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NBA ESPN Chad Ford and Marc Stein

ESPN Layoffs Of Chad Ford And Marc Stein A Sign Of The Times

The latest round of ESPN layoffs included basketball icons Chad Ford and Marc Stein and while the names might come as a surprise, it’s just a sign of the times. The depth and breadth of layoffs in sports media and media in general has been on-going for years in the US and Canada.

This round of layoffs is just the second (we’ll be nice) shoe to drop as Disney tries to maintain the profitability of their sports franchise and the rational is basically the same with TSN/Bell Media and Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.

In 2015, Michael McCarthy in Sporting News reported the shocking (at the time) ESPN layoffs.

One week ago, ESPN unceremoniously laid off 300 employees, many of them well-regarded producers, programmers and editors at the peak of their talents and careers.

Their career prospects may be bleak in a sports media industry riven by cutbacks, ageism and shrinking cable TV audiences.

McCarthy wasn’t wrong. Disney had their sights set on further cuts in the near future. The continued loss of big names in sports media like Ford and Stein was as predictable as it was unbelievable.

Disney ordered ESPN to trim $100 million from its 2016 budget and another $250 million in 2017.

Joe Drape and Brooks Barnes bring the picture up to date in The New York Times. As cable subscribers turn away in droves, ESPN has been paying record amounts for access to programming.

The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to an eight-year, $15.2 billion deal extension with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.

Those looking for careers in sports media should probably take note. This trend of continuing cost reductions (layoffs) because pressure on revenues doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

A January 2016 article in the The Star by The Canadian Press highlighted just some of the decimation in Canada.

It was another bleak day for Canadian news outlets on Monday as Rogers Media moved to trim its workforce by 4 per cent — or 200 jobs.

Bell Media cut 380 jobs from its operations, production and editorial staff in November.

Like ESPN, Rogers got caught up in paying record amounts for access to sports programming in a cable TV market that has continued to see downward pressure in subscribers.

The 12-year agreement, announced jointly by the NHL and Rogers in a Tuesday morning press conference, is for $5.232 billion (Canadian). It’s the largest media rights deal in NHL history and one of the largest media rights deals in Canadian history. It is also Canada’s largest sports-media rights agreement. – NHL.com

The trend includes traditional print media as well as TV and radio. It’s been well documented that newspapers have struggled adjusting to the on-line environment and they’ve coped, as best they could, by continual cost cutting and that means fewer jobs for journalists.

For NBA fans, Ford and Stein are just a recognizable tip of a series of very large icebergs.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



Adam Silver

Are NBA Teams Putting Themselves Ahead Of Their Fans?

By Frank McLean

The issue of teams resting their star players for no reason other than they want them to have a night off because of a compact NBA schedule has reared its ugly head again. This time on a prime time Saturday night game ESPN had scheduled for its sister network ABC with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers visiting the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavaliers decided that morning that LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were going to take the night off.

This is a practice that was started by San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich a few years back when he decided to rest his stars Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, etc in a game in Miami. The Heat being a non-conference opponent, Pop he felt he needed to rest his players for a game against a Western Conference opponent the next night which was crucial in the standings, and they were on a four games in five night schedule.

San Antonio was fined $250,000 by then-NBA commissioner David Stern in the 2012-13 season when coach Gregg Popovich sent Danny Green, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili home for rest on Nov. 29, 2012, rather than having them play Miami in the final game of a six-game road trip. – NBA.com

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that game was a TNT game of the week just like this past Saturday’s Cavaliers-Clippers game was nationally televised match-up.

On Monday, in a memo sent out by commissioner Adam Silver to the owners and referenced on NBA.com, the NBA league office let teams know that resting their star players is an extremely significant issue for our league.

“Decisions of this kind … can affect fans and business partners, impact our reputation and damage the perception of our game,” Silver wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press. “With so much at stake, it is simply not acceptable for governors to be uninvolved or to defer decision-making authority on these matters to others in their organizations.”

Silver stated that the issue of resting players will be at the top of the agenda April 6th the day of the next Board of Governors meeting. Silver is quoted in the memo saying “significant penalties for teams that don’t abide by the league’s standing rules for providing ‎notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest.”

Not only does the league have to stand by their television partners, whose billions of dollars paid for television rights is the main reason league revenues go up every year, but fans who buy tickets to games months in advance expecting to see LeBron James and company and instead get the B team.

As Silver said, “it is unacceptable for owners to be uninvolved or defer decision-making on this topic to others in their organizations, who may not have the same awareness of the impact these decisions can have on fans and business partners, the reputation of the league and perception of our game.”

What irked me and I’m sure what really irked ESPN was the attitude of Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin who really didn’t care what people thought of his stars taking a night off.

“They’re paying me to win a championship.” Griffin told ESPN.com. “I’m not overly concerned about the perception of it. We literally had one guy rest tonight, and everybody else was reasonably injured, so I don’t feel like we did anything terribly egregious.”

He went on to say that it’s not his job to appease the league and it’s television partners.

On Monday, ESPN management released a statement about teams resting their star players during nationally televised games.

“As always, our aim is to serve NBA fans with the best matchups involving the league’s top stars and we share the fans’ disappointment. We understand this is a complex issue and we’re working closely with the NBA to best address it going forward from a media partnership standpoint.”

What finally drove ESPN management over the edge was it was the second Saturday in a row a team decided to rest it big guns.

The previous week the Golden State Warriors were in stretch of playing eight games in eight different cities over a 13-day period covering a pair of cross country trips and some 11-thousand miles logged and in which six of those games were slated as a TNT or ESPN appearance. So for that Saturday night game with rival San Antonio Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave the night off to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

So what does the league do to stop this?

They did announce during All-Star Weekend that they are cutting the pre-season by a week and starting the regular season earlier to cut down on the back to back games and hopefully reduce injuries.

“That’s why we’re adding the extra week to the season,” Silver said during his news conference at the All-Star Game. “We’ve reduced the number of games we’ll play in the preseason and added a full week to the regular season. … That extra week in our schedule will enable us to cut down on the back-to-backs, cut down on the number of times that our teams are obligated to play four games in five nights, and it will enable the coaches to provide additional rest for their players.”

Maybe the NBA could adopt what the NHL did this season where each team got five days off sometime in January or February. Teams were not allowed to practice during those five days so it was something that went along with the five days each team got in January for the all-star break.

I’m sure it’s an idea that might be brought up by governors from the Knicks and Raptors who’s parent companies also own NHL teams when they meet in April.

The issue of resting stars who are not hurt is something you don’t see in other sports. It’s something the NBA has to correct or maybe their television partners might look at spending their money elsewhere.



   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.




NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas, DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Are Ahead Of Last Year’s Pace At The Quarter Pole

By Frank McLean

As we sit at the quarter pole of this current NBA season for the Toronto Raptors things are pretty much the same as they were when the 2015-16 season ended in late May as Toronto was eliminated by the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Final. The Raptors are the second best team in the conference.

After the Cavaliers knocked off the Raptors on Monday night for their third win against Toronto this season the standings looked like this, Cleveland sitting in first at 14-5, and the Raptors sitting in second at 14-7. Although, after 21 games last year, these Raptors were 12-9.

