Larry Coon Rumors
Larry Coon: I think it’s pretty inevitable that there’s going to be expansion at some point, and we could see a 32-team league. There are certainly cities like Seattle ready to host an NBA franchise again. I was thinking expansion might’ve even been on the table this past year because of Covid. If you collected a couple of expansion fees, you put a lot of money into the league in a year when revenues were so far down… Eventually, you’re increasing the revenue that comes in with ticket sales, local cable revenue, everything around the game… The flipside of that coin is that you’re now splitting the profits more ways and your revenue sharing differently.
What kind of rule changes do you expect potentially in the next CBA? Larry Coon: I’d love to see some of the things we just talked about fixed. Extensions. I’d love to see them fixed. I’d love to see something happen with the super-max where it doesn’t hurt the small market teams as much as it does. I’d love to see restricted free agency be a little bit better. For the most part, the CBA has been getting progressively better over time… Right now, the system is set up to have teams cheat. We saw that a couple of years ago where they opened up free agency on July 1st, and within the first half-hour everybody was spoken for. How does that happen? It’s because everybody has been talking to everybody, even when they’re not supposed to.
Larry Coon: “Sometimes, people are able to think of things that nobody has thought of doing or they take advantage of a rule in a way that nobody has thought to try. A good example of this is the Gilbert Arenas Provision. Everyone thought of it as, ‘Hey, we have a couple of players – including Gilbert Arenas – in a situation we didn’t intend. We made Bird Rights ramp up from one year to three years, which created a situation where some rookies who weren’t first-round draft picks become free agents after their second year and their teams can’t match!’ Well, creative thinkers come along, like Daryl Morey, and they realize, ‘Hey, we can use that to create a poison-pill offer!’ You have executives who are coming up with things like that and looking at rules from an angle that’s not expected.”
Larry Coon and Nate Duncan tell me that even if Miami is capped out at the time, it would not be required to shave $25.3 million off its team payroll (and get back under the cap) after Bosh plays his 25th game for another team. The bad news: As Coon and Duncan explain, if the Heat is already capped out at that point, that would result in a $65 million luxury tax bill for Miami, unless the Heat frantically shed tons of salary in trades.
If Coon looks more the part of office-dweller than NBA revolutionary, there’s a reason for it. He spends his days in the information technology offices at UC Irvine, managing major projects and evangelizing business analytics. But over the course of more than 15 years, he’s used his nights to become an indispensable part of the NBA fabric, operating the go-to reference used by teams, players, agents and reporters. When it comes to understanding the rules that get your favorite players to and from your favorite teams, Coon is the person people turn to.
His “CBA FAQ” has become a staple in web browsers around the league, breaking down the 154,274-word collective bargaining agreement – approximately the same length as “The Grapes of Wrath” – that lays out the financial rules for the NBA into more palatable terms. Before Golden State general manager Bob Myers won the 2015 Executive of the Year award and built a team that won a single-season record 73 games and signed the biggest free agent available in Kevin Durant, he was merely a law student with a thirst for NBA knowledge. To quench it, he tried to study the CBA. “Anyone who knows and has tried to do it, it’s very dense,” Myers said. “Larry was the first person to break it down into layman’s terms, into ways that were succinct, efficient.
Coon’s original FAQ, which published in 1999, was a constantly evolving project, being updated in between the naps of his newborn daughter Megan. People who were interested had questions, and they turned to Coon for answers. He called the league office, asking questions about the CBA. No one, at least no one as enthusiastic and as smart as Coon, had called and been so inquisitive. “He had more of an appetite than most for that kind of stuff,” NBA deputy general counsel Dan Rube said.