Rich DeVos, 2nd Richest U.S. Owner in League?

Tuesday is a big day when it comes to figuring out this whole lockout mess. Both sides have come to the table (allegedly) and made their offers or bargaining positions known. Now the two sides are on the door step of losing regular season games. The regular season is supposed to begin November 1, less than a month away, and it is now or never.

The players stand to lose a lot of money. The owners stand to lose a lot of face, but generally, are not risking much by waiting so long to resolve this labor dispute.

Magic owner Rich DeVos certainly is not. According to the Forbes400, a list of the richest people, DeVos comes in at No. 60 with a net worth of $5 billion. That puts him second among NBA owners behind Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. He has a very big interest in playing next season as he has put himself out there to win a title before he dies. There is no secret that is what he desires.

There are plenty of people doing some great work on the lockout — Ken Berger of CBS Sports definitely chief among them — and tomorrow is going to be another busy day for them as the deadline we all have feared seems to be coming closer. If there was a time to make a deal, now would probably be it. If it is not now, we may not see one for a while as the deadline gets pushed back.

There are many issues still left for both sides to solve. The split of revenues, despite earlier reports, appears not to be solved. Revenue sharing — who knows what the two sides are really thinking. Hard cap or salary cap… best not to mention it.

These issues could get solved very quickly or could take a long time to parse out. There is no easy way to put it.

The owners have mostly been divided into two groups: small-market owners who are complaining that it is impossible for them to turn a profit and keep their star players and the big-market owners who would like to see more revenues but could largely survive under the current system.

There have been pronounced owners on each side of the argument. The Knicks’ James Dolan and the Lakers’ Jerry Buss are believed to be the leaders of the big-market group. Their demands have not been loud enough because they know they can take control as the old guard and hopefully get something done. But there are a group of young, small-market owners — notably led by Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert and Phoenix’s Robert Sarver — who are pushing very hard for radical changes to the league. And there are enough teams losing money to make their demands seem very attractive.

It is difficult to peg where Magic owner Rich DeVos stands in all this.

 

The Magic are in a small market. But, with a brand new arena, one of the top players on the league and an ever-shrinking window to win a championship, the Magic are not really standing with their small-market brethren. At least, it would not make sense to.

 

Orlando wants to be on the court now. That much has been made clear with the spending habits the last two years. DeVos opened up the checkbook for the first time in his nearly 20-year tenure as owners and dipped into the once-forbidden luxury tax recklessly. The Magic now have the second highest payroll in the league and are seemingly in luxury tax hell.

There are a lot of proposals that could help the Magic get out of that hole — the so-called “Carmelo Rule” might give the Magic a big advantage to resign Dwight Howard and the amnesty provision could get the Magic out of Gilbert Arenas or Hedo Turkoglu’s bloated contracts.

But DeVos has been quiet. Maybe that is to be expected, he is not one of the vocal owners at the heart of negotiations. I do not believe he, or owner-in-waiting Bob Vander Weide, are on the negotiating committee (actually Vander Weide is on the labor relations committee). The Magic are at the table, but are not one of the principal speakers.

The contradictions between DeVos’ small market and his high spending give the Magic a lot of interest in every side of today’s negotiations and the negotiations moving forward. The future of DeVos’ team is likely to be decided depending on the structure of the new labor deal.

One thing we do know, DeVos has plenty of money to keep spending and possibly deliver a championship, if he so chooses.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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