Like us to subscribe
The NBA Board of Governors on Thursday ratified a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement, clearing the way for the official end of the 2011 lockout. Commissioner David Stern told reporters that the owners voted 25-5 to approve the deal.
Earlier on Thursday, players had ratified the deal by a wide margin, though fewer than half of the union membership elected to vote.
The ratification clears the way for free agency to officially begin at 2 p.m. ET on Friday. Chortles are encouraged, given that half the league has been reported to have handshake deals with specific dollar amounts attached with free agents already, and trades -- including one for a certain Chris Paul -- have already been agreed to.
Training camps will also open on Friday. Preseason games begin in a little over a week. Basketball is back, everybody. Embrace a fan near you and enjoy. (Enjoy it a little more if you're a fan of the L.A. Lakers.)
We are just baby steps away from the NBA lockout officially ending and a new collective bargaining agreement being approved by both sides. The NBA players have reformed as a union and have voted to approve the new CBA, according to a report by CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
NBA players on Thursday approved a new collective bargaining agreement in electronic voting, paving the way for owners to formally ratify the deal and open training camps and the free-agency period, two people familiar with the results told CBSSports.com.
The owners are also expected to finalize a new revenue-sharing plan shortly, according to Berger. The major parts of the new CBA had been approved a while ago, with only a few procedural and B-list items left to resolve this week. Evidently, they have been resolved.
NBA training camps will open on Friday, and the official date for the start of free agency is Friday as well, though teams have been making offers to players already.
The minimum age for players seeking to enter the NBA Draft will not rise as a result of the NBA lockout deal crafted by negotiators from the players' union and league over the last two weeks, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. The age minimum will remain at 19 years old and one year removed from high school, as it has been since 2006.
Berger also reports that teams can now assign their own players with three or fewer years in the NBA to their D-League affiliate; assignment had been to players in the first two seasons previously. In addition, veterans will have the opportunity to be assigned to the D-League for injury rehab, though it must be a mutual decision between the team and player.
The age minimum decision is good news for fans of bad teams, as the 2012 draft could be absolutely loaded if a few top freshmen and the best sophomores declare.
In a surprise move, the NBA announced on Tuesday that while free agency won't begin until December 9, teams can begin talks with agents about free agent players beginning on Wednesday. The league that no deals can be offered or accepted -- even verbally -- until December 9, but that communication can begin.
It's unorthodox by NBA standards. In a normal NBA offseason, teams cannot have conversations with agents of free agent players from other teams until the stroke of midnight on July 1, the traditional start of free agency. By the time that the sun rises on July 1, there are usually a couple of verbal deals wrapped up.
How strictly the NBA will monitor its "no verbal offer or deal" rule remains to be seen. In practice, it might really just end up as a gag order on team execs and agents who reach quiet deals that will surely leak out, as all deals do.
The NBA also announced that team facilities will be opened on Thursday for voluntary camps.
Billy Hunter sent a memo to players on Monday outlining the good points of the NBA lockout deal reached Saturday, reports SI.com's Sam Amick. (The memo was, in fact, longer than two paragraphs.) In the memo, which Amick made available online, Hunter outlines the path toward ratification of the deal, which includes finalization of the lawsuit settlement agreement, re-authorization for the union to represent players in collective bargaining and negotiation of the smaller CBA issues like the age minimum and drug testing. Hunter said that ratification could come next week.
With free agency and the start of training camps scheduled for December 9, time is of the essence.
Hunter notes that players' aggregate salary will grow by $100 million per season beginning next year, and says that projections have the luxury tax threshold rising to $90 million by 2016-17. (I'm sure the Milwaukee Bucks are thrilled to hear it.) Hunter also says that the league's revenue sharing plan will be memorialized in an agreement with players for the first time.
The NBA lockout rumbled in like a cataclysm and ended with the soft purring of a contented cat. We will never ever ever ever miss it, but why did it end when it did?
Not all teams will see the same results from the NBA lockout deal reached on Saturday. To help ascertain what the future holds, we have broken it down team by team. Spoiler alert: the Clippers will probably still suck.
The NBA schedule will be released within days, and it's unlikely it will at all resemble the version that the league presented in August. Cutting 18 games from every team will tend to do that.
In the interim, the league has announced what form that schedule will take, confirming reports from the New York Times Sunday that indicated the NBA would shrink the interconference slate in favor of more games against in-conference opponents.
The NBA says that teams will play out-of-conference opponents at least once each, with three teams getting a second meeting. Of the other 12 out-of-conference opponents, six will be faced at home and six on the road. Given the NBA's strong home-court advantage, this could be a real impact in the standings.
The other 48 games will be played within the conference. There are six teams who will share four meetings with any given team, and the other eight with play three-game sets.
The NBA also says that the playoffs will begin on April 28, and that there could be one back-to-back per series in the second round.
The NBA lockout lasted 149 days and featured tons of twists, turns and ridiculous behavior by all involved. Before we move forward, let's take one more look back.
The NBA's amnesty clause includes a mechanism under which teams with cap space can bid on waived players' contracts.
The NBA schedule for the 2011-12 season will feature a few back-to-back-to-backs and fewer interconference games.
The NBA lockout is over, but questions remain. In fact, there are 20 questions that we must answer right now, because failing to do so will leave holes in our hearts where Vince Carter used to live.
A decision on whether to increase the NBA's age minimum could be put off, preserving the quality of the 2012 NBA Draft, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. The age minimum was among the so-called B-list items to be agreed upon as a part of an NBA lockout deal. The league is believed to prefer an age-20 minimum, increased from the current age-19 rule implemented in 2005.
Wojnarowski reports that the league could create a joint committee with members of the players' camp to study the issue in the coming year and make a decision that would affect the 2013 draft. That would mean that star freshmen like Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Austin Rivers would remain eligible to enter the draft in 2012, joining Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger and John Henson at the top.
Since the age minimum was instituted in 2005, there has not been a discernible decrease in the rate of busts near the top of the draft.
The most punitive measures created by the NBA lockout to tamp down high team payrolls won't come into effect until 2013, according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
The scribe reports that the deal approved by players and league officials Saturday morning delays the onset of the more punitive luxury tax schedule, the repeater tax and the restriction on sign-and-trade deals for teams over the tax threshold until after the next two seasons. That means that teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics won't face bills any larger than they've taken in the past in 2012 or 2013.
The one major change that will restrict those teams' ability to spend in the immediate is a restriction on the use of the full mid-level exception. Those teams will be forced to use a smaller mid-level exception tailored for luxury tax teams unless they drop to within $1 million of the threshold.
Berger's story has additional details on the deal, and is well worth a read.
Under the NBA lockout deal reached Saturday morning, players with six or fewer years of service in the league can sign contracts with a maximum first-year salary equal to 25 percent of the salary cap, or roughly $14.5 million for the 2011-12 season. But if that player has already made the All-Star or All-NBA team, he can sign a deal that pays him 30 percent in the first year of his second contract, which is also the max for players with more than six seasons of service.
This will affect young players signing their second contracts, usually following their third seasons. (This contracts go into effect after the players' fourth season.) In the immediate, it will come into play for Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, each of whom have finished three seasons and have All-Star appearances on their resumes.
Under the old rules and assuming the salary cap, as reported, remains static at $58 million, those players should be able to sign extensions starting at $17.4 million. By contrast, Kevin Durant last year signed a deal that this year will pay him $14.5 million. Westbrook (a year behind Durant in service) making more than the two-time reigning scoring champ should go over well in Oklahoma City.
UPDATE: Westbrook might actually not be affected by this, as the deal apparently restricts the so-called bonus pool to players who have achieved two All-NBA bids, two All-Star starting nods or an MVP award. Of players up for rookie extensions this summer, only Rose would be affected.
Teams will now have three days to match offer sheets signed by their restricted free agents under the NBA lockout deal tentatively reached early Saturday, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski.
In the old collective bargaining agreement, teams had one week to match offer sheets. In the meantime, the team with which the player signed an offer sheet had the cap space used in the offer locked up in a cap hold. This created a bit of a hostage situation where the players' original team could string out the process for seven days, disallowing the offering team from making other major moves in the interim.
With the shorter window, more frequent and lucrative offer sheets are expected as teams won't be afraid of losing precious time with cap holds. That will mean even more this season, as free agency will begin on December 9 with the season slated to begin on December 25.
In the last public NBA lockout deal proposal presented by the league, the minimum team salary rose from 75 percent of the salary cap to 85 percent for the 2011-12 season and 90 percent in 2012-13 and beyond. Reports suggest that has remained in place in the final deal reached Saturday morning.
The minimum team payroll in 2010-11 was $45 million; only one team, the Sacramento Kings, flirted with it. (It's widely held that a midseason trade for injured Marquis Daniels got the team over the minimum salary threshold, but the league uses total salary paid as the mechanism to determine whether a team violates the rule. The team was over the threshold before trading Carl Landry for Marcus Thornton in February -- before the Daniels deal -- and would have paid out just more than $45 million on the season before taking on Daniels.)
The Kings and other teams with low payrolls heading into the 2011-12 season, including the Indiana Pacers and L.A. Clippers, are expected to easily exceed the minimum. If they don't, teams are forced to split the deficit among players under contract. It's not known whether the new lockout deal added penalties to teams under the minimum payroll threshold.
As a result of Saturday's NBA lockout deal, the salary cap for the 2011-12 season will remain flat instead of decreasing substantially. That compromise was present in the NBA's last public proposal on November 10. In the new deal, the players' aggregate salary -- which determines the salary cap level -- will drop to 49-51 percent from 57 percent of the league's revenue. That would have dropped the salary cap 12 percent, to roughly $51 million. But the compromise keeps the $58 million cap for the 2011-12 season and possibly the 2012-13 season.
Salaries will, of course, be pro-rated to adjust for the shortened season. The NBA will play a 66-game season, dropping 20 percent of the regular season schedule. As such, actual salary paid out will be about 20 percent less than the cap figures would amount to.
Expect the pro-rated figures to be highly confusing once free agency begins on December 9 as reporters sort out just how rich new contracts are given the shortened season.
A NBA lockout deal has been reached, but team officials can't exactly reach out to their players just yet. ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that communication rules established by the league remain in effect for at least the next few days as a lawsuit settlement is finalized. Team personnel have been forbidden from contacting players since July 1, when the NBA instituted the lockout.
The league has allowed some exceptions, for instance allowing coaches and team employees to attend player weddings when cleared in advance. But team employees have been shut out of the exhibition games played all over the country, and front offices have been unable to keep tabs on players' workout plans and nutrition. (Shawn Kemp famously came back from the 1999 lockout overweight; that worry no doubt weighs on some executives.)
Bucher said the restrictions will be released in the next couple days, and free agency is expected to start December 9.
One of the biggest issues holding up an NBA lockout deal over the past few weeks was whether teams over the luxury tax threshold would be able to use the full mid-level exception to sign free agents and round out their rosters. Zach Lowe of SI.com reports that a compromise was reached, leading to the deal agreed to early Saturday morning.
Under the compromise, teams over the salary cap can use the full mid-level exception -- worth a starting salary of $5 million and a maximum term of four years -- so long as it does not take the team more than $4 million above the luxury tax threshold (which is roughly 20 percent higher than the salary cap). If the mid-level would take the team over the tax line,, the team will not be allowed to re-sign its own free agents using Bird rights.
That will force high-payroll teams knocking on the tax threshold's door to make tough decisions when in the past they could just sign everybody and sort it out later. The team this will most obviously effect immediate is the Dallas Mavericks, who have to sign Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea, but in doing so will have to use the mini mid-level (starting salary of $3 million, maximum length of three years) instead of the full version.
The NBA lockout ended early Saturday morning with a tentative deal. We have a rundown of what's to come in the weeks and months ahead.
Among the myriad "minor issues" still to be negotiated as a part of the NBA lockout, the players and owners must decide whether to alter the draft age minimum. In the 2005 deal, the league implemented a requirement that players must be one year removed from high school and 19 years old to be eligible for the draft. It was been widely reported that the NBA sought to boost those requirements to two years out of high school and 20 years old in a new collective bargaining agreement.
But the lockout negotiations have largely dealt with economic and player movement issues, with none of what David Stern has called the "B-list items" able to make or break a deal. If the owners do implement a higher age minimum, they would likely concede another issue to the players in a bit of horse-trading.
CBS' Jeff Goodman reports that a decision on the age minimum could come down on Saturday.
The higher age minimum would end the one-and-done phenomenon in college basketball, and could end up spurring more players to Europe or the D-League, where they can get paid (legally). D-League issues are also being discussed as the tentative deal to end the lockout becomes finalized; previous proposals gave teams the ability to send players to the D-League on a lower salary, but it's highly unlikely players will concede to something like that.
The so-called Carmelo Anthony Rule did not survive in the NBA lockout deal. That means that teams over the salary cap can trade for 2012 free agents like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul and maintain the ability to re-sign them next year.
In the deal that ended the 2011 NBA Lockout, it was the league who conceded on several sticking points to get a handshake, reports Chris Sheridan.
Sheridan, who is the editor of SheridanHoops.com and was a longtime scribe for the Associated Press and ESPN.com, reports that owners softened their positions on the maximum length of the mid-level exception (which will now be four years), the use of sign-and-trade deals by luxury tax teams and the ban on trade-and-extend deals for players approaching their final season on a contract (also known as the Carmelo Anthony rule).
We still don't know exactly what happened to the dispute over use of the full mid-level exception for teams over the luxury tax line, which seemed to be one of the bigger sticking points in the final negotiations. The way the escrow mechanism will work is also still unknown.
Wondering why there are no details yet from the deal that eventually ended the NBA lockout after 149 days? That'd be because the league and players are purposefully keeping them under wraps while lawyers from each side work out a settlement to the players' anti-trust lawsuit against owners. At that point, the National Basketball Players Association will be reformed and the collective bargaining agreement will be ratified.
Somewhere in there, the details will spring out. We already know that players agreed to a revenue split centered on 50 percent -- that means that players' aggregate salaries will be 50 percent of the league's basketball-related income. In the old deal, that figure was 57 percent. The actual mechanics of how the split will be determined remains unknown; a 49-51 band has been discussed in the past, which would allow players to earn a bigger aggregate figure if the league's revenue exceeds projections.
The last days of the lockout have been spent fighting over specific salary cap system issues. It remains unclear how those were resolved, though players' union VP Roger Mason told SI.com's Sam Amick that the "owners rectified" the players' specific issues. Those issues included use of the full mid-level exception for teams over the luxury tax threshold and the amount of salary to be withheld in escrow to assure that the aggregate players' salary level is not exceeded.
The NBA lockout is over, and no one is eager to do this again. The next labor stoppage could be determined by the length of the new collective bargaining agreement. As of now, that remains under wraps. We do, however, have some indications based on the previous set of negotiations as to where the endpoint will land.
The league had been pushing for a 10-year deal taking the league up to 2022. The belief is that with growing revenue and the expected windfall from a new national TV deal in 2016, the concessions won in this deal will allow the league to reach profitability soon and carry it through.
But the players are also looking lustily at that new TV deal, and suspect that if the league were currently getting full market value for its ad inventory, owners wouldn't have been able to claim losses in 2011. So the players want the opportunity to reset the revenue split in 2016, when a new TV deal comes in. The chances of the owners ever moving back toward players from the 50-50 revenue split that is apparently a part of this deal are remarkably small, in my opinion. But nevertheless, the players had pushed for an opt-out after six years, or in 2018. The league would be expected to want a mutual opt-out there, just in case the TV deal disappoints.
So the next NBA lockout could be as soon as 2018, 2022 or never. I'll bet on the first date.
With the NBA lockout over as the players and owners reached a tentative agreement early Saturday morning, the focus shifts to the actual season. The first step of that: free agency, with a crunched period expected to start December 9.
It'll take until then to wrap up the myriad legal issues and get ratification of the deal from both sides. At that point, with new league salary rules in place, the long-suffering free agents of 2011 can hit the market. The class is led by David West, Nene, Marc Gasol ands Tyson Chandler. Wings including Marcus Thornton, Thaddeus Young and Jamal Crawford will also be up for grabs.
Back in June, Mike Prada put together our 2011 Free Agent preview. It remains totally relevant, except that players who signed in China during the lockout -- including J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin -- will not be allowed to leave their teams until the season ends. Most expect Smith at the very least will find a way out of his deal and back onto the NBA market.
Also, don't forget that there will likely be an amnesty clause in this deal, one which allows teams to clear cap space by cutting players. Those players will become free agents; some, like Brandon Roy (if he's cut), will become very popular free agents and much lower price points.
Assuming everything goes according to plan from here, the end of the NBA lockout will mean that a 66-game season will begin on December 25, Christmas Day. The old 2011-12 schedule had three games scheduled for Christmas: Celtics vs. Knicks, Heat vs. Mavericks in an NBA Finals rematch and Bulls vs. Lakers. NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that the triple-header would survive in a new schedule, though no one would be surprised to see the league add another game or two to make it a full day (and night) affair.
How the rest of the 66-game slate will play out remains a mystery. One can assume the league prefers to have every team play every other team twice -- those bumps in Indianapolis from a Lakers' visit are worthy quite a bit. So a home-and-home with every team accounts for 58 games, leaving eight on the table.
That would allow for two additional games against division foes, or one more against division foes and one against teams from another division in the same conference.
The post has been corrected.
Derek Fisher is putting faith in reason at the NBA lockout bargaining table. That has traditionally been a terrible idea. Fisher's naivety speaks to the players' lack of respect for the owners' complete lack of a conscience.
The NBA lockout negotiations are continuing through the weekend, with Players Association president Derek Fisher back in the fold, and many are once again predicting that the end of the work stoppage is near. The players have decided, though, that they want to see more changes before agreeing to a deal that would allow them to play basketball on Christmas.
Along with Fisher, the players will bring attorney Jeffrey Kessler -- either by phone or in-person, according to Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe -- and a handful of proposals that would allow them to feel more comfortable about accepting any sort of deal, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.
Broussard tweeted on Thursday evening that the players want full four-year mid-level exceptions available to them each season, an increase in the "mini-midlevel contract" for teams above the salary cap, sign and trade deals available to all teams, higher qualifying offers for restricted free agents and the ability for maximum contracts to be worth 30 percent of the salary cap -- not 25 percent, and currently planned.
In addition to that, the players would also prefer a 10 percent cap on the escrow system and fewer penalties for teams that continue to operate in the luxury tax, an ask that basically further eliminates the idea of the "hard cap" that has been intermittently discussed.
It seems like the players are expecting quite a bit to change on Friday, according to Broussard's tweets, but the majority of these concessions have been sticking points through the last few negotiating sessions.
The NBA lockout is headed toward its latest doomsday weekend as the Christmas games are expected to be canceled if a settlement can't be reached between the players and owners before Monday morning. The players apparently believe that a deal is close, however, as they have made the risky move of bring Derek Fisher back into the fold at the negotiating table.
Fisher, the president of the Players Association, hadn't been involved in the talks earlier this week to preserve the sanctity of the antitrust lawsuit filed last week. The pending deal has brought him back, however, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
His appearance in this week's negotiations - along with that of several other key Players Association officials - figures to run the risk of validating the league's charges that the disbanding of the union was a "sham" negotiating tactic. Nevertheless, the belief that the end of the five-month lockout is within reach this weekend inspired Fisher to make the risky move to join the talks.
One other familiar face will be involved on Friday, too, after sitting the last couple of sessions out. Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe reports that union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler will be involved in talks, either via phone or in person, after previous sources said otherwise.
NBA lockout talks have restarted for what seems like the 2,000th time as the league tries to save its season in time to play games on Christmas. But the players' side of the negotiating table has some new faces, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times.
Because of legal issues, the L.A. Lakers' Derek Fisher is not participating. Because of personality issues, Jeffrey Kessler has been replaced at the table by Jim Quinn, a former union counsel who helped broker the deal that ended the 1999 lockout. David Stern and Billy Hunter are believed to still be leading the charge, but other lawyers including Jonathan Schiller and David Boies have entered on the players' side.
Beck reported Wednesday that if a deal can be reached this weekend, a 66-game season would start December 25. That would result in the playoffs and NBA Finals being pushed back about a week; the Finals would then end in the third week of June at the latest, with the NBA Draft a week later, free agency beginning a week after that, and 2012 Olympics' preparations beginning almost immediately for a number of the league's players and coaches.
If an NBA lockout deal can be reached this week to preserve the league's traditional Christmas slate, the 2011-12 will include 66 games per team, reports the New York Times' Howard Beck.
NBA commissioner David Stern pitched a 72-game season starting on December 15 if players would accept the owners' proposal a week ago. Instead, players held out over salary cap system issues, dissolved their union and filed anti-trust litigation.
But secret talks were rekindled on Tuesday, according to reports, with the hopes that a deal could save pro basketball in 2011 and also leave the league's ratings bonanza that is Christmas Day in tact. Having a five-game slate on Christmas that doubles as opening day for the league could inject some momentum into the season after the PR disaster that has been the lockout.
This is all still predicated on the two sides being reasonable and making a pact, items that have thus far eluded those involved.
David Stern is quietly surveying a number of owners to see whether there's an appetite to concede limitations on the use of the full mid-level exception by luxury tax teams in a potential NBA lockout deal, reports ESPN's Marc Stein. The league's proposal to make a smaller mid-level exception available to taxpayers is one of the sticking points holding up a new collective bargaining agreement with players.
