Welcome to the NBA Roundtable! Sorry for the hiatus, but I think this might make it up to you. Today we got everyone, Zach, Bill, the J brothers (DJ and EJ) and Joao- all taking Franchise values, Durant being a BOSS, Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, and the Suns- just to make Bill a happy Panda.
The Knicks are the most valuable NBA Franchise in the NBA for the second straight year, according to Forbes- followed by the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, and Nets. Any surprises there?
Zach: Surprised? No. Shaking my head with disappointment? Yes. This is probably what defines “waste of assets” in common business terms. And it’s unfortunate, because half of the teams have had devastating injuries this year. I guess the only thing to do is send a “get well soon” card to the owners and pray for a better next year.
EJ: No. No surprises there. 4 out of the 5 teams listed are in major markets, and few franchises can match the history of the Celtics, and the passion of the Celtics fanbase. I would have been shocked if these 5 franchises were not the most valuable. Success on the playing field is not indicative of franchise worth. That is the case in all of the 4 major sports here in the United States, and that is why I am not surprised at the Forbes list.
Bill: None at all. The oldest and richest franchises are obviously going to be the most valuable, but I’m surprised at just how fast the prices for franchises that are sold to a new buyer have escalated tremendously over a relatively short time. Are the relatively vagabond Sacramento Kings REALLY worth what was paid for them? Not a chance. A lot of that had to do with the possibility of the team being relocated to Seattle and perhaps that elevated the price somewhat, but there’s no way that team is worth $400M+.
Joao: While the largest cities/ markets naturally fuel the most valuable franchises, the Knicks are a tough pill to swallow. A franchise in New York with a big star in Carmelo Anthony would be expected to be profitable, obviously, but not to the extent of being number one. 1999 was the last time they went to the Finals, and that was a lockout year; and the last time they won it all was in 1973! It is baffling, even if New York, how the Knicks can be the most valuable NBA franchise. Plus they have Spike Lee.
The other 4 franchises at the top of the list were arguably expected to be there, and the Nets moving to Brooklyn certainly helps their situation.
Average Profit for the NBA teams is 23.7 Million dollars of a 4.6 Billion revenue last year. Should Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher be avoid dark alleys?
Zach: I don’t think it’s an issue. No one is in any shortage of revenue gained/lost in professional sports. I don’t think athletes are too interested in the reds/blacks of the industry. Just deposit the money into their account and they will be okay. The real question is, will the cost to attend a professional basketball game for us normies EVER go down?
EJ: Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher should always avoid dark alleys. Players may have agreed to the current Collective Bargain Agreement but it isn’t in their favor. The owners? They’ll be just fine. Even the bad teams in the smallest markets will still be able to turn a profit thanks to ticket sales, merchandising, concessions, and most important: TV contracts.
Bill: There’s definitely not enough profit sharing going on in the league and that’s not surprising. Larger, wealthier, and more popular team owners are going to want to hold onto each and every nickel they’ve acquired in an attempt to hoard it away for themselves. This IS a business, after all. Little thought, if any, is given to sustaining or increasing the health of the league. Talk of contraction and seeing teams struggle to be sold once acquired by the league illustrate that quite clearly. It’ll be genuinely interesting to see what direction the league takes once David J. Stern is no longer running the show.
Joao: I actually believe that’s a good sign, that after one of the worst global recessions in the history of mankind, NBA teams are able to rebound (no pun intended) and post a healthy profitability. The players are already being handsomely paid and the good fortunes of their respective teams reflect on their income statement.
Chris Paul wants to come back for the All-Star game, should there be a minimum games played for the game?
Zach: I think he needs to be smart and sit out the All-Star game, as all players should. You can just as easily re-injure yourself in the ASG as you can in any other event. I think the rule in place if fine. If you’re hurt, you cannot play. If not, then have at it.
EJ: I tend not to watch the All-Star game because I detest the fan vote. The game is a popularity contest, and players that really deserve to make the game likely won’t since starting spots are usually tied up by players that do not deserve the honor. However, when it comes to Chris Paul I have no problem with him wanting to play in this year’s game. The game is in New Orleans, and that’s where he used to play as a member of the Hornets. To play an exhibition game in front of a crowd that supported him, and in a City that he supported, is fine with me.
DJ: I think they should play in at least half of the games, but you’d have to change the entire process of them getting in before you do this. Fans vote them in.
Bill: Personally speaking, I’ve become disillusioned with the ASG and the selection process as it relates to players. Little to nothing of it has to do with actual merit, and the repeated selection(s) of injured players only further emphasize that placing the starting positions in the hands of the fans was an utterly asinine decision. I know that the NBA is very fan-centric, but this ‘selection by popularity’ nonsense needs to come to a stop.
