NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Ballmer to discuss extension with Rivers — If you somehow missed it yesterday, the biggest NBA story on the planet was the league officially approving the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to new owner Steve Ballmer, who replaces the disgraced Donald Sterling. Now that Ballmer is in place, one of his first orders of business may be locking up coach Doc Rivers to a contract extension, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
In the wake of owner Steve Ballmer gaining governorship control of the Los Angeles Clippers, discussions on a contract extension for Doc Rivers are expected to commence soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Ballmer and Rivers had been eager to forge a long-term partnership, and a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling to sell the franchise on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust has cleared the way to work toward a new deal.
Rivers, 52, the president of basketball operations and head coach, has two years left on his original three-year, $21 million contract. Rivers is already one of the highest-paid executives and coaches in professional sports, and his prominence and pay could grow with the promise of Ballmer’s stewardship of the Clippers.
No. 2: Report: Bledsoe weighs qualifying offer; Monroe will sign qualifying offer — We reported in this space yesterday that — per The Detroit News — Pistons big man Greg Monroe was leaning toward accepting Detroit’s qualifying offer for next season and becoming a free agent in 2015. That is apparently more than likely going to happen for Monroe, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Meanwhile, the other big name left on the free-agent market, Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, may pull a Monroe-like move soon as well:
Bledsoe, a point guard for the Suns, wants a five-year, full-max deal worth $84 million, a contract significantly higher than the four-year, $48 million deal the Suns have presented. The Suns counter that their offer is fair.
The Suns are using the system — the rules of the collective bargaining agreement — to their advantage. The two sides still don’t have a deal with training camp less than two months away, and the rift only has grown.
The relationship between the two sides has soured, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
The person also said Bledsoe, 24, strongly is considering signing the Suns’ qualifying offer for $3.726 million — good for the 2014-15 season — to become an unrestricted free agent after next summer.
That’s precisely what Detroit Pistons forward-center Monroe plans to do. Monroe has informed the Pistons he plans to sign the qualifying offer ($5.479 million)for one season, spend 2014-15 in Detroit and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Monroe didn’t make the decision lightly. He has been discussing options with his agent David Falk for the past two offseasons, and Falk has been impressed with Monroe’s analytic, intelligent and unemotional approach to free agency.
In a best-case scenario for Bledsoe, the Suns would have offered the deal he wanted, and this situation wouldn’t be unresolved in August. Or another team would have enticed him with an offer sheet and he would have signed a deal similar to what Charlotte offered and what Utah matched for Gordon Hayward. That didn’t happen either.
Now, Bledsoe is in position to take control of his situation. The Pistons will lose a lottery pick for nothing if a sign-and-trade can’t be completed, and the Suns are also on the verge of losing Bledsoe after next season for nothing.
Restricted free agency comes with risks for both the player and the team.
No. 3: Analyst: Jazz would sell for at least $650 million — As mentioned above, Steve Ballmer officially took over as owner of the L.A. Clippers yesterday, just a few months after the Sterling family agreed to sell him the team for $2 billion. That sales price — as well as the Milwaukee Bucks selling for $550 million this summer — has likely driven team prices around the league. According to Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune, those sales have helped the Utah Jazz, too. While the team isn’t currently up for sale, one analyst predicts the team could sell for as much as $1 billion in the right situation:
A valuation earlier this year by Forbes Magazine estimated the Jazz were worth about $525 million, but in light of recent sales of the Clippers, Sacramento Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks, some experts believe that number to be much lower than what the Jazz might be worth.
“I could see the Jazz going for somewhere between $650 million and a billion, depending on just how competitive the bidding process was,” says Pat Rishe, an economic professor at Webster University and the owner of a sports consulting firm.
While the Clippers’ massive sale price will have some impact around the league, experts agree the price tag was an aberration.
“If you look at it financially, it doesn’t make any sense,” said Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College, who has been involved in multiple franchise valuation cases. “There’s no way it makes any sense. In my view, what he’s doing is buying a toy. He’s using a fraction of his assets to have some fun. The same way you or I might buy a bicycle or a new TV set, he’s buying the Clippers.”
But the sale of Kings for $534 million in May 2013 and the sale of the Bucks for $550 million earlier this year have helped raise the bar.
“Salt Lake City is, I think, more comparable to Milwaukee in terms of market size. I would argue it’s a greater brand than Milwaukee or Sacramento because of their history, although that’s weakened some in the past few years,” Rishe said.
Added Zimbalist, “The Bucks have a small market and a bad arena. If they’re worth $550 million, other small market teams might be worth $600 million or $650 million.”
Teams’ values have risen especially of late for two main reasons: the increasing size of TV deals, and collective bargaining agreements favorable to owners.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Steph Curry says he’s a better offensive player than LeBron James … One writer takes a deeper look at why the Houston Rockets may have let Chandler Parsons walk to the Dallas Mavericks … The Jazz and Toure Murry are reportedly closing in a deal … New Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha has decided to not play for the Swiss national team this summer … What would it take for Portland to host All-Star weekend? … The Thunder are auctioning off a pair of Nick Collison‘s game-worn shoes that have his blood on them …