With no Miami Heat player's jersey among the top-ten sellers on the NBA store's website, the Heat may need to get a marquee player to stay in the top-ten of team merchandise sales (they are 7th in NBA). Top jersey sales are dominated by guards such as Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, and Kyrie Irving. Centers no longer are favorites among NBA fans judged by fan interest alone. In today's NBA, they don't warrant maximum contracts: fans want to see shooters.
Two proposed changes will raise the financial stakes for the owners even higher. ESPN recently reported that, "The NBA is moving a step closer to putting advertisements on jerseys." The numbers are astonishing since the amount of revenue generated might be at least $100 million per estimates five years ago, "In 2011, Adam Silver, then deputy commissioner of the NBA, suggested that selling ads on jerseys could, conservatively, be worth $100 million a year..." This added revenue would raise a team's salary cap since, "Players will share in the revenue generated, as the money gained will be considered part of Basketball Related Income, which is factored into the salary cap."
In today's dollars selling jersey ads may increase revenue by $200 million, or about an additional $7 million in salary cap space that has not been accounted for per team, if the proposal is adopted. The important point for owners is added revenue increases the team franchise values by at least a factor of five. The NBA might see the league value rise by a billion dollars or more.
The money Pat Riley has at his disposal this summer may be close to what he planned, but next year all bets are off. With Micky Arison having more than a billion dollars at stake in his Heat franchise, it has the potential to become a two billion dollar investment, so keeping the Heat relevant as title contenders is a top priority.
Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow are on multi-year deals. Unfortunately none of them are top-ten jersey sales players, which generally favor high scorers. Even Winslow was bypassed by the 13th-drafted Devin Booker of the lottery-bound Phoenix Suns for the Rising Stars Challenge event because of Booker's offense prowess. Notice how no Spurs player is on the list either.
A second issue reported by the NBA was a change in the team roster size, "The NBA likes the idea of expanding rosters from the current limit of 15 to as many as 17 as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement with the additional spots designated for two-way contracts that will mean more money for some players and more control of select prospects for the parent clubs."
Arison might even see his financial stake in the Sioux Falls Skyforce team explode. As one of the early advocates of the NBADL, the Heat are one step ahead of most NBA teams in mining the NBADL for players and profit. This potentially sets the stage for a battle between the NCAA and NBADL for 18-year-old basketball prospects. Would an 18-year-old teenager play college hoops for nothing for a year or get up to $100,000 in the NBADL before he is eligble for the NBA?
Riley values a win-now approach because he clearly knows the NBA as we know it today, or was 20 years ago, will not be same five years from now. With more money coming in than previously anticipated and perhaps a new CBA, even his backup plan will need a backup plan. As mentioned many times on HHH, shooters are a key need for the Heat, both to win games and sell jerseys. After all, defense does not sell merchandise in the NBA today.