Multiple outlets, led by Yahoo! Sports and the New York Times, reported on Wednesday that the two sides are again talking about a potential deal. Reaching a handshake agreement by Friday would seem to allow enough time to handle the formalities, a free agency period and an abbreviated training camp before games slated for Christmas Day, December 25.
The NBA's multi-game slate on Christmas typically draws some of the highest ratings of the regular season for the league's network partners TNT, ABC and ESPN.
The latest publicly known NBA proposal included a mini mid-level for teams over the tax threshold starting at $3 million per season with a maximum term of three years. The sides have negotiated the full mid-level, available to all teams over the cap but under the tax line, to a starting salary of $5 million and alternating maximum terms of 3-4 years. (You could not give full four-year mid-level exception contracts in consecutive years, in other words.)
NBA lockout talks have indeed quietly restarted, confirms the New York Times' Howard Beck. The scribe reports that lawyers from the two sides began negotiations on a settlement to an anti-trust lawsuit on Tuesday; that suit was filed a week ago and updated this week as players consolidated two separate filings in the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Beck reports that the lawsuit must be settled before the players' union can reform to approve any deal to end the lockout. Time is of the essence given that additional hurdle and the ticking clock toward a dropdead date to get a deal in time to preserve the league's precious Christmas schedule.
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report on the rekindled talks. He also reported that Derek Fisher, who led the National Basketball Players Association before it disclaimed interest in representing players last week, is not involved in the talks.
NBA lockout talks picked back up on Tuesday after an idle 10 days, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. Representatives from the players' side and league got together outside the view of the media on Tuesday and were expected to meet again Wednesday with hopes of reaching a deal before NBA commissioner David Stern was forced to kill the traditional Christmas Day slate of games.
Stern has said the league needs 30 days from handshake to tip-off, making Friday the apparent deadline to get a deal and preserve the Christmas schedule. The league has already cancelled games through December 15; there is little chance (if any) that there will be even 70 games per team on the schedule if a deal is reached this week.
On November 14, the players' union's leadership rejected the league's latest offer and, instead of seeking further negotiations before escalating the fight, disclaimed interest in representing players, clearing the way for anti-trust litigation against the league.
Competitive balance is almost certainly a fleeting unicorn in NBA lockout talks, but the league can achieve a stronger pay-for-production paradigm. Why isn't David Stern selling fans on that aspect?
Jim Quinn, a former general counsel for the National Basketball Players Association who helped craft the deal to end the 1999 NBA lockout, has talked to both commissioner David Stern and players' lead Billy Hunter in recent days, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. Quinn is seen as a dealmaker whose deep relationships with just about everyone involved could help grease the wheels for an agreement.
But Quinn isn't helping yet; negotiations remain idle, which they have been since players rejected the NBA's latest offer a week ago, disbanded its union and filed anti-trust litigation. Neither side has seemed willing to call the other party to restart negotiations with an eye on saving the Christmas Day slate of games, which will be impossible without a deal by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.
Quinn's relationship with Stern goes as far back as Oscar Robertson's anti-trust suit against the NBA, settled in 1976. Quinn worked for the union during Hunter's first few years as its director.
George Shinn, the last NBA lockout and arena politics inherent in small markets conspired to kill Charlotte as an NBA market by 2001. To resuscitate the Queen City, Michael Jordan needs to get what he wants.
Players have consolidated their two NBA lockout lawsuits in the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, the trade association's lawyer David Boies announced on Monday. The move involved withdrawing the players' Ninth Circuit anti-trust and filing an amended lawsuit in the Eighth. The Ninth Circuit (California) had been seen as potentially more useful for players, but Boies cited a slimmer docket in Minnesota, where the Eighth Circuit suit will be heard, as a rationale.
The league has until December 5 to respond to the players' claims. It is pretty clear in what form that response will take; in August, the league sued players and the players' association in an attempt to prevent dissolution of the union, arguing that it was a "sham." There has been little movement on that case, which is being heard in the Second Circuit.
Just after Boies' announcement, the NBA released a short statement from general counsel Rick Buchanan alleging that the players had been illegitimately shopping for a favorable district court judge. After the statement was released, Boies told reporters that the terse response was an indication of why he won't be picking up the phone and calling the owners to negotiate.
In an open letter published by the New York Times, longtime director of the NBA Coaches Association Michael H. Goldberg pleas for the owners and players to re-open NBA lockout negotiations.
"The upcoming NBA season must be saved," Goldberg wrote. "To do otherwise will cause a self-inflicted economic blow to an enterprise that over the years through the hard work of players, team owners and the League Office has become a great global brand, but, like every business operating in today's fragile economic landscape, one that is more susceptible to 'decline and fall.'"
Goldberg has led the association for 35 years, and was previously in a leadership role with the ABA. NBA coaches are not unionized, and there are really no leaguewide restrictions on coaches' pay or contract terms. As such, coaches don't face the same sort of labor battles as players and unionized referees.
Players' lawyers have indicated a desire to restart negotiations with the owners after the union was dissolved last week. Reports suggest owners are in no hurry to engage players after the blow-up.
Who loves this game? Well, only one side is providing basketball during the NBA lockout. You figure it out.
Officials with the league and players' camp are eager to resume NBA lockout negotiations in hopes of saving the Christmas slate of games, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. There are financial incentives to start the season no later than the NBA's big holiday, and Berger reports that the NBA believes it to be not viable to start the season after Christmas, as it did in 1999.
On paper, the two sides are not far apart. The players have gone as far as a 50-50 revenue split, but only with the condition that the NBA concedes on a few key salary cap system issues. The league wouldn't do so in the last set of talks, instead presenting the union with a take-it-or-leave-it offer and a deadline. In response, the union dissolved and players served two separate anti-trust lawsuits.
NBA commissioner David Stern has said that the league needs 30 days from handshake to tip-off, which means that to save the Christmas games, we need a deal by two days after Thanksgiving, or in the next week.
The NBA lockout still rages on, but we have a preliminary assessment of the winners and losers of the stoppage. As usual, Michael Jordan reigns.
Don't understand why NBA players make so much danged money? Let the NBA Money Cycle (and its half-wit cousin the NBA Lockout Money Quasi-Cycle) explain.
The owners' NBA lockout conference call on Thursday wasn't a robust strategy session after all, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard. The scribe reports that the call lasted roughly 20 minutes and served only to update the owners on the current state of the 140-day-old labor stoppage that has cost hundreds of games and hundreds of millions of dollars to players and teams alike.
There are no bargaining sessions scheduled after players rejected the league's latest offer, which included a 50-50 split of revenue (to which the players had acceded) but salary cap restraints that players felt were too restrictive and would damage player movement. As a result of the breakdown in negotiations, the players' union's leadership opted to dissolve, opening the gates for two anti-trust lawsuits against the league. No action on those lawsuits is expected for months, making the negotiating table the only realistic path back to the hardwood this season.
Once the three active NBA lockout lawsuits are consolidated, in which of three U.S. circuit courts the case ends up in could have a significant impact on whether the league or players receives favorable decisions, according to Marc Edelman of Sports Law Blog.
The NBA filed its preemptive strike seeking to block the players' union's disclaimer of interest in the Second Circuit back in August. The players filed two separate suits earlier this week, one in the Eighth Circuit and one in the Ninth Circuit. According to Edelman, the Eighth and Ninth Circuit courts have consistently held to a strict definition when determining whether a company should be considered to be exempt from anti-trust law. The Second Circuit, on the other hand, has been looser in handing out the designation.
On the matter of determining whether overseas options dilute the NBA's market power -- a result in the affirmative of which would hurt the players' case -- Edelman reports that the Ninth Circuit would seem to favor the league, based on a previous soccer case.
It could be months before a venue is chosen for the consolidated lawsuit.
This NBA lockout is nothing like the last one. This time, the rank-and-file are bloody rich, the stars are ready for revolution and David Stern is about to get a taste of his own medicine.
Now that NBA players have filed multiple antitrust lawsuits against the NBA, commissioner David Stern has asked the owners to participate in a conference call on Thursday to discuss their next steps in the lockout, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The call had been scheduled earlier in the week by the NBA’s labor relations committee.
David Stern has said that he is in a rush to initiate contact with the players’ attorneys following the lawsuits.
The NBA players filed an antitrust complaint against the NBA in Minnesota as well as one in Northern California Tuesday evening. According to players' attorney David Boies, the suits were filed as a result of the owners "overplaying their hand" in negotiations that ended with a 50-50 split on basketball-related revenues. The players had rejected that offer.
You can download a copy of the PDF of the California filing here and you can download a PDF of the antitrust suit filed in Minnesota here.
On the heels of filing an antitrust lawsuit against the National Basketball Association in the state of Minnesota, NBA players have filed a second antitrust lawsuit against the league, this time in northern California.
Newly hired player's attorney David Boies, who represented the National Football League during that sport's lockout, lays the blame at the feet of Commissioner David Stern of the owners, who declined to accept the players' willingness to take a lower percentage of revenue in their latest proposal.
"By overplaying their hand, by pushing the players beyond any line of reasonableness, I think they caused this," Boies told the Associated Press. "You don’t give up hundreds of millions of dollars unless you want to make a deal and that’s what the players were doing
"I think it was mistake to push it as far as they (the owners) did."
Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe and Kawhi Leonard are named plaintiffs in the California suit. Leonard was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.
You can download a copy of the PDF of the California filing here.
The NBA players have filed an antitrust complaint against the NBA in Minnesota and have plans to file another complaint in Northern California Tuesday evening.
The first antitrust suit was filed in Minneapolis, a place where NFL players had some measure of success in similar court proceedings this summer during their lockout.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver, Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, free agent forward Caron Butler and Minnesota draft pick Derrick Williams are listed as plaintiffs in the Minnesota case.
According to attorney David Boies, the players will not seek a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout but instead will use the complaints as an attempt to restore competitive free-market conditions.
The plaintiffs argue that the lockout "constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act" and that the owners' final offer for a new CBA would have "wiped out the competitive market for most NBA players."
Says Boies, "We hope it's not necessary to go to trial."
Update: You can download a PDF of the antitrust suit filed in Minnesota here.
The NBA Players Association's decision to reject the league's most recent proposal to end the NBA lockout has sent the league, owners and players into a "nuclear winter." The deal that was left on the table by the players offered a 50-50 split in basketball related revenue.
Now, 10 NBA team owners have sent a letter to commissioner David Stern encouraging him to offer much less the next time an offer is extended.
Owners for Indiana, Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Portland and Sacramento said in the letter that they feel that a 50-50 revenue split represents a bad deal for the owners.
Each percentage point is said to be worth approximately $40 million annually. In the agreement that expired following the 2010-11 season, the players received 57 percent of basketball related revenue.
The revelation of this letter shows that this is more than just a two-sided fight. Each side has its own factions that demand to be appeased. Just in case you didn't already think things looked bleak.
The NBA Players Association has already announced its intentions to file for a disclaimer of interest and challenge the NBA lockout in court, but that may not be the only lawsuit the group files. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that those involved in the process are still pushing for the players to formally decertify as a union.
The two measures are similar, but there are some key differences that were spelled out here. According to Berger, those involved in the decertification process believe it will send a stronger statement that the move is not simply a negotiating tactic.
The agents believe that a statement from far more than the 30 percent of players required to initiate a vote ousting the union leadership will help the union's argument in federal court that the disclaimer of interest was a last resort and not a negotiating tactic or a "sham."
In addition, Berger reports that the players may file separate lawsuits for veterans under contract and for rookies and free agents. This is a similar path to what the NFL Players Association took when it filed for decertification.
Finally, Berger reports that if the players are to win a summary judgment, they could achieve over $2.4 billion in damages. That seems unlikely, but it still has to scare the owners a bit.
In what is mostly a formality at this point, the NBA has informed teams that all games up until December 15 have been cancelled, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Team executives got the memo earlier Tuesday.
That would technically mean the NBA lockout has yet to claim any games from the owners' proposed 72-game schedule, which was rejected when the NBA Players Association elected to disclaim interest to challenge the lockout in court. However, it only seems like a matter of time until those games go as well.
David Stern has previously suggested that cancellations will be dictated by the calendar and that the league will need 30 days to launch a season once a deal is reached. With this being November 15, and with the two sides seemingly further apart from an agreement than ever, we can probably expect even more cancellations to be announced in the coming days and weeks.
As the NBA Players Association voted to disband on Monday, David Stern told America that the NBA has entered into a 'nuclear winter.' But if they put the 2011-12 season in serious jeopardy, it's simply because the players had no other choice.
NBA commissioner David Stern has issued a statement on the NBA Players' Association's decision to file for a "disclaimer of interest" in order to challenge the legality of the NBA lockout in court. Stern expressed disappointment that the NBPA did not accept the league's last proposal and warned that the entire season could be in peril.
"The NBA has negotiated in good faith throughout the collective bargaining process, but -- because our revised bargaining proposal was not to its liking -- the union has decided to make good on [union counsel] Mr. [Jeffrey] Kessler's threat.
"There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy."
The remarks are far less pointed than the ones he made on SportsCenter earlier Monday, but they have a similar effect. Either way, the lockout is in the hands of the courts, and very few people can reasonably guess how long that process will take.
Monday afternoon, the NBA players association announced they have filed a "disclaimer of interest" that will allow them to dissolve the players union and file class-action anti-trust litigation against the NBA. And after a few predictable months of lockout negotiations, Monday's news is the wild card that we've feared all along. So what does it mean?
Well, for one thing, the 12-hour meetings between Bill Hunter's NBA Players Association and David Stern's NBA owners are now a thing of the past. You will see less of Billy Hunter in the coming weeks, and more of the players' star litigators--Jeffery Kessler, and David Boies.
The reason so many observers have called this "the nuclear option" for NBA players is that it grinds any CBA progress to a screeching halt. There is no more gap to bridge; after inching closer and closer over the past few months, "disclaiming interest" and decertifying the players' union means that the players have retreated from the bargaining table completely. Now they'll regroup and attack the NBA with litigation that will take months for courts to process.
In other words, today's news means that hope for a season in 2011-2012 is suddenly far-fetched. Instead, the negotiations will move from hotel conference rooms to court rooms.
Is there a difference between decertification and disclaiming interest? Yes. As Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann explained last week: Decertification is not an immediate event, nor is it instantly reversible. Instead, it normally requires recognition by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency that regulates union-management activities. In the alternative, players could seek a disclaimer of interest, which is a similar but swifter and more retractable step and refers to the players' association disclaiming interest in representing players." In other words, the latter option allows players to sue instantly, but is less permanent, and more likely to be looked upon as a bargaining tactic.
Do the players have a case? Possibly. In court, the players could challenge the league's suspicious financial statements, the NBA's fixed salary system, and generally, a compelling anti-trust suit would force NBA owners to risk losing billions in damages--if found liable, they would have to pay any player salaries owed during the lockout--if they allow it to go to trial. The hope for the players is that owners would be compelled to compromise on a fair deal as opposed to risking billions.
What will the owners argue? The owners will contend that there are numerous professional basketball leagues to choose from abroad, undercutting the players' claims of the NBA's monopoly. Likewise, the league has already filed preemptive complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, complaining that disclaiming interest is merely a bargaining tactic meant to stall negotiations. And as recently as this weekend, David Stern threatened to nullify all existing player contracts if the players try to sue the league.
How long would it take to decide? On its own, an anti-trust suit could take more than a year to decide. Coupled with the complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board, it could take even longer. If the suit gets to court, there's a chance it could threaten next season, too.
The only silver-lining is that as the process plays out, neither side is forbidden from negotiating the framework of a collective bargaining agreement, and depending on how the process plays out, it could compel one or both sides back to the bargaining table to settle their differences. But as far as that process... How it plays out depends on judge assignments, court rulings, and any number of other factors that are impossible to predict on Monday afternoon.
After months of predictable back-and-forth, the owners have stubbornly refused to compromise, and the players have opted to take their chances with chaos rather than caving to the NBA's demands.
NBA commissioner David Stern went on SportsCenter to respond to the NBA Players Association's decision to reject the league's most recent proposal to end the NBA lockout. Using strong language, Stern said the days of "the nuclear winter of the NBA" were upon us and suggested the NBPA was given bad advice in deciding to file a disclaimer of interest to challenge the league in court.
"Frankly, by this irresponsible action at this late date, [NBPA Executive Director] Billy Hunter has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday," Stern said.
Stern's rhetoric was strong as he said the union simply is using this as a negotiating tactic. He referred to the possibility of the entire season slipping away as a "tragedy" and said Hunter and the players are "hellbent on self-destruction" and making an "irresponsible" decision.
"If i were a player, one of the 450, i would be wondering what it is Billy Hunter just did," he said.
Stern said the league felt the NBPA was preparing to do this for a while, which is why they filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. In an especially ominous quote, Stern said this means there will be "years of litigation." Finally, at the end of the interview, he apologized to fans before pointing the finger back at the NBPA.
"I'm sorry," Stern said. "I wish the union hadn't done this, but it's their choice. Their timing is not very good and their rhetoric is very humorous in terms of the magic trick that will improve their negotiating position."
The NBA Players Association has announced its intention to file a disclaimer of interest, essentially announcing it will decertify and file an anti-trust lawsuit against the league instead of accepting the league's proposed deal and continuing the NBA lockout. The news comes after all 30 player team representatives and a number of other players met on Monday to address the NBA's most recent proposal, which is outlined here.
"We're prepared to file this anti-trust action against the NBA. We think that's the best situation for the players to achieve and get their due process," NBPA head Billy Hunter said, via NBATV.
Hunter said the players have "negotiated in good faith for over two years" and felt "they've given enough." He added that the disclaimer of interest will be filed in the next two days. The move allows the players to file the anti-trust lawsuit questioning the legality of the lockout.
NBPA president Derek Fisher said the decision was unanimous.
"A lot of individual players have a lot of things at stake in their careers and where they stand, so we feel its important to all our players ... that we not only try to get a deal done for today, but also for the body of players who will come into this league for this decade and beyond," Fisher said.
The league had previously imposed a deadline for when its offer would become more punitive. It remains to be seen what happens with that offer.
NBA commissioner David Stern sent a memo directly to NBA players on Sunday night, urging them to accept the owners' most recent proposal and have the 2011-12 season begin. The memo attempted to clear up what Stern believes are misconceptions about the league's latest offer.
Here is the most important paragraph from the memo, which you can find here:
I encourage you also to focus on the numerous compromises that were made to the NBA's initial bargaining positions in these negotiations, including our move away from a "hard" salary cap, the withdrawal of our proposal to "roll back" salaries in existing player contracts, our agreement to continue to allow players to negotiate fully guaranteed contracts, and our agreement to a 50/50 split of BRI. While we understand fully that our proposal does not contain everything that the Players Association wanted in this negotiation, the same is true for the NBA.
The NBA player representatives are meeting on Monday to discuss whether to accept the NBA's offer, which was obtained in full by USA Today. Stern's memo was part of a larger campaign by the league to speak directly to its players. The campaign included a Twitter Q&A and a power-point presentation with key talking points of the offer.
As the NBA lockout reaches a tipping point this week, David Stern and the NBA have been on a public relations push to convince fans it's the players and the agents driving this lockout, not the owners. But one agent doesn't see it that way.
Among various stops with media outlets this weekend, one was with the Associated Press, where Stern lashed out at agents for trying to hijack the negotiating process and promote their own agenda. As he said, "By some combination of mendacity and greed, the agents who are looking out for themselves rather than their clients are trying to scuttle the deal."
Indeed, the long-held NBA conspiracy theory is that the player agents have been fighting a successfully negotiated CBA deal all along, waiting for negotiations to fall apart so that they can go with plan B--decertifying the union and challenging the NBA in court. The latter option has a much higher upside than any CBA the players might negotiate, but would almost certainly cost the entire NBA season, and possibly some of next year. Plus, the players could lose in court.
All of which is to say if what Stern's saying is true, there would be plenty of room for resentment. Of course, there are two sides to any story, and while Stern's very good at articulating the negative perceptions about his opponents in these negotiations, it's his own lack of "good faith" that has dominated these negotiations in the eyes of the agents Stern's attacking.
As NBA agent Mark Bartlestein tells Ken Berger at CBS Sports:
"If the players are going to make the concessions to address over $300 million a year in a shift in revenue from the players to the owners, the one thing the players should get back is flexibility, freedom, freedom of choice and a more vibrant and free-market system, because it's a zero-sum game. Instead, they're ratcheting down the system in the name of competitive balance, and that's completely disingenuous.
"A negotiation is supposed to be about making trades. The biggest part of any negotiation is the dollars. That's the biggest part of this negotiation. The players are giving the owners the dollars. If the owners are concerned about competitive balance, it can absolutely be handled through revenue sharing."
The NBA has said over and over again, as of now, there's still time to save a significant chunk of the 2011-2012 NBA season. But while Stern peddles conspiracy theories instead of concessions, you have to wonder: Are the agents conspiring simply because they can, or because Stern's cabal of hardline owners have left the players with no other choice?
The NBA lockout is facing a big week, starting Monday when a collection of NBA players meet in New York to ultimately decide whether they should vote on the latest proposal or vote to decertify the union and all but end any hope for a 2011-12 NBA season. The deal they will be looking at is now available for public consumption, too, as USA Today obtained a copy on Sunday evening.
The agreement came with a cover letter, signed by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, that said "We stand ready to engage with you on all of the remaining bargaining issues at your earliest convenience."
There wasn't anything terribly exciting in the leaked deal as most of it had already been divulged by numerous sources reporting on the lockout, but it did eliminate a few rumors -- such as the already debunked D-League clause -- that had everyone up in arms over the weekend.