Forget the rest of the Eastern Conference, and yes just like last year you still have nine other teams fighting for the other six playoff  berths in the conference, but realistically if the Cavaliers and Raptors are at full strength roster wise, those nine squads are just not good enough to win a best of seven series against either team.

The Cavaliers know that there is only one team that could be a roadblock for them making a third straight appearance in the NBA Finals and that’s the Raptors.

“They have had our attention for a long time,” LeBron James was telling the media earlier this week in Toronto about the team that actually fought back and lasted six games in the conference final last spring.

“I think they’ve had the NBA’s attention. You don’t need them playing well and us not playing well or us playing well and them not playing well for them to get our attention. I think it’s there.”

“It’s a team that’s first of all well-coached,” James added. “It starts with their two-headed monster, (DeMar) DeRozan and (Kyle) Lowry. Their complimentary guys have been playing great. Their role players have been playing great. DeMarre (Carroll) and Patrick (Patterson), Terrence Ross coming in and giving them big minutes, obviously Cory Joseph being a solid backup point guard for them as well. Even some of the younger guys, they’ve been coming into the game have come in and played some good ball”.

Kyrie Irving also talked about the Raptors one-two punch at guard.

“Their two-guard set is one that just separates them in the league. DeMar, Kyle, they do an unbelievable job of leading this team offensively. And defensively, they compete every possession. They take advantage of different lineups you have because one of (Lowry or DeRozan) is on the floor almost every minute of the game.”

But still the Raptors are just the second best team in the conference and until they figure out a way to beat the Cavaliers they won’t be taking the next step of playing in the NBA Finals.

So the ball is in the court of president Masai Ujiri and general manager Jeff Weltman to make the trade that puts them over the top.

The Raptors are in a similar spot that the Toronto Blue Jays were in at the start of the 1990’s. After making the American League Championship series in 1985 and 89 and losing to Kansas City and Oakland, they needed to make a roster shifting trade to become a championship ballclub.

GM Pat Gillick made the trade that put the Jays over the top sending Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to San Diego for Joe Carter and Hall Of Famer Robbie Alomar and as they say “the rest is history.”

So when do Ujiri and Weltman make the trade that puts the team in a position to make a championship run?

They do get their free agent signing of the summer, forward Jared Sullinger back around the all-star break from his foot injury suffered in the preseason. His defence and rebounding will help and it will be like getting player in a trade deadline deal without giving up someone.

But the question remains, does the Raptors management do something this year or wait?

The Raptors are getting the best season DeMar DeRozan has ever put out, averaging 28 points a game with 10 games of 30 points plus already.

But then you have starting center Jonas Valanciunas still not playing in crucial parts of games where you expect your starting center to play.

This team will win 50-plus games again, win the Atlantic Division title for a third straight year, and finish no lower than second in the East.

That’s why everybody will be watching what the Raptors do between now and the March first trade deadline.

Do they make a run now for a championship or wait until later?

Time will tell, but opportunities to win can be fleeting.



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.






NBA OKC Thunder Serge Ibaka

The NBA East Will Be Better Than The West This Year

Teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference have made big improvements this summer, often at the expense of teams in the West writes Matt Howell, guest contributor at Full Court Press Radio

The Western Conference has also dominated the Eastern Conference in head to head matchups over the last four years. According to Cleveland.com, over the last four seasons, the Western Conference is a combined 282 games over .500 against the Eastern Conference teams. However, the margin has gotten much smaller, as the West was only 14 games over .500 against the Eastern Conference in the 2015-2016 season. The Western Conference also featured 11 of the 15 players selected on the NBA’s All NBA teams.

After a wild first month in the NBA off-season, has there been a shift in power in the conferences?

The team that made the most significant move was the Golden State Warriors. They signed the top free agent of 2016 in Kevin Durant. That move made Golden State the odds on favorites to win the NBA championship in 2017. What that move also did was weaken one of the top three teams in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder went from being the Warriors top contender, to a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot. Other big moves that have affected the landscape of the Western conference consisted of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan retiring, Dwight Howard leaving Houston for Atlanta, Rajon Rondo leaving Sacramento for Chicago, Serge Ibaka traded to Orlando, among many others. continue reading

The NBA East is poised to take another step up in competitiveness. The eighth place team in the East (Pistons) finished with as many wins (44) as the fifth place team in the West (Trail Blazers) and the eight place Rockets only reached the .500 mark with a three game winning streak to finish out the regular season. Non-playoff teams in the East like the Bulls, Magic and Knicks made improvements that should only increase the win totals for their conference.

In the West, the rich got richer as the Spurs added Pau Gasol to offset their losses, so Golden State and San Antonio should be expected to lead the NBA in wins again next season, but after those two teams, look for the East to make up ground quickly on their Western Conference counterparts in 2016-17.


Matt Howell writes for NBAlead.com and is a guest contributor at FULL COURT PRESS RADIO. Check out more from Matt here.





NBA Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey

Tight-Lipped NBA Coaches Mean Playoffs Are Around The Corner

By Frank McLean

If you look on the calendar you know it’s almost playoff time with the post season bash starting April 16th, but you really know it’s getting to be close to playoff time when head coaches in the league start giving the no comment when it comes answering questions about their injured players.

On the current road trip the Toronto Raptors just completed the traveling media party noticed during the shootaround before the Houston game that Terrance Ross was walking around with a blue glove on his hand and he did not take part in the activities.

Head coach Dwane Casey is usually pretty good about telling us media stiffs about the health of his players, but he normally doesn’t give the full dirt about a player’s specific injury until he fills out his line-up card which is about 45 minutes before game time.

However, as we edge closer to the playoffs, Casey and all coaches in the league get tight-lipped about the health of their team so as not to give any advantage to their potential playoff opponents.

“Guys, this is the time of year when I’m not going to answer any questions about guys’ health,” Casey said over the weekend when asked about Ross. “We are concentrating on keeping guys healthy and that type of thing but again, keeping a competitive edge. So (Ross) is questionable probably. He hurt his thumb the other day, so we will go accordingly, but we are not going to announce who is going to go or who is not going to go until we have to.”

The good thing about the NBA is that when we in the media are handed the starting line-ups of both teams we do get the truth of what the injuries are. For example the sheet on Friday night would list Ross as out with a hand injury.

Other sports like hockey for example you have to use detective skills to figure out what’s wrong with a specific player.

In the NHL they don’t tell you a thing. It’s either an upper body injury or a lower body injury. There are still a lot of old time coaches who don’t want to advertise where a guy is hurt and then opponents can key on the injured area and get him out of the game.

I remember being in a scrum with the late Pat Quinn who told us bluntly “It’s none of the fans dam business on who’s hurt on my team.”

In the NFL the worst fine a team can get is not being honest with their injury report every Wednesday. The league won’t say so, but it’s to help those fantasy players, office poolies and gamblers.

Professional sports leagues know injury information is important in this day of social and instant news. Fans play fantasy leagues, are in office pools and wager money legally on pro-line or with a bookie. However, they don’t admit to it, but betting helps the television ratings.

Casey realizes that in 2016 instant news is the way of the world, but he is not changing the way he does business.

