Interesting piece in the NY Times this week where Howard Beck discusses the NBA's future with super-agent David Falk. Hat-tip to The Guy Who Knows Things for passing this along. (And a finger-wag to Nils for going into witness protection.)
The N.B.A.’s system is broken, Falk says, and fixing it will require radical measures that almost guarantee a standoff in 2011, when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
[But LeBron can still be on the Knicks, right? In any event, I'm assuming that "radical measures" implies compromise on multiple fronts.]
Falk said he believed Stern, the commissioner, would push for a hard salary cap, shorter contracts, a higher age limit on incoming players, elimination of the midlevel cap exception and an overall reduction in the players’ percentage of revenue.
[Aaaaaand I would assume incorrectly.]
“The owners have the economic wherewithal to shut the thing down for two years, whatever it takes, to get a system that will work long term,” he said in an extensive interview to discuss his new book. “The players do not have the economic wherewithal to sit out one year.”
[*Two* years? Wouldn't a lot of NBA guys just go play overseas (where a lot of them are already wildly popular)? Although, this is assuming that the Euro leagues still have money.]
The players, he said, must recognize that the owners have the ultimate leverage. Many are billionaires for whom owning an N.B.A. team is merely a pricey hobby.
Unlike most of his peers, and the union leadership, Falk is an advocate of the age limit, which Stern won during collective bargaining negotiations in 2005. Falk said the limit, now 19 years old, should be raised to 20 or 21.
[That sounds totally impractical from a player representation standpoint.]
His reasons are purely practical.
The influx of underclassmen to the N.B.A. has eroded fan familiarity and the quality of play, Falk said. An age limit will create more polished and prepared rookies, while the N.C.A.A. provides free advertising for future N.B.A. stars.
[Oh, ok. So that last sentence should have actually read that his reasons are purely practical FOR OWNERS. From a player's perspective, I am almost positive that "Making (potentially) millions of dollars" > "Providing free advertising for your future employer."]
Changes to the salary cap and the age limit sound like sacrifices from the player’s side.
[I would certainly see it that way.]
Falk does not see it that way.
[This is still super-agent David Falk, right? That is, super-agent to NBA players, right? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!]
“The only logical way over the next 25 years that players are going to make more money is to grow the pie,” Falk said.
[Yep. Take note, Kobe. If you want to be more richly compensated two decades from now, you are going to have to make some concessions in the present day. Wait, what's that, Kobe? You say that won't be playing in the NBA 20 years from now? Well why not? You'll be in your mid-50s? Hmmmm. Hey, what's that over there!?! (scurries away)]
It seems to me that current players aren't likely to benefit (outside of potentially avoiding a work stoppage) from making the kinds of concessions noted herein by Falk. But you know who will? Well, owners, obviously. But also...... agents like David Falk who will still be representing NBA players 25 years from now, albeit new and different players. Clever, right?