Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2 comments Scoop Jackson Has Another Of His Ideas

Before I get to Scoop Jackson's latest idea to fix the NBA, I wanted to follow up on something Bill Simmons wrote this past summer. Many people probably remember this terrible column that Bill Simmons wrote about the Red Sox. Essentially he made shit up and said the Red Sox were not losing viewers because of the amount of fair weather fans in the fan base (like there are in any fan base), but because they were "interesting" enough (meaning: they aren't winning). In his NFL picks column from a couple of weeks ago Bill clears this issue up and explains why this Red Sox team, the one that has significantly upgraded its talent this offseason, is now interesting. It's weird how that works isn't it?

When it's all said and done, the Sox will have spent more than $300 million, squandered two draft picks and given away three elite prospects to acquire Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. They did it for one reason: The sixth-best Celtic (Shaq) generated more local buzz than the entire 2010 Red Sox team did. Ticket demand was down; ratings were down; the Celts and Pats were hogging the headlines … they needed to do something. Period.

Because being third place in the AL East and having one of the best records in baseball isn't "interesting" enough for these fans. They should become more "interesting" by spending more money and having a team that strongly competes for the World Series this year. I wonder what Bill's excuse will be if the Red Sox still don't have higher television viewership this year?

The Gonzo trade was a home run; shades of the Pedro trade in 1998, when they flexed their big-market muscles by swiping a hitting-his-prime stud from a cost-cutting National League team. He fills a specific void: the slugger who (A) keeps fans from flicking the channel and (B) makes opposing fans say, "Uh-oh, that guy is coming up." Great move,

Because nothing says, "guy who keeps fans from flicking the channel" like the most overlooked superstar in the majors coming over from a West Coast team.

You know your team did something right when even the other team's fans are congratulating you. It reminded me of the J.D. Drew signing, but the exact opposite.


For the Red Sox, overpaying Crawford by $30 million (at least) was like overpaying for a mansion on the water in Nantucket and knowing it's embarrassingly excessive … but once you have it, it's like, "Who's up for a weekend in Nantucket? When are we going? Pack the car!!!!" Like I'm not going to enjoy watching him? Come on.

The addition of the most coveted outfielder and most coveted batter during this offseason is sure going to make the Red Sox more "interesting" this year. I hope this is enough to make the Red Sox fans in pink hats interested enough in the team to pay attention this year. We wouldn't want these diehard fans to become bored watching a 90+ win team like happened last year.

Of course, that $300 million splurging (which won't be official until Gonzo is signed after Opening Day for luxury-tax reasons) led the Yankees fans to start complaining, "You've become who you always despised: us." Please. That happened in 2000 when we dropped $160 million on Manny.

So Bill's counter to this complaint is that the Red Sox haven't become the Yankees because they already were? Bill burned Yankees fans there, now they feel stupid for giving the Red Sox credit for not buying free agents throughout the 2000's.

"You may say my girlfriend's haircut makes her look like a man. Please. The fact she has no visible breasts and a semblance of an Adam's apple made her look like a man back when I started dating her."

And hey, it's not my money. The Red Sox were boring, and now they're not.

Isn't it amazing how "boring" coincides perfectly with "legitimately contending for a World Series?" As Bill cleared up for us in his July column, this isn't being a fair weather fan at all. How it isn't being somewhat of a fair weather fan eludes me, but whatever.

I'd like to congratulate them for manning up.

This "manning up" is also known as what it really is, which is not forcing Bill to watch the Red Sox during a season when they aren't going to make the playoffs, and then causing him to make up an entire column blaming the Red Sox problems on baseball-wide problems when it is just Bill Simmons is spoiled and has become somewhat of a fair weather baseball fan.

Now for a complete change of direction. Scoop Jackson has figured out the solution to the one-and-done rule. Naturally, I don't like it.

Article X. Section 1 (b) (i):The player (A) is or will be at least 19 years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft is held, and (B) with respect to a player who is not an international player (defined below), at least one (1) NBA Season has elapsed since the player's graduation from high school (or, if the player did not graduate from high school, since the graduation of the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school).

Over the past five years, that particular commandment was responsible for players such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Greg Oden and others doing one-year bids in college before they headed to the league.

As a college basketball fan, I don't hate the fact these players spend a year in college basketball. I like this happened. Of course I also think players should be able to go straight to the NBA if they want, or else they would have to spend two years at a minimum in college. This will never happen of course.

According to a report by ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, the players would like to abolish the age requirement for eligibility to play in the NBA.

Naturally, because the NBA wants college basketball to serve solely as a feeder system to the NBA instead of being a place where these players get one year of instruction after high school. Why would the NBA want any player to develop more skills upon entering the league?

