SteveNash, QuantumPhysicist posted earlier pondering what it would be like if David Stern was fired and asked what you would do if you were commissioner. I replied to his post, but thought I would post this here as well. Feel free to bash my ideas [I did edit some features of my previous posts after finding some errors]...
If you are playing at home [and i encourage you to do so], I followed some ground rules with my ideas:
1] The CBA that is currently in place canot change until year 6, so certain items cannot be changed until then. Therefore, I assumed that I would, as commissioner, have to bargain for those items in 2017.
2] Some of the ideas I expound upon are certain to draw the inevitable "hey, nice idea, but that will never happen because..." Usually followed by some explanation about how nobody will accept making less money blah blah blah!.
3] Some items are wishful thinking [i.e. forcing Sarver out]. Hey, i love Dexter, but that doesn't mean I would or could do what he does. But sometimes it is fun to think about. Just Saying [no I don't wish harm on anyone - just jokes].
Let the fun begin...
1] CONTRACTION, OWNERSHIP
Contract 6 teams: Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, Memphis, Charlotte & Sacramento.
While it would be more realistic to contract 2 teams and have four 7 team divisions, I personally think that contracting 4 teams is ideal. However, that screws up alignment badly, and you have a problem similar to what you had in the late 80's, where one division has 7 teams and another has 6.
In the spirit of solid alignment, as well as allowing the NBA to place the top 3-4 players from each contracted team throughout the league [which would mean at least one solid starter level player and one solid role player added to every team in the league], I would contract 6 teams.
Along with that, I would implement a systematic plan to harass specific teams [much like when management in large corporations decides to pick on some employee to the point where they just quit], so that they decide to sell their controlling interest in the franchises. Either that or find buying groups that are willing to overpay and focus their efforts on these four teams: Atlanta [Atlanta Spirit], Clippers [Sterling], Knicks [James Dolan] – and of course, Sarver!!!!
2] RECONFIGURE, RENAME AND REALIGN
There is no reason LA needs two teams, so the obvious first move is to force the Clippers out of LA. The natural destination is to Seattle, and changing their name to Supersonics.
While Canada has produced some excellent improvisational comics, the same description can be used regarding their basketball. Vancouver and Toronto were nice ideas, but just don't work. So, Toronto is moved to Las Vegas and we drop the charade and simply call the the Las Vegas Aces, or Gamblers, or Dons, or Mafia - something obvious.
Then we have some housecleaning items: Force Utah to change it’s name. I don’t care what, just not Jazz. Washington will be re-named Bullets [now that Arenas and Crittendon are gone, it won't have a literal meaning].
So now there will be 8 divisions of 3 teams, with each team playing their division rival 6 times, conference rivals 4 times and other conference teams twice [72 games]. Here are the alingments:
BOS, NYK, NYN
CHI, CLE, IND
DET, PHI, WAS
ATL, MIA, ORL
LAL, PHO, LV
SEA, POR, GS
UTA, DEN, OKC
DAL, HOU, SAN
3] SCHEDULING & PLAYOFFS
In an effort to both shorten the season [to defray early season lack of interest and fan fatigue late in the year], as well as avoiding the crux of the NFL season [and lost ratings because of it], I would do several things.
First, I would then make the first AND second round best of 5, then go best of 7 for conference finals and finals. Doing that takes playoffs from 58 days long to 34 days. this is mch more watchable and you don't lose interest like you do with a two month plus playoff. Plus, there will be more game 5's, which are always better.
From the last possible playoff game, i would back into a different start date [Last game would be mid-June]. So, 34 days from the possible game 7, 44 days rest before the playoffs start, and a 72 game season means the target start date every year will be CHRISTMAS DAY!
For the playoffs, the four divisional winners get to pick their first round foe [best record picks first]. This will place greater incentive to win the division, and with 6 games against each divisional foe, they will get heated and rivalries will intensify. Also, it would be interesting to see who the teams select to play in the first round.
