What does the NBA want from the All-Star Game?

The World Series has some issues. The decision to have the outcome of the All-Star game dictate home field is one of them. Is the All-Star game merely an exhibition designed to let fans see their favorite players or should it be serious? A problem with Major League Baseball is it is tries to have it both ways. When your best players won’t play the whole game and yet the outcome matters greatly to some players, you’re in a bad spot.

The NBA I fear is headed in the same direction. The NBA recently announced it would be allowing users to vote via Twitter and Facebook. People like Henry Abbott (@truehoop) have raised concerns over issues like spelling player names properly. Also the NBA says you can text the last name of players to vote. Guess what? Last names overlap! I will candidly say the websites and interfaces to vote are terrible and clunky. For instance, the default Twitter vote button uses “U” instead of “You” to make it all that more professional. However, this is a good step. The All-Star game is embracing  technology, albeit grudgingly and with standards from the 90s.

The problem actually boils down to the recent CBA. Via Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ: 

A player in his fifth season can qualify for higher than the 0-6 year (25%) maximum, and up to the 7-9 year (30%) maximum if he has met at least one of the following criteria (called the “5th Year 30% Max Criteria”):

  • Been named the NBA Most Valuable Player.
  • Been named to the All-NBA First, Second or Third team twice.
  • Been voted-in as an All-Star starter twice.

In order to be eligible for the higher maximum the player must re-sign with his own team for at least four years, and cannot re-sign as part of a sign-and-trade transaction (see question number 88). A player’s eligibility for the higher maximum salary doesn’t imply he will actually receive this amount — as with all salaries, it’s a matter of negotiation between the player and his team.

Getting into the All-Star game has clear implications. Take Anthony Davis for example. If he makes two All-Star games as voted by the fans, which now can use Twitter and Facebook, he is eligible to make almost $3 million more a season based on current cap levels. This actually can help New Orleans as well. Right now, if they want to entice Davis to re-sign they can offer a contract with raises of 7.5% annually. Competing teams can offer raises of 4.5% annually (see here http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q53) It turns out that the raise they are eligible to offer Davis if he makes multiple All-Star games is bigger than the edge they get from holding Davis’ Bird rights.

I’ve also posited changing the All-Star game to three front court players instead of two forwards and a center is to help out the Hornets.

Whether or not fans pick players based on merit is debatable.  The simple fact is that being voted to All-Star games has clear implications to players on rookie contracts and the teams they play for. As a result the NBA has itself in the same situation as Major League Baseball. Should we treat the All-Star game as a purely fan event or is it something more seriously? Sadly, the NBA has decided to take a very aggressive stance in both areas! It will certainly be interesting to see how teams like New Orleans react to these rule changes and what impact they’ll have on the NBA’s social presence.


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