NBA lockout: Everything you need to know

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NBA lockout: Everything you need to know

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Some questions and answers about the NBA's labor impasse: Q: What's the damage so far? A: NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season Monday, with both owners and players estimating losses at hundreds of millions of dollars. Q: What happens next? A: No meetings are currently scheduled, and Stern warned that more games could be lost with each passing day. Q: What were the NBA's revenues last season? A: The league brought in about 4.3 billion, of which 3.8 billion fell into the category of basketball-related income (BRI). BRI is basically all the money made through basketball operations, including gate receipts, broadcast revenues, in-arena sales of novelties and concessions, arena signage revenues, game parking and program revenues, sponsorship revenues, etc. Q: So what's the problem? A: Players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI, and the league says owners were destined to lose money when they only kept 43 cents of every dollar. Q: How bad was it for owners? A: They say they lost 300 million last season, after losing hundreds of millions in every year of the previous collective bargaining agreement that was ratified in 2005. The league says 22 of its 30 teams lost money, including losses of 20 million or more for 11 of them. Q: Couldn't they avoid those problems if the teams that made money shared more with the others? A: That's what the players say, calling the NBA's revenue-sharing program "insignificant." The league says a more robust revenue-sharing plan is coming, but not until after a new CBA with the players, because right now all it would be doing is sharing losses. Q: What do the owners want? A: The league has two goals in the negotiations: A system that would guarantee owners a chance to make a profit, and a system where all teams would have a chance to compete equally for a championship. Q: How far apart are they financially? A: Each side's last formal proposal was a 53-47 revenue split in its favor. Given each full BRI percentage point was worth nearly 40 million last season, the sides are officially around 240 million apart in the first year of a deal. Q: Why is competitive balance a problem now? A: Because the NBA's "soft" salary cap system allows teams to spend above it by using various exceptions. There is a luxury tax level in which teams have to pay a 1 tax for every 1 they exceed the threshold by, but big-market teams simply absorbed the penalty that smaller-market clubs were unable to. So the league says small-market teams can't compete in the NBA like they do in the NFL, where Green Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Pittsburgh have won recent Super Bowls. Q: What do players think about a hard cap? A: They're completely opposed, to the extent that union executive director Billy Hunter has called it a "blood issue." Players believe a hard cap would eliminate fully guaranteed contracts for all but a handful of top players and set up a system like the NFL, where teams cut even high-performing players for cap reasons and aren't required to pay their full contracts. Q: Is playing overseas a viable option? A: Not as good as players hoped, which is why Stern downplayed it as a bargaining threat from the start. Economic difficulties in Europe mean teams there simply can't pay enough to entice NBA stars, and China essentially removed itself as an option when it ruled its teams couldn't offer contracts with opt-out clauses, meaning players who sign there are required to stay all season. Q: Can they still play a full 82-game season? A: Stern said everything is negotiable, but it will be difficult. Arenas have few dates available and already have been told they can book events on nights games were scheduled for the first two weeks of the season.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead