The Downbeat - 20 April 2011 - #472 - The COY Award (Kind Of) Edition

1_medium Jerry Sloan finally wins COY (Cooperator of the Year) from the Professional Basketball Writers Association.  He won the "Rudy Tomjanovich Award, a new honor created by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to acknowledge an NBA coach each season for his cooperation with the media."  From NBA.com,

Sloan, for those who covered him and his teams, was always a mug of black coffee in a frappuccino and latte world. He didn’t write reporters’ stories for them with clever metaphors or provocative, full-paragraph quotes. But he answered questions directly, said what was on his mind and often asked questions back to those interviewing him, more dialogue than monologue. He had a blunt, straight-forward way of dealing with the media that truly did belong under the tractor caps he often wore on practice days.

His post-game interviews are some of the best and one of the biggest things I'll miss.

  A small bit of good news on the draft front.  Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones have both declared for the NBA draft though neither have hired an agent.  They're both potential targets for the Jazz.  Knight is projected to go anywhere from 5-10 while Jones is right around 10 in most draft lists.

 The NBA is a business and business is good for the Jazz right now, at least with their partnership with ROOT sports.  Despite the tumultuous season, Jazz fans still tuned in to watch what was going to happen next, for good or for bad.  According to Sports Business Daily, the Jazz had a 5.6 average rating, second only to the Spurs' 10.19.  That's an increase of almost 2% from last season.

Both the Jazz and the Spurs have the advantage of being the biggest pro sport in town (though RSL fever has made headway).

Now the larger markets are going to have more total viewers, but for the percentage of the market, that's huge.  One thing worth noting is the Clippers have the worst rating in the league at just .99 despite having Blake Griffin and the huge LA market.  They did record the biggest jump in viewer percentage though.

The team's home attendance was also up in 2011 (799,982) after taking a dip in 2010 (794,512) from the year before (816,042).  They've ranked 6th, 6th, and 7th in the league the past few seasons in attendance and were only leapfrogged by the Heat after LeBron and Bosh's arrival in Miami.

   This statement from Paul Allen's (Blazers owner) upcoming book is startling.  When speaking with David Stern about the financial difficulties with the Rose Garden and the team, one of Stern's first responses was, "Well, you can always sell your team."  He actually did end up putting the team up for sale before withdrawing.

A large part of the team's problems were self-inflicted.  This was during the Jail Blazers era when attendance was down and other major sources of revenue were down despite the team having a large payroll.   That's part of the quandary coming up with the new CBA negotiations.  Clearly, there was a lot of mismanagement with the Blazers at the turn of the century that put them in that predicament.

Allen has more money than 99.9999999% of the world but he was trying to operate the team within their budget and couldn't make it work at the time.  He expresses his concern in his book about small market teams,

Before long, the league may become stratified into haves and havenots, with small-market teams shaving player payrolls just to stay afloat and large-grossing teams having "huge economic disparities to utilize to make them better," as NBA Commissioner David Stern said recently. At that point, only four or five franchises will have a legitimate shot at a championship. You'll see more half-empty arenas as people weary of watching their lovable losers get hammered. Top free agents will focus on fewer cities, typically those with the best media and promotional opportunities. National interest and TV ratings can't help but suffer.

That's why I don't think we understand fully what impact it has when the Jazz go over the luxury tax.  That's why Larry H Miller never wanted to go over that cap.  The stability of the franchise came first for him and he saw that as a potential danger for the team.  That's not saying that Greg and Gail Miller don't value that as well by going over the tax, but you can see from other franchises what impact it has.

I don't know if the owners are ready to negotiate with the players yet because I don't know if they're all on the same side yet.  There's definitely a faction between the large and small market teams over things such as revenue sharing and salary limits.  Until they come to an accord on those things, then they won't be ready to present their proposal to the players.

The numbers from item #3 today should show that there's still an overwhelming interest in the Jazz despite all that's gone on. With the NBA recognizing record viewership numbers and other indicators being high, it would be be a huge blow for them to have a lockout now.  But to the owners, it's worth it to get budgets back under control and to save themselves from themselves.

  Wednesday open poll...  Outside of Sloan and Johnson stepping down and Deron getting traded, what's the biggest thing you'll remember about this past season?

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