- Now is the winter of our discontent. Bright Side of the Sun's Seth Pollack recently posted on the correlation between spending and winning. (thanks for FanShotting, Dutch!)
- Band of brothers?. Pollack also suggests that once the players agreed to a 50/50 BRI split the battle with the owners was over. After all, with the proposed system changes impacting only a limited demographic of veterans, what in politics we might call a 'special interest', hasn't that special interest hijacked the season? Well...
- Just because you figured out the horse doesn't mean the cart stands alone. Does that seem a little obscure? As Henry Abbott pointed out eloquently:
The owners insist that they need to level the playing field between all 30 teams so the big markets teams (or those with deep pockets) can't continually outspend the rest of the league. They believe that more equal spending will give more teams the chance to be competitive.
The history is clearly on the owners side.
Read the article. There is a massive difference between correlation and causation, where's the analysis of that crucial difference?
That certainly sounds like it embodies the heart of Pollack's sentiment. But does it support his claim?
There may be a certain tolerance out there for an NBA season lost to fixing a broken financial model. Everybody at least understands the idea that the league needs to be on solid financial footing. But with the money issues solved, it's unfathomable that we might lose a season chasing the unicorn of competitive balance.
- Repeating your point doesn't make it true. Earlier in the article, Abbott had this to say:
- I'll play your game. What if it were true and the league's proposed changes were effective in promoting spending parity? We've increased the Bobcats' ability to sign Mike Miller to a contract in excess of what the Miami Heat were able to offer, or at least limited the Lakers' ability to do so. What happens? Does Mike Miller enter Drew Gooden territory? Going from overpaid on a playoff team to a lot overpaid on a marginal one? Does this mean a bidding war for not-quite-stars teams desperate for relevance have no choice but to embrace with a higher minimum salary requirement? Doesn't this manufacture the class of player teams would sign to meet that higher minimum salary mark? Do Eddy Curry scenarios become more likely in the name of parity?
- Gaze into my causation crystal ball. So, big spending has been curtailed, to a limited extent, luxury tax payments may have even gone down and that would mean even less to spread around the league's less fortunate when the time comes to dole out the NBA's version of revenue-sharing. Tack on higher spending requirements and a possibly increasing market for mid-level talent and how hard is it to see Michael Jordan leading a larger hard-line faction into the next negotiating session?
- Am I my brother's keeper? What about player versus player? Well, the players have not asked any fraction of their membership to accept sacrifices the rest of the union does not have to face as well (unless you're counting max contracts for the 'greedy' superstar class). That's a piece of why they rejected the NBA's changes to the exceptions, just like they immediately rejected the reductions of minimum salary contracts. When the union establishes the precedent of applying selective restrictions on specific classes of player, it's the first step (depending on how you look at it) on a very steep and slippery slope.
The essential measure of competitive balance in sports leagues is called "Noll-Scully" named in part after Stanford economist Roger Noll. He is unimpressed by the NBA's proposed system changes that he says would have, he says, "little effect" on parity.
He's in lockstep with every other noted expert who has commented publicly, including David Berri, who has studied the subject intensively across all major sports and found that of all historic attempts at harder caps "none of these institutions had any statistically significant impact on balance in any of these leagues."
British economist David Forrest says "the evidence isn't there."
Pollack is at pains to demonstrate the same set of data points in several different graphs, but supplies no additional supporting evidence. Doesn't the argument as presented boil down to one of the league's talking points?