The Lockout’s Potential Effect on the Lakers and the NBA

According to Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “This problem is not really the players’ fault. The league has taken in a huge influx of unproven talent by drafting and signing very young players. In the old days, college was a great place for players to mature and learn the game. Now, with an entry age of 19, we see too many pampered, immature and un-coachable players coming into the NBA. I believe this has hurt both the pro game and the college game. The colleges are losing their best players to the pros, and the NBA has to keep these players on the bench while they (hopefully) develop the basketball IQ and maturity to play at the NBA level. However, that development doesn’t always happen; there are way too many washouts.”*

For the Lakers, dealing with a newly instated hard salary cap would mean major changes.  The Lakers are currently working with a salary cap that is more than $91 million, a number that is drastically higher than the expected hard cap limit that could be determined in a new CBA.

This means releasing talent, restructuring current contracts, and trading away high salary players for either lower salary players or one single player. For example, if the Lakers went after Dwight Howard, they would have to trade at least two (probably three) players for just Howard alone.

Second, there is the demand for revenue sharing among the NBA teams. This would develop sustainability for NBA teams, especially with teams like the New Orleans Hornets and the Sacramento Kings who are both facing financial troubles. Revenue sharing is rather popular in professional sports, with a goal of increasing competitiveness and equal opportunities for all the league’s teams.

According to NBC Sports, “In the NFL — the gold standard for revenue sharing among professional sports — about 70 percent of what is considered football related income is shared (which is an issue because that used to be more than 80 percent just a few years back). In the NBA, that number is about 25 percent.”**

As for the Lakers, their “new local television contract that kicks in next seasons and will pay them upwards of $150 million a season, is more than some teams will make in total revenue in a season. Yet, under the current system the Lakers have to share none of that money.”**

Now a lot of Laker fans will say that it is not the team’s fault they make that type of money. While these fans would certainly have a point, the topic of revenue sharing may not have been brought forth if the hard cap wasn’t demanded by the owners. The majority of players feel that they shouldn’t be mandated to take a cut in pay if the big market owners aren’t willing to share their revenue in order to raise the competitive level of all NBA teams.

The possibility of a hard salary cap and increased revenue sharing would change the NBA from its current state. The formation of superstar teams, like the one formed last summer in Miami, would no longer be possible. Owners are going to have to learn how to share, which is going to be difficult for big market owners and welcomed by the smaller market owners. The players are going to have to realize enormous salaries are no longer the standard, but rather they are earned.

It will be quite interesting to watch what happens during the first week that the lockout finally ends. There will be a mad rush, bigger than the NFL, to adjust and complete team rosters to adhere to the new CBA. The NBA will be back eventually, the players will compete and the owners will still make their millions. However, will the lockout result in a better NBA? Only time will tell.



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