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Money for NBA Teams

10/20/2009

Amare Stoudemire. Tyson Chandler.

Elite young big men who have won some games.

And both available, according to my sources and a thousand published reports, for packages that star, more than anything, cap space.

Obviously, such deals would have nothing to do with basketball. Sure, you can find flaws in andy NBA player, but ask any coach in the world: Would you rather play with an empty seat, or with Amare Stoudemire or Tyson Chandler?

Every basketball person wants a big man.

Unless you have Michael Jordan, talented big men are the one and only must-have ingredient of every championship recipe, and there simply are not as many of them as there are NBA teams.

The few that have top-shelf NBA big men tend to last deep into the playoffs.

So historically teams don't give them up, really for anything.

And now they're talking about giving them up in the name of saving money.

(Read Marc Stein's excellent rundown of trade conversations.)

This year, analyzing trades is totally different. It's not about basketball talent for basketball talent. It's about accountants describing to GMs that they can't spend money they don't have.

So, it is a non-trivial factor, as the trade deadline approaches, that the NBA has recently found some credit for the League's cash-starved teams. Sports Business Journal's Daniel Kaplan and John Lombardo report:

The NBA is set to borrow $175 million Feb. 26, marking one of the first league financings since the implosion of the credit markets last fall.

The money, which will be available to 15 teams, supplements an existing $1.7 billion leaguewide credit facility that uses the NBA's media contracts as collateral to secure loans for the clubs. The NBA surveyed its teams, and 15 responded they would like to tap into the new borrowing.

While the league said it is pleased to borrow in an extremely illiquid credit market, the deal came at a cost, with interest rates up to 8.27 percent, hammering home the notion that the era of cheap money in sports is over. The 15 teams can use the money for any purpose, but covering operating losses may be high on the list.

Will that make a difference? Might a little extra credit inspire an owner or two to make a splash in this buyer's market? With the trade deadline on Thursday, we'll find out soon enough.