Among the major topics in the leaked deal were the split of Basketball Related Income (either a straight 50-50 split or a 51-49 "band" agreement), numerous salary cap exceptions and details, a decrease in minimum and rookie salaries by approximately 12 percent and the much-talked about amnesty clause. The NBA attempted to answer questions about the proposal Sunday evening on Twitter as well, but that didn't go as well as planned.
The players are expected to reply to the proposal, in some form or fashion, early in the week. The NBA has earmarked December 15 as a possible new start to what would end up being a 72-game season if the deal is ratified in time.
When 30 player representatives gather with top union officials on Monday, they will be asked to vote on an amended version of the league's NBA lockout deal, reports Sam Amick of SI.com. The league presented the union with its newest proposal on Thursday; if the union does not accept it on Monday, the NBA said it will pull that proposal off of the table and replace it with a harsher version that includes a hard salary cap.
By presenting an amended version of the NBA's proposal, the union could very well be negotiating internally to come up with a deal it can present to the owners as acceptable. If the team reps do approve such a deal, that would put the burden on saving the season back on David Stern, who would have to convince his owners to take the deal.
If a handshake deal is reached this week, Stern has said a 72-game schedule will begin on December 15.
The NBA lockout negotiations ended late this week with yet another proposal on the table for the players to consider. If the players don't accept, it could put in motion a messy decertification process that could potentially wipe out the entire season.
There are quite a few rumors regarding what exactly is included in the latest offer, leading to a public outburst from players and media about how terrible it would be for the players. But not all of the rumors are true.
ESPN's Ric Bucher reported that a "D-League clause" was included in the latest proposal that would have dropped salaries down to $75,000 for any player assigned to the NBA D-League. The league denied that report, however, and SB Nation has confirmed through several sources that Bucher's reported clause is not in the most recent proposal despite being briefly brought up during talks.
The current plan, at least at this point, is for the owners and players to figure out all of the major issues before moving back to discuss less important issues. The relationship between the NBA and its official minor league are currently lumped together with the secondary issues.
One option that has at least been discussed, sources tell SB Nation, would be to allow NBA teams to sign two "development" players at $100,000 salaries -- nearly four times higher than the current D-League maximum -- to allow for a sort of NFL practice squad-type relationship between the NBA and D-League team. It remains to be seen if those two players would count against the 15-man roster.
Ultimately, the D-League portion of the CBA is not going to make or break the deal -- both sides know that. If the players and owners are able to agree on the major issues, the D-League will be discussed and changes will more than likely be implemented, but not to the extent that it would cause the players to make it a sticking point.
The NBA lockout is headed toward what looks to be either a compromise in the next couple of days or a worst-case scenario, at least as far as this season is concerned, as the players continue to mull decertification. Decertification would likely end any hope of a 2011-12 season as the players and owners enter the court room, but it also could have other serious consequences.
The biggest consequence of decertifying the union, if NBA Commissioner isn't bluffing, would be all current NBA contracts then be voided. Stern, who brought this up very early in the talks, mentioned this again in his latest press conference.
"If the union is not in existence, then neither are 4 billion dollars worth of guaranteed contracts that are entered into under condition that there's a union, Stern said. "So if the agents insist on playing with fire, my guess is that they would get themselves burned."
If decertification does happen -- and it could as soon as Monday -- things are bound to get ugly. Unfortunately it might also be the only way for the players to get a fairer deal.
Players could deliver a petition for a vote to decertify the National Basketball Players Assocation as soon as Monday with the signatures of half the league, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. The union needs signatures from a third of its membership to order a vote, which would then be decided on a majority ballot. Delivering a petition with half of the union's Hancock could send chills through the NBA and signify the end of the 2011-12 season.
David Stern and the owners have delivered an offer few players seem to like. Stern said Thursday night that if the union doesn't accept the offer on Monday or Tuesday after meeting with team representatives, the league will revert to an offer with a 47-percent revenue split for players and what is essentially a hard cap.
Berger also reports that a number of moderate agents who were not supporting decertification in the past have joined the movement, owing the league's lack of flexibility in negotiations.
New York Knicks owner James Dolan did not attend the nearly 24 hours of NBA lockout negotiations that occurred in his city this week. The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that Dolan stayed away because the lack of a deal is driving him mad.
Knicks owner James Dolan blew off the two-day desperation labor session between the NBA and players' union in Manhattan with one source saying he has been sickened by the failure of his fellow owners to make a deal.
Berman also reports that the Knicks began to prepare for the season to start this week, with coaches and staff setting up the practice facility for training camp that may not come for months or a year.
Player representatives from each NBA team will meet early next week to decide whether to take or leave the NBA's latest proposal. If the union does agree on the deal, the season would begin December 15.
Based on early reports, the league's concessions on sticking points on constraints to the transactions teams over the luxury tax threshold can make were not exactly major in the new NBA lockout deal.
CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports that the owners have increased the size of the mini mid-level from two years at a starting salary of $2.5 million to three years at a starting salary of $3 million. The old mid-level exception could stretch up to five years starting at $5.7 million; the new mid-level available to teams under the tax threshold would be up to four years starting at $5 million. So the difference between the total value of a mid-level exception to a non-tax team ($22 million) vs. a tax team ($9 million) remains large.
The players' union isn't a huge fan of that concession, Berger reports. There also remains the question of how a team is deemed a tax team or not. If a team is under the threshold but using the full MLE would put them over, should they be restricted to using the mini MLE? Or if a team is as little as $1 under the threshold, should it be able to use the full MLE?
Berger also reports that the league has loosened its ban on sign-and-trade deals for tax teams, though it's unclear just how much those pursestrings have been loosened.
During Thursday's press conference discussing the current state of the NBA lockout, commissioner David Stern said that if the players' union accepts the league's current offer after meeting with player representatives early next week, a 72-game regular season could begin on December 15. With that, the playoff and Finals would each be pushed back one week, giving the regular season a bit more space to breathe.
But such a schedule would still be more jam-packed than the suffocating 1998-99 50-game season.
A normal 82-game season starts around the beginning of November and ends in mid-April, encompassing 5-1/2 months. That gives us just about 15 games per month per team. The lockout-shortened '98-99 season crammed 50 regular season games into almost exactly three months, for 16.7 games per month per team.
A 72-game schedule starting December 15 and ending after the third week in April would give us 72 games in 4.25 months, or 17 games per month per team.
If the players take the deal, expect plenty of back-to-backs, a few back-to-back-to-backs and little time for television that is not basketball.
The decertification movement pushed by a number of players and agents is prepared to move forward next week it the union rejects the league's latest NBA lockout offer, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. The decertification camp needs roughly 130 signatures to file to the National Labor Relations Board to force a vote of the union within 45 days. If a majority approved decertification, the union would no longer represent the players at the bargaining table, and players would be able to file anti-trust litigation against the owners.
Several agents told Y! Sports they have more than 200 player signatures on a decertification petition to force a vote to dissolve the union. The paperwork could be filed before Monday, even though it doesn't preclude the players from accepting the league's offer.
Reports have also suggested that Billy Hunter, the union's director and someone who didn't seem satisfied with the league's offer in a Thursday press conference, could opt to file a disclaimer of interest, which would open the door for anti-trust litigation without a union vote.
The Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce has led the decertification option push behind the scenes, organizing a set of calls on the subject last week. The Celtics were also oddly the only team without representation at this week's player representatives gathering in New York, despite the fact that Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo have attended other union meetings.
Adam Silver says that the NBA lockout deal offered by the league will create a better tomorrow. But you'll just have to take his word on that.
David Stern said Thursday that if the players' union does not accept the league's NBA lockout proposal after a meeting with team representatives early next week, the owners will follow up on the commissioner's threat to drop their offer to 47 percent of revenue for players and a hard salary cap.
If the union does take the deal by Monday or Tuesday, a 72-game season would begin December 15.
Stern wouldn't quite say that this proposal was the league's last, best offer, but that was a heavy indication through his address to the media following Thursday's talks. He said he is strongly confident that the owners will approve the deal if the union does, but wouldn't characterize his sense of the players' current feeling about it. He also wouldn't give any details on the offer itself, though it's not expected to be much different from the one outlined in a letter to union director Billy Hunter last week.
The players' union will take the league's latest NBA lockout offer back to its player representatives early next week before talks with owners resume, union director Billy Hunter said late Thursday. That means there's no deal over the weekend, and whether there will be one even next week remains in question. Union president Derek Fisher said that the executive board wasn't able to accept the deal on Thursday night despite several concessions from the league.
Hunter also revealed that there remain 30 or more "B issues" like the age minimum and player discipline that must be resolved, though no one has considered those make-or-break conflicts. It remains to be seen exactly what "A issues" remain on the table.
Hunter nor Fisher seemed terribly confident or pessimistic that player reps would authorize acceptance of the NBA's deal or push for additional negotiation. It also remains to be seen what David Stern will say about the half-life of the league's offer.
The NBA lockout talks are still ongoing, despite reports on Thursday afternoon indicating a deal had been made, or was about to be made. But instead of emerging to announce an end to the lockout, those involved in the talk slipped away for the break before getting back to the negotiating table in New York on Thursday evening. And while progress has been made, according to reports, hurdles in the form of system issues still remain.
CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports progress was made on the mid-level exception. But issues remained with the luxury tax threshold, as well.
Also Thursday, a new hurdle emerged in the discussion over when teams would face the new restrictions owners are proposing for teams above the luxury tax threshold. Two of the people briefed on the talks said owners were pushing for teams under the tax at the time of the transaction to be restricted from using the full mid-level -- four-year deals starting at $5 million -- if the signing put the team over the tax. In that case, the team would be restricted to use of the mini mid-level. Union negotiators want the new restrictions to be based on where a team's payroll sits in relation to the tax prior to the use of the exception -- not where it stands afterward.
In addition to the system issue, the two sides are still at odds over revenue sharing, which remains a point of contention in the negotiating. But the NBA and NBPA are still talking some nine hours after they began on Thursday.
NBA lockout talks continue on Thursday with reporters offering varying levels of optimism about the state of negotiations. Veteran league executive Dave Checketts -- a close friend of commissioner David Stern -- sparked a minor conflagration late Thursday afternoon by implying in an ESPN radio interview in Salt Lake City that a deal was done.
Reporters at the scene of talks offered debunking. From Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
Person in the room assures me that no agreement has been reached. They're about to hit the five-hour mark here in New York.
SI.com's Sam Amick shared that the owners made an important but unrevealed concession late Wednesday, but said no deal has yet been forged:
Players' side source in the room says of alleged agreement, "Not at all (true). We have yet to discuss our positions at all."
The New York Times' Howard Beck offered a flat denial of Checketts' talk:
Person involved in NBA talks: "Nothing has changed between last night and today."
If NBA lockout talks this week ultimately prove fruitless, players' union director Billy Hunter is prepared to disclaim interest, opening the door for an anti-trust lawsuit by players against the league, reports NBA.com's David Aldridge.
A disclaimer of interest is different than decertification in that no player petition or vote is required. (The union did poll players on whether it would support a disclaimer during the season; players consented to the move, but union leadership has yet to use it.) To disclaim interest, Hunter would simply inform the NBA by letter that the players' union is dissolved and will operate only as a trade association. A group of players would then file an anti-trust lawsuit, accusing the league of collusion and abuse of monopoly powers.
The two sides could continue to negotiate, but whether they would is a legitimate question: the league pushed back forcefully against any union attempt to sue on anti-trust grounds in a pre-emptive August lawsuit of its own.
Want a shot of NBA lockout optimism, even if commissioner David Stern nor players' union president Derek Fisher would grant none during their press conferences after 12 hours of negotiations stretched into early Thursday? TrueHoop's Henry Abbott has an anecdote to sooth your mind.
As he left the news conference early Thursday morning, after 12 hours of bargaining, Stern stopped in the crowded hallway to converse with union economist Kevin Murphy, who says he is trying to arrange his schedule to be here for the next session to start at noon.
Stern encouraged Murphy to show up, saying, "It will be a good day to be here."
It was late. Stern was tired. The comment was vague. It didn't sound like a real promise of a deal. But it certainly didn't sound like a guy preparing to blow apart the talks with a dramatically lower offer, either.
Vague or not, I'll take it.
The use of the full mid-level exception by teams above the luxury tax threshold remains a sticking point in NBA lockout talks, reports SI.com's Zach Lowe. The owners had offered a mini mid-level exception in its weekend proposal, but the players' union isn't satisfied with the idea and continues to push for open use of the leaguewide mid-level, which will reportedly be set at a starting salary of $5 million with terms up to four years.
The league's mini mid-level proposal is limited to a two-year contract starting at $2.5 million, and tax teams can only use it every other year. This comes in addition to other special penalties the league has cooked up to deter teams from spending well over the salary cap. Lowe reports that progress is being made, though an agreement on the mid-level exception isn't necessarily close.
The league has softened its proposal to take the full mid-level exception from teams that pay the luxury tax and replace it with a miniature mid-level worth half as much, according to one source familiar with the matter.
The two sides will meet again at noon E.T. on Thursday.
The next time someone complains about how boring the regular season can be, remind them of the NBA lockout. Also: why the players are fighting so hard against limits on the use of the mid-level exception.
Once NBA lockout talks wrapped up early Thursday morning, each side gave brief reports to the press on what had actually occurred during the 12-hour session. Adam Silver, the NBA's deputy commissioner and lead negotiator, continued a thread he's tugged for quite a while now by saying that the economic and salary cap system issues remain separate, essentially that concessions on one part of the equation do not equal progress on the other.
Derek Fisher, the president of the players' union, indicated the exact opposite, saying that because the union has been flexible on the economic issue -- reportedly offering to move down to a 50-50 revenue split, which is the owners' sweet spot -- it has expected compromise from the league on the remaining system issues.
Neither side would claim any progress was made in Wednesday's long session, and in fact commissioner David Stern advised the media not to read into it that the sides would meet again on Thursday. At some point, though, compromise or total and complete caving will have to enter the picture. If this lockout is going to end any time soon, it'll be compromise.
NBA lockout talks will continue as the two sides attempt to work out a deal, commissioner David Stern announced just after 1 a.m. ET on Thursday morning. The league and players' union will reconvene at noon on Thursday. Stern said the "clock is stopped," referring to his weekend ultimatum that insisted without a deal by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the league's proposal would revert to much more punitive version.
Stern said that no progress had been made on the system issues that remain at stake, but that they would continue to press forward Thursday.
"We're not failing and we're not succeeding," Stern said.
Stern has said in the past that the league would need 30 days from handshake to tip-off for the regular season. The entire November slate has already been cancelled, but it's believed that the league could play close to a full season if a deal is reached soon.
Ten hours into NBA lockout talks on Wednesday comes positive feelings from the reporter corps in NBA lockout, where top officials from the league and players' union try to work out a new collective bargaining agreement. Ken Berger of CBS Sports said that a source briefed on the status of Wednesday's talks is "incredibly optimistic" a deal will get done.
If talks break off without a deal and no further meetings scheduled, everyone believes the worst will come to pass: a complete breakdown of negotiations complete with a dissolution of the players' union, a more painful proposal from the owners and potentially a lost season. But with a deal this week, as many as 78 games per team could conceivably be played.
The two sides have had long meetings before, both with and without federal mediator George Cohen. Cohen is not involved in Wednesday's meeting.
Stay tuned for further news and ramificiations by following our NBA lockout StoryStream.
No one will complain about NBA lockout talks zipping right by David Stern's 5 p.m. ET deadline for a deal including the league's 50-50 revenue split proposal to be done. Stern had laid out that ultimatum after talks failed to produce a deal over the weekend; the players' union successfully lobbied the owners to meet one more time, on Wednesday, before Stern vows to take 50-50 back off the table in favor of a more painful proposal that would surely send this stoppage into outer space.
Small teams including the top negotiators are meeting in New York. They convened at 1 p.m. ET, and are expected to be in for the long haul. If there's no deal by the end of Wednesday, it's expected that the situation will devolve quickly, potentially landing in the courts with a disclaimer of interest filed by union leaders.
The lockout is now 132 days old. We would be in Week 2 of the season if not for the impasse.
The NBA Lockout negotiations have reached a tipping point, and as Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline looms in the distance, NBA players are ready to decertify the players' union should things go bad.
As Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe reports on Twitter, "Source says agents, players ready to go on decertification in 24 hrs if things go badly today. Also will watch to see if Hunter disclaims." This isn't to say decertification is a sure thing, but it's certainly prospect that hangs over everything else that's being discussed by both sides this afternoon. Whether the players move to decertify in 24 hours is still speculation, but both the players and owners know that they might.
A move toward decertification would allow the NBA players to file a class action lawsuit against the NBA, a labrynthine legal process that would take months to entangle. In other words, if the players go that route, it will effectively mean canceling the 2011-12 regular season. And if Lowe's source is to be believed, there's a very real possibility that decertification happens if Wednesday's negotiations fail to yield a deal.
If they fail to get a deal, the fight over collective bargaining could turn chaotic quick. Or, both sides could broker a deal Wednesday, and the season will start immediately.
Those are the stakes, and all we can do is sit back and hope for the best. How U?
The NBA lockout is facing yet another deadline Wednesday evening. Unlike the umpteenth other deadlines seen during this impasse, however, it seems as though David Stern has the ability to end it all without drastically altering anything.
That's at least the indication being given to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, anyway.
"There can be a few things tweaked along the edges, the periphery and this can be agreed upon," one ownership source told Yahoo! Sports. "I'm confident that would not be an issue if [Stern] did that."
"It will be a very slight budge," one high-ranking management source said.
Seeing as the news is coming from ownership sources and management sources are certainly positive. There are more than a handful of NBA owners hoping to wait until they can get a better deal (including Michael Jordan), but hopefully there are enough thinking along the lines of Wojnarowski's sources and a deal is able to be made -- as his "ownership source" said later in the story.
"But there's not enough of [the hardline owners]. Most are not thrilled with current deal, but would take it. But as time goes on and more losses pile up, a majority will need more than the 50-50 deal."
Considering the players probably won't go any lower on their current concessions, it would make sense to make the slight tweaksto ensure an NBA season rather than risk whatever might happen otherwise.
With David Stern's self-imposed Wednesday deadline for the owners' current proposal to end the NBA lockout approaching, the owners and NBA Players Association are closing in on scheduling an afternoon meeting, according to reports from ESPN's Chris Broussard and the New York Times' Howard Beck.
The meeting comes one day after the NBA players rejected the proposal Stern set forth, but said they would be willing to compromise on the Basketball-Related Income split in return for some concessions on the system. Those concessions include a larger mid-level exception even for luxury-tax paying teams, a less-stingy luxury tax penalty for teams who exceed the threshold consistently and the return of sign-and-trades for tax teams.
In an interview on SportsCenter on Tuesday, Stern said there was no more wiggle room left in the owners' proposal.
"As of Sunday morning at 3 in the morning there was none left," Stern said then.
It remains to be seen if Stern and the owners follow through on that. If the 5 p.m. deadline passes, Stern has threatened that the league would pull its current offer and put forth a worse one.
Michael Jordan was as revolutionary a player as there ever was. But as an NBA owner, he's become part of that which he overcame.
Not only did Billy Hunter and the players call David Stern bluff on the NBA lockout on Tuesday, but they offered the commissioner a path out of it. Also, a prospect tries to forge a new route to the NBA by way of Spain.
David Stern does not seem terribly interested in negotiating the NBA lockout deal he left on the table last weekend. The commissioner appeared in an interview with NBA TV's David Aldridge shortly after the players' union indicated its interest in meeting Wednesday to hammer out a deal on the league's economic terms. Aldridge asked if Stern had any more wiggle room on the salary cap system changes that players oppose. Stern's response was careful, but not exactly hope-inspiring.
"As of Sunday morning at 3 in the morning there was none left," Stern said.
Stern went on to say that he would take union director Billy Hunter's call out of respect, but that the league's labor relations committee dictates whether the system changes can be modified. Stern and Hunter negotiated the last two collective bargaining agreements in one-on-one meetings, for what it's worth.
Stern has set a 5 p.m. ET Wednesday for the union to accept the league's offer before it becomes a much tougher version.
That commissioner David Stern and players' union outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler don't get along is no secret. Stern has mentioned Kessler by name several times during NBA lockout media appearances (including on SportsCenter back in early August), and Kessler's name is littered throughout the league's lawsuit seeking to block union decertification. It's personal between them.
If that wasn't evident, an enterprising story from the Washington Post's Amy Shipley should make it so.
"To present [the NBA's deal] in the context of ‘take it or leave it,' in our view, that is not good faith," Kessler, who also represented the NFL players in their labor dispute with the NFL, said in a telephone interview Monday night. "Instead of treating the players like partners, they're treating them like plantation workers."
Stern responded with some more gasoline for the fire Kessler started.
"Kessler's agenda is always to inflame and not to make a deal," Stern said, "even if it means injecting race and thereby insulting his own clients. . . . He has been the single most divisive force in our negotiations and it doesn't surprise me he would rant and not talk about specifics. Kessler's conduct is routinely despicable."
The only positive is that it's Kessler, not Billy Hunter or Derek Fisher. Those are the guys Stern really has to deal with going forward.
David Stern has warned that if players do not accept the owners' current NBA lockout proposal -- which includes a 50-50 revenue split and a few salary cap system constraints -- that on Thursday, the offer will get much, much worse. In a press conference after three dozen players met in New York on Tuesday, union director Billy Hunter essentially called Stern's bluff, saying that he expects the owners to remain willing to cut a deal with a 50-50 revenue split even if there's no resolution on Wednesday.
