bird exception should and would die. Also, the mid-level exception should die as well. If we are worried about cost certainty, and I would be with the fluid situation that some NBA teams are in right now, getting rid of these exceptions would help the clubs.
4. The lengths of guaranteed contracts being reduced to 5 years if a player resigns with a team. 4 years if the team signs the player in Free Agency. I understand that this makes players unhappy because there is less guaranteed money for them in a contract. However, if you look at the way teams need to evaluate and look at talent, they need some sort of relief when players like Eddy Curry all of a sudden go off the rails. And shaving off a year at $12 million off a contract for some player that sits on the bench each and every night just makes good business sense. Also, the elimination of every contract being guaranteed. You want big money, go earn it.
5. Eliminate the Guaranteed Raises. Right now, a player that resigns with his old team get an automatic 10% raise. Free Agents get 8%. Eliminate those. Why should a player get an automatic raise? If the Miami Heat want to resign, Mike Miller, for example, they need to up the money to resign his ass. That in turn make other players at the same talent level want more money because someone else got it. And in my example, if mike Miller does get his 10% for resigning with Miami and all of a sudden he turns into Eddy Curry, well, the Heat are paying him because he is under a guaranteed contract and he got a automatic raise. Seems stupid for my vantage point.
6. Amnesty Clause. I would allow the clubs to eliminate one contract that they have and strike it from the hard salary cap figure. So say Miami wants to eliminate the Wade contract from Salary Cap consideration, they have that opportunity. And that one contract stays off the salary cap figure for the length of that contract. No signing somebody else to a contract and then switching the one that is off the salary cap books.
7. Maximum amounts in contracts. $12 Million per year for a player. Rookie Wage scale that gives them Restricted Free Agency in 3 years or Unrestricted in 4 years. All rookie contracts will have a team tender that is due after the 3rd year if the team want to keep the rookie for the 4th year. Compensation for signing a Restricted Free Agent would include Draft Picks and money.
8. Revenue Sharing. All clubs will give 3% of their local gate and TV revenue to the league to put into a pool which will be distributed to the 5 teams that are the worst off financially at the end of the year. A team can only receive revenue sharing once in three years.So if the team gets revenue sharing funds in 2012, the next time they will be eligable is 2015.
9. Probably won't come up in the labor negotiations, but implementing a rule that says you have to have 2 complete years after the completion of High School before you can be drafted or play in the NBA. That will allow teams to become better when evaluating players, because they will have grown up just a little bit more and the scouts will have more data to evaluate talent.
10. This one would never fly from the owners, but an audit of every teams books by someone that the player's choose. Of course there would have to be oversight of those books by said teams, but until we actually know what is going on with the teams that are losing money, you can't fix the problems. And if the organizations are found to be stashing money or playing games with the books, you can hit them with jail.