– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We stopped counting the number of so-called “winners and losers” columns concerning the lockout when we ran out of fingers and toes here at the hideout.
Oddly enough, no two lists had the same bunch of winners and losers. Designations might not be necessary if some of the things being rumored actually transpire during the league’s condensed free agent frenzy and abbreviated 66-game season.
The big winners, as always, will be the league’s biggest stars and the teams willing to do whatever it takes (within the rules of whatever collective bargaining agreement is in place) to make sure they acquire said superstars.
If you don’t believe, just look at the big names (Dwight Howard, Chris Paul) being tossed around right now as potential trade pieces headed to bigger markets.
Howard Beck of The New York Times highlights a startling concentration of power in the league:
If Paul forces his way to New York and Howard ends up with the Brooklyn-bound Nets — who are pursuing him — it would leave eight of the N.B.A.’s top 20 players concentrated among just three teams (Knicks, Nets, Heat).
Add the Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol), the Oklahoma City Thunder (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and the Boston Celtics (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo), and 15 of the league’s top 25 players would be spread among just six teams.
Until you see it in that context, it doesn’t really register. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire on the Knicks and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat. That is a downright mind-boggling assembly of talent on just six teams.
So maybe all that fighting the small market owners were reportedly doing within their own caucus during the lockout actually made sense after all.
More from Beck:
In a league where superstars rule, that is depressing news for the other 24 franchises. Superteams may boost ratings in May and June, but they do nothing to help ticket sales for a Detroit-Charlotte game in January.
The lockout that ended last weekend was not, as some have asserted, a mere power play by the owners. Their first goal was to slash player costs, which they achieved with a $300 million reduction in salaries. They also won concessions to boost competitive balance, with higher taxes and other restraints on the top-spending teams.
But the owners lost their bid to ban extend-and-trade deals (which Anthony used) and contract options, which allow players to terminate their contracts a year early — as Paul, Howard and [Deron] Williams can do next summer.
Nor did the owners get the hard cap they so badly wanted.
“I think that set the league back,” the general manager of a small-market team said, referring to the hard cap. “That was the only true way to get parity. And they let it go.”
He added, “I think the players won this time” — the pay cuts notwithstanding.
Also, Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com summarizes the real reasons ($55 million of them apparently) someone is pressing the trade issue on behalf of both Howard and Paul:
So, to summarize, here are the options and the financial implications for each player.
Howard: _ Plays the entire season in Orlando, opts out and ends up elsewhere (either by signing as a free agent or through a sign-and-trade): $80.5 million for 4 years.
_ Gets traded in February, opts out, then re-signs with the team that acquired him: $110.8 million for 5 years.
Paul: _ Plays the entire season in New Orleans, opts out and ends up elsewhere (either by signing as a free agent or through a sign-and-trade): $75.8 million for 4 years.
_ Gets traded in February, opts out, then re-signs with the team that acquired him: $100.2 million for 5 years.
Do the math, add up the differences, and there are 55 million reasons why both those guys might want to be wearing different uniforms by the time March 1 rolls around.
Again, if some of the things rumored to be in the works actually come to fruition, some of those scorecards might need some adjusting. Winners and losers?
Sounds like there are a select few of the former and plenty of the latter.