Blog Entry

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:31 pm
As the superstar exodus to greener pastures and glitzier cities continues in the NBA, Reggie Miller rode to the rescue of the small market Tuesday. 

In TNT's pre-All-Star conference call, Miller said a franchise tag to curb player movement will be "tough" to implement in collective bargaining. But if that's what it takes to keep stars in small markets -- Miller played his entire 18-year career in Indiana -- he's all for it. 

"I was disappointed when LeBron left and went to Miami," Miller said. "I'm not faulting him, because obviously this is America and people change jobs and occupations and locations all the time. But for a guy that's been in a small market for 18 years, I just love when stars and superstars -- and you had the biggest superstars in our league in terms of name recognition in LeBron in a small market -- I didn’t think overall that helps the brand. Therefore, I hope Deron Williams stays in Utah and Chris Paul stays in New Orleans. It's good to have superstars in smaller markets because it helps the brand." 

Fellow Turner Sports broadcaster Kevin McHale, who famously traded Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2007, called the franchise tag an "interesting concept." Depending on how it's implemented, a franchise tag would either give teams cap relief to help them retain a star player, further restrict star players' movement, or both. 

"There's something to that," McHale said. "It gives the team that drafts a guy and develops a guy more of an opportunity to hold onto the player. I agree having the talent distributed throughout the whole NBA is much better for the game as whole. If you win, they'll want to play in different cities, no matter if it's Oklahoma City or New York City. If you're winning, they're going to want to go there and be part of it." 

Whether the owners can get such an onerous request past the union without a fight? Good luck. 

"They're going to have to get the players' association to buy into that," McHale said. 

The prospect of a franchise tag in a new CBA plays directly into the future of Carmelo Anthony, who is seeking a trade yet is concerned about losing money by passing on a three-year, $65 million extension that could be less lucrative in the new labor agreement. If the Nuggets decide to keep Anthony, part of their motivation would be having solid knowledge that they'd be in a position to retain Anthony with a franchise tag after the new deal is ratified. Anthony's countermove, obviously, would simply be to opt out of his $18.5 million contract for next season. That game of chess is likely to unfold all the way down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2011 10:18 am

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

mrbokc, I completely agree with your sentiment that the NBA - and, while we're at it, I'll throw in MLB - could leanr a lot from the NFL's business model. However, I disagree with the idea about cutting players while they are under contract. That's something I've always had a bad taste about regarding the NFL. Why should a player be bound by a contract while a team is not? If a player has to live with the bad contract he signed that pays him far less than he's worth, a team should have to live with their bad decisions as well. I don't know of any other instance where a contract between two parties is only binding to one side.

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2011 10:08 am

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

@ romeobodeodo, while on its surface, your argument may seem like a good one - after all, who can argue with the concept of freedom and the right to determine your own destiny? - it doesn't quite work when applied. In normal private businesses, competing companies compete for resources and when one of their competitors can no longer compete and closes its doors, that is good for the business of all the other companies competing against them. In other words, they don't need each other and directly benefit from the demise of their competitors.

In the business of pro sports, on the other hand, the competitors absolutely need each other because the product they are selling is nothing but competition. If teams start folding because they can't sell tickets because they can't build a roster that will attract fans, how is that good for large-market teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Knicks and Bulls? It's not...and, if they take a moment to think about themselves collectively and not just individually, it's also not good for the players if all of a sudden only half of them are needed and the rest are out of jobs because there are no teams left to sign them.

I don't fault LeBron for going to Miami (the way he went about it is another story) and I don't fault Anthony if he wants to go to NYC or LA. However, Reggie Miller has a point and I can't fault the NBA and teams for wanting to figure out how to keep teams in smaller markets competitive and spread talent around throughout the league.

Since: Mar 6, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2011 12:59 pm

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

Maybe they should look at how the nfl does things. The team with the smallest market just won the superbowl. they need to run the cap like the nfl they should be able to cut players whenever. Like the eddy curries of the worlds.

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: February 8, 2011 5:50 pm

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

I think the notion of a "franchise player" is a terrible idea. Compare it to this. Suppose after finishing college you not only didn't get to select the company you wanted to work for (assuming they wanted you as well), but once there you were forced to work there for your entire career simply because you happened to be very good at your job. It would be terribly unfair, and so would making a pro ball player do the same- no matter how much you paid him. If, for instance you hate the cold but get drafted by Minnesota. Now your stuck freezing your butt off for 15 or so years. Or let's say winning is everything to you, but the ownership and the management either make no effort to put together a team with winning the championship in mind (re: Donald Sterling) or they are so inept at trying to do so, you may never even get a sniff of the playoffs, much less a championship. Or you could end up playing for a coach whose style doesn't take advantage of your skills and it hampers your growth as a player. You could also end up in a franchise that treats it's players poorly, or is unwilling to invest in good training facilities, or has a notoriously poor training staff. There are a lot of good reasons why players might want or need a change of scenery. 
The system as it is is fine. Each team that drafts a player has a few years to develop him and a team around him as well as convince them that their town is a good place to play. If they are unable to do so, tough luck. If your city happens to be in the frigid north like Minnesota or Cleveland, or a cultural wasteland like Salt Lake City- well that's the chance you took when you plopped your franchise down there. If the league as a whole or the owners want to give small market teams extra incentives to hold on to star players, that's one thing. But putting the onus on the players to give up their right to move to different teams once their original contract and obligation is up in an effort to keep small market teams competitive is unfair and unreasonable.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2011 4:48 pm

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

Market size does not really matter. Or, it does but not as much as we like to pretend that it does. San Antonio is not a large market. Cleveland was not any bigger of a market when LeBron James was on the team; they were just a small market team that had LeBron James and won sixty games a year. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and New York are the two biggest markets in the game. How has market size treated the Clippers and, until recently, the Knicks? Did market size help the Bulls get better after MJ retired? No, Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer did. The Clippers and Knicks aren't starting to get better because they moved to a bigger market. They're starting to get better because of Gordon, Griffin, Amare and Felton. Get good players and you build a market to support the team. Get bad players and the biggest market in the world won't help.

Since: Jul 4, 2009
Posted on: February 8, 2011 2:22 pm

Reggie Miller - great basketball hero

I remember idolizing Reggie Miller as a youth...even perfected my shot after his, watching games and studying his style...  I personally feel NBA basketball died when he retired, and now it's only fitting that he figure out a way to bring it back!!!  I agree with his theory in a franchise tag 100%....sports should't be about money, but like everything professional, you have those involved seeking the best deal possible and endorsements, yada yada.  As a fan, it's way better to purchase ONE jersey and have it last more than 3 years before the athlete trades to another franchise.  It's just heartbreaking and stupid when people like LaBron pack up and leave a huge dedicated fan-base.  I abhore Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, but props to them for being true to their teams...even though they are everything but "small market."

So here's to the old school of NBA players...thanks for not letting riches and glory dominate your personas!  Lets fix this new school b.s.

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