Adam Silver: Team sales on hold as big TV deal looms

Mike Ehrmann

The man who will take over for David Stern was candid when discussing a possible big influx of revenue into the NBA.

Part of a commissioner's job is to tout all the wonderful things about his or her league, and so it's no surprise that incoming commish Adam Silver is bullish on the future of the NBA.

But just because he has a positive outlook doesn't necessarily mean he's simply blowing smoke.

Silver, who takes over for longtime commissioner David Stern on Feb. 1, says with franchise values at all-time highs and a new TV deal in the works all teams that have been previously on the market have been taken off.

"As we look at the coming domestic television deal and a great playoffs and Finals, there's a great buzz around the league right now," Silver said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. "There aren't any teams for sale but if there were [the price] would be robust."

In other words, after years of selling low, current owners sense a sea change on the horizon and are waiting to cash in. You can thank the new owner-friendly CBA and an upcoming TV deal for that.

That TV deal, you may recall, was the crux of an argument I made in July that the Pistons had plenty of room for the big contract of Josh Smith, and pending big deals for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. And while that is the primary concern of the Pistons, a new TV deal would have huge ramifications throughout the league. Here is the key passage in that previous article:

According to Sports Business Daily, each NBA team currently receives $30 million as its share of the league's TV deal. If the league doubles its TV rights deal similar to MLB then each team will get an instant payout of $60 million, which already exceeds this year's salary cap.

Can we really expect the salary cap to essentially double over the course of one season? No, that's probably not realistic. But a significant portion of that new revenue stream will go toward raising the salary cap because, well, it has to.

Unlike MLB teams cannot pocket all this extra cash. The latest collective bargaining agreement calls for teams to spend roughly half of basketball-related income (BRI) on team payroll. That's down from 57 in the previous CBA.

Also remember that the NBA instituted a more expansive version of revenue sharing between the high-revenue juggernauts such as the LakersBullsCeltics and Knicks of the world to share with the BobcatsBucksTimberwolves, and, yes, probably the Pistons.

Again turning to Sports Business Daily, league projections say that the neediest teams in the league could count on as much as an additional $16 million in revenue based on revenue sharing once the system is completely in place.

This latest comment from Silver just lends credence to my original theory, which, if true, would be the biggest story in the NBA that nobody is really paying attention to.

Think about it -- a TV deal that increases 100 percent would have such a profound effect on the salary cap that you would think everyone would be positioning themselves to reap the rewards when the new deal was in place.

Players would want their contracts expiring just when every team had a fresh influx of cash, and teams would be building rosters with the expectation of expanded payrolls. I'm still hoping on fleshing this hypothesis out further by contacting experts in the field to let me know if the idea holds any water or if there is something I am completely missing.

Until then we'll just have to keep an eye on what the commissioner, players, agents, GMs and owners have to say.

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