“As long as you don’t have to, why would you give the enemy information?” Casey asked his questioners. “It helps the fantasy leagues and all that, but I’m not the business of helping my competitors unless I have to. I mean I want to do what’s right by the rules, but not unless I have to. I mean a guy could get well before 7 o’clock too, so …”

Of course the big question everyone asks Casey everyday “When is DeMarre Carroll coming back. He has been out of the line-up since January 6th.

We won’t get an answer about that until he is cleared by the doctors.

So if you see a friendly member of the media on the street please say hello, but we won’t be able to help you with your fantasy team or betting because we know as much as you do about injured players. They won’t tell us either.


With The Raptors Kyle Lowry giving the media details about what’s wrong with his sore elbow after his team’s loss to the Thunder, Coach Casey was still tight-lipped about his All-Star guard.

“No, I am not going to mention (the injury), but there are reasons for it, reasons why his shooting is the way it is,” Casey said.

And so it goes…..



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.




NBA Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey

Raptors Should Pay The Fine And Stand-up Against Bad Officiating

By Michael Hobson

There are far too many games in the NBA when it appears as if the officials still think the Toronto Raptors are among the dregs of the league. Too many times when officials give the benefit of the doubt to the opponent and too many times when officials seem to take personal delight in penalizing the club. This may be a complaint that could be made by all teams, but it seems as if the league has absolutely no concern with the fact that their in-game officials typically favor some teams.

The NBA decided, a few years ago, to publicly announce their findings on calls in the final two minutes of games that finish within five points. In essence the league doesn’t want to micromanage their officials, but it seems the league tip-toes around any issue or issues involving their officials.

Is it because they have a hard time finding willing participants – those willing to enter the hotly contest zone of an NBA court? That can’t possibly be when so many quality people are out there looking for work, but when fans look around and see so many mediocre officials being promoted to lead official it makes us wonder.

For instance, how does someone like Marc Davis become a lead official when he has proven time and time again he isn’t qualified to even be on the court?

There is little doubt that certain officials carry grudges against certain teams. Remember when Joey Crawford was suspended for acting unilaterally and handing out technicals to the San Antonio Spurs and, specifically, Tim Duncan a few years ago? This was one of the very few instances when the league stepped in to reprimand one of its officials and only when it became blatantly apparent. Crawford tee’d up Duncan while the future hall-of-famer was on the bench not even talking to the officials.

This brings me to Jason Philips — one of those officials, along with Michael Smith, who should not be allowed anywhere near a Toronto Raptor game. Each time Phillips officiates a Raptor game the officials bend toward the opposition. The Raptor players, coaches, in fact everyone associated with the organization, knows that a Phillips game means tough sledding and they are going to have to fight because of bad officiating to win the game.

But the game against the Houston Rockets may have been their Tim Duncan moment when it comes to Phillips. With eight minutes remaining in a tight game Phillips whistled Raptors coach Dwayne Casey for a technical—the reason; Casey had stepped onto the court.

“He (Phillips) said I was on the court to call a play,” said Casey after the game. “I was not talking to the official whatsoever. I’ve never seen that called in all my years. He said I was warned, but there was no warning.”

Casey also said, “I’ve seen coaches go all the way to almost half court to call a timeout. So this was totally new to me.”

As well Casey said, “If you’re going to call it you have to call it both ways. The other coach was on the court throughout the game.”

What Casey didn’t say but what is apparent to everyone in the organization is that Phillips has some kind of grudge against Toronto. There have been a number of instances over the years when a Phillips officiated game turns toward the opposition. Like a bad cop harassing individuals for personal gain, Philips takes it upon himself to make Toronto games miserable for the Raptors.

What has the league done about this fact? Nothing. Why? Because the league does almost nothing to reprimand its officials. So what happens if an official gets away with either favoring a particular team or making calls against a particular team? The behavior continues. The league’s general apathy concerning their officials is the main reason why there is a burgeoning mediocrity of NBA officials. Bad officials are kept in the game long enough to become lead officials simply because they’ve been in the game long enough.

I have pointed out many instances over the years where I believe NBA officials favor the opposition over the Raptors. It is a rare occurrence when Toronto gets a favorable whistle.

Now, it is usually a sign of bad sportsmanship and whining to blame officials for losses, but what if it’s true? What if the slight of the officials bends toward one team? The Raptors are not experienced enough yet to ignore the bad whistle , even though they know going into games, especially those officiated by Phillips, that the game will be tilted toward the opposition. As such the bad calls slowly begin to affect their demeanor and their normal aggression softens. They know any contact will be deemed a foul against them.

Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri is a good company man. He loves the NBA and respects its leadership. As such he is loathe to criticize the league on any issue. He’s been fined twice in the past two years for uttering profane language in public during the playoffs, but that was done simply to motivate his team and their fans. He was fined because it caused the league a certain amount of embarrassment.

It would seem that bad language is embarrassing to the league but bad officiating is not.

At some point the Raptors are going to have to say enough. They have to insist the league keeps bad officials with personal grudges, like Jason Philips, away from their games. If the league refuses, then the Raptors should criticize game officials when those grudges surface during games like the Houston game.

Coach Casey always uses the line, “I like my money,” when asked about poor officiating, but nothing changes. Someone in the organization has to make a public statement condemning the poor officiating. They need the public to be aware that they are “mad as hell, and they are not going to take this anymore!”



Michael Hobson, Sports columnist and author
Follow him on twitter @mhobson12



NBA Toronto Raptors Luis Scola

Dog Days Have Hit The NBA East Hard Except Toronto

This is isn’t anything new. Every year there are teams that start to slide sometime after Christmas as a long NBA season takes its toll in fatigue and injuries and players start to see themselves on the beach for that extended All-Star break long before it is actually here. They are called the Dog Days and they are hitting the East particularly hard this winter.

The surging Raptors are 8-2 and the unhappy Cavs are 7-3 over their past ten games, but the next 10 teams, that should all consider themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff race, are a combined 39 wins and 61 losses with no team going better than 5-5 over that span. The Bulls are ping ponging between third and fourth place and the Pacers are clinging fifth by going 4-6 and the recent Bulls win over the Cavs doesn’t offset losing to Boston and Milwaukee. The Hawks are hanging onto fourth by painfully grinding out a 5-5 mark.

Hardest hit have been the two teams in Florida, Miami dropping to eighth place as they’ve lost 8 of their last 10 games. The Magic falling to 12th with a 1-9 disaster, but still just 2 games out of eighth place.

NBA East standings 1-23


It hasn’t been a fun month for most of the East.


Raptors Scola Lowry Valanciunas

This is the time of year teams turn to their veterans. The guys who have been through this many times before and know what to expect and how to find their focus before the Dog Days eat them alive. This year, the Raptors have often looked to their 35-year-old veteran Luis Scola.

“That’s a nice way to call me old,” Scola laughed. “I think different things happen, the season is long, 82 games, those are a lot, so you go through a lot of points (in a season). Usually there are common ground points throughout the season and one of them is the beginning, everyone is very, very excited. Players want to show they belong to the rotation. There is a lot of excitement early in the year and then All-Star comes and guys who are fighting for All-Star spots, it gets to a point where you’ve played a lot of games and nothing is really happening and teams go through this situation (slump) right before the All-Star break. They start thinking about the All-Star break, what they are going to do, are they going to play, are they going to go on vacation.

