A decade moves fast in the NBA. When the NBA owners and players came to a collective bargaining agreement in November that would cover the next decade, many people reasonably assumed we'd be spared another ugly negotiating war for at least 10 years.
Silly them. It probably shouldn't come as any surprise that in a league that features nonsensical team names like "Los Angeles Lakers" or "Utah Jazz," a decade somehow lasts six years.
There are strong indications that the league will opt out of the current CBA in six years, according to multiple reports. Commissioner-in-training Adam Silver hinted at it Friday at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, noting that "I hope we begin with an understanding of the financials" when it comes time to reopen negotations on a labor deal that garnered the league an extra $300 million from the players' share of revenue.
The question is, where is the outrage? When a player signs a multiyear contract and starts hinting that he wants to renegotiate or demands a trade before the contract is up, fans invariably respond with indignation. The player gets villified for being greedy and failing to honor a contract, especially if it's one he inked fewer than four months ago.
Yet here stands the NBA, which won the battle in the recent lockout both from a public-relations and a cold, hard dollars standpoint, seemingly building its case to opt out at the soonest possible moment. Attendance and TV ratings are strong, maximum and mid-level salaries are team-friendly and stars like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are among the most marketable players the league has had in decades due to the simple fact that they seem like decent human beings. And the league contends it is still losing money.
A contract is a contract, which is why it would be nice if guys like Dwight Howard would stop talking, play out the string and then exercise their right to free agency when it arrives. (Similar to the NBA's opt-out situation with the CBA, Howard has a player option that he can use to become a free agent at the end of the year.) The public backlash against Howard, if he does choose to depart Orlando, will be understandable.
The NBA, like Howard, has every right to opt out of the agreement in 2017. It's right there in black and white. When it does, many fans will shrug and say, "That's business."
That is indeed business, and the detached response is probably the healthiest response. Then, when a star player wants to restructure his contract, fans will furrow their brows and angrily call talk radio, while from a balanced point of view, some of us will be saying, "Huh?"
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