Do what the English do, David Stern. I'm not the only one that agrees.
by Radio Joe,posted Apr 26 2013 1:02PM
Wow, it’s about time a prominent writer addresses an issue I’ve been stressing for the last year!
Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s be honest. The NBA system sucks. How can anybody, especially in this city, believe that the Milwaukee Bucks are treated fairly by David Stern and company? A simple luxury tax is a slap in the face to the big shot organizations in the biggest cities. There needs to be a level playing field, and while David Stern can run his mouth all day that the NBA is fair, the fact of the matter is…it isn’t.
Author Howard Bryant wrote a recent column in ESPN The Magazine about the flaws of the NBA system, and why the two-month long NBA playoffs are the biggest joke in sports. He believes that Stern needs to take a page out of the English Premier League. I wrote a blog several months ago about college football revamping its system through the European soccer format.
Bryant writes that the 30-team NBA could be split into a Championship League (the lower league) and a Premier League (the top league). While he doesn’t say how many teams would go into each league, personally, I wouldn’t split it in half. I’d say at least 12-14 teams would qualify in the Premier League, that is, the best of the best – Heat, Spurs, Clippers, Lakers, etc. While the other 16-18 teams play in the Championship League – Bucks, Wizards, Pistons, Cavs, etc. Based on how the English soccer system works, no team in the Premier League is scheduled to play a team from the Championship league during the regular season. However, in England, teams from the two leagues may clash in other national tournaments, or cups, during that season: The Capital One Cup and The English FA Cup.
Before going further, just so I don’t confuse people, let’s change the lower-league “Championship League” name to the NBA Futures League. Much better.
Now, if you’re a franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks, your goal for the season, if placed in the Futures League, is to either win the league by season’s end or finish in the top three of the league. If the Bucks pull off one of those two scenarios, then next season, they will be promoted to the NBA Premier League. Let’s say during that next season the Bucks struggle and finish in the bottom three of the standings in the Premier League, then the Bucks would be relegated back to the Futures League. Theoretically, if the Heat had a horrible season in the Premier League and finished in the bottom three, LeBron and his boys would be playing with the leftovers of the NBA next season. SportsCenter would be all over that!
Bryant goes on to say that only the teams in the Premier League would have the opportunity to compete for an NBA Championship. Bryant writes, “The length of the season could remain the same, but only the upper-division teams would be eligible to compete for an NBA Championship. Suddenly, every game would mean something.” It sure would, Howard. Once again, Bryant does not go into depth on how a playoff system, if any, would fit into achieving an NBA Title. Here’s what I suggest…
By the end of the season, the top eight teams in the NBA Premier League would clinch a playoff berth. The first and second rounds would be three-game series with the higher seed getting home-court advantage. The final round would become a five game series. I’m OK with a longer series for the NBA Trophy, but I’ve always loathed that anything more than five games is too excessive for any fan. (Only exception – The World Series). First team to three wins gets the NBA Trophy.
Bryant and I both agree that these seven game playoff series (particularly the first round) are unnecessary and a big waste of time. No playoff system should last two-months long. In fact, Bryant worked the numbers and said that the NBA Playoffs is 20% of the length of an NBA regular season!
Now, Bryant does say that the 82-game regular season would remain the same for both leagues. You could leave it that way, but in my opinion, I would scale that back. If there’s a maximum of 14 teams in the NBA Premier League, every team should play each other four times. That’s 13 opponents multiple by four meetings, which equals 52 regular season games. That number would be slightly greater in the NBA Futures league, though, since the other 16 teams would play down there. (If my math serves me correctly, that’s 60 regular season games). Now, if you split the leagues in half 15-15, both leagues would total 56 regular season games. I understand the NBA could lose significant revenue if you reduce the number of regular season games, so yes, there is one disadvantage there. However, if it’s a popular season, attendance would surely rise.
This is also assuming that the NBA eliminates eastern and western conferences and regional divisions within those conferences. Bryant encourages this idea of eliminating both in order to make it more exciting. I agree as well.
However, there’s one area that Howard Bryant does not mention - How would the NBA work?
This is what I propose – only the teams playing in the NBA Futures League are eligible for the draft. That’s right! Teams like the Heat, Clippers, Spurs, etc, are not allowed to participate in the NBA Draft because they are settled in the Premier League. This gives teams in the lower-level league an advantage to improve their team and level the playing field, so their chances of getting to the Premier League increase for next season. There would be a lottery style draft like before, with the worse records getting better odds of landing the number one pick. Instead of two rounds, there would be three. Teams in the lower-level can restock with younger talent, since it’s nearly impossible to land a superstar free agent during the offseason.
And since we know the majority of the teams in the Premier League will go over the salary cap anyway, they can improve their team through free agent signings or trades during the offseason. If a team from the Premier League wants to venture into the draft, they can do it via trade. A team from the Premier League can trade a player for a draft pick with a team from the Futures League. In addition, during the regular season, with a mandated trade deadline, teams from both leagues can make trades with anybody. The Heat in the Premier League, for example, could make a trade with the Bucks of the Futures League.
Once the draft has closed, undrafted free agents can now sign with any team, including those franchises apart of the Premier League (sorry, guys, you get the crumbs).
One question you might be asking yourself, though, is what about the relegated and promoted teams? Who gets in the draft and who doesn’t? Simple. Teams promoted from the NBA Futures League to the NBA Premier League going into next season miss out on the upcoming draft. However, teams relegated from the Premier League down to the Futures League get thrown into the lottery. Although you’ve been kicked out, your franchise has the luxury to rebuild your team through the draft.
Do I make myself clear?
If you can find a loophole in this proposed system from either myself or from Howard Bryant, I’d like to hear it. Bryant has a serious point. And so do I. The question is, do you? Is the NBA fair? Do you like the system David Stern has in place? Do you like the two-month long playoffs, especially when you know the Milwaukee Bucks don’t stand a snowball’s chance?