To the specific question of Chris Paul and the minimum game thought, I believe that a player should only be eligible for selection if they have played in or been available for no fewer than 2/3 of the games played prior to the All-Star break. This goes for ALL players and not just those with a greater chance to be elected to start.
Joao: The Clippers have played 44 games thus far, and they’ll naturally play some few additional games between now and the All-Star weekend. Chris Paul has played in 34 of those games, which accounts for 77%. I don’t believe that a minimum number of games for All-Star eligibility should be enforced, as it should simply be a matter of good sense. In the particular case of Chris Paul, I believe that, if he is healthy, he should receive another All-Star berth, even if competition between guards in the West is fierce. CP3 has been averaging almost 20 points per game along with 11.2 assists. In 34 games, these are clearly All-Star caliber numbers. And Paul is one of the game’s most recognizable and exciting players; an All-Star game without him isn’t the same thing, even if there are plenty of other stars to go around.
What I do think is that Paul and the Clippers would be wise to approach this with caution. Even if he injured his shoulder and not something more delicate as, say, a knee, his comeback should not be rushed; the All-Star game is a festivity and the Clippers are contenders to go all the way and win an NBA championship. I hope to see good sense prevailing.
OKC is first in the West, and has thumped the Spurs for the 3rd time this year, have they overcame the missing Westbrook to become a real title threat?
Zach: I never like to say one player has put the team on their back (because it’s inaccurate), but Kevin Durant has been the heart and soul of this team. As expected, KD has been the leader of this young Thunder team in scoring, assists, and rebounding lately and it has been a testament to his character and role on this team. Durant certainly has deserved everything coming to him, short of a yet-proven championship. I think if the Thunder are still around in July, it might be worth it to add “I told you so” when talking about trading James Harden instead of Westbrook.
EJ: Reggie Jackson has been great for the Thunder. The backup point guard has stepped up and taken some of the pressure off of Kevin Durant. Well, maybe not all of the pressure since Durant has been playing at an MVP level so far this season. KD has been playing off of the charts and in the short term the Thunder have shown they can handle Westbrook being out. Long term? They need Russell Westbrook back. They can beat the Spurs without Russell, but I can’t see the Thunder being a serious title threat without him.
DJ: It’s barely halfway through the regular season. It basically means nothing. The playoffs are a completely different season altogether. Beating a team 3 times in an 82 game marathon type season is just another game. If they beat them 4 out of 7 times in the postseason it means a lot more.
Bill: Not entirely, but Reggie Jackson has sure made things easier on them. Durant seems to have no problem making it clear to anyone trying to guard him or to any team they are playing that he’s the main focus on this team, Russell Westbrook be damned. His scoring output over the past nine or so games (30+ PPG each) has made that abundantly clear. Will he be able to continue his streak and not burn out? Will the other members of the team be able to step up and carry the load should Durant falter or get injured? As we all know, the games during the regular season only count when determining playoff positioning. Once the actual playoffs begin, it’s a whole different ball game.
If they can make it back to the Finals, they might fare better than last time. Seeing as I’m a Sonics fan and utterly despise the ownership in OKC, I would love nothing more than for them to taste defeat once again at the hands of whomever they might face. I have no ill will to the players, mind you, so don’t get my hatred misconstrued. It’s directed firmly at Clay Bennett and no one else.
Joao: This is a hard one because anyone watching what Durant and the Thunder are doing right now needs to decide if this is what the Thunder are capable of doing when the playoffs arrive, or if an OKC team without Russell Westbrook is more similar to what we saw during last year’s playoffs when they collapsed 4-1 against the Grizzilies.
I personally consider that the Thunder are a good team without Westbrook, capable of reaching the 2nd round of the playoffs, but not capable of going beyond that. To reach and finals, to win a championship, they need a fully healthy Westbrook. And his health is a huge question mark right now; not as big a question mark as Derrick Rose’s health but still a huge concern for his young team.
The opportunity that is being seized in the meantime is for other players to step up and fill the gap. And this is what Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka are doing, which is of tremendous benefit for this franchise, particularly when the decisive chunks of the season are upon us. But to truly contend they will need that 1-2 punch combo of Durant and Westbrook.
