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League, union already debating NBA finances -- why you should care


League, union already debating NBA finances -- why you should care

Following the NBA's Board of Governors meeting Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver raised eyebrows when he said that "a significant number of teams" are not profitable. 

According to reports, the number could be up to one third of the league. 

Silver's revelation might come as a surprise given that the league just inked a $24 billion TV contract. But the deal kicks in starting 2016-17, so teams won't see any revenue until then. Even at that point, it stipulates that players will receive 51 percent of basketball related income.

Teams just shelled out $1.5 billion in player contracts on day one of free agency alone. 

The commissioner lays out the league's point of view

"Teams are still spending enormous amounts of money on payroll, they still have enormous expenses in terms of arena costs, teams are building new practice facilities, the cost of their infrastructure in terms of their marketing people and their sales people, those costs have gone up," Silver said. 

Obviously, smaller market teams don't make as much money, but the 2011 collective bargaining agreement ushered in more generous revenue sharing. By payroll, Silver seems to implicate player contracts as the main culprit for franchise shortfalls.

The league and players also agreed to divvy up revenue 50-50 in the 2011 CBA (which becomes 51 percent for the players once the TV deal begins in 2016-17), meaning that if player contracts total less than half of the NBA's revenue, the league must cut the NBAPA a check for the difference. And that's happening. 

“There are projections that for next year we could be writing a check moving close to half a billion dollars to the players' association. That was not something we predicted when we went into this collective bargaining,” Silver said. “That’s happened because the revenue we have generated was much higher than we had ever modeled. But we are also learning when you have all that money coming into the system, team behavior is not necessarily predictable either.” 

Read: Marquee franchises have cash and caché to throw at players. To stay competitive, small market teams must offer similar or even larger contracts to attract talent -- sometimes pushing expenses higher than revenues. 

Not so fast, says the NBA Players Association

NBAPA executive director Michele Roberts weighed in the next day. She countered Silver's argument with specific examples of the NBA's growth. 

"Virtually every business metric demonstrates that our business is healthy," she said. "Gate receipts, merchandise sales and TV ratings are all at an all-time high. Franchise values have risen exponentially in recent years, and the NBA has enjoyed high single digit revenue growth since 2010-11."

Roberts let the air out of Silver's complaint about the cost of new facilities, asserting that these infrastructure investments have actually been revenue and valuation boosters. Plus, public funding for new construction offsets team costs significantly. 

Long story short, the league says teams are losing money and the NBAPA just doesn't buy it

That's too bad, because both sides can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 15, 2016 -- setting the stage for a lockout in 2017. 

Silver's comments may hint at the league's position in future negotiations, potentially that players must accept a smaller share of the revenues for the NBA to thrive. 

Judging by Roberts' response, the players consider that position both unfair and untrue. 

The NBAPA statement didn't make this point, but it's worth noting that the most valuable franchises make more than enough money to cover the others' losses. The players could argue that the league doesn't need a larger share of revenue, but rather to manage the money it has more effectively. 

MORE WIZARDS: Players union head responds to NBA commissioner

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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