“What we have done is good, but a lot of teams have done that and we have seen along the years many teams doing good early and then half way through the season things start to go wrong and they never get the chance to fix it and the season is gone.

“It’s an important part of the year for us. What kind of team are we going to be? This team went through that last year. It happened here.”

As a seasoned veteran of many campaigns, Scola has been that steadying influence on the Raptors this year. He is always ready to start the game and has been Mr. First Quarter for the Raptors all season. Many times Scola has been the best Raptor on the court for the first 6-12 minutes of the game and drags the play of the rest of his teammates up to what’s necessary to stay in games early.

“When I got to the NBA, I was trying to see how players went about their business everyday, how the league goes, how players go and I realized very early when I got here that players kind of start the game slowly,” Scola said. “I noticed guys were not ready to play (at the start) every game. They were a little bit up and down. So I thought that could be a really good niche for me if I am ready to play from minute one. When some of the guys are not ready to play, I might get a little edge.

“Sticking with that for my career has really helped me over the years, so that is the way I approach the game. I doesn’t work every time, but I think on balance its been productive for me.”

Scola’s influence has been obvious and the Raptors haven’t fallen into a mid-season malaise.

“I am seven years older than the second oldest guy on the team that’s just put it that way,” Scola said. “I am 15 years older than Bruno (Caboclo). The guys are much younger than me. Hopefully I get a chance to make them understand a few things that I understand with the years.”

With about three weeks left to go before the All-Star Game, the Dog Days in the NBA haven’t ended. However, these games will count just as much as those in the stretch drive after the break and teams will be counting on their veterans like Scola to get or keep them on track through what can be the toughest part of the schedule.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.





NBA Toronto Raptors Dwane Casey

NBA Needs To Bring In A Coach’s Challenge

By Frank McLean

Tuesday night’s visit by the New York Knicks to the Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Raptors was a very entertaining early season contest, but the game won 111-109 by the boys from Gotham could have had a different outcome. As seems to happen all too frequently, controversy reared its ugly head in the final minute of regulation time.


It seems that a couple of times every season mistakes by the referees comeback to bite the Raptors and take the possibility of a win away from the team. Granted this is not just a Raptors thing, talk to coaches, players and general managers of the other 29 teams in the NBA and they will tell you the same thing happens to their teams every year as well.

Here’s what went down with about 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter on Tuesday night. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had possession of the basketball right in front of the Raptors bench and you could see that he clearly stepped out of bounds. In fact Anthony might have been no more the 10-feet from Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

The referees did not make a call as Anthony went out of bounds which would have given the Raptors possession of the ball. When the play was shown on the giant video screen the fans in the arena went ballistic and for me it was most demonstrative I have ever seen Casey on the sidelines since he came to Toronto as head coach. The first thing that came to my head and that of others on press row is why don’t the referees go to the video and make sure they got it right?

It turns out that specific play is not reviewable.

For the past six seasons now referees have reviewed any out-of-bounds play that occurs in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and during overtime when they are not reasonably certain as to which player caused the ball to go out-of-bounds. However, there is nothing in that criteria that allows for the referees to go to the video and see if a player went out of bounds. In fact, a review of a player stepping out of bounds with the ball is specifically excluded from a second look.

After the game long time Raptors beat reporter Eric Koreen of the National Post was selected as a pool reporter to ask referee crew chief Ed Malloy what he and his crew saw in the game’s last 20-seconds.

When asked if they saw Anthony step out of bounds Malloy told Koreen. “When we came in, we reviewed the play. We did see Anthony step out of bounds and should’ve awarded the ball to Toronto.”

The NBA on Wednesday confirmed that yes the referees made a mistake on the play, but they also added that Anthony should have been called for traveling.

Before Wednesday’s night game in Philadelphia Dwane Casey said “The league spoke, I don’t want to get into it. It’s obvious what happened”.

When asked about expanding video replay Casey replied. “Yes, to get it right. That’s why we have it in. A play like that would have gotten it right, so yes I’m a proponent”.

The NBA is the only one of the big four professional sports in the North America that does not have mechanism allowing coaches to challenge calls made by the referees. The National Football League was the first league to institute the ability for coaches to throw a flags and ask the referees to review a call they made. For the most part many wrong calls have been corrected and teams have not been jobbed.

For the past two seasons Major League Baseball has used video replay and the National Hockey League has also brought it in.

Now it’s time for the NBA to think about this.

You hate to see what happened to the Raptors Tuesday night and realize this could happen to another team late in the regular season when a playoff spot is on the line or for that matter in the playoffs when advancing to the next round is on the line.

There have been complaints for years that it takes forever to play the last three minutes of an NBA game. So here is what I propose.

Each team gets one challenge that can be used only in the last two minutes of the game or overtime if they have not used it prior to the extra quarter.

To me it seems that most errors in a basketball game happen in the last two minutes of the game. That’s why referees can go to the video during that time and overtime to make sure they have out of bounds plays right.

This should help take pressure off the referees from any mistakes they might make at the end of a close contest that could determine the outcome of a game. It should be players doing that not the referees.

The technology is already there, you might as well use it.

Sports are played by human beings and refereed by human beings. Human beings make mistakes. That’s life in a nutshell. Bad calls not only affect a team’s won-loss record but for the referees their job performance grade is affected as well. After every NBA game a supervisor gives a grade on each referees performance that particular night and only those referees with the top grades get to work the playoffs.

Just like every player in the NBA wants to play in June for a championship, every referee wants a chance to work those championship games as well. That botched out of bounds call on Anthony means Ed Malloy and his crew will get a low grade for their performance Tuesday night. Let’s bring in a coaches challenge system to help get these calls right.



Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.





NBA commissioner Adam Silver

2015-16 NBA Schedule Release Date

The 2015-16 NBA schedule release date hasn’t been officially released, but we know from past history that the most likely date will be either of Wednesday August 5, 2015 or Wednesday August 12, 2015.

Last year the scheduled was released on Wednesday August 13 and in 2013 it was released on Wednesday August 6. It’s worth keeping in mind that in 2012, the schedule was released on Thursday July 26, obviously that early date isn’t going to happen this year. 2012 was the lockout year.

Gasol Pierce Duncan

Could A Team Of 35-Year-Old NBA Players Win A Championship?

The NBA is often called a young man’s game. Every year 60 more players get drafted and teams scramble to lock up the best of the rest. With only 450 jobs to go around, that makes for a lot of turnover every summer. However, if one looks closer at the best teams in the NBA, year-after-year, there will be more than a few long term veterans making a difference, which begs the question, just how good could a team of all 35(+)-year-olds be and could they actually win an NBA Championship?

The NBA actually has an “Over-36” rule where certain contracts that extend past a player’s 36th birthday are deemed likely to continue after the player retires. Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and others should thank the NBA for the vote of confidence? It causes contracts that start before a player turns 36 and run after that age to be considered a kind of loophole that needs to be closed, but just maybe its time to rethink things?

There are a lot of players who will be 35-years-old or older in the upcoming season and if one starts to think about the players in that “aging” group, it might be possible to create two contending teams.

