July, 8, 2011
By Henry Abbott
- To those people in Indiana seeking a Portland fan's perspective on Kevin Pritchard -- nobody disputes his abilities as a talent evaluator, and inspiring public figure, are second-to-none. All reports are that he's a bit green at managing people, and the Blazers had some banal org. chart type issues under his watch, which combined with eccentric billionairism to create an untenable situation. But if you want someone to run the draft, to beef up the roster, and to make you believe in the direction of the club, he's your guy, even if the book on him is that you ought to pair him with some dork from human resources to keep the rest of the stuff running smoothly.
- Tom Ziller puts together a nice chart comparing the prices NBA owners paid for their teams compared to what their worth now. It's a useful and simple tool. But I don't think there is any simple analysis that really describes the reality of owning an NBA team in 2011. For one, the current value is subjective, and the Forbes' projections have missed badly many a time. More importantly, the debate is about operating losses, which are absent from this chart. Think about your house. You bought it for $250,ooo, and maybe you'll sell it for $300,000. Cool, unless in the interim got a new septic system, kitchen, heating, floors, paint and added an addition ... can you really claim a $50,000 gain? Of course not. If the project cost you $500,000 and lost you $200,000 who cares about the difference in what you paid to buy and sell? To that end, consider the Mavericks. Forbes estimates they have gained $166 million in value over the last decade. But in a lawsuit Cuban's minority partner says the team lost more than $50 million in a single season of operations, and was on track to hundreds of millions in debt based on operating losses. Cuban disputes the numbers, but doesn't dispute that there is debt from Maverick operations, and that he has personally guaranteed that debt -- a move that would not be necessary if lenders liked the look of the Mavericks' balance sheet. Meanwhile, other owners with shallower pockets have recently sold at a loss to stop the bleeding. Bruce Ratner and the Nets, Bob Johnson and the Bobcats, George Shinn and the Hornets ... all solid counterexamples to the idea that merely selling a team provided all the necessary relief. There was a period when the mere passage of time guaranteed huge increases in franchise valuations, but those decades involved huge new revenues for all of sports, the invention of luxury boxes, naming rights, the existence of lucrative cable TV and more. Can you count on never-ending stream of such revenue-driving innovations in the future? If not, then you can't expect that never-ending growth. According to a guy who was in the midst of trying to buy a team at the time he spoke, the future is dicier. Not to mention, there's hardly any stadium money out there from taxpayers anymore. I'm not saying the owners are all straightforward in crying poverty. But I am saying this is not the same old story, where there's nothing any owner could do to screw this up. There's real pain for some owners -- too many owners for the league's liking. That's why even the players association opened negotiations offering to make less than they did previously.
- The Sixers sale is said to be days away.
- The best player introductions in sports history. The Jordan-era Bulls introductions win in a cakewalk, despite some rudimentary animation in that video. Meanwhile, Chuck Hayes and the French language are among those who are criticized.
- A new website, by a former NBA VP, which seems to be designed to scare Deron Williams away from Turkey.
- Not totally retired yet: Antonio McDyess.
- Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball with everything you need to know about Dwight Howard.
- The Year of LeBron, set to a funky D.J. Steve Porter beat.
- Ted Leonsis welcomes you to the jungle.
- Jet packs!