The Big Deal Weekly #6: Tredders' trade fallout, Lyon roars back into contention, Netball row escalates, Lebron tops big money list & more
October 17, 2022
Welcome to The Big Deal!
It has been a tumultuous time for AFL coaches and we’ve got one of the greatest, Paul Roos, joining us on The Big Deal podcast this week. So make sure you’re following the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Now, let’s get down to business.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Tredders’ Trade Fallout
Lyon roars back into contention
Netball sponsorship row escalates
LeBron James makes hay off court to top NBA pay list again
NBA teams ponder tanking for French starlet
Poole and Wiggins a luxury for Golden State
Storm CEO calls for NRL to consider rookie draft
No pot of gold at end of rainbow
Soccer making great strides in North America
Alex Morgan tops female endorsements list
Barca showcase Drake in kit
Don’t coach - here’s $40m!
In retrospect: Cats keeps making monkeys out of the Suns
TREDDERS’ TRADE FALLOUT
There was plenty to digest after one of the biggest trade periods on record.
But not everything went down as planned.
Geelong would have traded Esava Ratugolea but baulked at sending him to Port Adelaide.
They were happy enough with pick 33 for a guy who played only four games this season.
But the Cats see Port as a threat and didn’t want to strengthen a rival, knowing the big ruckman/utility would seriously improve the Power.
As talk of a St Kilda reunion with Ross Lyon grows, more changes can be expected at Moorabbin, following the shock sacking of Brett Ratten.
The Saints are turning the place upside down with list manager James Gallagher keen to stay in the role but wanting to commute from Adelaide, where he played 38 games with the Crows from 2001-04. If things don’t work out, they might turn their attention to Power list manager Jason Cripps whose stocks have soared after brokering the Horne-Francis deal.
Cripps’ phone has been ringing hot with the Saints not the only club to sound out his availability.
Crows recruit Izak Rankine only signed a three-year deal with Adelaide, surprising many given what the club had to do to secure him.
They gave up pick five while the former Sun will earn an average of $800k at West Lakes, with the first year of that deal worth an eye-watering $1.5m.
But Rankine’s management didn’t want to lock him in too far ahead, given his rapid improvement in 2022.
Conversely, Jason Horne-Francis signed a six-year deal at Alberton.
His first year is locked in as part of his rookie contract with the remaining years worth a minimum of $600k per season, the same sort of money Zak Butters and Connor Rozee were paid at the expiry of their rookie contracts.
You know when the pressure is on a club’s list manager to get the best deal possible for a departing player when its very experienced CEO starts interfering in trade discussions and demanding unrealistic compensation. That’s what almost forced one club to gamble on securing its man via the pre-season draft after trade discussions repeatedly broke down. That club was prepared to offer its target a monster deal in an attempt to land him for nothing. Thankfully for the rebuilding club, a trade was agreed, albeit three days later than it should have been.
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LYON ROARS BACK INTO CONTENTION
Former Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon is firming as favourite to renew his partnership with the Saints.
Such a reunion would be remarkable given his recent explanation on Triple M of the mechanics of his sensational departure in 2011.
Lyon recalled there was media speculation that Melbourne was using Paul Roos and Gary Lyon to headhunt a big name for the Demons.
While Fremantle CEO Steve Rosich had met with Lyon at his house in an initially failed attempt to recruit him.
Lyon had a year to run at Moorabbin but had rejected the terms of a new contract.
The Saints threatened to move him on unless he agreed to the deal but both parties decided to sleep on it before making any decisions.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came that night with Lyon angered by the Saints leaking a story to the media, accusing him of being greedy and holding out for a better deal.
Lyon felt he had been betrayed and swiftly rejected an improved offer from the Saints, eventually signing with the Dockers.
Keep an eye out for this week’s podcast when we’ll talk with Paul Roos about his incredible coaching career (he coached 252 AFL games and was not sacked once - not too many coaches can boast that!).
NETBALL SPONSORSHIP ROW ESCALATES
The row over the Diamonds’ four-year $15m sponsorship arrangement with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has escalated.
Players have reportedly sided with squad member Donnell Wallam who has expressed concerns about the mining company’s handling of Indigenous issues.
Former Diamonds captain Sharni Norder (Layton) has also been vocal about Netball Australia accepting the sponsorship, concerned about the company’s climate record.
The team has had a media ban slapped on it by coach Stacey Marinkovich until her planned media call on Tuesday.
Netball Australia suffered losses of $7.2m through the pandemic and reported debts of $4m.
It has drawn criticism from Norder and Matt Berriman, head of a private equity firm that had a deal with Netball Australia rejected.
It was worth $4.5m over the first two years with an additional $1m over two further years.
