Anaheim, San Jose, and Newark are part of huge markets with big TV possibilities. The Anaheim situation may be intriguing because of Time Warner Cable's entry into the regional cable TV sports market. Time Warner Cable and the Los Angeles Lakers franchise have entered into an agreement to start a regional network in fall 2012. The Lakers departure from Fox Sports West and KCAL will create an opening of 240 hours or more of programming that an NBA franchise can plug.
The cable TV war between FOX Sports and Time Warner has started. FOX made a pre-emptive strike by singing Arte Moreno's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball franchise to a long term deal which will put $160 million annually into Moreno's pocket. Moreno used that money to sign Albert Pujols and C. J. Wilson to enormous contracts.
FOX and Time Warner will get into an auction for Los Angeles Dodgers cable TV rights in about two years that could see the baseball team get as much as $200 million a year annually in cable TV rights.
There is money available for an Anaheim-based NBA team on cable TV - far more money than the Maloofs can get in Sacramento or an owner can get in New Orleans.
It is unclear just how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will help small market owners. The National Football League is a socialist society with the 32 teams sharing equally in TV dollars which fund the enterprise.
The NBA does not have the same sports socialism approach. The NBA has to pay so much for players’ salaries but some teams are able to pay more for coaching staffs, scouting and promotion departments than other teams.
In the past few years "superstar" players from small markets have signed or forced trades to bigger markets. That trend has not stopped with the new collective bargaining agreement.
There seems to be a new luxury tax in play that would make the league's big spenders pay more tax as the salaries go up. But franchises like the Knicks and Lakers own regional cable TV networks. The Brooklyn Nets franchise has an equity stake in the YES Network, Jerry Reinsdorf's Chicago Bulls has an equity stake in the Comcast/Chicago regional network and Rupert Murdoch will open up the vault for his partners' say in Dallas or Los Angeles so someone else might pay a higher luxury tax.
That someone else is cable TV subscribers whether they watch NBA games or not. Memphis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Portland, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, San Antonio Sacramento, to name a few cities, cannot compete with New York, Los Angeles or Chicago for TV rights fees and will have to be more creative in keeping valuable players or risk becoming fly over cities.
The league still has problem franchises in Indianapolis, Charlotte and Milwaukee to name a few cities. Indianapolis is virtually paying Herb Simon to keep his Pacers in town. Milwaukee needs a new arena. The NBA's second Charlotte franchise has been financially unsuccessful from the start in 2004.
The NBA is back but some of the old problems that festered before the lockout have not disappeared.
Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy's 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." His book, "The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition" is available at bickley.com, Barnes and Noble or Amazon Kindle.