Las Vegas to launch pro team as alternative to one-and-done year in college

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A California-based group is trying to launch a professional basketball team in Las Vegas, only it’s not in the form that you think.

LV Basketball Enterprises announced last week that 2015-16 would be the inaugural season for the Las Vegas Dealers, a professional basketball team designed to create another option for our nation’s one-and-done high school talent.

The salary structure, according to the organization’s press release announcing the start of the season, would be $700,000 for McDonald’s All-Americans, $400,000 for underclassmen with eligibility remaining and $100,000 for any free agent. The schedule? 35 games against European club competition in Vegas followed by a 15-game tour of Europe.

In theory, this is a great idea.

It’s not a secret that there are plenty of one-and-done caliber talents that aren’t thrilled with the idea of having to spend a season in the college ranks instead of entering the NBA Draft, playing for a scholarship that they’ll use for essentially one semester before heading off to the professional ranks. That’s what made Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to play in China this past season so intriguing; could it open up a new avenue for this caliber of player?

That’s the market that the Las Vegas Dealers are trying to tap into, providing an alternative for these 18 years olds to college, the D-League (where salaries are capped around $30,000) and playing overseas.

My question: Where is the money coming from? Let’s assume that the Dealers are somehow actually able to land five McDonald’s All-Americans. That means they’ll be spending roughly $5 million in salary to complete their roster. Then throw in the money that it will cost to entice 35 European club teams to fly to and stay in Vegas in the middle of their season. And what about the cost of a 15-game tour of Europe with the team, the coaching staff, the medical staff and their families?

Let’s assume the operating costs here are around $15 million. Where is that money coming from? Shoe companies certainly aren’t going to be funding it, as they want these athletes in college helping to develop their brand on national television every night. I can’t imagine that ticket sales will be able to fund this kind of venture. There’s no natural fan base, and I can’t imagine they’ll build one playing a schedule that amounts to a series of exhibitions against teams with rosters made up of guys that weren’t good enough to get to the league.

And that’s before we even get to the idea that any McDonald’s All-American will even want to join up with this team. What sounds more appealing: Playing scrimmages against European teams in empty arenas or spending seven months as a God on a college campus, banking (tax-free!!!) the Ricky Roe duffel bags and handouts from boosters, agents and shoe companies that no one ever wants to admit?

All of this is a long-winded way of saying I can’t picture this idea working.