Cleveland’s 0-24 and what it means for NBA Contraction

The Cavaliers managed to keep their last 3 games competitive with the help of a little motivation from the NBA records books, but ultimately only the Mavericks now stand between them and NBA infamy as the sole owner of the worst losing streak in NBA history.  One year ago, the Nets faced a similar battle with a 0-18 losing streak to start the year and had all the attention placed on them as the NBA’s worst team.  Back to back years of teams potential rewriting the record books for the worst of reasons is not a good look for the NBA and they know it.

Contraction has been a hot topic around the league, with the players expressing concerns about the talent pool being too diluted, while the commissioner is concerned about ticket sales in small markets. Both are coming at contraction from different angles but both meet at the same point.

This years ticket sales have been far lower than years past. You have 13 teams averaging less than 16 000 fans at home. 2010 and 2009 that number was 9.

Bad records generally mean low talent levels. Add those two together and you get low attendance. 10 of the 13 teams have records below .500.

Looking at the rise and fall of certain teams like the Cavs and Pistons from their glory years till now helps paint the picture. The Pistons had high attendance levels for the majority of the of the past 10 years when they were in the mix for a title each year but have now dropped back substantially to 17th overall as their record continues to tumble. The Cavs pre-Lebron where near the bottom of the standings and attendance levels, then shot up to the top during the Lebron era where they remain today mostly as season ticket holders wondered where their beloved team would stand post-Lebron. Expect attendance to plummet back to the bottom next year as fans adjust expectations accordingly.

Where it gets scary is when you talk about the 3 teams above .500, Atlanta, New Orleans, Memphis, and their inability to bring in fans and generate revenue.

Good talent and the ability to win games has been directly correlated to good attendance to all but those three teams. Whether the reason is too small a market, small income families or low interest in professional basketball, the result is the same.

You don’t need to be a professor to understand when you contract those three teams, spread the talent through out the league, you get: 1) Better talent showcased 2) Closer games 3) Better records/ More teams in playoff race 4) More attendance 5) More revenue 6) Bonus: Better D-League players.

The NBA is projecting they will lose upwards of 350 million this year.  With the CBA deal set to expire, the commissioner and owners are looking for a 1/3 cut in players salaries (roughly 750 million total) this time around.  While I’m in no way against pro athletes taking a gigantic pay cut, this solution feels like a band-aid to the real problem of not contracting teams despite what the numbers and logic tells us.

Certainly there is more politics involved that the two simple issues I presented, but sometimes the most obvious solution just plain stinking is the right one.


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