LEBRON JAMES MAKES HAY OFF COURT TO TOP NBA PAY LIST AGAIN
LA Lakers star LeBron James has topped the game’s highest-paid players list for the ninth straight season.
The 37-year-old earned US$121.2m last season and that will rise to US$124.5m this season.
What is really interesting is that US$80m or nearly two thirds of it are from endorsements and business interests.
The top handful of players manage to roughly match their salaries with endorsements.
James basically doubles it!
He has estimated career earnings of US$1.2 billion.
The NBA’s top 10 are now earning 122% more than they did a decade ago according to Forbes.
And there’s undeniable evidence that basketballers are American sport’s most marketable commodities with the top 10 players earning an incredible US$330m in off-court endorsements, nearly triple what the NFL’s top 10 will earn off the field.
It’s also well in excess of the US$208m the world’s top 10 soccer players are estimated to earn off the pitch.
The NBA’s highest paid players this year are:
LeBron James (LA Lakers) $124.5m
Steph Curry (Golden State) $95.1m
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn) $88.0m
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) $86.5m
Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers) $82.1m
Klay Thompson (Golden State) $60.6m
Damian Lillard (Portland) $60.5m
James Harden (Philadelphia) $53.0m
Paul George (LA Clippers) $51.0m
Jimmy Butler (Miami) $49.7m
NBA TEAMS PONDER TANKING FOR FRENCH STARLET
The 2022-23 NBA season may only just be starting but already some teams will be thinking about just how bad it can get.
That’s because of the emergence of 18-year-old French prodigy Victor Wembanyama who stands as the grand prize for the winner of this year’s draft lottery.
Only the worst 14 teams get a ticket with new rules giving the three teams with the worst record each a 14% chance of landing pick 1.
Any teams that start poorly might quickly decide it’s easier to finish bottom than top and tank it all the way to what they hope will be the golden ticket.
Wembanyama stands at 224cm and is considered an elite shot blocker, prompting some to suggest the race to land him will overshadow the entire season and that the race to secure him will be more intense than the ones to land LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
POOLE AND WIGGINS A LUXURY FOR GOLDEN STATE
The Golden State Warriors are living in the lap of luxury after paying a record US$170.3m (A$275m) in luxury tax last season.
And that is set to rise after contract extensions for both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins.
Poole’s new deal is said to be worth US$140m over four years while Wiggins will be paid US$109 over the same term.
How that sits with some of their team-mates is uncertain but Draymond Green lost his cool last week and was fined after punching Poole in practice. Watch the shocking video here.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks has calculated the Warriors’ top 12 players are being paid a total of US$215m with tax bill of US$268m making a total of US$483m.
STORM CEO CALLS FOR NRL TO CONSIDER ROOKIE DRAFT
Melbourne Storm CEO Justin Rodski says the NRL should be exploring the idea of a draft and says a rookie draft would be the ideal starting point.
“I think that the NRL should absolutely be exploring it,” Rodski told The Big Deal.
“We have a top 30 and then we have a rookie list effectively outside the top 30.
“Maybe there’s an opportunity as a ‘dip the toe in the water’ to explore a rookie draft for players outside your top 30 as an initial concept and then from there, who knows down the track.”
But he acknowledged there would be plenty of resistance in club land.
“It’s going to be very difficult to unwind a lot of the work that clubs are doing within their pathways.
“There’s just not a centralized structure around pathways so right now clubs individually invest in their own pathway systems.
“Until that changes and they get that right, I don’t think there’s a draft coming any time soon.”
Hear the full interview including his comments about whether the NRL should put a second team in Melbourne as a local rival for the Storm, and much more.
NO POT OF GOLD AT END OF RAINBOW
Manly has sacked coach Des Hasler in messy circumstances after a disastrous finish that saw the Sea Eagles lose their last seven games.
Their season took a turn for the worse when the playing group was divided by the club’s decision to wear a Pride jersey in July.
Players were not consulted and seven of them refused to play in the round for religious and cultural beliefs.
Hasler had a year to run on his deal.
He refused to stand down despite the club’s intentions to appoint Anthony Seibold as his assistant with a view to him becoming Hasler’s successor.
The board was then forced to act on the dual premiership coach or risk him triggering an extension to his contract if he took Manly back to the top six next season.
Hasler and the club are now haggling over his termination payment.
He is contractually eligible for $450,000 but Hasler is arguing being denied the chance to trigger a new deal in 2024 has potentially cost him much more.
SOCCER MAKING GREAT STRIDES IN NORTH AMERICA
Major League Soccer has reported its best attended season yet with more than 10 million fans attending the 2022 regular season.
Let’s keep in mind there are a lot of teams in Major League Soccer - 28 of them.
And they play a lot of games - 34 of them.
