Money or winning: Where should NBA teams draw the line?

03.25.10 9 years ago 19 Comments

There’s a big difference between knowing everything and knowing too much.

For years as a kid, I collected football cards. I didn’t know enough about the business of collecting — I kept my cards unprotected in paper grocery bags and spent hours on the floor organizing them in every way imaginable — but I knew everything about the NFL. I could rattle off the stats and starting lineups of every team in the league, including the linemen. I was almost as savant-like about basketball: I knew most of the players in the NBA and I knew everything about the Sonics.

But what made that time great is that I didn’t know too much. I knew I liked Ricky Pierce because he could shoot; I didn’t know how much money he made and who his agent was and whether or not he was in a contract year. I knew about basketball, while happily staying ignorant about the business.

Today, I know too much. Player salaries are just the beginning; I also know which teams are under and over the cap, I know who’s getting fired and who’s pretending to resign, I know who’s tanking and who’s really trying to win, I know who’s going pro too early because they’re getting bad advice. I know the business now, and it makes the basketball a little less fun than it used to be.

But it feels like everybody knows the business now more than before. Fans of every team in the NBA know first-hand about trades made strictly for money reasons that have nothing to do with basketball. They know which players the team won’t even try to re-sign to save money. They know which players the team won’t go after because they can’t afford them. And especially in a down economy that goes beyond sports, I think we all understand it to an extent.

Still, as a fan, where do you want your team to draw the line between fiscal responsibility and trying to win?

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