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Carmelo’s move may make CBA negotiations nastier

Feb 25, 2011, 7:06 PM EDT

Carmelo Anthony James Dolan

Utah Jazz owner Greg Miller talked about it when he tried to explain to a shaken fan base why he felt he had to trade Deron Williams away.

His argument: it’s a new era of stars congregating in big markets. The players have taken control of the process in a way they have not before. We could not risk Williams leaving as a free agent and getting nothing for him, so we had to make this move.

But then Miller said something else that hints at just how difficult the collective bargaining agreement negotiations are going to be:

“I’m not interested in seeing a congregation of star players on a handful of teams throughout the league…” Miller said. “I would like to see as much parity as there can be in the league.”

What has happened in the last couple years is a monumental shift in how and where free agents will go, and how players are using the leverage of free agency to move around. Carmelo Anthony’s move to the Knicks was the latest, most publicized proof of that. But it is a trend, no doubt.

And some owners want to shut that down.

In the current CBA, players were given the freedom of movement, but the “home team” (the team the player was with) was given a huge advantage — they could offer more money and more years. Nobody was going to walk away from tens of millions on a max deal, right? For a long time that was enough of an advantage, players usually took the money.

But LeBron James and Chris Bosh took less money and planned a superteam. Carmelo Anthony used the leverage of taking less money to get to New York (with his money). Now smaller market owners like Miller are trading D-Will now rather than risk losing out.

The players have the power. Maybe they have always had the power, but they are flexing that muscle more now. And the owners want to shift that power balance — and the players are going to fight to keep it.

Maybe it’s through a franchise tag. Maybe it’s through changes in max contracts and a hard cap (or the severity of penalties for exceeding a soft cap). There are a lot of ways to do it. But you can bet the owners are pushing hard for a fundamental shift in the financial and player movement structures that exist now. There are a handful of big-market owners who are doves on this issue, but there are more and more smaller-market owners who are hawks.

Those hawks watched the Carmelo Anthony scenario play out, they watched LeBron and Bosh last summer and they said, “there but for the grace of God go I.” They know if they luck into drafting a true star, they could lose him. They could lose the meal ticket. It will be couched in terms of franchise viability, but what it really means is making sure they have ways to hold on to their elite players.

The National Basketball Players Association, the union, is going to fight to keep player movement. They will argue it is good for the league (television ratings are way up and league wide game attendance is up slightly). They will argue that it is only fair that a person who fulfills his contract can choose his place of employment.

This was going to be a nasty fight as it was. What happened with Carmelo will make it nastier. And longer. And that is worse for all of us.

  1. scorp16 - Feb 25, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    I understand the point the owners are making. However, the players have an equally as justified position.

    In the post, you references LeBron, Bosh, and Melo and the fact of the owners worrying about drafting a potential superstar only to fear losing him.

    In my opinion, the problem lies with the owners. If they capably surround “said” superstar with quality players and the opportunity to at least compete for a title, well, then “said” superstar would not be as tempted to leave. LeBron, Bosh, and Melo gave seven years to their respective franchises. After those 7 years, the prospect of any of those franchises winning a title with the players the respective owners surrounded their superstars with was minimal.

    If a team is run properly, from talent evaluation, owner, GM, and Coach, well then this would be a non-issue. I give you two examples. Oklahoma City and Miami. Both these cities are not top 10 markets. But Riley and Presti run these franchises as they need to.

    Riley since he’s been in Miami has done everything to ensure that Miami was competitive. Trading for Mourning and Hardaway, giving Wade the piece they needed with Shaq, and now with the acquisition for Lebron and Bosh. Presti has run the Thunder equally as well.

    Had Shaq not come to Miami, and had Wade not won in 2006, I highly doubt he would still be a part of the Heat today. Wade had confidence his front office would surround him with the pieces he needed. LeBron, Bosh, Melo, Amare, all did not have that same confidence in their front offices. Players should not be penalized for the incompetency of their front offices.

    Ask yourself this:

    If Shaq would have won a title or two in Orlando (not a major market) would he have left?
    If Melo would have won in Denver would he have left?
    If Bosh would have won in Toronto would he have left?
    If the Lakers didn’t make the trade for Gasol, Kobe would be in Philly or NY today.
    Do you remember the rumors of Pierce wanting out of Boston in 2006 when they were 28-54 (I do) – do you think if Garnett and Allen didn’t get there the following year he’d still be a Celtic

    Unfortunately, in a player’s contract there is not a clause that addresses the competency of the team’s owner, GM, and coach.

    If you run the team right you get OKC. When you don’t, you get the Detroit Pistons. Compare those two sizes of market.

    • ispysomething7 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:44 AM

      LeBron had plenty of opportunities to help bring talent to Cleveland ; i.e. Kidd, Nash, Ariza. He chose not to. He blessed the Shaquille and Mo Williams deal and now everyone says Cleveland didn’t make the moves necessary to keep him. The NBA owners are frustrated and they should be. If you want proof, look at the financials of the Hornets that were released on and compare them to the financials of the Pittsbugh Pirates also on NBA small market teams are bleeding cash. Some owners lost a lot of money during this crash. Even David Stern said the NBA is losing money. You don’t hear that claim from Selig and Goodell, do you?

