Contraction in the NBA? No Chance

Much has been made of David Stern's recent mention of contraction as a possibility for the NBA's cost-cutting ways. Concern about the topic in Sacramento even led Joe Maloof to scream out that his family was not interested in selling or dissolving the Kings. Stern mentioned contraction as the league's labor impasse reached fever pitch this week. (Of course, Stern himself brought it to fever pitch by announcing the owners, who met this week in New York, would be seeking to cut a third off payroll going forward.)

Obviously, the mention of contraction is a bargaining ploy. Losing one team costs the union 15 jobs and serves to tamp down salaries a bit for other players. These things would seem to come in twos, so that's 30 jobs and, yes, a bit more salary dampening. The league is pushing a hard cap and a more favorable split of revenue. To get what they actually want, they need to aim closer to insanity. Hence, contraction.

Know that Stern is entirely too proud of the league's expansion under his watch to contract. The league has added the Hornets, Heat, Timberwolves, Magic, Grizzlies, Raptors and Bobcats since Stern took the commissioner's seat. Do you really think he'd go backwards just before bowing out? It's the most unlikely scenario possible.

Furthermore, presenting this as a bargaining ploy shows his hand. Guess what? League contraction is not a collective bargaining issue. If the NBA Board of Governors (the owners) want to lose a team or two, they figure out the buy-out and player redistribution logistics. They don't need the union's permission. They don't need to settle it during the CBA talks. If Stern wants to kill the Kings, the union has no say.

This threat has no teeth. This crisis is devoid of relevance. And yes, as a matter of fact I will be writing about it for the next week.

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