While most of the journalistic focus during the lockout has been on the serious problems with the now expired CBA framework and the the perceived chasms between the NBPA and the owners on multiple negotiating points, one NBA insider has consistently bucked this trend. If you are looking for optimism amidst a sea of doomsday rhetoric, look no further than former ESPN and AP basketball writer Chris Sheridan (now writing for his terrific new site, sheridanhoops.com). He has made some of the best efforts in the industry to cut through the PR and politics of the lockout negotiation and provide a common sense argument as to why the season will start on time.
Sheridan is a seriously connected man when it comes to the NBA, and now he is reporting that the owners have agreed on the framework for a robust revenue sharing plan:
NBA owners told nearly two dozen players Friday they plan to quadruple their revenue sharing by Year 4 of a new collective bargaining agreement, and commissioner David Stern went so far as to say that one of the three remaining items of contention has effectively been settled.
If true, this is undeniably great news for Bucks fans.
Increased revenue sharing is something considered a win-win for the league and the players, so it makes sense that it would be the first of the three major issues (BRI split, Salary Cap structure, and Revenue Sharing) to be resolved. While owners in big markets (Donald Sterling and Jerry Buss in Los Angeles, James Dolan in New York, Jerry Resindorf in Chicago, etc.) can turn a profit whether their teams win or lose just by virtue of the sizable populations they can draw upon, small market owners (Herb Kohl in our beloved city of Milwaukee, the Maloofs in Sacramento, Paul Allen in Portland, etc.) have had trouble turning a profit even when their teams succeed.
David Stern has made the point that revenue sharing, no matter how robust, can't turn league-wide losses into profits, so the focus is certainly still on the BRI split first and how it affects the business model for owners in a broader perspective. However, if the big market owners are willing to share more generously then the windfall profits derived from the location of their franchises, small-market owners and fans are winners in that deal. The NBA has a vested interest in keeping all of its franchises solvent, because it helps to foster an equality of opportunity that can energize fanbases across the league on a yearly basis.
It might be less obvious, but players can benefit from revenue sharing among owners as well. The NBPA has encouraged increased revenue sharing for the simple fact that additional solvent franchises will lead to more serious bidders in the free agent markets. In theory, more bidders for talent will lead to higher bids, which ultimately will lead to more options in free agency. Again, it's a win-win.
For more on Sheridan's take you should certainly check out his website. While you're still here, you can check out his excellent radio interview with Boers and Bernstein of Chicago Sports Radio 670AM The Score from Friday.