But even still, they are averaging a little in excess of a very healthy 21,000 fans per match.
The last uninterrupted A-League season averaged 10,877 in 2018-19.
MLS’s bumper season included a record crowd of 74,479 in March when Charlotte FC hosted LA.
Other key metrics are all reaching new highs as well including TV numbers, merchandise sales and online interaction.
A new team next year in St Louis and a new $2.5b deal with Apple all points to the game growing exponentially in the US ahead of their hosting the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.
ALEX MORGAN TOPS FEMALE ENDORSEMENT DEALS
Things are going okay for the women’s game in the US as well with San Diego Wave striker Alex Morgan the most endorsed woman in the world.
She has 27 of them, outperforming Serena Williams (26), Naomi Osaka (23), Lexi Thompson (21) and Leyla Fernandez (20).
Women’s sport is booming in the US - deals with teams and leagues are up 21 per cent.
While deals with individual female athletes are up 18 per cent.
Finance companies are leading the charge, initiating 30 per cent of the endorsements.
It all points to the words of GWS player Chloe Dalton ringing true. She recently told The Big Deal podcast that fans have a stronger emotional connection to women’s sport and teams, and this is reflected in a greater return for their sponsors.
BARCA SHOWCASE DRAKE IN KIT
The world’s most streamed Spotify artist, Drake, has had his OVO owl logo emblazoned across the Barcelona shirt in the weekend’s El Clasico with Real Madrid.
Barca signed a four-year sponsorship deal commencing in July, bringing music and football together and “connecting with artists of every kind”.
The Drake recognition was in honour of him becoming the first artist to 50 billion streams on the platform.
Juli Guiu, Barcelona’s vice president for marketing, said: “Our alliance with Spotify goes beyond a mere commercial relationship.
“As we have stated on numerous occasions, it is a strategic relationship through which we seek to bring together two worlds that can arouse emotion, namely music and football. This initiative is another example of this desire and the innovative spirit of our collaboration.”
Mark Hazan, Spotify’s vice president of partnerships, views their collaboration with Barcelona as “a celebration of fans, players and artists on a global stage”.
Barcelona was less inspiring on the pitch, going down 3-1 at the Bernabéu, conceding top spot to Real.
DON’T COACH - HERE’S $40M!
Just last week, we told you about former New York Met Bobby Bonilla who is one of many players in Major League Baseball enjoying a “deferred payment” plan.
Bonilla agreed to defer the $5.9m he was owed by the Mets in 1999 for a decade.
In return, the Mets agreed to pay him $1.19m a year for 25 years!
That works out to $29.75m - and that’s still shy of what sacked Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule can look forward to.
The first-time NFL coach signed a seven-year deal in 2020 for a very tasty US$62m.
After just 11 wins from 38 games and a 1-4 start this season, the Panthers have seen enough but they are going to have to pay Rhule more than US$40m to not coach.
The Panthers only have to pay up if Rhule doesn’t coach another NFL team but with that record, they might be in some trouble.
It comes amid calls for teams to make more sensible contractual decisions to protect themselves against being forced to honour outlandish payouts.
In the US, they call it dead money and it isn’t just restricted to the game’s top tiers.
ESPN estimated that American universities blew US$533.6m in 11 years between 2010-21 on sacked coaches - that’s US$48m per year!
Auburn were the biggest offenders, punting US$31.2m in dead money.
IN RETROSPECT: CATS KEEP MAKING MONKEYS OUT OF THE SUNS
We’re only going back a few years for this week’s ‘In Retrospect’.
It’s not hard to see how Geelong keep playing off for premierships and Gold Coast keep underwhelming.
The Cats must have installed a hard line to the Suns’ list manager after their successes of the previous few years and somehow, they’ve done it again.
In 2019, Geelong acquired the Suns’ future first rounder (pick 11) and pick 64 in exchange for pick 27.
FoxFooty noted at the time it was a “curious trade”.
A year later and the Cats were at it again, picking up the Suns’ pick 27 for a future third-rounder which turned out to be pick 52 - a nice little trade up for Geelong.
But this year, fresh off smashing Sydney to win the 2022 premiership, the Cats pulled off their coup de grace.
All too aware of the Suns’ salary cap problems and desire to offload Jack Bowes, reportedly on $850,000 per season, the Cats decided to do the honourable thing and take the 24-year-old off the Suns’ payroll.
Bowes was a Suns’ academy player and number 10 selection at the 2016 draft.
A handy little pick up for the Cats but to sweeten the deal, the Suns threw in this year’s pick 7 in exchange for Geelong’s future third round pick!
The bottom line: the league’s best team adds Bowes, Ollie Henry, Tanner Bruhn and pick 7 to its kitty.
The Suns have pick 5. They’d want to make it count.
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