Finally, I would coordinate with FIBA to hold a real WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, where the NBA champs play the Euroleague Champs in a best of 3. We would rotate that event to different locations around the world, and it would become a huge event.
4] TELEVISION, SCARCITY & THE NBA EXPERIENCE
Is the NFL truly a better sport and more watchable game? Yes, it is watched more and makes even more money than the NBA. I do not dispute that. However, I am not sure that is attributable as much to the actual game as it is the culture surrounding the game. An NFL game is an event, much so because games do not happen all that often, and game time means 60-100K people gather at one place to attend the event. If the NFL played 4 games a week, you wouldn't see even close to that many people at a game. If a football game was televised [or 2-3 games] every night or every other night, would ratings be as high. I am not so sure. The scarcity of football helps fans build up that fever/tension prior to the game, much like the buildup to the Final Four. That creates excitement, allows for media to ponder and create buzz, and motivates people to gather on Sundays and Mondays to watch.
The NBA is simply overexposed. They need to limit games to create that scarcity. They also need to have an identity, like the NFL has with Sunday's and Monday's. When you think of those days, you think football.
So, to provide that scarcity, and to give people consistency as to when games are nationally televised, I would reconfigure the TV contracts to show nationally televised games in a quadruple header on Saturday’s. Then show a double header on Thursday’s, and no national games on any other days except holidays or special events.
5] GETTING BACK THE REAL FANS
Have you been to a game lately? Probably not unless you have $3-400 bucks just laying around. Most of the people at games these days are wealthier individuals, or are at the game because some corporate sponsor gave them tickets. The average die-hard fan is disappearing from the arenas. Gone is their enthusiasm. Did you know they blast fake crowd noise in the arena, behind all of that loud music? We need to do something for real fans, not corporations.
Therefore, I would force every franchise to have at least 15% of their lower bowl seats priced at $40 [+/- cost of living adjustment for area] and at least 5% of tickets available under $25. Teams can make the rest up in corporate sponsorships, suites or premium seats.
6] ALL STAR WEEKEND
All-Star game: No more votes. The coach with the best record in each conference gets to draft their team, with the draft televised in a pre-all-star special show three weeks prior to the game. All players are eligible, regardless of stats, playing time, popularity or whatever. Conference alignment does not matter. If the eastern conference coach wants to use their pick on Kobe, so be it. If a coach wants to pick Lou Amundson, he’s got em. The Coach whose team has best record in the league gets first pick.
You want to really know who the NBA coaches think are all stars, watch that draft show. Sure, you won’t know if the east or west won, but let’s face it, do you really care.
Now, to spice it up, winning team gets $1 million per player [with another $1 million donated to that players charity of choice], losing team gets squat [except $1M donation to their charity - let's not punish the charities]. Now you might see them actually try to play.
The weekend will start on Thursday, with each team doing a private morning practice, and then a 1 hour public practice inthe afternoon. Friday, same thing. This gives the public an opportunity to see the stars practice. And the practices allow them to put enough in so the games will be worth watching.
Saturday will consist of a new DUNK CONTEST, where every team has a representative [that way every fan base has something to look forward to and we get to see more dunkers]. Instead of the dumb format they currently have, it is now going to be played like a game of horse [spell D.U.N.K.].
To get fan interaction, fans will vote for their team representative, and who gets to go first. A random drawing determines order of the other dunkers. The game is simple: the first guy does a dunk and everyone has to match. You miss, you are out. If the starting dunker misses after a full round, the next guy leads and all have to follow. Most of the dunkers would probably be out on the first dunk.
Judges are on hand only to determine if the dunk was performed accurately - no more arbitrary ratings. Players must perform the dunk within 20 seconds of the previous dunker, so it will be fast and furious. If you want to know who the best dunker is, it is the guy that can do the best dunks. No more props or other idiotic dances.