One of the biggest annoyances I have is that people believe the one-and-done rule is a college rule. It is not at all. It is a rule the NBA has imposed upon college athletes, yet somehow college athletic programs get blamed completely when it comes to players who are one-and-done. I understand the college needs to have everything legal/ethical when a player is in college, but for many athletes like John Wall he's only at Kentucky because the NBA won't let him be there. It's an NBA rule imposed on college basketball.

The problem with having problems with a problem (especially in the middle of a problematic and contentious multibillion-dollar negotiation) is that the problem doesn't disappear or get solved without a solution.

Players can go to the NBA out of high school, but if they go to college they have to stay for two years. It may lead more students to go to the NBA, but that's their choice. I believe a player should be able to make the decision with him and his family and there shouldn't be a rule he has to stay in school for one year.

They need a policy, an amendment, a "Bill Maher" that gets rid of the age requirement but still allows the owners and the league to avoid the drama of a bunch of post-prom high school kids running around making millions of dollars without any knowledge of what to do with it or how to handle the responsibilities of an NBA career.

This sentence is stupid on its face because the NBA will never solve the problem of high school kids running around in the NBA without knowledge of what to do with their money or how to handle the responsibilities. Professional athletes struggle with this, especially early in their career. The only way to fix this problem is to say a player can't go to the NBA until he is 25 years of age or older.

They need a New Rule. I have one. Here's how the solution to the NBAPA age restriction problem should read:

Don't pretend you aren't excited about this happening.

Article X. Section 1 (b) (i): A player (A) HAS TO be at least 18 YEARS OF AGE DURING THE CALENDER YEAR IN WHICH THE DRAFT IS HELD, (B) with respect to a player who is not an international player (defined below), OR at least one (1) NBA Season has elapsed since the player's graduation from high school (or, if the player did not graduate from high school, since the graduation of the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school), that player is eligible to enter that year's draft. HOWEVER,

Here's the kicker...

Section 1(b) (ii) there will be an additional tax levied against any team that drafts any player under the age of 19 and who is not at least one (1) NBA Season removed from graduating high school.

So Scoop Jackson wants to essentially make a team pay to choose a player who is a one-and-done. It sounds good on its face, but remember this isn't a rule designed to prevent players from skipping college altogether, but a rule that will try to discourage teams from DRAFTING these players. It is intended to make the team invest more time and money in a one-and-done player, but by taxing the team it also causes teams to avoid paying the tax and possibly wait until the 2nd round (which means a non-guaranteed contract) to draft high school players.

High school players who don't want to go to college and got bad advice about the NBA would possibly have a great chance of becoming the next Taj "Red" McDavid because of this new Scoop Jackson rule. I don't believe a rule that discourages NBA teams from drafting high school players while doing nothing to discourage high school players from entering the NBA after college is a good rule.

There it is. It's fairer to all parties than the original age restriction was, because it puts an onus on the owners who make the decision to draft certain players and does not victimize or fault the player for simply turning a certain age.

It puts the onus on the owner to make sure he wants to draft a player directly out of high school. This rule doesn't do anything to dissuade high school students from going straight to the NBA. All that bad advice and delusional draft projections from NBA teams and agents are still in play, it is just teams now have less of a financial inclination to take a player directly from high school.

In other words, all of the problems with players entering the league immediately after high school are present and the only thing this new rule solves is making sure a team has more of a financial commitment to that high school player. In a league where multi-million dollar contracts are handed out to guys Charlie Villanueva I don't know how effective this will be. I don't know if this financial commitment will cause an NBA team to invest more time into a player straight from high school or not.

So if there is another LeBron James or Dwight Howard out there, or the next Wall or Rose convinces some GM that he's worth the risk to get first dibs right out of high school, then let that general manager pitch the payoff to the owner against the cost of the tax.

The issue with one-and-done players, as I understand it, is not that teams are taking them too high in the draft, but teams aren't investing the resources and time into a player and the player is getting bad advice on his draft position. This rule does nothing to help the emotional maturity of a player, but instead makes NBA owners more hesitant to draft players directly from high school. So none of the issues with high school players going directly to the NBA are addressed and this rule doesn't increase the chance a player directly from high school will succeed in the NBA. I don't think the NBA owners would accept this rule in any way during negotiations.

No kid coming out of high school to play in the NBA ever forced any owner or GM to draft him. The decision on all counts prior to 2005 to draft players under the age of 19 was made solely by the front office and management staff of the teams that are a part of the league.

True. How does this rule help make high school players more successful in the NBA? It's essentially the one-and-done rule with an added tax to dissuade owners from selecting high school players. The solution to the issue of one-and-done players isn't on how to get them drafted LATER than they would normally be.

