“The last two years, we lost money. That had not been true before. The CBA we had, which ended June 30, was progressively getting worse, 22 teams losing $450 million the year before almost the same amount. San Antonio just got there a little later. Fortunately, Tim Duncan showed up, we had David Robinson before that, and we won some championships and played deep into the playoffs. That helped cover some of the losses. If we had not had that situation, we would have been losing money before these last two years.”
That's San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt gave that stunning admission last week after talks broke down again between the NBA and the player's union. The statement itself really isn't that stunning, particularly given the tenor of the NBA owners for the last year when they were talking about the CBA. But for it to come from the owner of a club that had won four titles in the last 12 years is pretty stunning. You ask most experts around the league who the best run organization is and they'll tell you it's the Spurs. If they don't they'll probably tell you it's Oklahoma City, who has modeled themselves after the San Antonio system. So yeah, the system needs to be fixed. Here's the question though: would Peter Holt have taken the position he currently holds in labor negotiations had they taken place before Holt decided to dip in to the luxury tax by trading for Richard Jefferson?
At the time, it was tough to criticize against the trade for Jefferson. The Spurs had been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs pretty handily by the Mavericks the previous spring and were lacking any scoring punch from any player not named Duncan, Ginobili or Parker. Jefferson was coming off a career year scoring wise and seemed like the perfect fourth option for a team that lacked an athletic wing since Sean Elliott. They also gave up very little to get him Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas had all been solid to great contributors in the past for the Spurs, but were past their prime at this point. So despite the large of amount of money Jefferson had left on his deal, it seemed like a no brainer for the Spurs to pull the trigger.
However, year one of the Richard Jefferson project didn't go well.