Stern's deadline, which Hunter called "arbitrary," is at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Hunter told reporters that he plans to call Stern to request a meeting between the two on Wednesday. Hunter and Stern reached the last two collective bargaining deals in one-on-one meetings in 1999 and 2005. (The 1999 deal come midway into a scheduled season. The 2005 deal came hours before a lockout began.)
Derek Fisher, the president of the players' union, told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that after meeting with representatives from 29 of the 30 teams, he will reject David Stern's NBA lockout ultimatum. Stern had offered a 50-50 revenue split and some additional salary cap restraints, giving the union until Wednesday to take it before the league's proposal got worse.
Fisher did say the union remains open to negotiating with the league on system issues that could make a 50-50 revenue split more palatable.
"We're open-minded on potential compromises on the number, but there are things in the system that are not up for negotiation for us to have a season," Fisher said.
The last remaining system issues include a smaller mid-level exception for luxury tax teams, an additional penalty for teams that exceed the tax line multiple times in a short span and a ban on sign-and-trade deals for tax teams. The union feels that these mechanisms will drop players' negotiating power and constrict player movement.
As NBA lockout negotiations continue, David Stern has issued an ultimatum to the players this week, giving them until Wednesday to accept the NBA's current offer. But what if there's another solution? And why isn't David Stern looking for one?
There's nothing left to fight about in the NBA lockout except pride. So why are we still here?
Anthony Tolliver, who represents the Minnesota Timberwolves at the the National Basketball Players Association table, told Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that, ahead of Tuesday's meeting with all 30 team reps, players are split on whether to take a deal similar to one left on the table by David Stern or to decertify and let the courts hammer it out.
"Pretty much everything is split," he said on his way to the airport after playing in a charity game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. "Half of the people want to decertify. Half the people want to vote on it."
His unofficial polling includes some teammates and other players in the league. He said he hopes to speak to more of his teammates before the 30 team player reps meeting starting at noon Minneapolis time Tuesday afternoon.
A couple players, including the Houston Rockets' Kevin Martin and the L.A. Lakers' Steve Blake, are reportedly pushing for a yes-or-no vote on the deal Stern put on the table, which includes a 50-50 revenue split. Still others are pushing a decertification vote behind the scenes. It's unclear whether the team reps who meet Tuesday in New York City will vote among themselves on whether to take the deal or send this impasse straight into anti-trust litigation.
A set of owners are not happy with the NBA lockout deal that commissioner David Stern has left on the table, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard.
As many as 11 of them participated in a conference call on Monday to grouse or gameplan -- it's unclear -- ahead of Wednesday's deadline for the players' union to accept the deal or face a dramatically worse offer. Regardless, Stern went on SportsCenter Monday evening to reiterate that his offer, if taken by the players, would be approved by the owners. That's not something he would promise without reasonable assurances it were true.
The deal on the table includes a 50-50 split of revenue and a few more salary cap system restrictions. It doesn't appear the union will take this deal, but the players are pushing for one more meeting ahead of Wednesday to attempt to strike an accord. Union president Derek Fisher has indicated that the players, whose most recent revenue split offer was 51 percent for players, could move again if they receive system concessions.
L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant isn't quite publicly telling the world he's ready to take the NBA lockout deal on the table, but in a chat with Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the former MVP does say that the owners need to meet the players' union at the table one more time.
"We need for the two sides to get together again before Wednesday, because we're too close to getting a deal done," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. "We need to iron out the last system items and save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter."
NBA commissioner David Stern on Saturday laid down a proposal for a 50-50 split of revenue and some additional salary cap system restraints to tamp down spending among the least frugal teams. He said that if the players do not accept the proposal by Wednesday, the NBA will change its offer to a more Draconian version last seen in June, complete with a hard salary cap.
The union has apparently been pushing for one last meeting behind the scenes.
The NBA's ultimatum on their current offer to end the NBA lockout has seemingly accelerated the splinting of the NBA Players Association. There's been noise that several players want to take the deal the owners presented, and now, one relatively prominent player has gone on the record saying so in a big way.
Houston Rockets guard Kevin Martin, one of the better shooting guards in the league, emphatically stated that the players should take the current deal in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick.
"If you know for sure [the owners] are not moving, then you take the best deal possible," Martin wrote in a text message to SI.com. "We are risking losing 20 to 25 percent of missed games that we'll never get back, all over 2 percent [of basketball-related income] over an eight- to 10-year period [of the eventual collective bargaining agreement]. And let's be honest: 60 to 70 percent of players won't even be in the league when the next CBA comes around."
Martin's point of view is supported by Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake, who is trying to drum up support for a league vote, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. However, according to Wojnarowski, there is still a lot of support for rejecting the offer as presented.
David Stern has set a Wednesday deadline for the players' union to accept the league's 50-50 revenue split offer that comes with a few more system tweaks in the four-month-old NBA lockout saga. No further talks were scheduled after Saturday's session ended with Stern's ultimatum. But that could change.
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the two sides are working on putting together one more bargaining session before the deadline. It's unclear what, if any, conditions the NBA would put on it, given that Stern has presented what essentially makes up an ultimatum, a take-it-or-leave-it offer. Stern said early Sunday and in a letter to union director Billy Hunter published by the New York Times that if players don't accept the deal on the table, the offer will get demonstrably worse on Thursday.
The two sides are painfully close on the revenue split issue, and the remaining system issues seem relatively minor compared to those that have already been worked out.
During the 2010-11 regular season, players' union director Billy Hunter visited each team to talk to his constituents about the likelihood and ramifications of an NBA lockout. As a part of that tour, Hunter had players vote on whether to authorize the union's leadership to disclaim interest if the lockout got sticky, which would remove the organization's collective bargaining powers and open up the NBA to anti-trust litigation.
At the time of the votes, it was reported that players were voting to authorize decertification. It turns out that those were instead votes for a disclaimer, which is the faster but less frightening (for the league) version of decertification. Law professor Gabe Feldman tells CBS Sports' Ken Berger that by disclaiming interest in the union, Hunter would be forging a dangerous path.
The biggest legal benefit to dissolving the union through a disclaimer would be that, once the union was transformed into a trade association, the players could almost immediately file an anti-trust lawsuit against the league -- which in theory would open the owners to not only the financial losses of a canceled season, but also anti-trust damages. In all likelihood, the players would file their action in the 9th Circuit in California, where more employee-favorable law exists. Since the league already has pre-emptively sued in the employer-friendly 2nd Circuit in New York, a messy and potentially lengthy jurisdictional battle would then unfold.
David Stern has sent a letter to players' union director Billy Hunter outlining what the owners' new NBA lockout proposal will entail if players don't accept the league's current deal, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times. The letter includes a threat to include rollbacks on existing player salaries in a new "reset" proposal. The owners had previously pushed that concept, one that was quite obviously rejected without prejudice by players.
The rollback threat doesn't peg a certain number, though.
In addition, the N.B.A. would roll back existing contracts "in proportion to system changes in order to ensure sufficient market for free agents."
That could mean adjusting the same amount that the revenue split is moving -- from 57 to 47 percent. Previous incarnations of the rollback push called for decreases in committed salary that started at 7.5 percent for 2011-12.
Of course, this push by the league would simply be another proposal, one that the union would surely negotiate back in their direction. It is, for all practical purposes, toothless outside of its existence as a fear-mongering threat.
Top officials from the players' union want to meet with the league before Wednesday's deadline from David Stern to reach a deal on the owners' current proposal before the offer gets worse, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. But it's not clear whether that meeting will happen. Berger reports that hardline owners would prefer the doomsday scenario -- which comes with a threatened drop in the players' share of revenue to 47 percent and the reintroduction of the hard salary cap -- and as such may resist negotiatons that could lead to a deal around the current proposal.
While that's an amazingly dark reading, nothing the owners have done since June has rendered it impossible. Stern made the ultimatum late Saturday, after an eight-hour session mediated by George Cohen in which players dropped their proposed revenue split to 51 percent, provided that the owners offered up concessions on salary cap system issues.
The latest NBA lockout proposal presented by owners would allow players to earn an aggregate salary of 49-51 percent of the league's revenue, as described by David Stern after Saturday's negotiations blew up. As Stern explained it, if revenue outpaces projections, any overage would be split 57-43 in players' favor. If revenue did not hit projections, players would take a smaller percentage of revenue. But at no point could the players' share drop below 49 percent or rise above 51 percent.
But there's a critical piece of information missing: where those projections would land.
The league refuses to disclose what projections its using in this proposal, and whether those would change on an annual basis or remain static. That's a huge piece of the puzzle here, especially considering how large a new national TV deal in 2016 looms. Will the NBA's projections account for that, or would we expect 2016-17 revenues to outpace something like a static 4-percent growth projection?
As the public determines its own opinion on the owners' proposal, this sort of information is vital. The players know what's in the deal, but fans and writers are left in the dark. Until we learn otherwise, it might be wise to just assume this is pretty straight 50-50 deal with the outside chance players at some point could get something like 50.3 percent or so.
The NBA lockout ultimatum includes the threat that the hard salary cap will be put back on the table. Given how long it's been gone, that could be terrifying for players under pressure. Plus, The Hook considers whether the mini mid-level is a good thing for high-salary teams.
Matt Bonner, the San Antonio Spurs' sharpshooting forward and a member of the players' union's executive board, told Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express News that in NBA lockout talks on Saturday, players had been willing to compromise their position on the revenue split if the owners would concede on some key salary cap system issues.
The owners were unwilling to do so, talks fell apart and NBA commissioner David Stern issued an ultimatum.
For Bonner, it was a lost opportunity.
"That's what we were hoping would get a deal and we really thought the approach we took was going to get it done. But when [federal mediator] George [Cohen] came back after taking our offer to the owners, what he came back with was five or six changes in system things, and all but one were what the owners wanted. It was basically their deal."
The salary cap system issues that remain at play include the mini mid-level exception for luxury tax teams, the ability of tax-paying teams to use the sign-and-trade, and escalated penalties for teams over the tax line multiple times in a five-year span.
The executive committee of the players' union will talk Monday to sort out options after David Stern presented an NBA lockout ultimatum on Saturday, reports Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News. Stern told players (and the world) that if the league's offer of what is effectively a 50-50 revenue split with a few specific salary cap system issues isn't accepted by the union by Wednesday, the NBA will revise its proposal to drop to a 47 percent share of revenue for players and a hard salary cap.
The union has no intention of accepting the deal, and president Derek Fisher indicated early Sunday that he has no intention of putting the deal up for a vote by union members. Instead, the players' union may pursue decertification. Union leadership has heretofore resisted that legal move, but some players and agents are pushing for it behind the scenes. A petition of 130 players is the first step.
In Saturday's final NBA lockout proposal from owners, the league consented to allowing teams over the luxury tax threshold to use the mid-level exception. Only it's not the typical mid-level exception: it's a smaller version worth $2.5 million for a maximum of two years, usable only once every two years. So basically, it's an allowance for tax-paying teams to sign a $2.5-million player every two years.
The normal mid-level exception will be set at $5 million, with a three-year maximum length. In the last deal, it had risen to five years starting at $5.8 million. Players and owners have been fighting on whether to limit the types of transactions teams over the tax line can make. In previous collective bargaining agreements, tax teams could do anything a team over the salary cap could do.
David Stern has given players until Wednesday to accept the deal; if they do not do so, he has threatened to change the offer to a lower revenue split with what is effectively a hard salary cap.
As NBA lockout drama continues, David Stern again sets an unreasonable demand that has no purpose but to make everyone anger and sets the talks aflame.
David Stern left the owners' NBA lockout offer -- what amounts to a 50-50 revenue split, the creation of a second, smaller mid-level exception for teams over the luxury tax and a restriction for sign-and-trades for teams over the tax line -- on the table until Wednesday. If it is not accepted by the players' union, the league will drop its offer to 47 percent of revenue for players and what amounts to a hard cap.
Reports from Saturday suggested that a majority of players may be willing to accept a 50-50 deal. But union president Derek Fisher told reporters after talks broke down Saturday that he would not be presenting the NBA's offer for a vote. Why? TrueHoop's Henry Abbott explains, with help from union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler:
Kessler explains the reasoning for the mechanism is because no union wants to let employers address workers directly. You don't want your opponents to have direct access to your constituents. The fully informed committee has an obligation to keep bad deals from the rank and file, who have entrusted the process to them. This protects players from accepting an offer that might sound good to them, but would, in the judgment of those who have analyzed it most thoroughly, actually be bad news.
Despite this, expect fans and some players to agitate for a vote before Wednesday. Whether they'll get it is another matter entirely.
Expect to hear more about the drive by some players and agents to decertify the union after David Stern's 50-50 ultimatum ended NBA lockout talks on Saturday. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that agents are already canvassing their players to determine whether there are enough votes for decertification.
Stern's ultimatum comes with the backdrop of player agents actively canvassing their clients to determine if there were enough votes to move forward with a decertification vote on the union, agent and player sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Before proceeding, agents and players were waiting on the outcome of the weekend's labor talks. Several agents and players believed support would grow for a vote on dissolving the union without significant progress on a deal.
Some 50 players participated in a call with anti-trust lawyer Len Simon on Thursday, with Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce considered the organizer. Most of the players reportedly to be involved in the call and a smaller one held Tuesday are represented by agents who had previously pushed for decertification.
If the players disclaim interest in or decertify the union, a set of them could file anti-trust litigation against the NBA. That would effectively kill the season, as Stern fiercely fought decertification via a federal lawsuit that seeks to disallow it.
NBA lockout talks ended after eight hours on Saturday with commissioner David Stern announcing that players had until Wednesday to agree to a deal that, in his words, could offer up to 51 percent of revenue. If they do not accept the proposal, the NBA will pull it off the table and offer just a 47 percent share of revenue for players going forward.
The players' union did not respond kindly to the ultimatum. Jeffrey Kessler, the union's outside counsel, told reporters that that league's offer would really offer up to just 50.2 percent of revenue, and forcefully said that the union would not be intimidated by Stern's threat. Derek Fisher, the president of the union, also indicated distaste at Stern's ultimatum.
Players moved down to a 51 percent revenue share from 52.5, but Fisher told reporters that Stern and the owners never responded to that proposal. Players made 57 percent under the last deal.
Stay tuned for more reaction from the latest breakdown.
NBA lockout talks were scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. Instead, negotiations didn't start until 5 p.m., thanks to the owners' pre-session meeting -- where bargaining issues and revenue sharing were discussed -- running long. While no reports have surfaced as to the tone of the owners' meeting, the fact that it had been unscheduled until Friday and ran six hours might indicate there is some bargaining going on with the league's caucus.
Three owners joined the evening talks with the league's labor committee, according to reports: the Miami Heat's Micky Arison, the Charlotte Bobcats' Michael Jordan and the Portland Trail Blazers' Paul Allen. All three have been in the news recently. Allen famously delivered a death stare that broke off talks on Oct. 20, the last time federal mediator George Cohen was in the room. (He's back on Saturday.) Arison was fined $500,000 by commissioner David Stern this week after a series of tweets indicating the owner's willingness to sign a deal and start the season. Finally, on Friday it was reported that Jordan is leading a cabal of 10-14 hardliners who don't like the 50-50 revenue split on the table.
Ray Allen is the first player to speak on the record about two decertification calls held this week amid the NBA lockout saga. While reports of the calls late Thursday sounded alarms around the league, Allen, who participated in the smaller Tuesday call, tamped those down in a talk with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
"I don't know what kind of feedback or backlash came from it, but I didn't think there was a need for anybody to panic whatsoever, either on our side as a players' union or as owners," he said. "I thought the call was strictly [to explore options]."
Allen went on to explain that, at least on Tuesday's call, talk about decertification centered around exactly what it would mean for the players and union.
"We have complete faith in our union to get the job done," Allen said. "I don't know what was said [Thursday] on the call, but I do know from the guys that were on the call [last week], nobody was anxious to pull the trigger, like we've got to decertify now. Most of the guys [asked], 'What exactly would we be doing if we decertified?' I don't think anybody was panicking."
Representatives from all 30 teams are meeting Saturday morning ahead of the recommencement of NBA lockout talks later in the day. The exact purpose of Saturday's owners' chat remains unclear, though recent reports of dissension in the ranks -- particularly the hardline push to abandon the 50-50 split for something more punitive to players -- could require a firming up of the league's strategy.
Reports have also suggested that further discussion on revenue sharing -- perhaps to appease those hardline owners -- may be the focus of Saturday's meeting. In fact, a league official says that both bargaining issues and revenue sharing will be discussed at the summit.
Whatever the case, developments on Friday suggest ownership is just as disjointed as the union. While the union fights off action from a splinter group seeking to decertify and send this thing fully into the courts, David Stern has to deal with some owners who want to get back on the court right now (like Micky Arison, fined $500,000 last week) and some, like Michael Jordan, who think 50-50 is too good a deal for players (who made 57 percent in the last deal).
As NBA lockout talks reconvene in New York on Saturday, questions linger. Do the 50 players who reportedly talked about decertification with anti-trust lawyer Len Simon this week have enough support to make a real push to dissolve the union? Does Michael Jordan's cabal of 10-14 hardline owners have the power to convince David Stern to keep pushing for a 50-50 deal and hold tight on system issues still on the table?
On the former, one agent who spoke to CBS Sports' Ken Berger isn't convinced that the decertification camp has enough support. In fact, a majority of players may be ready to take the owners' offer.
"If they put this to a vote today, more than 50 percent of players would be on board with 50-50," an agent who is not clamoring for decertification said. "They think they're going to get 200-plus votes for decertification? Are they out of their minds?"
Regardless of how Saturday's session works out, you do wonder if there will be a groundswell of support within the union for a vote on 50-50.
Officials from the league and players' union will rekindle NBA lockout talks on Saturday, just over a week after commissioner David Stern killed the entire November schedule. Good, right? Not so fast. From ESPN.com's team of Chris Broussard and Henry Abbott:
The NBA ownership group's labor committee will reopen talks with the players' side Saturday afternoon, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, a meeting one general manager, who has spoken with a few owners, described as "headed straight for disaster." [...]
Sources told ESPN.com's Henry Abbott that in a Thursday evening conference call among owners, Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats was among a vocal group of owners upset at NBA commissioner David Stern for not driving a harder bargain to this point. Should Stern and the labor committee agree to a deal with the union, it would become official with ratification by simple majorities of owners and players. Both are in doubt.
Some players, of course, are talking about a decertification end-around to ensure that the union doesn't accept a deal worse than what players have already offered. As many as 14 of the 29 NBA owners not employed by Stern -- the New Orleans Hornets are in control of Stern-appointed Jac Sperling -- may be opposed to even a 50-50 deal. This is not a situation conducive to nuanced discourse and deal-making, is it?
Players considering decertification of the union without the consent of the group's leaders talked to anti-trust attorney Len Simon this week, reports Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. The players are looking for an alternate path in the NBA lockout, reportedly feeling that the union leadership of Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter has given up too much already.
Reports suggest as many as 50 players and several agents spoke via phone on Thursday, with the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce named as a noteworthy voice. The most experienced labor lawyer on sports union decertification is Jeffrey Kessler, who works as an outside counsel for the players' union under Fisher and Hunter. Hunter and Fisher have not moved toward decertification, instead hoping to cut a deal at the bargaining table.
In addition to working on sports law cases, Simon is the owner of a San Diego Padres minor league affiliate and teaches law.
George Cohen, the federal mediator who was unsuccessful in helping the league and players' union end the NBA lockout in October, will oversee Saturday's negotiations, reports Ken Berger of CBS Sports. Cohen left the table on October 20 after owners allegedly presented the union with a take-it-or-leave-it revenue split offer. NBA commissioner David Stern was not at that fateful meeting, as he was recovering from the flu at home.
After Cohen departed, the league and union held another set of talks, but the revenue split still couldn't be settled. The players won't move higher than 52 percent, after receiving 57 percent of league revenue in the last deal. The owners are pushing for a 50-50 revenue split.
Under Cohen's watch, the two sides did make progress on a host of salary cap system issues. It's believed that few system issues remain at stake, and that those can be dictated in concert with the revenue split in a bit of chip trading.
Michael Jordan, the most famous basketball player ever and now the proud owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, is leading a group of 10-14 hardline owners who are demanding that the league not negotiate past its current offer of a 50-50 revenue split, reports the New York Times' Howard Beck.
This cabal may not even like 50-50.
According to the person who spoke with the owners, Jordan's faction intends to vote against the 50-50 deal, if negotiations get that far. Saturday's owners meeting was arranged in part to address that concern.
A majority of the 29 owners are believed to support a 50-50 deal, but they are reluctant to move further.
Jordan's team is one of the NBA's toughest markets, and few would disagree that in retrospect it was a mistake for the league to expand back into Charlotte in 2004. Jordan was recently fined $100,000 by commissioner David Stern for comments he made to an Australian newspaper about the need for a hard salary cap.
Decertification of the NBA Players Association's union is once again gaining steam heading into this weekend's negotiations to end the NBA lockout. A conference call briefing the players on the possibility of decertification was held earlier this week with veteran Grant Hill playing a "prominent" part in the discussion, according to a report from ESPN's Marc Stein.
Hill, a veteran of the lockout process having gone through the 1999 NBA lockout as well, joined Russell Westbrook, James Posey and J.J. Redick as the new names Stein has unearthed that played a part in the players-only conference calls.