A 15-man roster made up of these all-too-familiar names would be pretty impressive:

PG: Kirk Hinrich (35 in January), Manu Ginobili (37), Steve Blake (35)
SG: Kobe Bryant (36), Joe Johnson (35 in June), Jamal Crawford (35)
SF: Paul Pierce (37), Kyle Korver (35 in March), Vince Carter (38)
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (37), David West (35), Luis Scola (35)
C: Tim Duncan (39), Pau Gasol (35), Kevin Garnett (39)

I’d be careful about calling these guys the all-washed-up team.

Some of the other guys in the over 35 and over club include: Mike Dunleavy (35 in September), James Jones (35 in October), Nick Collison (35 in October), Matt Barnes (35), Udonis Haslem (35), Tayshaun Prince (35), Mike Miller (35) and the list goes on, plus there will be some big names joining the group next year.

While some of these players have seen their stats tail off in recent years, there is more than enough defense and firepower in a roster of all 35-year-olds to quite literally intimidate most of the teams in the NBA today.

Bryant playing with a bunch guys he respects could be one of the league’s most potent offensive players and as this may be his last NBA season, there are a lot of people hoping he comes back from injury, stays healthy and doesn’t retire. Johnson can still beat up most shooting guards in the post and Crawford remains instant offense. What team could control this group of scorers?

At small forward, Pierce remains Mr. Clutch as long as you don’t over play him. Korver can soak up big minutes and with this group a 50/50/90 season of shooting would seem inevitable. Vince Carter isn’t as good as he once was, but he can be as good once (or twice) per game as he ever was and he’s third string here.

At power forward, Nowitzki is still playing starter’s minutes and producing. West still provides that intimidating force inside and Scola is just itching to getting back to starter’s minutes in Toronto this year.

Having both Duncan and Gasol at center on the same team just wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the league. Garnett probably finds his mean streak and passion for one more season with a group like this.

The only real problem with creating a team of 35 (and older)-year-olds would be a lack of minutes to go around. The NBA is really a veterans’ league and the young guys coming in had better respect their elders.

Win a championship? Perhaps the better questions would be who could stop them? And who would you rather watch play?



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




NBA commissioner Adam Silver

New NBA Salary Cap Even Higher Than Expected

When the league first started guessing at what the NBA Salary Cap for the 2015-16 season would be, they were suggesting $67 million would be about right. Then during the July Moratorium, there was an oops, maybe that should be $69 million. Now it looks like even that guess wasn’t high enough. Get out your calculators and increase those estimates of available cap space after all those free agent commitments, the 2015-16 Salary Cap will be set at $70 million.

Correspondingly the luxury tax line will jump to $84.7 million and the apron, which becomes a hard cap under a whole host of common scenarios, will be $88.7 million.

This means a whole lot of teams still have room to maneuver in free agency and a new flurry of deals should get done over the next few days. The uncertainty over the salary cap during the Moratorium period likely caused a lot of general managers pause at the end, but they can take the gloves off and get back to work in earnest now.

While this could be a game changer for a lot of teams, it’s an even bigger windfall for those free agents still sitting on the sidelines.


Official NBA Press Release


NEW YORK, July 8, 2015 – The National Basketball Association today announced that the Salary Cap has increased by 11% to an all-time high of $70 million for the 2015-16 season. The tax level for the 2015-16 season increased by 10.3% to $84.740 million.

The Salary Cap and tax level go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday, July 9, when the league’s “moratorium period” ends and teams can begin signing free agents and making trades.

The minimum team salary, which is set at 90% of the Salary Cap, is $63 million for the 2015-16 season.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for three different mid-level exceptions depending on a team’s salary level. The non-taxpayer mid-level for this season is $5.464 million, the taxpayer mid-level is $3.376 million and the mid-level for a team with room under the Salary Cap is $2.814 million.

James and Silver

Projected NBA Salary Cap And Maximum Salaries To 2017-18

Thanks to a new National TV deal set to start in 2016-17, the projected NBA Salary Cap and maximum player salaries are set to skyrocket over the next few seasons. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express tweeted out the future estimates recently provided to the teams based on projected basketball related income ‘BRI’ (still subject to change.)

The NBA Salary Cap is set based on 44.74 percent of projected BRI.

Salary Cap  Luxury Tax

2014-15       $63m        $76.8m

2015-16     67.1m          81.6m

2016-17       89m          108m

2017-18     108m          127m

From the above, it should be obvious that everything anybody believed before about salary expectations in the NBA is now completely obsolete. It’s a brand new world out there and players’ salaries are set to explode after this summer.

Maximum player salaries are divided into three tiers based on years of experience.

Players coming off of their rookie contracts or who took their Qualifying Offer will fall into the 0-6 years slot and except for special circumstances are limited to 25% of the adjusted Salary Cap.

2014-15       $14.7m

2015-16        15.8m

2016-17        21m

2017-18       25.4m

Young veterans with 7-9 years of experience are limited to 30 percent of the Cap.

2014-15     $17.7m

2015-16      18.9m

2016-17      25.1m

2017-18      30.5m

Players with 10 or more years can receive 35 percent.

2014-15    $20.6m

2015-16     22.1m

2016-17     29.3m

2017-18     35.6m

With such huge jumps in the projected maximum salary, it should be no wonder that elite players have been demanding player options lately so they can lock in at the new higher numbers as they become available and good players with upside have been receiving generous offers. That trend should only look to get worse during free agency this summer.

Givony did tweet out projections to 2020-21 that show the Salary Cap dipping in 2018 thru 2020 before recovering back to the 2017-18 level, however, those forecasts are a long ways out and much could change by then.

It is important to note that maximum salaries are based on 42.14 percent of BRI and not the actual Salary Cap as commonly described, explained in Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap Faq (must reading for CBA enthusiasts.)

There could be a hiccup in the escalation of players’ salaries. Both players and owners can opt out of the current CBA prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. However, with so much money on the table and those elite veteran players who so often set the agenda looking at max deals starting at over $35 million per season, it isn’t going to be easy for either side to walk away from this CBA.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




Detroit Pistons Media Day

Who Wants The Pistons Josh Smith?

The Detroit Pistons have requested waivers on forward Josh Smith and will eat the balance of his $54 million contract rather than give away draft picks and take back players they would rather not have. It is commendable of Head Coach, President and chief bottle-washer Stan Van Gundy to admit that a very expensive player simply isn’t working out with his team and risk paying a very athletic forward to help out some other team. So who wants Smith?

Sacramento Kings 12-15

The obvious first choice is the Sacramento Kings who may have been the only team that Van Gundy was able to generate any trade interest in his rather expensive forward.

The Kings have looked like a potential playoff team in the West when DeMarcus Cousins has been in the lineup and adding a talented player like Smith would seem to be the type of move that could tip the scales in their favor. From the outside looking in, the only fly in that ointment could be Rudy Gay. How many tweener forwards that like to drive and aren’t known as effective floor spreaders can a team put on the court at the same time without clogging up the paint?

The Kings don’t need Smith’s rebounding and definitely can’t afford his three-point shooting, but they could use his help defense to boost their weak steal and block numbers.

The Kings probably don’t make the playoffs this year in a very competitive Western Conference without a significant addition, so they should be willing to give Smith a chance to be the guy that gets them over the hump.

