How to improve the NBA product

Let me begin by saying I am not a fan of David Stern. His latest rule change giving referees authority roughly equal to an SS prison guard is ridiculous. 

Referees can literally sway games. Suppose it's game 7 of the Western Conference finals. Lakers vs. Blazers. Blazers down by 2. The Dread Pirate Roberts hits a 3 pointer, .1 second left. Blazers win.

But wait! Matthews has a smile on his face. He does a fist pump. You hear a whistle blow. That's a tech. Tsk tsk, emotion in sports is not a good thing. Now Matthews is upset! He shakes his head.  A second tech is called and Matthews ejected. NBA darling Kobe Bryant is awarded the two free shots and Lakers go on to the title round. 

Now would a ref throw a game that much? Maybe not. We'll ask Donaghy. I know I'll take flak for this ridiculous scenario, I'll get called a Kobe hater. It's not about Kobe--I just used this as an example. 

My point is that refs can literally tilt games like this if they were so inclined.

Do we want that?

Here's a few other beefs I have with the NBA.

1. All star voting system

I just played Wii Sports and my Millsap mii was on my team. In only 3 minutes he had 24 points, 2 blocks, a steal and 2 assists. If he were to play 30 minutes thats' 240 points, 20 blocks, 10 steals and 20 assists.

All Star? Yes. Better than Jordan? YES!!! Wilt who? 

In all seriousness though, it's a joke that guys like Chalmers are getting nominated over guys like Millsap. What's worse, is says to vote for your FAVORITE--not the BEST--players. They are upfront that it is a popularity contest.

Simple solution. Chose the candidates the week of Thanksgiving. In the world of modern technology it should not be terribly difficult to get ballots out, especially since I suspect most voting is done over the internet or texting. 

Now, there are a lot of PFs who deserve to be in the vote in the West. Griffin. Gasol. Odom. Lee (in a normal year when he's not injured) Beasley. Aldridge. Love. Green. Scola. Duncan. Randolph. West. Dirk. And yes, Paul Millsap. Not everyone can be an all star--but at least recognize players who are playing well. 

That's a change that needs to be made.

2. Separate Conference seeding

Now, I suspect this will be my most unpopular idea. In short, it bothers me that the difference last year between 2nd seed in the west and 8th seed was only a handful of games, where in the east teams barely making .500 are in the playoffs.

Make it a 16 team pool. If there are more West teams than east, or vice versa, so be it. I'm willing to bet the number 9 west seed could take down last years' 8 eastern seed. 

Now I realize this isn't traditional, but it would make the playoffs more competitive.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

These poor guys live in the shadow of the Lakers. Let them have their own city. San Diego for instance. Seattle. Kentucky is a big basketball state with no pro team. Kansas City.  The big city in New Mexico that I can't spell without looking up. Or my personal choice, Las Vegas.

Give this team a chance to have it's own arena, it's own fanbase, undiluted by Lakers fans. 

Just my opinion.

4. Salary cap

In the NBA there are small market teams, like the Jazz, and large market teams, like the Lakers. Small market teams often have troubles keeping up with the spending of the larger teams. Last year the Laker's spent 90 million plus on their players, well above the cap and what other teams can pay. Here are a couple options.

a. Hard cap NFL style. I love that the small town Green Bay can field as competitive of a team as big town New York.

b. Hard cap with pay scale

Each team has a cap of 79 million, usable in the following way: 1 player earning 12 mil, 1 11 mil, 1 10 mil, and so on until the 12th get $1 million a year. Two roster spots with $500,00 salary is available. So the Jazz may give the 12 mil spot to D Will, 11 to Millsap, 10 to Jefferson and so on. Two exceptions are available. The first is a Bird's right type. You may, once every 5 years, IF you are re-signing your own player, convert an 11 million slot to a 12 million slot (2 12 million slots now) So teams will have to be selective on who they give it to every 5 years, but it would somewhat help with retaining players. The second is, if due to injury another player needs to be signed, a 3rd 500,000 spot opens up. Teams can also put a franchise tag on two players requiring them to be paid the 12 mil slot. So, in this year's free agent class, Toronto and Cleveland could've put that tag on Bosh and James, and MIami could not have gotten both of them to sign. They are still free to sign with any club that has the 12 million option still open. 

Are there flaws to this idea? Many. In fact, it's a borderline dumb idea. I just threw an idea out there to illustrate that there are different salary cap options that would level the playing field. People much smarter than me can surely come up with a more equitable way for teams to spend on player salaries.

I love basketball. I love the NBA. These are just a few ways of making it a little better.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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