— You ask, we (try to) answer.
A. It is only part of the reason. Again, to hit on a familiar theme of mine, you can't compare the NFL to the NBA.
First, there are only 16 regular-season games in the NFL, so parity becomes far easier to obtain. It's a lot easier to get everyone to 8-8 than 41-41.
Second, the prime NFL profit center is the national television contract, which can be divided equally because it does not depend on individual television-market revenue.
Third, the NBA legacy is of dominance, not one-title wonders. In the NBA, you have to back up your success.
So if you want to compare the NBA to the NFL, it has to be about more than a hard cap being a panacea.
You'd first have to: Trim the schedule to 16 games, move to weighed scheduling, find a television partner to televise all games nationally for a gazillion dollars, and get fantasy and gambling interest to the level the NFL has reached.
Then we can start talking about a hard cap as a cure-all.
A. Apparently you've been talking to Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony (but not Chris Bosh, who laughed off the idea at his charity game last week).
I've been speaking to an agent since the lockout started and he's pushing the same idea. His approach is identify prospective investors in key markets that feature NBA-level alternative arenas (such as Miami, which also has the Panthers' arena, or New York, where the Nets eventually will vacate the Devils' arena in Newark) and then set up an infrastructure to move forward either next season (if the lockout continues) or in advance of the expiration of the next collective bargaining agreement (which he said should be set with a short length by the union to allow for such a future alternate-league threat).
Such a model would have a chance if both the agents, through some sort of trade-association fee, and the union, with a dues assessment for such contingency planning, were willing to finance the start-up costs, essentially what the new owners would receive for their franchise fee.
The one thing we know is that for all the bluster of players setting up their own games, some of which have been quite successful, they ultimately want to be the ones paid to play, not paying to play.
Ultimately, the plan only would work if current NBA management angers the players and agents to the point where they would show some resolve toward such an approach.
As for the investors? Sure it will not be easy, but sports have a certain romantic lure that tends to make smart people make some not-so-smart decisions.
After all, there were ABA, USFL and WFL investors (and even are WNBA and D-League investors these days).
A. Look, I can only hammer away at this topic so often because it becomes redundant.
This is not about "all" NBA owners, just the few who are in it for the money and had visions of the guaranteed-profit world of the NFL, a fraternity whose initiation fee would price many of these NBA owners out of the market.
The point I've tried to make is that the NBA is pretty close to having half its owners willing, right now, to get some sort of deal done. But let's say that even just a third would vote to end the lockout now. So if you can remove the five or six worst owners (and we should all know who they are by now), reaching a consensus becomes far easier.
I'd like to be able to hand a questionnaire to each owner that reads: If you had to pick one, which would it be? A. Win a championship. B. Create an enduring, successful basketball business model in my market. C. Suck every last penny out of this thing.
Unfortunately, I still think there are too many who would opt for C.
Q. I'm really, really getting fed up with the NBA owners as a group. The Minnesotas and Clippers of the league, none will ever be champions of anything no matter what any CBA agreement is.
— Roland, Portland, Ore.
A. Um, I agree?
There is so much more to the success model that moves you closer to competitive balance than just a CBA.
Just like there are good, not-so good and awful players, there also are good, not-so-good and awful coaches, executives and owners.
The starting point of this whole mess should have been revenue sharing. Instead, the NBA elected to join that debate already in progress.
Again, there will never truly be a level playing field in the NBA because there will never be equal local television revenue, equal winter weather, equal attractiveness of cities, or equal legacies of success.
And it's just not about the big-revenue or big-market arguments. As Chris Bosh would tell you, it's also about getting the good cable.
A. Here's what's going to happen: The NBA is going to offer amnesty and teams will wipe some of the worst deals off their caps and taxes (although not Johnson's deal). And, for a while, all will be right in their world.
And then desperate, inept or misguided executives will make the same overpayments. The difference is with a tighter cap, they'll have even less of an ability to work around such mistakes.
The one thing I do agree about with the owners is the need for shorter maximum contract lengths. At least then, when you make a mistake with a Joe Johnson or Darko or Eddy Curry, you won't have to live with it for more than half a decade.