Off and on for the past few years, we've heard rumors of the NBA wanting to rid itself of several teams, or some bloggers want to change the way the playoffs shape up.
Finances? The Union doesn't think so. They say there is no way the league could be losing as much money as audited financials show.
In fact, both finances and competitiveness should be considered when talking about downsizing the NBA.
The NBA is talking about expanding revenue-sharing, a move that would hurt larger markets in some areas. None of those areas would be player acquisition. The Lakers are set to make $3 billion over the next 20 years from a new deal with Time Warner Cable. That TV deal would not be involved in revenue-sharing. While I'm against revenue-sharing, any talks of an expansion of it should have no overall affect on talks of downsizing the NBA.
Let's instead look at operating income (as reported by Forbes) alongside each team's regular season record for the bottom 6 earning teams.
6th worst operating income: Sacramento Kings (24-58). Also ranked as the 7th least valuable franchise in the NBA and have earned losing records each of the last 5 seasons. While the Kings took part in a big draft day trade this year, the next season at least does not look good for this franchise.
5th worst operating income: New Jersey Nets (24-58). Ranked the 10th least valuable franchise in the NBA, also have not held a winning record since the 05-06 season (went 41-41 in 06-07). Lets be honest here as well, Deron Williams will not stay with the Nets. While we may or may not be able to sign him, I have no doubt he will not stay on that team, despite a fancy new arena.
4th worst operating income: Denver Nuggets (50-32). Ranked 11th least valuable franchise in the NBA, despite having winning records every year since 03-04 (Melo's rookie season). Still have a very bright outlook with George Karl coaching. Very competitive team that looks to get better in the next few years, despite trading away Carmelo Anthony.
3rd worst operating income: Indiana Pacers (37-45, lost in playoffs). Ranked 4th least valuable franchise in the NBA. Haven't had a winning season since 04-05 (went 41-41 in 05-06). The absolute example of a team that currently needs to be contracted and why the league needs to restructure the playoffs. Entered the playoffs with a losing record, much like the Seattle Seahawks this past season in the NFL.
2nd worst operating income: Charlotte Bobcats (34-48). 6th least valuable franchise in the NBA. Only 1 winning season in the franchise's (albeit short) span. Sorry MJ, you may be a legend as a player, but the Bobcats are not what the NBA needs. Not a well built team (unlike the Oklahoma City Thunder), not getting revenue.
Worst operating income: Orlando Magic (52-30). 11th most valuable franchise in the NBA. Has made the playoffs each of the last 5 seasons (despite a losing record in 05-06). Will Dwight Howard stay? Should not be considered when talking about removing the Magic from the league, but still an interesting thought.
In looking at these teams, I see four that could very easily be "contracted" out of the league. Ones that aren't competitive and haven't been in some time. Four less teams, logically speaking, means more revenue for the rest of the league (though not 100% of the revenue earned by the other teams in the league), a more competitive free agent market, lowering the cost of high value player, and a lower need for revenue sharing. In my opinion, Charlotte, Indiana, New Jersey, and Sacramento need to be contracted from the NBA.
Further, several of these teams have made the playoffs (in the Eastern Conference) in recent years with losing records. This simply highlights the need for a new structure for the playoffs. What that structure would be is up to you and for another discussion.
For now, so long and good morning (since I'm finishing this at 4:45 in the morning here in Dallas). It will be interesting to see how this new CBA works out, whenever it does.