With the Pistons paying out the balance of his contract, Smith should be willing to take the NBA veteran’s minimum over the next couple of years, but if he wants more cash, there are teams out there that can offer more. The Hawks, Bucks, Magic, 76ers, Suns and Jazz all have salary cap space available according to Basketball Insiders. The Celtics, Rockets, Thunder, Spurs and Raptors have their Bi-Annual Exception available and at least a dozen teams still have some usable portion of their Mid-Level Exception left. However, Smith will be in the favored position every NBA veteran seems to love – the ability to join a true contender without having to worry about getting paid.

The bigger question every contender will be asking is, will Smith be willing to accept the role his new head coach assigns him? There should be no doubt Smith could help a lot of teams, but it could be by coming off the bench or playing significantly reduced minutes from what he has been used to.

Smith has been to the playoffs six times and if that’s enough, he has lots of viable options and he can likely have a lot bigger say in how he is used, but if he wants to join a conference contender, his options suddenly get a lot tighter and the Kings really shouldn’t be on that list.

Houston Rockets 19-7

The Rockets could use help at small forward, but Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones have been great at power forward, so Houston doesn’t need help with their bigs. There may be mutual interest, but Smith probably doesn’t make them better and past history says playing Smith at small forward is inviting disaster.

Dallas Mavericks 20-8

After trading for Rajon Rondo, the Mavericks suddenly have an obvious depth issue at power forward and a win-it-all-now mentality. If Smith wants his shot at an NBA title, he’ll be hard pressed to find a better situation than backing up Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas on the NBA’s highest scoring team. Add in Dallas having about $2.5 million in salary cap space and this looks like an easy deal for both sides.

Portland Trail Blazers 22-6

Another top Western Conference team with depth issues at power forward is Portland. The light-hitting Thomas Robinson is backing up LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers could really use a backup to reduce their star player’s minutes and provide some security in case Aldridge misses a few games here and there. Sitting at second place in the West, it shouldn’t take much to convince Smith that Portland is for real.

Los Angeles Clippers 19-8

If any team in the West could use a jolt to the system it is the disappointing Clippers. A team loaded with talent that has underperformed expectations and backup power forward is the obvious weak link in the chain. The Clippers would have to cut someone – say goodbye to Hedo Turkoglu or Glen Davis ( or Jared Cunningham’s salary isn’t guaranteed) – and add to their luxury tax bill, but they need Smith – maybe more than he needs them.

Toronto Raptors 22-6

The Toronto Raptors find themselves unexpectedly in first place and leading the Eastern Conference by two games over Atlanta and Washington. The only knock on the East’s highest scoring team has been in their decidedly average ability to grab rebounds and protect the rim – something Smith excels at.

The Raptors are a collection of players where team chemistry has made the total significantly better than the expected sum of their parts and any tinkering might upset the balance, so President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri won’t face any criticism if he passes on Smith. However, if Smith were to buy into the concept of putting winning ahead of personal playing time and stats, he could be the missing piece the Raptors need to come out of the East this season.

If Smith wants a bigger payday and/or lots of playing time, he should check out the Lakers, Knicks, HEAT, or any number of other teams he could likely talk his way onto without too much difficulty. A player like Smith on a cheap contract will be too hard for most general managers to pass up.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.





James and Rose

NBA Does Halloween

It’s Halloween and all around the NBA players and teams are getting in on the fun.  Here’s a sample of the festivities.



NBA Adam Silver - web

NBA Votes Against Changing The Draft Lottery System

The problem of NBA teams tanking games to get better odds in the NBA Draft Lottery has raised the possibility of reform, however, reform is not easily achieved by a large group, especially when a number of the members have benefited, will benefit or plan to benefit from the current system.

Apparently the NBA Board of Governors has been unable to get enough votes to change the system.

When the outcome of change is uncertain, the safe bet is often to do nothing.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



NBA Adam Silver formal shot - webCan A Modified Lottery System Solve The NBA Tanking Problem?

Even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver must have noticed that every team isn’t trying to win every game after this long in the league. There is a tanking problem in the NBA that needs to be addressed, but it isn’t going to be easy.



NBA commissioner Adam Silver

NBA Announces New 9-Year TV Deal With ESPN/ABC and TNT

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Washington Wizards owner and chairman of the NBA’s Media Committee Ted Leonsis, Turner Broadcasting System President David Levy, and ESPN President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper announced today that a new 9 year national broadcast rights deal starting in 2016 had been reached.

The NBA and their national TV broadcast partners were trying to reach an extension to the current deal before the start of this season. The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) and Turner Broadcasting (TNT) did not want to lose this product offering to their competitors. The new deal is expected to nearly triple the amount of national broadcast revenues the NBA currently receives.

Silver advised the media that he is in discussions with the NBA Players Association about ways to smooth the massive increase to the NBA Salary Cap in 2016-17 without reducing the total amount of monies owing to the players. Silver indicated the NFL had reached such an accommodation with their players after they signed a new national TV deal.

This deal will run through the 2024-25 season and is valued at $24 billion.  There will be no change to the revenues the NBA receives from Disney/TNT until the 2016-17 season.

“The Walt Disney Company and Turner Broadcasting share responsibility for the growing popularity and interest the NBA enjoys, and we are thrilled to extend our partnerships,” said Silver. “With these new agreements, our fans will continue to benefit from the outstanding NBA coverage and programming provided by ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and their digital platforms.”

“These nine-year extensions with Disney and Turner recognize the extraordinary value of live premium sports,” said Leonsis. “On behalf of our Media Committee and the other team owners, we thank Disney and Turner for their commitment to the NBA and its fans.”


Summary of the impact on NBA TV, ABC, ESPN and TNT provided by the NBA:


  • 64 regular-season games per year, up from a current 52 games
  • Exclusive presentations of Opening Night and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day games
  • Up to 45 playoff games during the first two rounds with exclusive presentations of conference semifinals games and one full conference finals series
  • Exclusive presentations of the NBA All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday Night events
  • Telecast of a first-ever, end-of-the-season annual NBA Awards
  • Show Continuation of the Emmy award-winning “Inside the NBA” studio show
  • TV Everywhere rights that allow for NBA content airing across Turner Broadcasting networks to be streamed live, delayed and on-demand across its digital platforms
  • Digital media rights, including streaming TNT NBA games on a live, delayed and on-demand basis across all of its multimedia platforms
  • Broader rights to distribute, via digital platforms, its NBA games and non-game programming, as well as new NBA-related content, on a live and on-demand basis
  • Interactive online elements such as selected camera angles, statistic feeds and video to complement TNT’s game telecasts
  • Enhanced content/digital rights to NBA content for Bleacher Report
  • Exclusive broadband and other content for digital platforms, including studio shows
  • Expanded event activation surrounding key NBA pillars such as Opening Night and playoffs


  • 15 regular-season games on ABC beginning on Christmas and continuing on Sunday afternoons starting in January with the ability to move a few Sunday games to ESPN
  • Exclusive regular-season, playoff and Finals broadcast coverage
  • Best-of-seven Finals broadcast in primetime