It might be interesting to not that Hill, along with the previously known to be involved Ray Allen, is represented by Jim Tanner. Tanner was not one of the original agents to publicly propose decertification, but he does represent some of the most influential NBA players (including Tim Duncan, who has not yet been identified as one of the members on this call).
As far as the other new participants are concerned, Westbrook and Redick both count Arn Tellem as their agent while Posey is represented by Priority Sports' Mark Bartelstein.
It remains to be seen exactly what the players are planning to do if they actually get enough votes to decertify the union. While it's possible that disbanding the union would give them a bit of leverage, it also doesn't guarantee any solution and has been described as being both risky and messy.
The NBA lockout has had all sort of doomsday scenarios being brought up this week as decertification has once again become the hot topic, but there are some in the media that still have hope a deal could be cut this weekend. One person leading the charge is Newday's Alan Hahn as he predicts the two factions could hammer out a deal for 51 percent of the basketball related income this weekend.
The split of BRI was the reason the two sides quit negotiating last time they met as the players would like to stay at 52 percent while the owners seem hesitant to move up to even 50 percent.
In that regard, it seems a long shot that there's actually a deal to be made this weekend. If the two groups are going to come to an agreement this weekend, however, the 51-49 split is where Hahn believes both sides will have meet.
With that, we will filter out the white noise of the agent-driven Decertification Army and the scandalous reports of Fisher's alleged back-door deals with David Stern and spoil the ending for you:
There will be a 51-49 agreement.
It is a split that Stern said he never had a chance to negotiate when Hunter walked away from the table last Friday after the league re-introduced the 50-50 split.
For the optimists in the crowd, this could be good news. Unfortunately, there are probably better than even odds that the talks go exactly in the opposite direction this weekend.
Decertification has popped back up in NBA lockout talks. While anti-trust litigation is probably the only way players can stop owners' advances, the circumstances are all wrong this time around.
Dwight Howard and Ray Allen were also involved in two recent calls among a set of 50 players to explore decertification of the players' union as the NBA lockout continues, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard. Broussard confirmed a report by Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski that Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade were vocal leaders of the talks.
Howard is represented by Dan Fegan, one of the agents who led a push for decertification in September. Allen, whose agent is Jim Tanner according to DraftExpress' indispensable agent database, is the only player out of the 10 reported to be involved in the talks not represented by one of the seven agents who sent an alarming letter to their clients in October pushing a hard line in lockout talks and warning them not to vote for a settlement presented by union leaders without giving it a full review.
NBA lockout talks are scheduled to reconvene on Saturday. It's unclear what effect the clandestine decertification talks will have on the players' union's bargaining tactics.
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski and the New York Times' Howard Beck independently reported late Thursday that as many as 50 players participated in two calls this week to discuss usurping the leadership of the players' union and filing for decertification as the NBA lockout drags on. Wojnarowski reports that Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, who has popped in to lockout talks a couple times to express support for union leaders Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter, has played a lead role in the decert push.
Paul Pierce played a prominent role on both calls, leading the charge on decertification, sources said. Participants in Thursday's call included Dwyane Wade, Jason Kidd, Blake Griffin, Al Horford, Tyson Chandler, Spencer Hawes and DeAndre Jordan, sources said.
Pierce, Wade and Kidd are the big names given their influence in the league as respected veterans. Pierce's agent is Jeff Schwartz, who was one of the seven agents pushing for decertification and warning players against quickly ratifying an agreement presented by union leadership. The agents for Wade (Henry Thomas of CAA), Kidd (Schwartz), Griffin (Sam Goldfelder of Schwartz's Excel Sports Management), Horford (Arn Tellem), Chandler (Schwartz), Hawes (Greg Lawrence of Tellem's agency) and Jordan (Lawrence) were all a part of that push. As such, it would appear -- without knowing the full list of the players on the calls -- that this new movement is closely associated with the last decertification drive.
Despite denials from union leaders, reports continue to emerge indicating a rift on the players side of the NBA lockout negotiations. The latest report, from Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, indicates a faction of players meeting without knowledge of NBPA leaders this week to discuss some of the negotiations that have taken place thus far. And the nuclear option reportedly remains on the table.
There were two conference calls held this week -- Tuesday and Thursday -- without knowledge of NBPA officials, sources tell Y! Calls included several All-Stars. One source on calls told Y!: "We're beyond frustrated with concessions that have already been made." Here was theme: If NBPA drops below 52% on BRI, and/or remaining system issues go league's way, then this will become movement to decertify. Here was theme: If NBPA drops below 52% on BRI, and/or remaining system issues go league's way, then this will become movement to decertify.
We're so far into the game now that decertification, if carried out, would set the process back into the stone age. As we saw with the NFL, decertification is a somewhat messy process, done as a precursor to an anti-trust lawsuit.
But there's another option at play here, as well: the players need any leverage they can get and, perhaps, bluffing with the lawsuit card is an effort to gain some kind of foothold. However, the news that the meetings were conducting with the knowledge of NBPA leaders has to be a bit concerning for the players' side, and leads one to wonder what, exactly, is going on with the union at this point in the process.
NBA lockout talks between the NBA owners and the NBA Players Association will resume on Saturday after a eight-day absence, NBPA vice president Roger Mason confirmed after a union meeting on Thursday. The news comes on the heels of a Boston Herald report that suggested the same thing earlier Thursday.
The owners and players last met on October 28, when momentum for a deal was derailed by an argument over Basketball-Related Income. However, Mason told reporters that the players continue to want to discuss various system issues that seemingly were resolved last week. Those issues appear to now be back on the table.
It remains unclear which owners and players will be present at the discussions. The union held its own meeting on Thursday to help address reports of discontent among their ranks, especially those that involve union president Derek Fisher and NBPA head Billy Hunter. Mason said the players remain unified on all core issues.
NHL players are coming out of the woodwork to tell their brothers in basketball to take an NBA lockout deal, that it's not worth it to fight and lose a season. Should NBA players listen? If so, how will the owners' labor rampages in all American sports ever end?
On Wednesday, representatives from the league and players' union will be the same room for apparently the first time since NBA lockout talks ended (again) on Friday. But this time, it'll be in a courtroom as oral arguments begin in the NBA's federal lawsuit against the National Basketball Players Association.
The suit seeks to block decertification as an option for the players' union. Decertification would allow players to file an anti-trust suit against the league and seek an injunction lifting the lockout, as NFL players did in the spring during their own labor battle. The NBA argues that any decertification by the players' union would be a sham, and that decertification threats have represented bad faith tactics.
In an interestingly threatening note, the NBA also seeks the court's approval to void all existing player contracts if the National Labor Relations Board does not deem the union's potential decertification a sham.
The union has not actually pushed for decertification, despite the concerns of the NBA and a push by major agents last month.
Under a tentative stretch provision in the eventual NBA lockout deal, teams will be able to stretch salary cap hits over time. That won't always be the right tool to use, as the Knicks' chase for a 2012 free agent shows.
The National Basketball Players Association is not having a great week. After FOXSports.com's Jason Whitlock published a piece alleging that players' union president Derek Fisher had made a side deal on a 50-50 revenue split with NBA commissioner David Stern, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that, essentially, NBPA director Billy Hunter is trying to slime Fisher.
Fisher had sent a letter to the union membership on Monday forcefully pushing back against Whitlock's report; Whitlock responded by doubling down. Fisher and Hunter each put out statements late Tuesday, with Hunter pushing back against all of the allegations and commending Fisher for his work. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Fisher later released a statement demanding retractions from Whitlock and FOXSports.com.
ESPN also reports that union leadership -- Fisher, Hunter and the executive board of player representatives -- plans to meet Thursday in New York to talk strategy and, one would assume, address all of this alleged subterfuge.
No news is bad news, as far as NBA fans are concerned. Not only are there no new talks scheduled between the owners and the player's association, but whenever talks do resume, they won't have the benefit of being facilitated by federal mediator George Cohen. From Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick:
The two sides, according to one of the sources, spoke separately with federal mediator George Cohen about a possible reunion meeting this week, but the session will not take place. Cohen, to review, was the point man for three straight days of marathon negotiating sessions in mid-October that did not lead to resolution.
Howard Beck of the New York Times tweeted similar news. Cohen served as a mediator for three days of talks last month, but with the NBA's owners and Player's Association refusing to budge from the disagreement over how Basketball Related Income should be split, he stepped aside and released a statement saying there was "no useful purpose" in his continued participation.
It's unclear if he approached the two sides to take their temperature or if it was the other way around, but either way, the current stalemate remains, well, stale.
NBA lockout talks are dead right now, but when they reconvene, federal mediator George Cohen could return to the table, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. Cohen facilitated three days of meetings in October before a reportedly ultimatum on a 50-50 revenue split from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt cut talks off on Oct. 20. Cohen issued a statement saying that he did not feel as if his presence would help at the time.
The two sides did rekindle talks a few days later, but those too broke down, and for the same reason. While the lockout deal is reported to be up to 95 percent complete, the major, driving issue -- the split of revenues -- remains in question. Each side has said it will not move from its current position on the split. The players' union has topped out at 52.5 percent, while the league is stuck at 50 percent.
FOXSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock has reported that there is unrest in within the players' union as the NBA lockout drags on, but not from where you'd think. Whitlock reports that National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter confronted NBPA president Derek Fisher before Friday's fruitless lockout talks over concerns that Fisher had negotiated a side deal with NBA commissioner David Stern to deliver a 50-50 revenue split.
No other reporter who has been covering lockout talks in New York has substantiated the report. Fisher sent one of his famous letters to the union membership discrediting Whitlock's report. SI.com procured the letter. In part, it reads:
[B]efore these reports go any further, let me say on the record to each of you, my loyalty has and always will be with the players. Anyone that questions that or doubts that does not know me, my history, and what I stand for. And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question. The Players Association is united and any reports to the contrary are false. There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close.
Whether David Stern and the owners intended to let the NBA lockout kill off the start of the season or not, they have. Get used to it. The new sports landscape has no room for fairness and little concern for fans.
Miami Heat franchise owner Micky Arison has been fined $500,000 by league commissioner David Stern for since-deleted tweets critical of some owners' NBA lockout positions posted Friday, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Arison, considered by most a dove in the lockout talks, and someone eager to get back in session, responded to and retweeted a few fans who were critical of the league's hard line in labor negotiations. In response to one tweet that chided owners for being greedy, Arison responded that the fan was "barking at the wrong owner."
The revealing tweets were a change of pace, considering that Arison, who also runs Carnival Cruise Lines, usually just uses his Twitter feed to chat about Guy Fieri and cheeseburgers.
Arison is at least the fourth team owner fined for lockout comments this summer. The Wolves and Blazers were reportedly fined for comments made by team executives. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan was fined earlier this offseason after he spoke with an Australian newspaper about the need for a hard cap.
David Aldridge of NBA.com has been as hard on owners throughout the NBA lockout as anyone; in fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a duo more willing to report criticial on the league's stance than Aldridge and Steve Aschburner, no matter where their byline appears. It is in that context that Aldridge's column on where the lockout negotiations stand is a bit of a heart-stopper.
The players aren't going to get 52, or 51, or 50.5, or 50.000001, and if they hold out for those numbers, they're not going to have a season. You'd have to be crazy not to see that now, so it's this for the players: take the deal this week or next, or lose the season. If they are willing to die on principle, they wouldn't be the first. But they will die, in the metaphorical sense.
Aldridge reports that even last week, when so much of the civilized world believed a deal was in hand, the owners were really only offering 47 percent of league revenue to players if they accepted the negotiated system changes. If the players wanted 50 percent of revenue, they'd need stronger cap restrictions. If they wanted 51 percent or 52.5 percent (the union's best offer), they'd need a genie in a bottle.
This is bad.
In NBA lockout negotiations, the owners have already won concessions on covering rising expenses to put on games and made moves on so-called "competitive balance issues." The last push for owners: get players to cover debt financing on franchise purchases.
Before lighting the month of November on fire, officials from the league and players' union did reach an agreement last week on luxury tax reform last week during NBA lockout negotiations. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that players agreed to boost the penalties for teams with payrolls well over the salary cap. The old system included just a dollar-for-dollar penalty over the luxury tax threshold, which proved to be a deterrent for only about half of the league in any given season.
Beck reports that the new luxury tax -- once the league restarts operations, either soon, in a few months or next year -- will charge teams over the threshold a 150 percent tax up to $5 million over the threshold. From there on, the tax would be 175 percent up to $10 million above the line, 225 percent up to $15 million over the line and 300 percent above that. Beck calculates that the L.A. Lakers, who paid $20 million in luxury tax last season thanks to a $90 million payroll, would have paid $42.5 million in tax under this system.
David Stern announced the cancellation of the remainder of the league's November schedule and ruled out any possibility of an 82-game season after NBA lockouts broke down for the fourth time in four weeks on Friday. Stern alleged that players' union executive director Billy Hunter walked out of the talks as the two sides made no progress on the split of basketball-related income players will earn in the new deal.
Stern's press conference, part of which was carried live on ESPN's SportsCenter, hit familiar points, as the commissioner maintained that the league hasn't been profitable and that owners can go no further than a 50-50 split of revenue. Players earned 57 percent of revenue in the last collective bargaining agreement.
There are no further meeting scheduled. The season was originally scheduled to commence on Tuesday. Instead, representatives from the league and players' union will meet in federal court on Wednesday.
Derek Fisher said Friday that NBA lockout talks broke down after the owners, led by commissioner David Stern, essentially presented a "take it or leave it" proposal to split basketball-related income 50-50. Fisher told reporters covering the lockout meetings that he cannot sell a 50-50 split and owner-requested changes to the salary cap system to his players.
The talks have now broken up three times in October over the owners' unwillingness to move beyond a 50-50 revenue split. Fisher said that the players are down to 52.5 percent; the previous collective bargaining agreement allotted 57 percent of basketball-related income, about $3.8 billion last season, to players in the aggregate.
The two sides are about $100 million per season apart. The league has already cancelled 100 regular season games, and reports suggest Stern will cancel an additional 102 games -- all scheduled contests through November 28 -- later Friday.
Stern is scheduled to speak to reporters Friday evening.
NBA lockout talks broke down on Friday for the fourth time in four weeks. ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that, as a result, NBA commissioner David Stern will announce the cancellation of additional games late Friday. It hasn't been reported how many games the league will lose, and whether a quick restart of talks over the weekend could save those games and the ones cancelled by Stern weeks ago.
In early October, Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, claiming 100 games. But as optimism rose in recent days, Stern indicated that the league would preserve as many games as possible once a deal was reached. Reports that all 82 games could be played in a season starting Dec. 1 crept out.
On the bright side, given Stern's previous statements that the league needs 30 days from handshake to basketball, the league and players' union have until Tuesday to get a deal and, in theory, keep an 82-game schedule.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reports that Friday's breakdown in the NBA lockout talks came as officials from the players' union would not drop below 52 percent of the league's revenue in negotiations. It's not clear whether owners were willing to drop below their proposed 50 percent mark. The union came in having gone as low as 52.5 percent.
Over the past two days, the two sides had been negotiating system issues, such as the luxury tax and salary cap exceptions. The negotiators purposefully took the revenue split off of the table because it lead to the most fiery, destructive breakdown in talks on Oct. 20, as the owners reportedly gave the union an ultimatum, take-it-or-leave-it offer for a 50-50 split. David Stern told the media late Thursday that everything would be negotiable in Friday's talks.
Windhorst also reports that more cancellations of regular season games will come on Friday. Stay tuned.
NBA lockout talks have broken up again, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard. The scribe reports that owners and players remain a couple percentage points apart on the split of league revenue. The owners have proposed a 50-50 of the NBA's basketball-related income, which amounted to $3.8 billion last season. The players, who received 57 percent in the last deal, has stuck at 52.5 percent.
The distance between the league and union coming into Friday's talks amounted to roughly $100 million per season.
The two sides met for 22 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, and both NBA commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter expressed optimism late Thursday. Numerous reporters also quoted sources who were hopeful a deal could be closed in on Friday and completed within a few days. The two sides only negotiated so-called "system issues" on Wednesday and Thursday, including luxury tax reform, salary cap exceptions and trade rules.
We'll keep you updated as information becomes available.
E-mails directing team employees to prepare for the end of the NBA lockout reported by Deadspin on Friday are not new occurrences, a league source tells SBNation.com. Similar e-mails preparing staff for the commencement of normal league operations have gone out during each major set of talks since August.
Top officials from the NBA and its players' union met for 22 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, with David Stern and union director Billy Hunter expressing optimism that a deal could be completed Friday or soon thereafter. Reports have surfaced indicating that the league has reached out to arena operators in an effort to maintain flexibility on late April 2012 dates, with the idea being that the regular season would be stretched until the end of that month if the lockout ends this weekend and an 82-game schedule is preserved.
Employees of the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers have been told to prepare for the NBA lockout to be lifted soon, with "business as usual" in effect as soon as Monday, reports Barry Petchesky of Deadspin.
The New Jersey Nets ticket sales office, idle for most of the fall, is holding a series of hastily called meetings today under the theme "Be Ready." One staffer tells us that a department-wide email has been circulated, instructing employees that "it's time to get back to work." The short-staffed 76ers' team office has been told that Monday will be "all hands on deck," as per orders from the league.
Top officials from the NBA and players' union are meeting in New York City, ironing out pretty major issues left unresolved through Thursday's talks. Both NBA commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter seemed encouraged that a deal could be reached as early as Friday in a chat with reporters after Thursday's session. The sides met for 15 hours on Wednesday and early Thursday and another seven hours on Thursday.
UPDATE: This type of e-mail to team employees is not new.
An amnesty clause approved in an NBA lockout deal might not be one that teams have to use immediately, reports ESPN.com's Marc Stein. Stein reports that San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt -- the chair of the league's labor committee -- is pushing to allow teams to hang on to their amnesty clause for at least two years. Steins says that the amnesty clause approved in 2005 had a two-week deadline.
That could be huge in terms of player movement, and would add a massive wrinkle to trade talks. If teams could save their amnesty clause, they may be more willing to acquire hefty contracts to land prized assets. As a direct result, teams like the Orlando Magic with multiple disastrous contracts could be able to rebuild more quickly, using their own amnesty clause on one player (like Hedo Turkoglu) and dealing another (like Gilbert Arenas) with an asset (like Ryan Anderson, Jameer Nelson or [gulp] Dwight Howard).
Of course, the biggest way that the new amnesty clause is different than the Michael Finley rule of 2005 is that cutting a player under the clause won't just give teams luxury tax savings: it will allow teams to shave salary cap space itself. This is going to have a major impact on the league's next four or five seasons.
Owners have moved away from a steeply punitive luxury tax system in the latest rounds of NBA lockout talks, reports SI.com's Zach Lowe. The league had been pushing for a graduated luxury tax in which the penalty increased as teams' payrolls got further from the salary cap. The old luxury tax system, in place for the past decade, was a simple dollar-for-dollar penalty above a threshold that ended up being roughly 20 percent higher than the league-set salary cap.
A few teams have seen fit to exceed the luxury tax threshold annually under the old rule; the Dallas Mavericks paid the tax in each season during which it was in effect, and the New York Knicks joined them every year until 2010-11, after GM Donnie Walsh cleared the decks for the 2010 free agent class.
Owners wanted a new system to make teams like the Mavericks, Knicks and L.A. Lakers -- who went $20 million over the tax line in each of the past two seasons -- think twice before adding players when they have already crossed the tax threshold. The players' union has reportedly agreed to strengthen the tax penalties somewhat, but wasn't willing to go as far as owners wanted to. We'll see where exactly the negotations end up.
This is separate but parallel to attempts by the league to regulate the types of moves teams over the tax line can make, which would essentially create two different salary caps in the NBA.
With the NBA lockout "on the cusp" of being solved, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the biggest remaining issues on the salary cap system end of the negotiating spectrum is not with luxury tax reform itself, but with limitations on the use of the popular mid-level and bi-annual salary cap exceptions.
The exceptions were created in 1999 as a way to allow teams to add a couple of players above the minimum salary, even if those teams were over the cap. (In fact, teams could only use those exceptions if they were over the cap or less than the value of the specific exception in question under the cap.) The mid-level, in recent years, grew to as much as $32 million over five years. The bi-annual exception -- available for use by teams every other season -- is worth close to $4 million over two years.
Woj reports that owners still want to place limitations on the use of the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions for teams over the luxury tax line. There may be other issues with new regulations for teams above the tax, such as restrictions on sign-and-trades. But Woj indicates that the nature of the new tax -- which is expected to be more punitive than the dollar-for-dollar system used in the past -- is not a major issue in negotiations at this point.
The sides reconvene at 10:30 a.m. ET.
The NBA lockout talks ended early on Thursday night, but the two sides will meet again on Friday as they work to end the impasse between the owners and players associated in the three-month long mess. It sounds like the first thing addressed on the agenda Friday will be the revenue split, a point of contention throughout much of the talks.
It wasn't talked about during the open press availability, but former ESPN writer Chris Sheridan reports that the split of basketball related income will lead Friday's talks for better or worse.
Billy Hunter told the world the sides in the NBA lockout are "within striking distance of a deal," and he told SheridanHoops.com even more: "The BRI split is the very first thing we are going to try to tackle in the morning."
The BRI split wasn't even mentioned on Thursday as the Players Association economist wasn't in the meetings, but he was expected to return Friday as the two sides look to end the lockout and salvage some sort of 82-game season.
The NBA lockout deal coming into view would create two salary caps, the higher of which would force teams to make difficult decisions that have little to do with the luxury tax itself.
