Friday BusinessBall: "Stonewall' Gary Bettman and the Lucky LotteryDate: May 19, 2017
Michael Lovero (Twitter: @mlovero30)
Gary Bettman will not budge, and that is not good
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full effect. There are two exciting conference finals matchups featuring the Penguins and Senators in the East, and the Ducks and Predators in the West. Though these are exciting times for the hockey community, talks about the collective bargaining agreement have seemed to stall. The NHL owners and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman got what they wanted last collective bargaining agreement that came into effect in January 2013. Though the deal is supposed to last until the 2021-2022 season, talks of restructuring have been going on over a few topics, with Olympic participation being the biggest one.
In the winter of 2014, the NHL took a two-week hiatus to allow its players to participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Those two weeks dragged the NHL season longer than normal. Instead of having an All Star weekend, the Olympics happened and the top players formed super teams, such as team Canada, United States, Russia, and Sweden. Since then, Gary Bettman and the owners of NHL teams have generally thought that allowing NHL players to participate in the Olympics is hurting the league, whether it is through injuries or dragging the season out.
The Sochi 2014 Olympics saw the loss of players important to their NHL clubs, such as NY Islander center John Tavares, whose season was over after a torn MCL and meniscus. Hockey is a highly physical sport, and some of the owners are worried about the risk of injury to their star players when they are not playing for their team, which is understandable.
Despite the risks, player patriotism and national pride has overruled the thought of injury risks away from the NHL. Alex Ovechkin is a Russian star who has never won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals, and will not be winning one this year. After the Capitals were eliminated, all eyes were focused on him. What will Ovechkin do? Washington owner Ted Leonsis was fully supportive of Ovechkin's ambition to play in the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018, and would even take the fine if Ovechkin decided to play. I find it bold for an owner to defect from the opinions of the other owners, and I love it. However, Russia will only take players who play in the Kontinental Hockey League. That created the previous question: what will Ovechkin do?
The NHL allowed its players to participate in the Olympic Games in 1998, before then it was strictly amateur athletes representing nations. 2018 looks like the first time since 1994 where NHL players will not participate in the Olympics, unless a negotiation occurs. If the players want to play, they will have to give something up. The 2012-2013 collective bargaining agreement was horrible for the players, aside from a lockout occurring. The NHL split its revenue between the players and owners 50-50 after the CBA was agreed upon. Before then, it was 57-43 in favor of the players, a seven percent revenue drop-off for the players. I am not sure what the players will give up, but part of their revenue seems to be the most likely asset that they have that could be given up, which would be disastrous. It would be taking money out of player's paychecks and into the pockets of the NHL owners. Last time I checked, there were more players than owners. And many of these owners are billionaires, while the median NHL salary is two million dollars a season. Big difference.
But there is another option: lockout. If that happens to be the case, it would be the fourth lockout in Gary Bettman's tenure as NHL Commissioner. Players are serious about playing in the PyeongChang Olympic Games in 2018, but they cannot afford to lose any more of the little assets they have. If the NHL does hold out of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and the KHL sends their Russian professionals, we may see a one-team competition; Russia would be the team to have the most to lose, and Alex Ovechkin would want to be a part of that team. As for the NHL, I would not be surprised if there is a lockout within the next two seasons.
The Luck of the Draw… unless you are the Knicks
The NBA Lottery last Tuesday saw some winners, some teams end up where they deserve, and one big loser. Let's break down these results and what they mean to these teams.
Winners: Any team in the top three, Boston Celtics, LA Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers, and the Sacramento Kings. Wait, the Boston Celtics? They are in the Eastern Conference Finals though! Yes, they are, but remember one of the most lopsided deals of all time between the Celtics and Brooklyn Nets? The deal that gave the Nets a year and a half of glory with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry has come back to haunt them again. The Nets future took a hit while they finished with the worst record in the entire NBA and had to give up their lottery pick to the rising Boston Celtics, who have a ton of talent. The Celtics took the Nets 2017 first round draft pick, and will be drafting first overall. Yes, first overall. The Celtics are great, will be getting better, while the Nets are abysmal. Jay Z might be regretting his decision to make that deal.
The Lakers will be picking second and are happy about the pick. But America's least favorite dad LaVar Ball might see his son going to the Lakers. Lonzo Ball wanted to stay in Los Angeles, and he very well may be staying in the City of Angels. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers continue their streak of top three picks and can continue stacking their roster with lottery picks. Trust the process! Another winner of the draft are the Sacramento Kings, who moved up three spots from eighth worst in the league to now drafting fifth.
Losers: The Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks. The Suns finished second worst in the NBA, and sports a young squad that could be a team of the future. They even put out a starting five that, on average, was younger than Gonzaga's National Championship game starting five. There is no doubt that they are a team of the future. However, they were knocked out of the top three when the Philadelphia 76ers took their spot in the top three. Sure, fourth overall is not bad for the Suns. But they moved down and out of the top three. They have slimmer pickings at the fourth overall spot.
The New York Knicks' season of misfortune continues. The Knicks finished seventh worst in the NBA, but were hoping for a lucky bounce that could have moved them up. Unfortunately, they could not get it. Instead, they moved down to the eighth overall pick. Not much luck there. Knicks fans are outraged by these results, but I am sure Phil Jackson is not too thrilled about this pick either. The Knicks are genuinely a misguided, undisciplined, and all-around horrible team that needs help, and they fall a spot. Yikes! Phil Jackson has been able to find some rookie talent, but this result stings the Knicks. Is this the cap of a season of misfortune, or is this foreshadowing a future of unfortunate events?
The NBA rookie salary scales show drastic differences between players in the top 14 picks. The first overall pick could make just under $5 million in the first season, while the sixth overall pick makes just under $3 million in the first season, and the 14th overall pick makes $1.7 million. With a loaded draft like this year's draft, great players may lose money compared to their talent that they bring. There are multiple options for the first overall pick, and there are about 12 options for the next eight picks. Some of those players may be snubbed a couple million dollars. This will be an interesting draft. The NBA draft is on June 22nd at 7pm ET.
Eddie Lacy made $55,000 for losing weight. The Seattle Seahawks running back met his first weight loss incentive this week. If I was offered $55,000 for losing weight, I may be at my target at this point.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Goodyear Tires announced a partnership. Cleveland will sport the Goodyear wing on their jersey, making them the sixth team to include sponsorship patches on their jersey next season. Sorry America, but our sports are giving into the European practice of jersey sponsorships.
Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush won the bid for the Miami Marlins. There is one problem: they do not have the money yet!
Michael Lovero is a Marketing and Sports Management major in the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University and is an assistant sports director at WSOU
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