  • 85 regular-season games primarily on Wednesday and Friday nights, up from 70 games
  • 30 playoff games in the first two rounds, with exclusive coverage presentations of conference semifinals games and one full conference finals series
  • Exclusive presentations of the NBA Draft and NBA Draft Lottery
  • Up to 20 NBA Summer League games on ESPN and ESPN2
  • Extension of WNBA media agreement through the 2025 season
  • Presentation of NBA Development League games on ESPN networks and digital platforms
  • Framework for ESPN and the NBA to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering with the league receiving an equity interest
  • Enhanced digital media rights to deliver NBA content for ESPN platforms, including ESPN.com, WatchESPN and ESPN podcasts
  • Increased ESPN Audio game package including NBA Finals, playoffs and regular season
  • Spanish-language rights for ESPN Audio
  • Significantly more exclusive regular-season games, playoff games and NBA-focused programming on ESPN platforms in Latin America, Pacific Rim and the Caribbean
  • Opportunities to stream ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 games on a live, delayed and on-demand basis across all of its multimedia platforms


  • NBA and Turner to continue to manage jointly the NBA’s digital assets, which include NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA LEAGUE PASS, and the NBA Game Time app
  • Over 100 regular-season games on NBA TV on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, an increase from a current 96 games, and as many as nine playoff games on NBA TV
  • Enhanced package of digital media opportunities

NBA Press Release:


ABC, TNT, ESPN, and NBA TV to Televise Games through New Nine-Year Deals beginning with the 2016-17 season

NBA and Turner to Continue to Manage Jointly NBA Digital;
Turner Sports to Expand Digital Rights for Bleacher Report

ESPN to Establish Year-Round NBA Presence;
NBA and ESPN Intend to Launch Over-the-Top Offering

NEW YORK, October 6, 2014 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) has expanded its partnerships with Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and The Walt Disney Company through new, nine-year agreements under which ABC, TNT, and ESPN will televise NBA games beginning with the 2016-17 season and running through the 2024-25 season.

The agreements were announced today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, chairman of the NBA’s Media Committee; Turner Broadcasting System President David Levy; and ESPN President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper. The NBA’s current eight-year deals with ABC/ESPN and TNT expire at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Under the agreements, the partners will televise more national regular-season games (ABC/ESPN: 100; Turner: 64) and will continue to do so generally on Wednesdays (ESPN), Thursdays (TNT), Fridays (ESPN), and Sundays (ABC/ESPN). By the end of these new agreements, the NBA’s partnership will reach 41 years with Turner, while the league’s relationship with ABC/ESPN will extend to 23 years. Additionally, NBA TV’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday game telecasts will continue to fill out the schedule, ensuring a full week of nationally televised games. The NBA’s 24-hour network will present over 100 regular-season games each year.

The NBA and Turner will also continue their groundbreaking partnership to manage jointly the NBA’s digital assets including NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA Mobile, NBA LEAGUE PASS, and WNBA.com, which Turner operates out of its Atlanta production facility. TNT will also debut the first-ever NBA Awards Show, an annual event which will air at the end of the season, and will have expanded activation opportunities surrounding key NBA pillars such as Opening Night and NBA All-Star Week.

Under the agreement, ESPN will be granted enhanced digital rights to provide NBA content for multiple ESPN platforms, including ESPN.com and WatchESPN.

The parties have also established a framework for ESPN and the NBA to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering in which the league would receive an equity interest. Details for the new offering will be announced at a future date.

Under a new deal with the WNBA, games will continue to be televised on ABC and ESPN/ESPN2 through the 2025 season. ESPN also will have enhanced in-progress highlight rights for the WNBA on digital and linear platforms.

Beginning with the 2016-17 season, for the first time, at least 20 NBA Development League games and NBA Summer League games will be seen on the ESPN television networks.

Turner Sports will have enhanced content/digital rights to NBA content for multiple TNT platforms including Bleacher Report; interactive online elements such as selected camera angles, statistic feeds and video to complement TNT’s telecasts; and broadband and other content for digital platforms, including highlights and studio shows. This includes the opportunity to develop and distribute new NBA content and programming for Bleacher Report, as well as rights to highlights for incorporation into the brand’s popular team and topic-centric Team Stream Now video offerings.

“The Walt Disney Company and Turner Broadcasting share responsibility for the growing popularity and interest the NBA enjoys, and we are thrilled to extend our partnerships,” said Silver. “With these new agreements, our fans will continue to benefit from the outstanding NBA coverage and programming provided by ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and their digital platforms.”

“These nine-year extensions with Disney and Turner recognize the extraordinary value of live premium sports,” said Leonsis. “On behalf of our Media Committee and the other team owners, we thank Disney and Turner for their commitment to the NBA and its fans.”


TNT will televise 64 regular-season games in primetime on an exclusive basis, an increase from 52 regular-season games televised during the current agreement. TNT will also offer exclusive presentation of Opening Night, the All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday Night. The 12 additional games will be televised during the second half of the regular season on another night of the week than the network’s traditional Thursday Night doubleheaders.

TNT will televise up to 45 playoff games during the first two rounds and will have exclusive coverage of the conference semifinals games it telecasts and one of the conference finals each year.

Turner’s multimedia platforms will have the ability to stream TNT-televised games, highlights, and non-game programming on a live, delayed and on-demand basis. Additionally, Turner will maintain TV Everywhere rights that allow for all NBA content airing across Turner Broadcasting networks to be streamed live, delayed and on-demand across the company’s multiple digital platforms.

“This is a significant deal for our company and we are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership with the NBA, its fans, owners and players,” said Levy. “The agreement locks in some of the most valuable, original, premium live sports programming that we’ll continue to monetize across TNT and all other platforms within our extensive portfolio and will help further grow our businesses into the next decade.”


ABC will continue to televise up to 15 regular-season games on an exclusive basis, beginning on Christmas Day and continuing on Sunday afternoons starting in January, with the ability to move a few Sunday games to ESPN. The postseason will feature the entire best-of-seven NBA Finals in primetime on ABC.

ESPN and ESPN2 will televise up to 85 regular-season games primarily on Wednesday and Friday nights, an increase from 70 regular-season games under the current agreement. ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will also televise up to 30 playoff games in the first two rounds, while ESPN will feature exclusive coverage of the conference semifinals games it televises and one of the conference finals each year. The network will also have exclusive coverage of the NBA Draft and NBA Draft Lottery each season.

ESPN will have the rights to stream its games and provide additional NBA content on a live, delayed and on-demand basis across all of its multimedia platforms, including ESPN.com, and WatchESPN.

ESPN Audio will remain the national broadcast home of the NBA and feature an increased package of games, including regular-season and playoffs.

”The NBA has never been more popular globally and it continues to grow under Adam’s leadership,” said Skipper. “By acquiring significantly more NBA content on both existing and yet-to-be created platforms, we will establish a vibrant year-round relationship with the NBA and bolster what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights.”


The NBA will continue its ground-breaking partnership with Turner for NBA Digital through which the companies manage jointly the NBA’s digital assets including NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA Mobile, NBA LEAGUE PASS, and WNBA.com. Launched prior to the 2008-09 season, the partnership will run through the 2024-25 season.

NBA TV will present over 100 regular-season games, an increase from 96 regular-season games, and up to nine postseason games. Currently available in 60 million homes, the network has had record viewership as part of NBA Digital.




NBA commissioner Adam Silver

NBA Salary Cap Set To Explode In 2016-17

It’s been reported that the NBA is set to sign new National TV broadcast rights deals with ESPN and Turner that will more than double current National TV revenues according to Sports Business Daily, NBA nearing massive media deals.