If a deal to end the NBA lockout deal is reached within the next few days, as is widely hoped and seen as plausible at this point, commissioner David Stern has said that the league would like to save as many games as possible, leaving open the potential for November games already cancelled to be added back in. To do that completely within the old regular season schedule would produce some nasty road trips. But the league may have another idea.
According to Howard Beck of the New York Times, the NBA has begun to ask arena officials to hold open dates in late April, with the assumption that the league would schedule regular season games beyond the traditional mid-April cutoff and push back the playoffs.
Arenas already keep a certain number of late April, May and early June dates open for postseason play (though there are always quiet battles for dates between the NBA and other major event circuits, like WWE). But every NBA arena would need to keep at least a few dates in late April open to shift the regular season there, and the playoff commitment would likely extend at least a week later, assuming that the league can't condense the first three rounds of the postseason by more than a week.
Since the start of the NBA lockout, commissioner David Stern and the owners have made no bones about their negative view of union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, who has worked myriad collective bargaining effort for the National Basketball Players Association as well as the NFL's players' association. In its federal lawsuit seeking to block decertification, the NBA mentioned Kessler by name five times. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter was not mentioned once.
Kessler has not been at this week's fruitful lockout talks due to an urgent assignment in Russia. TrueHoop's ace Henry Abbott has talked to league sources who say Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen wasn't brought in to the talks a week ago to make funny faces at the union, but to observe how impossible it is to knock Kessler off of his position.
Much was made of Portland owner Paul Allen's appearance in last week's mediated session. The suggestion was that he was there to send a message that owners were holding a hard line.
NBA sources, however, say it was nothing of the sort. In fact, they say, he was there at the invitation of the NBA's negotiators to watch Kessler. Allen was one of several owners who thought Stern and Silver had made players an overly generous offer of 50 percent of basketball-related income. The league's lead negotiators essentially replied: go see for yourself. You think you can get Kessler to go for 47 percent? Good luck to you.
Since Kessler left the room, the negotiations have seemingly gone smoother. The union has surely conceded some points, as the league definitely has. That leaves a burning questions for fans who want basketball and won't be affected one iota if the players take 50 percent or 51 or 52: Kessler isn't going to be back on Friday, is he?
After just seven and a half hours on Thursday, the NBA lockout meetings came to a close in New York, but it wasn't due to either side breaking off negotiations. Instead, after a long day on Wednesday, the two sides will regroup and get back at it on Friday, and both seem to be hopefully a deal is in the works. While the BRI split has yet to be discussed, all signs are pointing towards progress being made on the rest of the system issues.
Billy Hunter took on a different tone to close his press conference, perhaps hinting at some of the more positive aspects of the negotiations.
Billy Hunter's press conference signoff: "Commissioner Stern's back there smiling. I guess that's a good indication."
And there was this from Adrian Wojnarowksi.
David Stern standing in back of union's news conference, trading laughs with Hunter at podium. That's a first.
It does seem as though the NBA and players' union are both in good spirits after the marathon talks this week in New York. Whether it will result in a deal in the next few days remains to be seen, but these are the most encouraging signs we've seen during the drawn-out labor struggle yet.
The sign-and-trade, that old bastion of salary cap flouting that has allowed nominal stars win fatter contracts and high-spending teams to add stacks on stacks on stacks onto their payroll, has survived the latest round of NBA lockout talks, reports ESPN shark Marc Stein. Owners had sought to kill the sign-and-trade in order to help level out team payrolls, but have apparently conceded that request.
Stein also reports that still up in the air is whether teams over the luxury tax will be allowed to use the sign-and-trade. The players' union has expressed wide concern about the league creating a luxury tax line that effectively acts like a hard salary cap; putting restrictions on the types of moves that can be made at the tax line would fit that concern.
Sign-and-trade contracts are typically used in two situations: when a team near or over the salary cap wants to acquire a free agent and has an asset the free agent's incumbent team is interested in (see: David Lee to the Golden State Warriors) or when a free agent is leaving for a team with cap space but wants to sign a Birds right deal with its longer allowable terms and higher allowable annual raises (see: LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat).
Keeping the sign-and-trade around will help facilitate a high level of player movement. But its cost is payroll parity. The negotiation on the luxury tax clause will be an important one.
There is no deal to end the NBA lockout yet and nobody's quite sure how much progress is being made in the latest rounds of talks. While the sentiment from New York is that the talks are productive, we've seen the story before, and all it takes is on setback for everything to collapse. But it's still encouraging.
Even more encouraging, perhaps, is this nugget from Adrian Wojnarowski.
Signs of labor optimism: Team execs cancelling scouting trips, preparing for free agency. Agents quietly reaching out to teams on players.
As the negotiations have progressed, there's been little movement outside the room. If team executives truly are preparing for free agency and agents are springing to life, perhaps it means a deal could be coming. Or this could all be standard preparations for a season being made just in case everything works out in the near future. It's always good to be prepared!
The sharp and stylish Sam Amick of SI.com has a kind, necessary note warning fans against getting too excited over all of the optimism glowing like a spotlight from the NBA lockout meetings in New York City this week. He reminds us that this isn't the first time that the league and players' union have made progress when attacking the stalemate with small groups of only the top negotiators. We all know what has happened on prior occasions.
[W]hat happens when hard-line owners like Cleveland's Dan Gilbert and Portland's Paul Allen re-enter the conversation Thursday afternoon? Or when the stars such as Boston's Kevin Garnett or the Lakers' Kobe Bryant weigh in on the fact that the 53-percent-BRI-line-in-the-sand has long since been crossed by the union? Stern himself got it right near the end of his early-morning media briefing, offering a bottom-line assessment that fans would be wise to remember.
"There's no deal on anything unless there's a deal on everything," he said.
Paul Allen's Death Stare can still ruin everything, you guys.
As NBA lockout talks continue on Thursday, little has leaked about Wednesday's 15-hour session between top officials from the league and players' union. But Zach Lowe of SI.com reports that, just as was the case last week, luxury tax reform remains the greatest hurdle to clear when it comes to reaching agreement on salary cap system issues.
Lowe reports that while specifics of the owners' most current proposal are unknown, a source indicates that one facet that the union despises remains on the table.
Sources close to the talks indicated last Thursday that the league had softened the tax ratios, but that the multiplying penalties for routine payers remained. A source close to the talks tells me that remains true today-that the league has stood by the multiplied penalties for teams that pay the tax three or more times during a five-year span.
This type of regulation would serve to keep certain teams from becoming habitual taxpayers. One can't help but think of the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks when considering the proposal. The Mavericks have paid the tax in every season since it was established more than a decade ago; the Knicks have only avoided it once in the past decade, in 2010-11.
It'll be interesting to see whether the union remains steadfast against any multiplier effect, or will accept a dampened multiplier rule.
Kevin Murphy, a Univeristy of Chicago professor, MacArthur fellow and National Basketball Players Association economist, did a rare interview with NBA.com's fabulous Steve Aschburner, and it's a doozy. Murphy, who has been heralded as one of the smartest economists in the United States, began working for the players' union in the run-up to the 2005 collective bargaining negotiations. The NBA escaped a lockout that time around as David Stern agreed to a deal containing relatively minor concessions from the players. The league hasn't been so swift to settle this time around.
Perhaps the most head-smacking part of Murphy's conversation with Aschburner revolves around the incentive for owning an NBA team, considering that the league is losing money. Six teams have changed hands in the past two seasons, making observers skeptical that the league is in as bad a position as it claims to be.
Here's Murphy on the tax benefits of franchise ownership, even when the team's losing money.
[H]istorically, you've seen franchises appreciate in value and that appreciation has more than outstripped any cash-flow losses that you've had. And if you're in the right tax position, it's actually pretty good because you've got a tax loss annually on your operating and you've got a capital gain at the end that you accumulate untaxed until you sell it and then pay at a lower rate. So you get a deferred tax treatment on the gains and an immediate tax treatment on the losses, that's not a bad deal.
He goes on to give an example to flesh it out. The entire piece is a must-read.
As the NBA lockout continues, owners have ignored a very big investor that makes the business possible: the public who builds arenas.
Optimism has captured the hearts and souls of many a basketball fan during the NBA lockout before being cruelly pulled away like Lucy all too often pulled the football out from in front of Charlie Brown's foot. Once again, however, the negotiations have opened up room for optimism.
Wednesday's meetings apparently went well as the owners and players met for more than 15 hours before agreeing to resume talks at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. If Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski's source are right, and they usually are, it sounds as though Thursday might be the day to get a real deal done.
"Clearly, things happened [in recent days] to get this from a ‘sad, sad day for the NBA' and ‘you were just lied to,' to a current tenor where all signs point to the real possibility of a deal," one source briefed on the talks late Wednesday told Yahoo! Sports.
Another of Wojnarowski's sources said that "they need [Thursday] to punch it over end line," lending credence to the idea that the two sides are close enough that just a couple of details need to be agreed upon before a deal is reached.
Now all basketball fans to need to hope for is anything but another epic disaster and further delays to the NBA season.
Guest contributor Tyler Goldman, CEO of BUZZMEDIA and former sports attorney, joins SB Nation to weigh in on the NBA lockout and explain why David Stern is at fault.
The NBA lockout talks have continued off and on with quite a bit of rhetoric from the two sides and seemingly not a lot of real movement toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That is seemingly on pace to change sometime Thursday, however, as Billy Hunter set high expectations for the two sides' second meeting in as many days.
Hunter, the National Basketball Players Association executive director, was a key figure in the last lockout and has been just as important in the current state of affairs so he should know what he's talking about. And, if his quote from early Thursday morning isn't being taken out of context, it seems as if Hunter could be bringing everyone good news sometime soon.
"I think depending on how much progress we make (Thursday), we'll be in a better position to be more explanatory and definitive about the specifics of the deal," Hunter told reporters following Wednesday's marathon meeting according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
"Specifics of the deal," for those that needed the explanation, promotes the idea that a deal would actually be in place following a decent day of negotiating session on Thursday. And that, as Martha Stewart might say, would be a good thing.
The NBA lockout has already forced the outright cancellation of the first two weeks of the NBA regular season after previously counting training camps and preseason games as its first casualties. Commissioner David Stern said that there's still a possibility of an 82-game schedule if the collective bargaining agreement is solved soon, however.
Stern was a part of a small negotiating committee that met into the early hours of Thursday morning in hopes of saving the NBA season -- or at least the cancellation of more games -- and while applying a tourniquet that shouldn't have been required, he also gave some hope for those that prefer watching a basketball season in its entirety.
"Whether that gets to be 82 games or not is dependent upon so many things that have to be checked,'' Stern told reporters after the marathon negotiating session. "We just think we've got to do it soon."
Alright, so an 82-game schedule will be difficult to pull off -- the season likely won't start until four weeks after a deal has been reached -- but at least it still remains a possibility.
The NBA lockout could be near its glorious, merciful end. It's just too bad that the deal within reach could have been had back in August, if the sides had cared more about a solution than leverage.
NBA lockout talks reconvened on Wednesday in New York City, and representatives from the league and players' union had their longest bargaining session yet, stretching 15 hours, into the wee morning on Thursday. Afterward, in comments to the exhausted media, each side agreed that progress had been made on salary cap issues.
"We were able to work through a number of different issues today regarding our system," union president Derek Fisher said. "We can't say that major progress was made in any way, but some progress was made on system issues. Obviously enough for us to come back."
The two small groups will return to the bargaining table on Thursday. NBA commissioner David Stern left open the possibility of getting all 82 games in if a deal is agreed to by this weekend. That would take some real acrobatics, given that everyone projects the earliest regular season game from the day a handshake deal is reached is about 30 days out.
NBA lockout talks resumed on Wednesday, and CBS Sports' Ken Berger offers the best news we've had in months: a source says that owners and players are "inching closer to a deal."Owners dropped their precondition on the players accepting a 50-50 revenue split before negotiating the league's proposed "system changes," setting up Wednesday's session. But that doesn't mean the league was necessarily willing to move off of 50-50, especially considering that the owners made the same demand two weeks ago. (They came off it of it then, too.)
This could be a mirage, but that willingness to negotiate again could signal a willingness to move on the major issues. Perhaps the quickly approaching practical deadline to reach a deal before all of November is lost can jolt the sides into compromise. Or perhaps thicker heads can continue to prevail. We should know more by the end of this week, as the two sides seem incapable of meeting for more than three days in a row.
When a few top officials from the league and players' union rekindle NBA lockout talks on Wednesday, it will not happen under the precondition that players accept the owners' 50-50 revenue split proposal, reports Chris Sheridan.
Talks broke down last Thursday when owners, led by San Antonio Spurs boss Peter Holt, told representatives from the players' union that no further negotiations on changes to the salary cap system would be held until the players accepted the league's proposed 50-50 split of revenue. Players balked at the ultimatum, talks broke off and federal mediator George Cohen bolted for the exits.
Accepting a 50-50 split would represent a drawdown in total player salary of about $280 million compared to last season. The NBA has claimed its teams lost $300 million last season. The union has contended that half of those losses stem from depreciation and interest payments on debt -- losses that are fine to report to the IRS but that have no place in the discussion when asking for severe employee concessions.
It's unclear if the two sides will get anywhere, but having them in the same room is better than not.
We in Sacramento know that you can find a way to blame everything on Kobe Bryant, so it's no surprise that the following narrative has now sprung up. ESPN's Brian Windhorst writes about the infamous letter to David Stern penned by eight small-market owners in 2006 asking for wholesale changes to the league's economic system. Those 2006 concerns are now driving the NBA lockout, with all owners seeking substantial cutbacks in player salary and a number of owners pushing hard for serious revenue sharing.
But the actual nudge toward this reality was, according to one of Windhorst's anonymous sources, the massive L.A. Lakers' TV deal signed last year.
"That Lakers' TV deal scared the hell out of everybody," one league official said. "Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn't fair that they didn't have to share it with the teams they're playing against."
The Lakers' deal with Time Warner Cable, which goes into effect in 2012, is worth $150-200 million per season. The Sacramento Kings, by comparison, make $14 million a season from local TV revenue.
While the structural issues existed before Jerry Buss acquired his newest vault of gold, the Lakers' new TV deal apparently only exacerbated them. In other words, Lakers TV made the income disparity in the NBA real.
Revenue sharing looms behind the NBA lockout. It won't help competitive balance, but a more robust sharing program could help small-market teams turn a profit. That should be the program's focus.
The NBA was expected to cancel another round of games on Tuesday, but the day came and went without any word regarding further changes to the (hopefully) upcoming season's schedule. The reason for that, apparently, was due to the fact that the NBA lockout negotiations will continue in New York on Wednesday.
The talks won't include the large groups that were in attendance last week when negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, but rather just the key negotiators as they look to get everything back on track. Newsday's Alan Hahn was the first to report the details.
A person with knowledge of the situation told Newsday that the sides will get together in Manhattan to resume talks that broke down last Thursday after three days of mediation. It is not known if the NBA has dropped its precondition that the union agree to a 50-50 split of league revenue, which was what union executive director Billy Hunter said led to the owners abruptly ending what had been viewed as constructive talks presided over by federal mediator George Cohen.
If either side has decided to resume negotiating the split regarding Basketball Related Income, this meeting could mean something ... but, as basketball fans are surely well-versed, it doesn't pay to get anyone's hopes up until something definitive happens.
NBA owners are meeting Tuesday to discuss the league's revenue sharing program, reports Henry Abbott of ESPN/TrueHoop. Revenue sharing reform is on what league officials have described as a "separate but parallel track" from NBA lockout talks. As such, the players' union is not directly involved in negotiating a more robust revenue sharing program, but reforms to that system inform and are informed by the ongoing battle over a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners.
Lockout talks stalled again Thursday, as owners were unwilling to negotiate so-called "system issues" without the union first agreeing to a 50-50 split of revenue. In the previous agreement, players earned 57 percent of the league's basketball-related income.
Players have pushed for stronger revenue sharing, something also sought by a swath of hardline small market owners who blame the league's imbalance on big-spending teams in larger markets. Union director Billy Hunter has frequently called into question the owners' unity, citing differences of opinion on the need and fairness of robust revenue sharing.
A report from the New York Times last week suggested that in the revenue sharing reforms proposed, the L.A. Lakers and New York Knicks would pay in $50 million and $30 million respectively, and small market teams would take up to $15 million in shared revenue annually.
Representatives from both sides of the NBA lockout spoke on Monday, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard. It's unclear what exactly the discussion entailed and how long it lasted, and no new formal negotiations have been announced. But the league and players' union are in fact communicating.
Billy Hunter, the director of the players' union, said Monday on Bill Simmons' podcast that the union will meet with the league to resume negotiations provided that owners become willing to negotiate without players accepting the proposed 50-50 revenue split as a precondition. That ultimatum reportedly led to the dissolution of talks on Thursday, and has put another two weeks of regular season action in jeopardy.
The NBA and players' union negotiated for three straight days last week, a record high during this lockout. In comparison, the NFL and its players' union negotiated for 16 straight days about a month before its lockout even began.
The NBA lockout will claim two more weeks of the regular season on Tuesday as commissioner David Stern will cancel an additional 102 games, report Frank Isola and Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. If the report is accurate, Stern will have cancelled 202 games -- or 16 percent of the regular season, plus the entire preseason -- as a result of locking out players while the sides fight over a new collective bargaining agreement.
Talks broke off for the third time in three weeks on Thursday, as federal mediator George Cohen was unable to break a stalemate on the revenue split players would earn under a new deal. Players had earned 57 percent of league revenue over the last decade. The league refused to negotiate the rest of the collective bargaining agreement last Thursday unless the union conceded to a 50-50 split of revenue. The players have gone as low as 52.5 percent.
New York Knicks owner James Dolan would like the NBA Lockout to be over and done with, according to Knicks guard and vice president of the Players Association Roger Mason Jr.
"You can look at it and say the majority of owners don't want a deal," Mason told The Post yesterday from his Los Angeles home. "But there are owners eager to get a deal done. At this moment they are overshadowed by a contingent of owners who are trying to get everything they want in a new CBA."
Mason then said that Dolan was among the owners "who's ready to get back to work."
As much as a prolonged lockout that reworks their arrangement with the players could reap long-term benefits for the NBA owners, they're going to suffer greatly in the short-term. It's understandible that some of the owners might not be too happy with watching their home arena sit empty of what would have been game nights.
NBA commissioner David Stern is expected to cancel more games in the 2011-2012 NBA season this week.
The 30 hours of ultimately doomed NBA lockout negotiations held last week under the wathcful eye of federal mediator George ohen weren't completely fruitless, reports Chris Sheridan. The league and players' union did reach agreements on a number of smaller issues at play in the stoppage.
Sheridan reports that league officials agreed to shrink the restricted free agency window from seven days down to 3-4 days at the behest of the players. Under the old system, once restricted free agents signed offer sheets with non-incumbent teams, the players' previous team had up to seven days to match the offer and maintain the players' rights. This can create a hazard for teams looking to sign restricted free agents, as their cap space is tied up until the other team makes a decision. (Teams rarely match or decline offers before the seven-day window is close to ending; one notable exception is Josh Smith in 2009, as the Atlanta Hawks matched the Memphis Grizzlies' offer almost immediately.)
The other tweak nearly agreed upon would loosen up trade rules. Under the old system, teams over the salary cap had to send out contracts worth roughly the same annually as those coming in -- the window there is 125 percent plus $100,000. The union has pushed to expand that wiggle room to up to 225 percent; the league has agreed to open it up a bit, but only to 150 percent. One assumes a deal point can be found between.
But of these specific tweaks will open up the league to more player movement in theory. Hurray for trade deadline day!
The NBA lockout negotiations have not been ending acrimoniously as every meeting seems to end with only dooms day in sight. The most recent meetings seemed to end even worse than the rest, but talks will "probably" resume at some point next week regardless.
Howard Beck of the New York Times brings the optimistic approach regarding the next round of negotiations.
Yet on Friday, people on both sides of the divide, speaking off the record, predicted there would be a phone call or two over the weekend and probably another meeting next week. That has been the pattern all month: every dramatic breakdown followed by a brief silence and then a surprising resumption of talks.
Beck also reported that there were actually things agreed upon during the 30 hours of meeting last week, at least for the time being, included the much-talked about "amnesty clause."
¶ There will be a one-time "amnesty" provision that will allow each team to waive a player (with pay) without his salary counting against the salary cap.
¶ There will be a "stretch" exception, available every year, allowing teams to waive players and stretch out their remaining salary over a number of seasons, thus reducing the annual salary-cap hit.
¶ The midlevel exception will be set around $5 million, a decrease of $800,000, but more than double what the owners were seeking.
Obviously this is not the time to get anyone's hopes up, but at least it's better than nothing?
In the latest bit of information that proves the NBA lockout is not on course for a happy ending, the NBA is allowing team's arenas to open dates that were previously held for scheduled regular season games. This means that, if the NBA does begin anytime soon, the schedule will have to be revamped as concerts and rodeos will take place of the previously scheduled basketball games.
Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register was the first to report on the new deal struck between the NBA and its team's playing facilities.
According to a statement from the NBA: "With the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season, the NBA schedule would have to be reworked and certain dates - including Dec. 13 for a Lakers game at Staples Center - would not be part of any revised schedule."
Actually, it's two additional NBA games already on the move, because the league did the same thing to accommodate another Jay-Z and Kanye show at Chicago's United Center on Nov. 30, when the Bulls are currently scheduled to play the San Antonio Spurs.