This puts all of the responsibility where it should be: on the owners.

The responsibility is already on the owners. The main issue of how to make players successful straight to the NBA after high school is in no way addressed using this rule. The one-and-done rule only addresses this issue by making players go to college for one year after high school. The bottom line is players that feel they can play in the NBA after high school are going to go if given the chance. If the goal is to make sure they are given a fair chance to succeed, putting a tax on the owner's for choosing them may not achieve this goal.

This is a best-of-three-worlds proposal. It won't keep any player from entering the draft after high school if he feels he's ready;

How? Agents and teams will still lie to the players to pretend like they will draft them in a certain position. The tax is on the OWNERS and no further responsibility is put on the players, so a high school kid wouldn't change his decision-making process by much in using this new rule than he would under the one-and-done rule.

it will make owners and GMs think long and deep about the true worth of a player and how necessary it is to get that player on the roster;

Again, this is a league where huge contracts are handed out every offseason. The tax on the owners would have to be significant to change their behavior away from choosing high school students in the draft...and if a player has declared for the draft and hired an agent then how does this help him by owners getting last minute cold feet on spending the extra money to draft that high school player?

and it will answer the ethical and legal questions about an age requirement in a free-market society.

Not really.

Under this proposal, the only consideration is whether he is worth the investment to play in the league.

A player would have to know BEFORE he hires an agent which teams don't want to pay the tax. He would have to have complete knowledge on this issue...but if the player knows then other teams know, which means that team has ruined some leverage to make trades up/back to choose players and certain draft strategies would not work. Basically, no team would announce they aren't drafting high school players for strategy reasons, so a high school player that has declared for the draft, but not hired an agent, won't be able to make a fully informed decision until the deadline to pull out of the draft is passed. NBA teams are serious about keeping their draft strategies a secret, so a high school player would not know which teams are willing to pay the tax until the draft actually occurs...which in no way helps the future NBA player make an informed decision.

If this is an issue over which the players sincerely have a philosophical difference with the owners -- if they really want that commandment gone from the next CBA -- then they must be the ones to draw up a blueprint for how the system should work.

In the case of the league's age requirement, maybe the above suggestion is one for them to grow on.

Why the hell would the owners decide to tax themselves? Especially when it doesn't give them an added benefit?

The only way this rule would work is if high school players were able to declare for the draft making fully informed decisions on which teams would draft them. Teams aren't going to commit one way or another on if they will draft high school players, so players won't know when they are going to be drafted and they won't be mature enough to handle the NBA, which was the exact situation the one-and-done rule was created to prevent.


rich said...

still allows the owners and the league to avoid the drama of a bunch of post-prom high school kids running around making millions of dollars without any knowledge of what to do with it or how to handle the responsibilities of an NBA career.

Adding to what you said BGF, no one said these owners have to draft these players. If owners don't like having a bunch of "post-prom high school kids running around" they could simply not draft them.

I'm all for an age restriction of sorts (much like your proposed either straight to the NBA or at least two years of college), but to say that the owners need the NBA to save them from the scurge that is HS players is ridiculous. Owners cause the problem by placing talent over everything else and then not giving the players the proper guidance on how to handle the new found fame and wealth.

and it will answer the ethical and legal questions about an age requirement in a free-market society.

Scoop doesn't really get the whole "free-market" thing does he. You can't levy a tax on something and say "well now we know how it will be in a free market," because it is, by definition, not "free" if there's a tax involved.

The other problem with Scoop's solution is that he says that it puts the responsibility on the teams, but it actually doesn't. The responsibility now falls on the players because they now have to convince teams that they're worth not only a contract, but also an unspecified penalty. Which means that the player can hire and agent and risk not playing basketball at all or he has to convince the teams himself.

Back when there was no tax, it was entirely on the teams to say whether a guy is good enough. Scoop's solution puts the onus on the players to convince the teams that they're good enough. It's actually quite moronic.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I agree with you. No one makes the owners select these players and then they compound the problem by not giving them the necessary guidance and time. The root problems with one and done players won't be fixed with this rule. It only gives owners more of a reason to not take a player directly out of high school in the draft, which does nothing positive regarding this issue.

I didn't think of the issue that now a player has to convince the owner he is worth more than a player who has had a couple of years of college. So really this doesn't fix the problem at all.

Scoop Jackson doesn't understand the economics of this, partly because of the idea he doesn't understand "free" market principles and he doesn't understand teams aren't going to give an advantage to another team by signaling they will take a HS player, so thereby the player won't be able to make an informed decision on whether to come into the draft after HS or not. At least with no tax a player knows every team has the same incentive to take him.