What Durant has been doing January thus far is mind boggling: 24 points vs the Nets, 48 vs the Timberwolves, 21 vs the Celtics, 48 vs the Jazz, 30 vs the Nuggets, 33 vs the Bucks, 37 vs Memphis (but they did lose again versus the Grizzlies), 36 vs the Rockets, 54 vs the Warriors, 30 vs the Kings, 46 vs the Blazers and 36 vs the Spurs. That corresponds to an average of almost 37 PPG, which translates into an historic month for KD. On top of that they are currently the leaders of the Western Conference.
But Durant will not be able to maintain these numbers for a long stretch – nor should he, for that matter – and, when the playoffs start, opposing defenses will start collapsing on him and making his life more difficult, like Memphis did last year. That is when they need Westbrook, on both sides of the ball, to create space, mismatches, shots, etc, and to be the Thunder’s number 1 star when Durant has cold shooting nights.
The Suns are sitting at #7 in the West right now, is it time to forget the lottery and try and make a run at a top heavy West?
Zach: I never like tanking in the first place. That’s not the American way, and it has no place in sports. With that said, the Suns are gelling nicely and have a steady blend of productive players at rookie coach Jeff Hornecek’s disposal. This squad is youthful and vibrant, but the true test will see how they fair come end of March/April. They could be a nice seventh seed sleeper, though.
EJ: I think the Suns should make that move to push towards the playoffs. They have the picks and assets necessary to add to their team without disrupting their chemistry too much. The question the Suns front office need to ask themselves is: do they want to add a player that pushes them over the top in the short term, or do they want to add a long term asset? If the Suns want to go short term then I have a trade proposal for them: Emeka Okafor to the Lakers for Pau Gasol. Both players are on expiring contracts, and Emeka hasn’t played for the Suns all season. To sweeten it for the Lakers the Suns will need to throw in a 1st rounder. The Suns have Indiana’s 1st this year, which will be at the end of the 1st round, or they can offer the Lakers one of the first round picks the franchise gave the Suns in order to acquire Steve Nash last year. The Lakers in turn can ditch Emeka and try to clear themselves out of the luxury tax hole, while the Suns get a veteran big man, and someone who has playoff experience, that they will need come mid to late April. Just an idea.
DJ: Long way to go for this surprising team but I don’t think they have a chance to make a run at much more than the 6-8 seed. They have some pieces but they aren’t a true contender. They lack a go-to-guy in the clutch and a player that can put up 25 points per game and dominate a game.
Bill: Seeing as I’m the resident Suns fan, I was never of the mindset to have the team purposely tank in an effort to potentially land a higher pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. If they went out and simply competed night in and out yet came up short based on what they had on the roster or what they’d acquired during the off season, I would see no shame in that whatsoever. To be perfectly honest, my expectations of the team were much higher than that of the numerous pundits out there expecting the team to be dreadful. The moves made during the off season by the new GM, Ryan McDonough, have been stellar and a team changer overnight. It’s been an absolute joy to watch this team run numerous opponents, which were considered by many to be vastly superior in talent, out of the gym. Last night’s (22 JAN 14) 24 point beat down of the Pacers was a prime example of what this team is capable of doing on a nightly basis. Even with Eric Bledsoe injured, the team has more than enough weapons to handle even the toughest of opponents. Leandro Barbosa being re-signed also softens Bledsoe’s injury somewhat.
I’m all for making a playoff run. To hell with the lottery. It’s great that the shrewd moves by the front office have secured the team several first round picks over the next few drafts, but those picks shouldn’t be on the mind of this team right now. If the Suns be able to continue winning with what they’ve got, there’s little doubt they can keep themselves within reach of the playoffs. They can strengthen their chances further should Bledsoe return as he is expected to do before year end. Seeing how they’ve beaten POR three times, DEN three times, and a smattering of other top flight teams, the Suns could be the cinderella sleeper no one wants to face come playoff time.
Joao: The Suns are the single biggest surprise of the season thus far. I mean, the Nets and the Knicks are a disaster, but as a positive surprise no team has been able to surpass the Suns. Jeff Hornacek has been able to produce a miracle with the players he has, even if Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are both on the cusp of becoming bonafide NBA stars. Everyone else is contributing and, some would say, overachieving. On top of being 24-17 right now, the Suns are a fun team to watch and their future looks bright.
I personally don’t believe that a team like the Suns should embrace the tank right now; they should just keep trying to win and see just how far they can get. Any playoff experience will be good experience for this young team.
I do understand that next year’s draft will be one of the deepest in recent memory but fact of the matter is that Jeff Hornacek is trying to bring Phoenix back to its winning ways, to that type of mindset, and tanking games is certainly not the path that a team should trail for that objective.
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