This could simply mean that the NBA has a contingency plan -- SB Nation's own Jon Bois recently looked at various possibilities -- in place that includes a revamped schedule with different dates being used that don't include the above games. It would have seemed quite a bit easier to keep that part of the schedule reserved, however ... at least until the next round of cancellations wipes out those games anyway.
If you want to blame players for the extended NBA lockout, fine. Go ahead. But just know that at least a few owners are responsible for pouring gasoline all over the latest talks, with one familiar face lighting the match that ruined it all.
David Stern had the flu, the owners took his place, and the NBA lockout negotiations fell apart again on Thursday. Now, with the the lockout looking like it's going to last much longer, let's try to understand why this is happening.
More wonderful nuggets of the exploding animosity between owners and the players union are coming forth by the second after Thursday night's failed mediated negotiating session, but perhaps none more explosive than this, if it is indeed true:
This sort of thing sounds a little too much like spin to take the source at face value, but I believe the intention was there. It's not that they want the NBPA to feel more pain, it's that the owners think with more pain, the players will back down more.
Derek Fisher had a few things to get off his chest after Adam Silver and the NBA side had their turn at the podium on Thursday. Fisher just let it all out as he opened his comments by calling out the owners, blasting the lies that had been told and railed against negotiations he called a sham.
Fisher opened with a purpose, telling reporters:
"I want to make it clear: You guys were lied to earlier."
"They're interested in telling you one side of the story that is not true."
"There were comments coming out of (NBA news conference) that were simply not true..."
Just minutes earlier, Silver told reporters the players had refused to come down from a 52.5 percent revenue split, citing it as the downfall of the latest round of talks.
Fisher: 50-50 was a move that was made Oct. 4 "Obviously they have no intention of moving from 50."
"We made several moves on the tax...Brought it down...They're dead set on running the table."
The press conference was basically a large venting session, but that didn't make it any less fun. Fisher showed plenty of fire while going after the owners and accusing them of being less than honest, both at the negotiating table and to the public.
There was no negotiating the 50-50 BRI split, according to NBPA union executive Billy Hunter, and that's why the talks broke down on Thursday. Hunter told reporters the union was presented an ultimatum by the owners, and even with a mediator present, the 50-50 split was non-negotiable.
Hunter says he looked at mediator's notes, and they said Holt and Silver described 50-50 as "take it or leave it."
Hunter had his theories on the split, and explained why the union was reluctant to take it during the mediation sessions this week.
Billy Hunter saying again that this whole process was "pre-ordained" to break the union. Says owners gave union "ultimatum" on 50-50 split.
Hunter says players won't accept the 50-50 split until players know what the system -- lux tax, exceptions -- lools like.
If Hunter is to be believed, the union was essentially flying blind, without a clue what the so-called 50-50 split meant in terms of the complete structure of the deal. It appears the long hours with the mediator and marathon meeting sessions were for naught as the BRI split was, once again, the sticking point that killed any momentum in the talks.
Federal mediator George Cohen said there was "no useful purpose" to continue NBA lockout talks on Thursday after officials from the league and players' union again reached an impasse on the revenue split issue. In a statement released as NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver and San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt explained why owners and players broke off the talks, Cohen said that mediated negotiations held from Tuesday through Thursday were productive, there was no point to keeping the sides in a room.
"As a follow up to the NBA's and NBA Players Association agreeing to my invitation to conduct negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS, three days of mediation have taken place," Cohen wrote. "During this period, a wide variety of issues were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner, consistent with what one would expect to take place in a constructive collective bargaining setting.
"Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement, nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held, competing positions that separated them on core issues.
"In these circumstances, after carefully reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered judgment of myself and Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, who has been engaged with me throughout this process, that no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time. For our part, the Agency has advised the parties that we will be willing and prepared to continue to facilitate any future discussions upon their mutual request."
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, in announcing that NBA lockout talks had broken off on Thursday, said that once the owners moved their revenue split proposal to 50-50, the players' union moved to a 52.5 percent share and would not go further. Players were mandated 57 percent of NBA revenue over the past decade, and prior to Thursday had offered to drop to 53 percent. The owners themselves were at 53 percent on Wednesday -- though commissioner David Stern had said in the past he could sell his owners on 50 percent.
Silver did not announce further cancellations on Thursday, but those are due to come with the league and union not planning to meet again anytime soon. The regular season was slated to begin on November 1, but Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the season 10 days ago. One hundred games were lost in that round of cancellations.
The 2.5 percent of NBA revenue that separates the owners and union at this point amounts to roughly $100 million per season.
NBA lockout talks broke off for the third time in three weeks on Thursday as federal mediator George Cohen apparently could not get officials from the league and players' union to make major concessions on the key hurdles holding up the 2010-11 season. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report that talks had broken off after 7 p.m. on Thursday with no further meetings scheduled.
Woj also reported that a failure to reach an agreement on a revenue split is what did the latest talks in. Before Cohen got the groups together on Tuesday, each side wanted 53 percent of revenue in a new deal, with the other side taking 47 percent. (Players had received 57 percent of revenue in the recently expired deal.) The league had reportedly moved to a 50-50 offer by the end of Wednesday's session, but apparently the union would not meet them there.
The first two weeks of the regular season -- some 100 games -- had already been cancelled by NBA commissioner David Stern. More cancellations are expected.
The NBA's new revenue sharing plan -- being negotiated by owners on a parallel track to the ongoing NBA lockout talks with the players' union -- could net small-market teams up to $15 million per year, reports the New York Times' Howard Beck, citing a source who has seen the plan. Large-market teams would be funding the program, with the high-revenue L.A. Lakers in for an estimated $50 million per year and the New York Knicks expected to contribute up to $30 million.
The NBA has a modest revenue sharing plan already, with a total of up to $60 million shared between teams. NBA commissioner David Stern had said that he expects owners to approve a plan to triple that level of revenue sharing.
NBA owners discussed the revenue sharing plan at a meeting Thursday morning before league officials and top representatives of the players' union reunited with federal mediator George Cohen for additional lockout talks late Thursday. The first two weeks of the regular season have already been cancelled.
The NBA lockout talks continue to progress ever so slowly, but there is one new idea that has reportedly crept into discussion that could be a tempting compromise for both owners and the NBA Players Association. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the owners have floated the idea of a "bonus pool" where young players on rookie contracts would receive performance incentives if they achieve certain honors.
The owners also are proposing a "bonus pool" of money for high-achieving young players with performance-based incentives. Under the proposal, players would be rewarded for winning Rookie of the Year and making All-Star teams and other accomplishments.
This idea stems from the NBPA's desire to see players who are superstars on rookie contracts, such as Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, get quicker access to extensions. Currently, new deals can only go into effect after the fourth year of their careers.
In addition, Wojnarowski reports the two sides are close to agreeing on a new mid-level exception starting at $5 million with annual raises for up to three years. The owners wanted the length to be dropped to three years, and the players agreed.
As the NBA convenes in New York City for owners' meetings and continued meetings with the NBA Players Association and federal mediator George Cohen, there's one man missing: NBA commissioner David Stern. The NBA's deputy commissioner, Adam Silver, announced on Thursday that Stern was not present at the NBA owners meetings and will miss the labor talks, as well.
Stern has the flu, according to Silver, and has spent the day at home. Lest we mistake his absence for a sign that talks will stall today, Silver assured the assembled media that Stern has been checking in on progress with text messages and e-mails. What's more, Silver has been the lead negotiator for the NBA all along, so Stern's absence doesn't necessarily change things in a practical sense.
David Stern may be the man who's ultimately responsible for signing off on any deal, but that doesn't mean the two sides can't make plenty of progress without him. And hey, look! It seems like they may have finally figured out a mid-level exception. Maybe this flu is a blessing...
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver spoke to reporters briefly after meetings between the league's owners wrapped up Thursday and just before NBA lockout talks reconvened in New York. Silver, the league's lead lockout negotiator, took the podium because his boss David Stern is out with the flu. In response to a question about reports of the potential for an 82-game schedule despite Stern's previous cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, Silver hedged and said he was unsure if that was possible.
While it was vague and less than noncommittal, that he didn't dismiss the suggestion outright represents a different line than what the league has been offering since Stern announced the cancellations last week.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that a league source indicated that if a deal is reached this week, an 82-game schedule could still be made a reality. However, with the London Olympics beginning on July 28, the NBA would be in a massive time-crunch to get the season tipped off.
NBA owners have proposed an amnesty clause mechanism as part of their talks with the NBPA towards a new collective bargaining agreement.
The NBA lockout talks seem to be moving in a positive direction since federal mediator George Cohen entered the discussion on Tuesday. Apparently Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has also stepped up this week as the league and its players look to halt the canceling of more regular season games.
The biggest issue, at least the one that is talked about the most, has been the distribution of Basketball Related Income as the owners are hoping to drastically drop the amount of revenue the players get from 57 percent to 47 percent this season. Fortunately, it seems Cuban is helping to bridge that gap.
In fact, a source briefed on the talks told NBA.com's David Aldridge that there won't be a problem on the split. Dallas owner Mark Cuban reportedly was helpful in moving the owners and the players -- each of whom had wanted 53 percent of BRI (the old split favored the players 57/43) -- toward the middle.
The latest talks are that the two sides could agree to a split closer to 50-50, though nobody really knows what will happen until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed.
A prominent sportswriter has the NBA lockout all figured out. Oh, wait. No, he doesn't. News at 11.
Long NBA lockout talks on Tuesday and Wednesday have led to tangible progress on at least one major issue, as Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that owners and the players' union have gotten closer on the revenue split.
As long expected, the two sides have moved closer to a "50-50 split, give or take a point with ranges based on revenue performance," one source said.
The two sides had been stuck on 53-47 offers, with the league and union respectively desiring the bigger share. In the recently expired collective bargaining agreement, players took 57 percent of basketball-related income, some $2.1 billion last season. The 53 percent share the union had been offering in talks represented salary concessions of $140 million for next season, in addition to a virtual concession of escrow funds amounting to 8 percent that teams keep on hand to balance the split at the end of the seaosn.
Woj went on to quote anonymous executives who were hesitant to characterize the revenue split movement as a "breakthrough." Owners will discuss revenue sharing on Thursday before talks reconvene in the afternoon.
You think you miss NBA basketball? Think about how much the mayors of cities like Salt Lake City and Sacramento, who count on NBA games to bring much-needed revenue into town, feel about the lockout?
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA star) Kevin Johnson an 12 other mayors from NBA cities have signed an open letter to the NBA and the players, hoping to persuade the two sides to resolve the labor-deal impasse and get the 2011-12 season going.
We are proud to call our cities home to NBA franchises. As basketball fans, we know winning and losing is part of the game. Rest assured; everyone loses if there is no season.
The mayors don't know what impact, if any, their letter will have. However it's once again a nice reminder that the millionaires at the middle of this debate aren't the only ones missing out on money right now.
Federal mediator George Cohen announced Wednesday evening that NBA lockout talks would continue on Thursday at the conclusion of owners' meetings in New York City. The two sides met with Cohen for 16 hours on Tuesday and early Wednesday, and again for nearly nine hours on Wednesday. Tuesday marked the first negotiating session between the league and players' union since NBA commissioner David Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season on Oct. 10.
Cohen offered no insight on the state of negotiations, and reiterated that he has asked league and union officials to stay mum. Cohen has no authority in his role as mediator, but both sides have heretofore acceded to his wishes.
The NBA has not cancelled additional games as threatened by Stern in comments to the media late last week. Stern had said that without a deal by the end of Tuesday, he could cancel games through Christmas.
NBA commissioner David Stern left a mediation meeting with players with attend a NBA Planning committee Wednesday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
NBA spokesman says David Stern left hotel to meet with NBA's Planning Committee meeting, but Adam Silver continues to meet with NBPA.
Stern left with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck for NBA Board of Governors Planning Committee meeting, which centers on revenue sharing.
Silver, deputy commissioner, and Spurs owner Peter Holt are still meeting with mediator and union officials.
What does it mean? Possibly nothing. With other notables still in the mediation, it's not as if the owners walked away from it. Still...Stern had to know his action would be noticed.
Expect the mediation to continue and expect Stern to be back at the table sooner or later.
Something must have happened during the longest NBA lockout meeting ever, right? No, no: some things must have happened.
The band will get back together on Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET to continue NBA lockout talks that stretched for 16 hours on Tuesday and early Wednesday. David Stern, Billy Hunter and the bargaining committees for each side will again meet with federal mediator George Cohen, who began work on the lockout on Monday.
After meeting with each side separately on Monday, Cohen led a bargaining session more than twice as long as any that came before it. The league and players' union have been unable to make progress despite heavy negotiating over the past month, and it appears that Tuesday was no exception, as not one reporter passed on leaked info that pointed to real progress on the major issues that vex the sides.
It seems unlikely that the Wednesday talks will go around the clock; NBA owners are in New York for league meetings, some of which have been rescheduled to allow for lockout talks early Wednesday.
NBA lockout talks spanned 16 hours on Tuesday and early Wednesday, with federal mediator George Cohen keeping negotiators from the league and players' union in a conference room from 10 a.m. ET until 2 a.m. But reports out of New York suggest no major progress was made during the session, which has been cast as a "building blocks" meeting for a Wednesday session.
From Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
At one point late into the night, it was decided that the two sides needed to come back later Wednesday -- a session that is expected to decide whether the change of format and removal of emotion will yield movement in each side's position. A person with knowledge of the talks described Tuesday's session as laying the "building blocks" for Wednesday.
NBA owners had been scheduled to meet among themselves to review revenue sharing plans and lockout deal points, but the league's labor committee will instead reconvene with Cohen and players' union reps at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that any progress made Tuesday came only on small items.
Asked if the sides had closed any gaps between them, a source in the meeting told Y! Sports: "On small stuff. Hard to see where this is going."
The city of Memphis will consider suing the NBA and the Grizzlies to recoup losses caused by the ongoing NBA lockout, according to Lauren Lee of MyFoxMemphis. Memphis' city council approved a resolution on Tuesday that allows city staff to explore paths to reimbursement, including litigation, should the city be forced to pick up the tab for up to $18 million in bond payments usually covered by revenue generated at FedEx Forum by Grizzlies home games.
The league has cancelled all of the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season while negotiating off and on with the players' union over salary concessions and salary cap changes. NBA commissioner David Stern has warned he will cancel all games through Christmas if a deal is not soon reached. As Memphis' city council approved the resolution allowing for a lawsuit on Tuesday, league and players' union officials were stretching toward their ninth hour on negotiations under the guidance of federal mediator George Cohen.
The FedEx Forum in Memphis, like many NBA arenas, is owned by the public. Reports have suggested that over the past decade, the public has funded $1.75 billion of the $2 billion in construction costs sunk into NBA arenas.
The NBA has already canceled the first two weeks of the season, but there are still multiple reports out there that the league is looking into contingency plans for a revised schedule if and when this season can be saved. There is even talk of a potential full 82-game slate.
This would be great news for fans, but as the Los Angeles Times points out, extending the schedule comes with its own set of problems.
Finding a place to play, however, might be more difficult.
"I've heard talk that the players and owners would look to add games past the drop-dead date of the NBA Finals, June 21 — I know they are tinkering with that," said Lee Zeidman, general manager of Staples Center, home to the Lakers and Clippers.
"It can never happen here."
See, in addition to basketball games, arenas host other events like concerts, other sporting events, etc. As Ziedman explained, "We're challenged to fill in any dates during the season with the Kings, Disney on Ice, the Pac-12 [basketball] tournament, concerts and the Grammys." You get the picture.
The bottom line: If the the owners and the players want to revive the hope of a full 82-game schedule, they better get a deal done fast. But this type of conflict makes it seem more likely that the hope of a full season is nothing more than a dream.
Top officials from the league and players' union met with federal mediator George Cohen on Monday, and NBA lockout talks will resume Tuesday with Cohen in the room. Talks broke off a week ago after the two sides failed to reach a deal by NBA commissioner David Stern's deadline to preserve an 82-game season. Stern later went on an extensive media tour to frame the debate as union director Billy Hunter met with players and dig his part to fire up the rhetoric.
Cohen previously served as general counsel for the players' union in the 1990s, and served as a mediator in the 2004 NHL lockout and 2011 NFL lockout. (Cohen's run with the NFL ended when the players' union decertified; federal mediation is not available in those cases.)
Stern indicated on Monday that if a deal is reached soon, the NBA could start its regular season within 30 days. The first two weeks of the regular season -- some 100 games -- have been cancelled, but reports have suggested that an 82-game schedule could kick off December 1 with condensed rest. That remains unconfirmed.
The NBA lockout is supposedly about competitive balance. If that's really the case, what are the owners willing to do to convince Dwight Howard to stay with the Orlando Magic?
Officials from the league and players' union will meet separately with federal mediator George Cohen on Monday in the latest attempt to break the NBA lockout stalemate. The top negotiators from each side are slated to meet with Cohen in a bargaining session setting on Tuesday, as well.
National Basketball Players Association head Billy Hunter said in a Friday press conference that the union had wanted to meet with Cohen all week, but that the league refused to cancel or postpone owners' meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. According to report, owners will discuss revenue sharing on Wednesday and negotiating positions with regards to the lockout on Thursday.
Cohen was involved in the 2004 NHL lockout (which lasted more than a year and cost an entire season) and the recent NFL lockout. The NFL and its players' union actually went into mediation before the owners locked out players; the stoppage dragged on for more than four months and resulted in one cancelled preseason game. Before its first meeting with a mediator, the NBA will have cancelled its entire preseason and 100 regular season games.
After a half-dozen broadcast interviews starring commissioner David Stern, players' union director Billy Hunter took to the spotlight, speaking to reporters after 30 players met to discuss NBA lockout strategy in Los Angeles on Friday. Hunter came out as aggressive as you'd imagine, trying to fight back against Stern's push to make players look greedy. In the process, Hunter got a bit silly, suggesting that the league could lose teams like the Sacramento Kings to "forced contraction" if the lockout continues much longer.
"If everybody begins to dig into their respective positions, then I think the league will be decimated. It took us five years to recover from the 1998 lockout and there's probability that we may never recover [from this lockout]," Hunter told ESPN before Friday's sit-down with players. "I think there will be some teams that won't survive. Particularly if the season gets shut down, there will be teams that will not be around next year."
Of course, contraction of even one team would mean the loss of 15 union jobs and about $60 million in player salary. That's equivalent to about 1.5 percent of basketball-related income. It's a meaningless statement from Hunter.
The two sides are scheduled to meet with mediator George Cohen on Monday, with a full bargaining session on Tuesday. NBA owners will then meet on Wednesday and Thursday. No one expects a deal to come together next week. Stern has warned he'll kill all games through Christmas if there's no deal by the end of Tuesday.
Every time David Stern opens his mouth to talk about the NBA lockout these days, the laugh-o-meter gets pegged ... until you consider the damage the commish is doing to the game.
David Stern says that if the NBA lockout isn't solved by Tuesday's meeting with federal mediator George Cohen in Washington D.C., it could last much, much longer. Stern gave an extended interview to Mike Francesca on New York's WFAN radio station this afternoon, and after discussing the negotiations in depth, he was asked point blank whether the NBA would be playing basketball on Christmas Day.
His answer? "It's time to make a deal. If we don't make it Tuesday, my gut ... is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day." The NBA Players Association will meet with Stern and the owners on Tuesday in Washington D.C., when federal mediator George Cohen will attempt to broker a deal between the two sides, salvaging the majority of the NBA season.
If that doesn't happen, though, here's Stern himself admitting that the NBA could miss not just weeks, but months of the regular season. It's a grim outlook, and perhaps overly dramatic--Stern's made periodic, grave proclamations throughout this process--but the words pack a punch, especially since these are his first public comments since the bargaining broke down earlier this week. For now, Christmas Day aside, it sure sounds like the NBA needs a miracle.
George Cohen, a nation of desperate basketball fans turns its lonely eyes to you.
The federal mediator that is scheduled to meet with the NBA and its Players Association next week certainly has his work cut out if there's going to be an end to the NBA lockout anytime soon. Fortunately George Cohen already has a decent amount of experience in the field, having previously done the same type of work during the NFL lockout.
Cohen, appointed by President Obama as the Director of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, experience includes previously working with the NFL lockout, the MLB players during their 1995 labor dispute, Major League Soccer and even the Federal Aviation Administration in an agreement with air traffic controllers.
Cohen also issued a statement to USA Today, detailing his part in the process.
"For a number of months I have participated in separate, informal, off-the-record discussions with the principals representing the NBA and the NBPA concerning the status of their collective bargaining negotiations," Cohen said.
"It is evident that the ongoing dispute will result in a serious impact, not only upon the parties directly involved, but also, of major concern, on interstate commerce - i.e., the employers and working men and women who provide services related to the basketball games, and, more generally, on the economy of every city in which those games are scheduled to be played. In these circumstances, the Agency has invited, and the parties have agreed, to convene further negotiations under my auspices."
There aren't any promises that Cohen will be able to bring the two sides closer together, but it can't hurt having a neutral person in the room considering the lack of progress as of late.
Owners have spent much of the NBA lockout pushing for a harder salary cap to improve the league's competitive balance. But the league's proposals decrease teams' margin for error when the more reasonable fix is to expand it.
Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players' Association, announced on New York's WFAN on Wednesday afternoon that officials from the league and players' union will meet with a federal mediator to attempt to inject life back into NBA lockout talks. The meeting will go down on Monday, Hunter said.
