Last night I was leaning back in my chair, chucking a ball against the wall and thoroughly pissing off my neighbours in the process when I received a mobile call.

Hmm, strange number. Looks American. Meh. Probably one of my cousins. Answer it.

“Ash speaking.”
“This is David Stern.”
“Haha, yeah right. F**k off.”
“No, I’m serious.”
“Oh really? Then answer a question for me.”
“No time. Listen. As you know, we’re screwed. Hunter and I can’t even agree on what to get for lunch here.” (On the other side of the phone, I could hear Billy Hunter yelling “WE’RE GETTING PIZZA!” and Stern yelling back “We’re getting Chinese and that’s that!”)

“You see. We need your help.”
“Why me? I mean, I’m flattered, but I’m just a fan and a blogger on the other side of the world.”
“Yeah, well, you write for the best NBA blog on the Internet and you’re the best looking writer of them all, so we picked you.”
“OK, cool. Here’s what I’d do…”

And at this point I woke up having fallen on the floor after reclining my chair too far. Stupid dreams. And I couldn’t even ask him about the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

Regardless, even if David Stern isn’t asking for my advice, here’s how I would fix the system.

Hard cap with a $40 million floor and $70 million ceiling. The NBA owners wanted a hard cap, but moved away from this demand once they realised that the players’ union would never budge on a cap limit of around $50 million. I personally think a hard cap is a good idea as long as it’s high enough that teams can have some flexibility to move without needing to be saved from themselves. $70 million was around the luxury tax limit last year. That sounds like a fair amount to set as the max.

Franchise Player Exemption. You have here the centerpiece of my proposal. Basically, under the Franchise Player Exemption (FPE for brevity’s sake) each team gets to designate one player on their team as a franchise player. For the duration of their contract (let’s say a maximum six years) that player’s salary exists outside the cap and teams could pay him basically as much as they desired. However, as I mentioned before, each franchise player exemption exists for the duration of that player’s contract and teams can not have more than one franchise player. Let’s say that the Hornets re-signed Chris Paul to a FPE contract (of, I don’t know, $30 million a year) but then decided that they wanted to trade him to a team who already had a designed franchise player – Paul would lose his status and the team trading for him would have to fit him under the cap.

Eliminate all other exemptions (MLE, Larry Bird etc). Speaks for itself really. I hate the MLE and don’t believe the Bird Exemption does its job much anymore.

Eliminate sign and trades. Call it the Carmelo Clause. We all just watched him jerk around three franchises for most of last season because he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. While it didn’t work so badly for anyone in the end – the Knicks got their man, the Nuggets got a nice haul of talent and the Nets used the assets they didn’t trade for Me-lo on Deron Williams – it was still an ugly soap opera that was a blight on the game.

Instead of sign and trades, I’d make a system similar to the NFL’s where players can negotiate contracts with teams before they’re traded to them – however, unlike the NFL, I would also state that the failure to come up with a contract extension agreement does not void a trade.

52/48 revenue split. This seems like a fair amount to me. Owners want 50/50 or less, players want at least 53. Let’s keep it at 52/48. I personally believe the players should get more, but gotta compromise.

Team moves/contractions as suggested by me here.

I’m not saying that I don’t have all the answers here, because frankly I think I do. I’m talking here purely as a basketball fan, as a fan of a mid-market team who just wants the NBA to come back.

I’m following ice hockey closer in the meantime, but I can’t even see where the hell the puck is most of the time.


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