Less is more, even if it causes you to leave money on the table.
On Tuesday morning, Front Office Sports reported that the NBA was trying to triple the value of its media rights by holding an eight-team midseason tournament with three single-elimination rounds that would pay each player on the winning team $1 million, as the league is trying to get a nine-year, $75 billion broadcast contract on its next deal — which is $51 billion more than the revenue brought in by its current contracts with Disney and WarnerMedia.
By Tuesday night, NBA fans were sick to their stomachs as Giannis Antetokounmpo left Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a hyperextended left knee. An MRI is scheduled for Wednesday, and there are reports that some in the Bucks organization fear it could be a postseason-ending ACL injury. Hawks center Clint Capela also left the game early with an eye injury, as his status is also up in the air for Thursday’s pivotal Game 5.
Including Trae Young — who missed Game 4 due to a bum foot — along with Giannis and Capela, the postseason list of injured NBA stars is longer than a receipt from CVS. It includes players like Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Mike Conley, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, and Luka Dončić, as they’ve all missed games or played hurt this postseason.
According to Axios, if Giannis misses Game 5, Paul George will be the only player out of the 15 who made this season’s All-NBA teams to suit up in all of his team’s playoff games so far. LeBron tried to warn Adam Silver earlier this year, but nobody wanted to listen. Especially after 2020-21 started with the shortest offseason in league history — 71 days — as the play-in tournament was permanently added this year along with an All-Star Game that took place after it wasn’t originally supposed to.
With the NBA Finals scheduled to start on July 8 and potentially lasting until July 22nd, it means players like Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday that are still playing in the postseason and have committed to play in the Olympics could only have hours before they have to fly to Tokyo. And with the 2021-2022 regular season starting on October 19, there will be another quick turnaround for the league’s biggest stars that the NBA is hoping to profit off of in their future broadcasting deals.
I was always taught that something was better than nothing. And if the NBA keeps going at this pace, there might not be anything left for them to bargain with at the negotiation table. Fewer games may mean less money, but it also may make more sense — or cents.