      I think everyone could agree that the Pirates are a small market team that have been terrible since 1992. But when one looks at their financials and sees that they printed cash in 2009, all is well in the world of MLB. You don’t see the small market teams complaining, do you?

      Come to reality folks, this NBA lockout will get nasty.

      • bigtrav425 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:59 AM

        i will also add Lebron NEVER did ANY “recruiting ” either ,which lets be honest most if not all stars do because they want to make there team better to WIN.LBJ did not do that.if he did Gilbert would of had did what he had to do to get them here

  2. dysraw1 - Feb 25, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Onwers/player have both got to be flexable & a little less greedy after all u guys claim to do this 4 the fan

  3. brewdogg - Feb 25, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Here’s a solution. At the end of every season, all NBA players are ranked, and the teams have the following rules to abide by:

    – no team may sign a top-20 player if they already have a top-20 player
    – no team may sign a top-50 player if they already have two top-50 players
    – no team may sign a top-100 player if they already have four top-100 players

    This way, players still have the freedom to leave a team if they choose, but their options would be limited. Would NY still have been able to sign Melo? Maybe…. Is Amare top-20? Would NJ have been able to sign Williams? Likely. But the Heat? No.

    Note that this would only apply to FA signings. If teams were willing to trade for stars, they would still be able to. The Celtics would still have happened, as well as the Lakers. But this would really put more emphasis on drafting again.

    • denverhoopdreams - Feb 26, 2011 at 5:25 PM

      Terrible idea. Just like me and the other 34 people who gave this a thumbs down think.

  4. redbear18 - Feb 25, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    Greg Miller said it perfectly. I liked Lebron, even after the move to Miami, but now I’m not so sure. His team switching was the first in a line of dominos. Stoudemire was 2, Melo was 3, and the Jazz didn’t want to risk Williams being number 4. This is new state of the NBA is hurting everyone, fans and players. Billups was dragged into the Melo deal, although he was a Denver guy and planned to retire there. Williams was disappointed with the way the jazz have been playing lately (who wouldn’t be?), but he liked playing for the fans in Utah and wasn’t necessarily going to leave in 2012. I don’t like where the league is going, and I hope it can be fixed in the new CBA, or else they will lose fans and money. That’s a guarantee.

  5. bigtrav425 - Feb 25, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    It all comes down to that the players in the NBA for the most part,not all but most nowadays are Prima Donna’s and either want the big city or someplace warm because there to big of pussies to handle the cold weather..Simple as that and as a fan whether the players are right or wrong what is going on is troublesome for sure and something needs to be done about it and now not later

    • scorp16 - Feb 25, 2011 at 10:26 PM

      “but most nowadays are Prima Donna’s and either want the big city or someplace warm”

      No..They want to Win.

      You have to be at least a semi big city to have a sports franchise…as for being warm?

      Gretzky in Edmonton…not warm (Not too big either and he didn’t leave.. they traded him)
      Jordan in Chicago….warm 5 days a year (JK it’s at least warm 8 days a year).

      Now if you want to talk about some of the least attractive places to play…..

      Thurman Thomas actually cried when the Buffalo Bills traded him. Why? 4 Super Bowls in a row will do that to you.

      Milwaukee/Green Bay isn’t exactly the biggest (or warmest) market in the world…yet….Brett doesn’t seem to want to let it go.

      Bottom Line is….You could put an NBA Franchise in Antartica….If you had a good owner…good coach…and a good fan base (even if they may be eskimos)..You can build and retain a good team..

      Can you imagine what the Antartica Penguins would draw if their starting line up was: CPaul, Dwade, LeBron, Garnett, and Howard?

      Some GM’s get it…others don’t…..But for those that do….I’d travel to Antartica a couple of times a year to watch it…..

      My Vote would be Mark Cuban (Owner). Pat Riley (GM)..and Doc Rivers (Coach)…..
      The entire country would be walking around with LeBron “6” Antartica Penguin Jerseys

      • bigtrav425 - Feb 26, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        i get what your saying …i more so meant the NBA players not any other sports..and as for the Lebron and bosh thing you cant tell me any other team besides the Heat actually had a chance at signing these 2? same goes for Amare and to a lesser extent Carmello…the recent happenings over the last yr does not bode well for the NBA becasue it doesnt really matter who your GM or owner is if these players are conspiring to play with each other no matter what like Wade,Bosh and LBJ has been for a few yrs. How fair is that to a players current team if they know nothing about it all along and thinking they actually have a chance to keep there star player,whoever that maybe

  6. 6webd - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    @scorp16 you pretty much nailed it …

  7. rapmusicmademedoit - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    “I’m not interested in seeing a congregation of star players on a handful of teams throughout the league…” Miller said. “I would like to see as much parity as there can be in the league.”

    in other word’s i don’t want my black player’s to play ball where they want and by the way i like
    when i have two hall of famer’s playing in Utah this way i don’t bitch about making a player stay
    in Utah, my friend get a life. he did not have a problem signing Boozer from the Cavs, i guess that
    was the parity he was talking about. dude is lucky, we need a point guard in NY.

  8. rapmusicmademedoit - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Just wanted to throw this out there, Celtics have won 17 championship and
    the Lakers 16 , 17 after this 3peat

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