The 3 point shoot-out is boring, but you can keep it if you like. However, we will add a HORSE competition. Yes, the dunk contest is a horse competition, but this will be a non-dunking real game of horse. Anything goes. Every team has a player representative voted in by their fans. All shots are legal, including using props, feet, heads, scoreboards, etc. I would love to see Nash kick one off the scoreboard!
I would also eliminate the competitions that were specifically designed to incorporate WNBA players, as nobody cares.
7] RULES CHANGES
Change the lane into a trapezoid and allow for shots on the rim to be knocked off. It is time to open the lane for a more free-flowing game [yes, even more free flowing than now.
I would also make the charge circle approximately 1 foot bigger. It is time we allow some nice dunks.
I would allow for post-game official review of flops. First, i would define what a flop is in more detail [but not here]. Then I would have a panel of 3 officials [who were not at the game] independently of each other review tape and if two of three officials decide a player flopped, the player is fined. For each successive flop, the fines increase and after 5 flops, the player is suspended for a game. No more flops Manu!
I would also put more meat behind the constant arguing of calls. However, the issue with what they tried before is that they tried to manage that stuff in-game. That should never happen as it pits player against official and is a judgement call. Again, I would have a review panel as the flop panel. Adjusting player behaviors happens better when you take the in-game official out of the role of judgment calls, and reviewing it later.
8] NBA DRAFT
Are you sick of ping pong balls? Are you tired of teams tanking to get better odds at the #1 pick?
No more. Now, each non-playoff team will send one player representative to New York, where they will have to shoot free throws. Random drawing will determine order of shooters. You get one shot, then next guy goes. You miss, you are out. Order is determined by placing in contest. Of course, this will all be televised [another event that people will watch]. I guarantee that you will see some interesting 2nd round draft picks for guys like Mike DiNunno, Eastern Kentucky, current NCAA FT% leader.
8] CONTRACTS, TRADES AND OTHER CBA STUFF
We are all sick of the bad contracts, silly trades [salary dumps, sign-trading an outgoing FA, and other miscellaneous deals that are less basketball related and more cap manuevering]. Therefore I would propose bargaining the following items out.
Remove player options from contracts. Most of those end up in situations where you are paying a guy not to play, or at least are overpaying him for what he does.
Get rid of qualifying offers. Have a definitive time when the contract is up so that teams and players can plan for free agency. Yes that hurts teams trying to sign their own players, but it also rids these teams of the one year [or more] hostage negotiations. If a team wants to keep their player, they should extend them sooner.
Allow teams to designate a franchise player. except unlike the NFL, where they can do this once each year, allow it only once every two season, and the player is assigned a 2 year contract [at the salary average of the top 5 at the position]. That player CAN be traded by the team after that designation. That way, teams are now back in control. This will counteract a bit of this "trade me" demands, or holding a team hostage.
I would drop the age limit for the draft and allow high school players to become draft eligible immediately. However, I would also put pressure on the NCAA to legislate in their bylaws that a player must either commit to 3 years or lose eligibility and we [the NBA] will honor that and not allow draft eligibility to anyone who hasn’t completed their 3 years once they have enrolled and began their freshman season.
I would also allow teams to drop a player to NBDL at 1/5th pay rate for any reason at any time. Of the remaining 4/5 of that salary, half goes to the NBDL team to pay the other players salary, the other half goes into an escrow for the player's pension. This gives tmore funds to the NBDL team.
If a player is involuntarily dropped, that player can only spend a maximum 5 games [NBA games] down and must be brought back up. If the player is a voluntary drop, they can stay as long as they wish. Teams can drop any player only three times max during one season. Any player dropped three times in two consecutive seasons must then sit out a full year after that season, or a team can void their contract. Team retains rights even after voiding their contract and they do not have to pay the remainder of the contract, but the salary must stay on their cap numbers for the duration of the term of the original contract. A team may trade that player's rights but must comply with rules regarding the cap.
So, you likey? You hatey? What would you do?