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Know your NBA owners: Where Dr. Buss fits in

9/13/2011

Save Mark Cuban, aside from the most dedicated enthusiasts getting their Herb Kohl fix on C-SPAN, NBA fans generally don't see much of NBA owners. But while their low profile collectively lends to a sense of sameness, this group of 30 men (31, I suppose, if you count the co-ownership in Golden State) is hardly homogeneous. They represent markets of differing size generating wildly different levels of revenue. Some are very good at what they do, some not. Some are cosmically wealthy, others merely super-rich, some bought so long ago their profit is built into the appreciation of their franchise, others more recently for bigger money and more highly leveraged.

It's impossible to devise a new CBA giving each master of the universe exactly what he wants.

Meaning, as Henry Abbott points out at TrueHoop, owners have their own issues to sort through, just as the players do. If you missed it, heading into the weekend he posted a handy guide to NBA ownership, separating the hawks from the doves from the moderates relative to both the construction of the new CBA and how radical a change it might bring, along with revenue sharing.

The Lakers, as always, are an interesting case. Their revenue streams, even before the new TV deal with Time Warner Cable kicks in, are top shelf. While some teams may believe missing next season is better than continuing under something resembling the old system, the Lakers don't. They want to play, and don't need massive give backs from the players to continue their happy financial path. The status quo suits them fine. Meanwhile, owners need to agree on a new form of revenue sharing among each other, a trickier proposition. Writes Abbott, "The Lakers stand to lose the most in revenue sharing, by far. Reports are conflicting about whether they have accepted the idea of paying tens of millions per season. This is a huge issue."

I've been told the Lakers understand the need for and are supportive of more revenue sharing in the NBA ... but really have no idea what that means. Does more mean an extra 10 grand and an agreement to provide refreshments at the next owners soiree? Or, as Abbott wonders, a willingness to kick in big eight figure dollars a year?

The Lakers want a 2011-12 season. To some degree, it may be up to them to decide how much they're willing to pay other teams in the league to make it happen.