“Talks have progressed so rapidly that details are emerging on a massive agreement that would see the league’s annual rights fee more than double

The NBA and its network partners expect to reach an agreement in principle on new long-term media deals by the start of the regular season”

This year the NBA is expected to earn $930 million from ESPN and Turner which equates to $31 million per team and accounts for a significant portion of the NBA salary cap. Under the terms of the new deal that is expected to kick in once the current 8-year agrrement ends in June 2016, those revenues are expected to be well north of $2 billion or over $66 million per team.

Since the NBA salary cap is based on 44.74 percent of Basketball Related Income (see NBA Salary Cap FAQ). The change in National broadcast rights should be expected to add about $16 million to the salary cap for each team. That’s equivalent to a 25 percent rise over the current cap.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



Faried and Ibaka

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 2 Faried And Ibaka

Both Spain and the USA have begun to open a wide lead over the field as they have won their first 2 games by big margins and the Nuggets Kenneth Faried and Thunder Serge Ibaka were the studs that led those teams to FIBA World Cup victories on Sunday.

The 2-0 unbeaten teams are as follows:

USA           +80 points
Spain        +67 points
Greece      +35 points
Brazil        +31 points
Slovenia   +31 points
Lithuania +26 points
Croatia     +8 points

Team USA was saved by Kenneth Faried vs. Turkey as his energy and 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots turned the tide in the 98-77 come from behind win.

Spain crushed Egypt 91-54 as everyone on the roster except the 0-4 Jose Calderon scored, but it Serge Ibaka’s turn for a big game as he put up a game-high 18 points and 8 rebounds.

The high score of the day belonged to Luis Scola who once again led Argentina, his 30 points gives him a 25 point average and is tops among all players. However, Argentina lost to Croatia 90-85 as the 76ers first round draft pick Dario Saric had 16 points and 9 rebounds while the Nets Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points and 7 rebounds.

Houston Rockets veteran Francisco Garcia put up 29 points for the Dominican Republic in a big 76-63 win over the New Zealand Tall Blacks. Thomas Abercrombie who plays for the NZ Breakers had 22 points.

Georgios Printezis had 25 points and 8 rebounds in Greece’s 82-70 win over the Philippines. Printezis turned down an offer to play for the Knicks in 2012 and his NBA rights have been held by the Spurs, Raptors, Mavericks, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Thunder and presently by the Hawks. The Nets free agent Andray Blatche recorded his second double-double in 2 days with 21 points on 6-18 shooting and 14 rebounds for the Philippines. Blatche is currently second in scoring at 24.5 points per game and second in rebounds at 13 per game.

Eugene “Pooh” Jeter scored 24 points for the Ukraine in an 81-76 loss to Finland. Jeter, a one-time King, played in Spain last season and has signed with the Shandong Bulls in China. Shawn Huff, who plays in Germany, scored 23 points for Finland.

Atlanta Hawks unrestricted free agent Gustavo Ayon scored 23 points for Mexico in an 89-68 loss to Slovenia where the Suns Goran Dragic had 18 points and 6 assists and his very noticeable brother Zoran Dragic scored 22 points.


The Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng is averaging 19.5 points and a tournament best 13.5 rebounds for Senegal.

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas finally missed a shot in the second quarter of his second game and had 11 points and 13 rebounds in Lithuania’s 75-62 win over Angola to become just one of ten players to record a double-double thus far.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



MoVernie photo outside the Barclays Center 2

Key Dates For The 2014-15 NBA Season

The key dates for important events and deadlines during the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season including Media Days, Training Camps, NBA Canada Series, NBA Global Games, Opening Night, Contract Guarantee Date, All-Star Weekend, Trade Deadline, Playoff Eligibility Deadline and the Start of the 2015 NBA Playoffs.


September 262014 NBA Team Media Days for teams competing in preseason games outside North America

September 272014 NBA Training Camps open for practice for teams competing in preseason contests outside North America

September 29 – the rest of 2014 NBA Team Media Days

September 30 – the rest of 2014 NBA Training Camps open for practice

October 5NBA Canada Series: Toronto Raptors vs. Sacramento Kings in Vancouver, Canada at Rogers Arena

October 8NBA Global Games: San Antonio Spurs vs. Alba Berlin in Berlin, Germany at O2 World

October 11NBA Global Games: San Antonio Spurs vs. Fenerbahce in Istanbul, Turkey at Ülker Sports Arena & Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in Rio De Janeiro at HSBC Arena

October 12NBA Global Games: Brooklyn Nets vs. Sacramento Kings in Shanghai, China at Mercedes-Benz Arena

October 15 NBA Global Games: Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets in Beijing, China at MasterCard Center

October 24NBA Canada Series: Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks in Montreal, Canada at Bell Centre

October 27 – Rosters Set for Opening Day (5 p.m. ET)

October 282014-15 NBA Season begins at 8pm ET with Orlando @ New Orleans & Dallas @ San Antonio (Championship Ring Ceremony)

November 12NBA Global Games: Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico City, Mexico at Mexico City Arena

January 510-day player contracts can now be signed

January 10All contracts become guaranteed for remainder of the season

January 15NBA Global Games: New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks in London, England at The O2

February 12Last game before NBA All-Star break: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Chicago Bulls at 8 pm ET

February 13-152015 NBA All-Star Weekend in Brooklyn and New York

February 192015 NBA Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

February 19First game after NBA All-Star break: Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 pm ET

March 1Playoff Eligibility Waiver Deadline

April 15Last Day of 2014-15 Regular Season 14 games scheduled

April 182015 NBA Playoffs begin



Ujiri, Drake, Leiweke All-Star Jersey

$25k Drake Fine Equals Huge Publicity Win For Raptors

On Tuesday the NBA announced they were fining the Toronto Raptors $25,000 for their Global Ambassador Drake making overtures towards Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant during a concert in Toronto. In reality, the shout out was more to rev up the crowd, but why not? If Drake and the Raptors could have imagined the publicity the NBA’s reaction would garner, they would have been doing this earlier and louder.

NBA News:

The NBA has fined the Toronto Raptors for tampering after rapper Drake let Kevin Durant know he was wanted in Canada.

Drake is a “global ambassador” for Canada’s NBA club. He was performing at a concert that Durant was attending last week in Toronto when he shouted to the crowd to show the league’s MVP what it would be like if he came to play for the Raptors, causing a loud ovation.

An NBA spokesman confirmed the fine, which ESPN.com reported Monday was for $25,000.

Durant can become a free agent after the 2015-16 season. He has spent his entire career with the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise.

Thanks to Drake, the Raptors are headline news across the NBA, the world even. That $25,000 was was a bargain purchase. Then it was discovered the NBA offered to drop the fine if Drake gave up his “Global Ambassador” title and kept the story alive for another day (or more) doubling down on the value the league had already handed the team.

It might look like the NBA made a miscalculation and it’s possible, however, the NBA is nothing if not a first class marketing organization. A true cynic is going to believe the NBA did on this purpose and the “secret fight” between the NBA and the Raptors recent marketing moves could just as easily be a “secret handshake.”

There should be a call to do it again Drake, the Raptors and the NBA definitely want to stay in the news during August.


The NBA has since denied suggesting Drake lose his title – keep this story alive – just keep it coming.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.