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What the NBA Schedule Tells Us About the CBA

by Photo of Andrew Lontos

You’ll see plenty of big market teams on television during the 2011-2012 season.

What the NBA Schedule Tells Us About the CBA

In this article…

Take a look at the 2011-2012 NBA Schedule, which was released yesterday. The first thing you’ll notice is cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Boston are on national television A LOT. The defending champion Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics are on national television 30 times each. The Knicks are on 29 times. The Bulls and Heat are each on 28 times. And the Lakers will play in front of a national audience 27 times this season.

Despite the fact that the status of the league is up in the air, the NBA has already decided who it will showcase throughout the year. The reason for this is simple: these big market teams draw great interest and drive up TV ratings. Which brings us to the CBA, and more specifically, revenue sharing. When Chicago and Dallas open the season on TNT, the money made from that game will not be split between the two teams; the entire league profits from it. The other 28 franchises will get a check in the mail for doing nothing. The more money the Bulls and Mavericks generate, the greater the amount of that check. This is why the success of big market teams is good not only for David Stern and fans in metropolitan areas, but for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Sacramento Kings of the world as well. When the Knicks were atrocious for the last decade, the league couldn’t capitalize on all of their money generating potential. Now that they are marketable again, the CBA will not be restructured in a way that hurts New York (or Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.). This would damage the rest of the franchises financially. Do you think the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves wants his check to be from the revenue of a Kings-Bobcats game, or a Knicks-Bulls matchup?

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Because of this, I can say with confidence that the logical conclusion one can draw is there will not be a hard cap and there will be a Mid-Level Exception in the new CBA. A hard cap would prevent teams like the Knicks, Lakers, and Heat from significantly improving their rosters that consist of high-priced All-Stars. Also, a hard cap would probably mean the end of the luxury tax, in which teams that spend over a certain amount have to pay money to the teams who stay under the dollar figure. The teams who receive luxury tax money tend to be the same small market organizations who benefit financially from the success of the big market teams. The Mid-Level Exception rewards teams for spending money and allows them to add a quality player that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Furthermore, this player can often be a missing piece for a team looking to make a championship run (Ron Artest with the Lakers in 2009). The league is not going to make it more difficult for the Knicks, Bulls, and the like to get over the hump, resulting in an increase in television ratings, advertising costs, and endorsements, when most of that money will be spread out amongst everyone.

A hard cap would result in more parity, which sounds nice on paper. Taking away the advantages teams in big cities have and leveling the playing field is good for fans of the Timberwolves, Bobcats, and Kings. But it’s not good for the financial state of the NBA. Having “evil empires” that the rest of the league hates (Celtics, Lakers, Yankees, Red Sox) is good for the popularity of the sport. It’s why Duke Basketball games draw so well; millions of people unite in their hatred of the team. The Knicks are on national television 29 times this upcoming year. Do you think ratings will be higher with or without Chris Paul? Is the league going to go out of its way to prevent a move like that to be made? More people will watch successful, big market teams. And that means more money for everyone.

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