The talks broke off on Monday as the sides failed to reach a deal on system issues such as luxury tax modifications and salary cap reforms. The sides also remain at odds on the share of league revenue players will be paid each season. The old collective bargaining agreement allotted players 57 percent; the union's best offer has moved to 53 percent, while the owners have proposed a 47 percent share for players.
The NFL and its players' union met with a mediator before Roger Goodell locked out players last winter. Despite several mediation sessions, the NFL lockout ran until July.
Some might say that Ben Gordon is in part a portion of the reasoning for the NBA lockout. The Detroit Pistons guard signed a five-year, $58 million contract a couple of years ago, after all, and then followed that up with a couple of sub-par seasons -- at least in proportion to his salary.
The Pistons guard would still like to prove that he's worthy of that contract though. Unfortunately for the fans, however, Gordon doesn't see that being able to happen anytime soon.
"I think there will be more games missed," Gordon told the Detroit Free Press. "I expect it might be a year or two. I realized that when I was listening to both sides during the negotiations. I think there will be a lot of games missed and more money is going to go down the drain. I'm preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best."
The fact that Gordon mentioned a year "or two" is probably the most discouraging part of his quotes to the newspaper -- and that's discounting his memories of the experience he had as a member of the negotiating meetings last month.
"It just seemed scripted, and they were going through the motions," Gordon told the Free Press. "Sitting there in front of them you could tell they weren't focused on getting a deal. I still don't know the purpose of those meetings."
It's difficult to disagree with Gordon's sentiments considering the meetings apparently didn't accomplish anything, but it's still not fun to read the first-hand account.
Sam Amick of SI.com reports that top the players' union has rescheduled its meeting in Los Angeles for Friday, when top officials and the rank-and-file will discuss NBA lockout strategy. The meeting had initially been scheduled for Monday, but last-minute talks to save the season's November 1 start were called at the, well, last minute, requiring union director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher to remain in New York.
Those talks were without fruit, as NBA commissioner David Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season late Monday. The decision cost the NBA 100 games, and will lead to players missing their first paycheck of the season.
Amick notes that those missing paychecks may not hurt too much, as players have recently received the 8 percent of their 2010-11 salaries held by the league's escrow system. Another $26 million will be disbursed to players in coming weeks; that's the payout from owners due to gross NBA salaries coming in under the 57 percent threshold that players are due.
Zach Lowe of SI.com has the scoop on how the league's luxury tax proposal, presented in the most recent set of NBA lockout talks, would have worked. The players' union rejected the proposal as a de facto hard salary cap, which the owners have previously taken off the table.
Lowe reports that the tax would have come in at 175 percent for payroll in excess of the threshold, which would be set at a place similar to what it was last season ($70 million, or $11 million higher than the soft cap). For every $5 million over the threshold teams went, the penalty for that excess would raise another 50 cents on every dollar. So if the threshold was set at $70 million and a team amassed $80 million in salary, the luxury tax bill would be $20 million ($5 million taxed at 175 percent, $5 million taxed at 225 percent). This would go on as high as it needed to. Lowe calculates that under this system, the L.A. Lakers would have paid $53 million in luxury tax last season as opposed to the $23 million they actually put out.
Under the proposed system, teams like the Lakers would certainly be less willing to use items like the mid-level exception and veteran's minimum on players that get the team into these higher tax brackets. It would certainly serve its purpose to shrink the payroll gap, which may not help competitive balance but can't hurt.
The NBA Lockout is real. Commissioner David Stern confirmed as much on Monday when he announced that the first two weeks of the NBA season have been canceled.
In the words of Sactown Royalty's Tom Ziller: "Say goodbye to opening night ... and the night after opening night ... and the next few nights after that ... and maybe all of the nights."
Below we present a sampling of reaction from around SB Nation NBA's team hubs. It's organized to reflect the Kübler-Ross model for dealing with the five stages of grief.
Denial: At Posting and Tosting, Seth has semi-convinced himself that he's relieved by the official announcement of the lockout. Please help him.
In a way, I'm just relieved to not be dreading the first bad news anymore. At times, the wait for word from the negotiation table has felt like a long, sloppy basketball game feels. The kind you know well, where you've almost accepted a loss, and would happily just run out the clock if there wasn't the slimmest, flimsiest shave of a chance of a winning end, and even a win would make you kind of queasy.
Damn [REDACTED] Owners! Those [REDACTED] of [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. Get a [REDACTED] deal done, meet halfway or at the [REDACTED] middle-ish. NO. MORE. [REDACTED] GAMES. CANCELLED.
To me, 2011/12 was supposed to be the year where Wall began to climb to superstardom. Now, the year has been wiped away, and sometimes, it's hard not to write a ton about Wall.
Depression: John Raffo has a harrowing tale of how the Clips Nation team is handling the news. SPOILER: It's not going well.
Then-- what was that? A sound... coming from the basement. Steve was jittery and wanted to clear out but I slapped him, hard, and he settled down. We found the door to the basement and went down the stairs. Lawler's Law was in the corner, curled up in a ball, weeping. Through the sobbing and stammering, he told us the news. It was what we all feared, the worst of the worst: The "Ca-ca-ca-cancellation of ga-ga-games." Now Steve was sobbing too, a complete mess. I threw Law over my shoulder, carried him upstairs, and called the paramedics.
Acceptance: At Blazersedge, Dave has a plan to get through the lockout.
The only reasonable response I can see is simply to ignore the powers that be, let them have their little fight, and enjoy doing what we do in the meantime. ... First, it's probably time to catch up on some movies, stream a TV series that you missed once upon a time, take a hike, enjoy eating out, say hello to your family, or take your pick of other favorite activities. ... Second, get your NBA fix in places like this. There are tons of non-lockout topics that smart basketball fans can chew over together. ... That's one thing they can't take away from us. The discussion may involve their sport but in the end this isn't their place or their conversation, it's ours.Follow SB Nation NBA for breaking news and analysis on the lockout -- however long it lasts.
Now that David Stern has cancelled games after an NBA lockout deal couldn't be reached, what happens next? The courts, a federal agency and unicorns could all get involved.
In cancelling two weeks of the regular season, David Stern has taken the NBA lockout on its illogical course right into the wallets of players (again), and is using the fans' desire to see basketball as a PR weapon against the union.
Of all the reasons to cancel part of a season, the NBA lockout features perhaps the most mind-numbing, as league commissioner David Stern and players' union director Billy Hunter cited so-called "system issues" as the major hurdle not cleared by Monday, leading to the deletion of 100 games from the NBA schedule.
The system issues include the luxury tax system and controls on how the Bird rights exception can be used. All are important issues, but don't directly impact the revenue levels of players or teams in the aggregate. A harder cap via a more punitive luxury tax and restrictions on Bird rights usage would even out team payrolls, keeping high-revenue teams from spending much more than their competitors, but also requiring those competitors to share player payroll expenses more evenly.
The length of the deal was another bizarre sticking point, according to Stern. The league wanted a 10-year deal while the union pushed for six years in order to have an opportunity to re-negotiate should new national TV contracts come in as large as expected. There may have been some common ground reached on this issue, but the idea that any serious time was spent on it as the league approached a doomsday scenario is awe-striking.
David Stern's decision to cancel the first two weeks of the season as the NBA lockout could not be solved by Monday has cost the league a full 100 games, averaging out to about seven per team. That's 8 percent of the regular season; the commissioner said that those games will not be made up if an agreement is reached in the coming weeks, ensuring a shortened season.
Among the games lost is what would have been a thrilling opening night doubleheader on TNT: the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks against MVP Derrick Rose and the Eastern finalist Chicago Bulls, followed by the L.A. Lakers vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two great matchups filled with great players, gone.
ESPN will lose its November 2 doubleheader featuring the ratings-gold Miami Heat and the rebooted New York Knicks, followed by those Lakers and the Golden State Warriors in what would have been Mark Jackson's debut as a head coach. Jackson spent the last several years as an ESPN and ABC commentator.
The NBA lockout has cost the league the first two weeks of the regular season, as commissioner David Stern followed through with his threat to cancel games as a deal couldn't be reached by the end of a seven-hour bargaining session on Monday.
Most teams will lose six to eight games. The NBA had been scheduled to tip off on November 1. Stern emphasized that these games had been cancelled, not postponed, meaning that for the second time in 13 years, the NBA will play a season shortened by an owner lockout.
Even worse, these cancellations will likely beget more cancellations, as the NBA and players' union has shown it can only negotiate when up against a deadline. The NBA lost 32 games in 1998-99, only cutting a deal with the union as Stern threatened to cancel the entire season in January 1999.
Stay tuned to SBNation.com for coverage of the aftermath.
NBA lockout talks continue, as officials from the league and players' union rekindled negotiations late Sunday and again Monday in advance of David Stern's deadline to preserve an 82-game season. Stern had warned last Tuesday that without a deal in place by Monday, the first two weeks of the regular season would be lost.
Stern could call for "postponement" of 1st two weeks of regular season - not a cancellation - if progress warrants more talks, source says.
That would force the NBA, if it finds a deal in "overtime," to squash about eight games per team into the four-month regular season. It's less likely that the league would attempt to make it up on the back-end and delay the playoffs, pushing the NBA Finals in late June.
Whatever the case, progress solid enough to postpone and not cancel games will be welcome respite to fans eager to see the players back on the court.
David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that, according to sources briefed on ongoing NBA lockout talks, the league and players' union are near a deal ... on changes to the mid-level exception. Needless to say, the mid-level is the cucumber slice in the grand salad of lockout trouble as the two sides work to hammer out a deal on Monday, lest NBA commissioner David Stern cancel the first two weeks of the regular season.
Mid-level exceptions allow teams over the salary cap to sign players to deals with a starting salary of up to $5.7 million. The deal must be three years long and can be as long as five years, with at least two seasons fully guaranteed. In practice, the mid-level is typically used to overpay middling veterans; rare is the mid-level exception player who earns out his deal.
But progress is progress. We'll see how far player concessions on the mid-level get us to a deal.
Lest you think the NBA lockout continues solely because the league and players' union can't agree on a revenue split, think again. Zach Lowe of SI.com reports that luxury tax reforms remain a sticking point, as the union has bristled at the league's concept of a graduating super tax that could charge top-spending teams as much as $4 for every dollar they are over the threshold.
Lowe reported last week that the sides were discussing other concepts, including one that would disallow teams over the tax threshold to use their mid-level exception in subsequent seasons. Teams typically find themselves over the tax line by using their salary cap exceptions to add players (the L.A. Lakers do this consistently), executing sign-and-trade deals to add free agents and by trading expiring contracts for players with guaranteed, longer-term contracts.
The two sides apparently did not reach a deal on this matter during a 5-1/2 hour meeting on Sunday during which the revenue split was not discussed.
The NBA lockout comes down to one more meeting on Monday. Will everyone in the room see reason over the gurgling swamp of stubbornness and get a deal done? Let us pray.
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
According to multiple reports, the NBA lockout talks held Sunday in New York City revolved around system issues and didn't broach the controversial and potentially season-killing revenue split between players and teams. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears were among those reporting that the officials who met for 5-1/2 hours late Sunday focused on salary cap structure and other items -- not the all-important split.
The revenue split determines a max aggregate salary level of the league's players. It had been 57 percent over the last nine seasons, meaning that each season, players would be paid exactly 57 percent of the league's basketball-related income. The league currently wants to drop that to 50 percent. The players' union has held steady at 53 percent. This is seen as the make-or-break issue in these talks, though there was a fair amount of consternation over a league-proposed hard team salary cap a few weeks ago.
The two sides will meet Monday at 2 p.m. ET. One assumes that the revenue split will be on the table. NBA commissioner David Stern has said that without a deal in place on Monday, the first two weeks of the regular season will be cancelled.
Top officials from the league and players' union met for 5-1/2 hours on Sunday night in New York City in last-ditch NBA lockout talks. NBA commissioner David Stern has set a Monday deadline for a deal to be reached before he cancels the first two weeks of the regular season. The result of Sunday's meeting: the two sides will meet again on Monday, at 2 p.m. ET per Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski.
That Monday meeting, now considered a last chance to preserve an 82-game schedule, has caused the postponement of a players' union meeting scheduled for Los Angeles on Monday. Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players Association, was set to leave for that meeting on Sunday before league officials took a 50-50 revenue split off the table as a condition for meeting. (It's still believed that the owners would like a 50-50 split.)
NBPA president Derek Fisher told reporters staking out Sunday's meeting that the sides were "not necessarily closer" at the end of the meeting vs. when they entered, at which point the union had pushed for a deal allowing players to earn a total of 53 percent of league income. The two sides made great progress in their last meeting on Tuesday, but talks stopped at that point with players bristling over the league's apparent "take or leave it" 50-50 offer.
Stay tuned to SBNation.com for lockout coverage on Monday.
The NBA lockout is at a rather dire stage because commissioner David Stern announced last week that regular season games will be cancelled Monday if the owners and players aren't able to reach an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The two sides are meeting Sunday evening to further discuss with the players planning further discussions on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles.
"In his latest letter to NBA players, union prez Derek Fisher urges all players to attend Monday afternoon meeting in LA if at all possible," ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted on Sunday night. The letter also contained information saying Fisher and Chris Paul will tweet same "LET US PLAY" mantra seen from NFL players during the NFL lockout earlier this year.
There isn't any further information known regarding the big meeting, but there is a chance that the NBPA is looking to give its members an opportunity to vote on whichever "best offer" the NBA gives it tonight. Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick proposed that option earlier in the week and it seems to make sense, regardless of the outcome.
There will assuredly be more news related to Sunday evening's meeting -- and possibly Monday's -- as soon as it concludes.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that Sunday's last-ditch NBA lockout talks came about because the league dropped its insistence on a 50-50 split of revenues in a new collective bargaining agreement. The players' union had requested a Monday morning late this past week, but the NBA says it replied that while it would be willing to negotiate items other than the split, it would not be moving from its 50-50 offer. That condition has now been removed, which could mean that the league is willing to go to 51-49 or points beyond to salvage the season.
NBA commissioner David Stern had set a Monday deadline to preserve an 82-game schedule. It's unclear whether the top officials from the league and union will meet again Monday, or if Sunday's session -- which will reportedly include Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, union president Derek Fisher, union director Billy Hunter and select staff -- is the last chance to crank out a deal.
Top officials from the league and players' union will be in last-minute NBA lockout talks on Sunday, reports the New York Times' Howard Beck. Negotiations came to a screaming halt on Tuesday as players walked out when the league asserted it would not move from its position on a 50 percent split of basketball-related income. (Players had received 57 percent in each of the past nine seasons, and haven't been below 53 percent in decades.)
As late as early Sunday, the sides were determined not to meet, as the union bristled at the league's insistence on holding to a 50-50 split and making it non-negotiable going forward. Beck reports that it's unclear which side softened. But the important thing is that the two sides are meeting.
NBA commissioner David Stern said on Tuesday that without a deal by Monday, the first two weeks of the regular season will be cancelled. That would cost players $200 million, and teams roughly that amount, as well.
Commissioner David Stern said that if there isn't a deal to end the NBA lockout by Monday, the first two weeks of the regular season will be cancelled. You might have expected the sides to be burning the midnight oil to get a deal done, given the sheer amount of money at stake to everyone.
Instead, the sides aren't even meeting.
No reports of plans to talk or meet on Sunday surfaced on Saturday, as the Jewish population celebrated Yom Kippur. Players' union director Billy Hunter is on his way to Los Angeles to meet with players on Monday, while other members of the National Basketball Players Association left New York after talks broke off on Tuesday. The union held a regional meeting in Miami on Saturday without Hunter, gathering the large group of stars who had arrived in south Florida for a major charity exhibition game hosted by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The math does not support a continued lockout: both sides would be better off accepting the other side's deal than missing games. When this realization hits the league and union remains to be seen.
As you'd expect, late Friday NBA lockout flarfnoogle has produced additional whizzamarole. Union sources told numerous reporters late Friday that the league had refused a players' request to meet on or by Monday to get this stoppage done. The reason: the players' union told the media that the NBA had demanded that as a condition for the meeting, players had to accept a 50-50 split. So, no meeting. (Or at least the threat of no meeting.)
But NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver has a different way of telling it, and he did so on the record with the New York Times' Howard Beck:
What we told the union was that we were not prepared to negotiate over the B.R.I. split beyond the 50-50 concept that had already been discussed," Silver said, referring to the N.B.A.'s acronym for basketball-related income.
Silver added, however, that the league was "prepared to continue negotiating over the many other issues that remain open" - such as the salary-cap system, the luxury tax and the length of contracts.
If either side is intractable on the revenue split -- the union is at 53-47 -- then there really is no reason to negotiate. But given the relatively small gap in between the two sides and the stakes, with Monday signifying the last day to get a deal done that will preserve an 82-game schedule, there is really no reason for either side to be intractable.
Stay tuned. I see more whizzamarole on the way.
Monday's deadline to end the NBA lockout before regular season games are lost could not come quietly. Anonymous officials from both the league and the players' union joined to crank the burner back up to "super boil" late Friday, as multiple reporters cited anonymous sources who said that the union refused to agree to a last-ditch Monday meeting that was conditioned on players accepting a 50-50 split of basketball-related income.
The league reportedly offered that 50-50 split toward the end of Tuesday's crucial negotiating session, coming off their previous concept that effectively gave players -- who had 57 percent of league revenue under the last collective bargaining agreement -- 47 percent of future revenue. The union is stuck on a deal that averages out to 53 percent of revenue going to players.
If the reports are true and the league set a negotiating point before agreeing to a meeting, players are right to be angry. But union director Billy Hunter is apparently flying to Los Angeles for a meeting with players, and isn't planning to be in New York on Monday. That can only anger the league further, as it is likely meant to do.
In the end, it's likely the sides will talk before Monday. They are painfully close to a deal, and a churlish end to negotiations at this point seems ridiculous. Will sanity prevail?
It remains radio silence as far as the NBA lockout goes: since NBA commissioner David Stern set Monday as the deadline to get a deal without the cancellation of regular season games, the two sides have not scheduled additional meetings, reports Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. With Friday gone and Saturday dedicated to Yom Kippur, Sunday and Monday remain the final days of negotiation to get a deal in the hopper by Stern's deadline.
Wojnarowski reports that there are no current plans to talk Sunday, but it'd be expected that someone will bone up and make the call to set a date. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported on Thursday that officials from the league and players' union had been talking over the past couple days, but apparently not in a negotiating sense. It's unclear whether Stern and union director Billy Hunter have been engaging in secret negotiations behind the scenes, but that isn't believed to be the case.
All is quiet around the NBA lockout. That's because David Stern and the union want us to scream for mercy. Also in The Hook: bad owners leave revenue on the table and it is possible to feel empathy for screwed arena workers.
As the NBA lockout winds toward a Monday deadline to save the 82-game schedule, Zach Lowe of SI.com reports on some of the ideas that the league and players' union have come up with to get around the sticky idea of a super luxury tax.
In abandoning the hard team salary cap as a negotiating point, the league offered up some ideas to harden the existing soft cap. One was a graduated luxury tax that would extract charges of up to 400 percent of overage from teams who amassed player payrolls much higher than the cap level. The union balked at this, surmising that the graduated tax levels would essentially amount to a hard cap.
[I]f Team X spent $90 million on player salary in one season, or was set to exceed certain tax level in the following season (the timing is unclear at this point), that team would not have access to the mid-level exception during the summer free-agency period. Or perhaps it'd face stricter limitations on Bird Rights than the rest of the league, making it harder for the team to retain outgoing free agents.
To use a concrete example, in July 2010, the Lakers were about $25 million over the salary cap and $14 million over the luxury tax threshold before using their mid-level exception to sign Steve Blake ($4 million per year). The year prior, the Lakers were over the tax line before signing Ron Artest with the mid-level and re-signing Lamar Odom using a Bird rights exception. Such a rule as one Lowe describes would limit the Lakers' ability to stack payroll on payroll on payroll using the items that make the current salary cap a soft one.
It's an interesting idea, though you wonder how the cyclical nature of the NBA -- where teams get up in a position to spend large for the piece that will put them over the top for a few years, then drop off as stars age -- would affect the program's usefulness.
The NBA lockout has not been solved yet, as anyone that is a fan of basketball surely already knew. The latest word out of the NBPA camp, though, makes it seem as if the talks aren't going to get as ugly as first thought possible as they will apparently avoid the mess that may have been caused by decertification of the Players' union.
Seven of the top basketball agents had been vocal supporters of overthrowing the union and dealing directly with NBA Commissioner David Stern and Co., even if it had to happen in the realm of the courts, but a conference call on Wednesday apparently quelled those plans.
ESPN's Chris Broussard has the quick rundown of the call.
Those agents -- Arn Tellum, Bill Duffy, Dan Fegan, Jeff Schwartz, Leon Rose, Henry Thomas and Mark Bartelstein -- had been strong behind-the-scenes advocates of decertification for the Players Association but, according to the source, now believe that the time to do so has passed.
This is actually good news for those hoping for a quick(er) end to the lockout as decertification would have had to go through the court system and, as the NFL showed, it wasn't exactly a surefire plan to begin with anyway.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports continued his exceptional NBA lockout coverage on Wednesday by revealing some numbers that, per a front office executive with an unnamed team, purport to show what players would lose if NBA commissioner David Stern goes through with his threat to cancel the first two weeks of the regular season if a deal isn't reached by Monday.
The aggregate comes out to about $200 million in lost salary for players.
To figure out how much farther each side will go, you have to quantify how much they would lose by canceling the first two weeks of the regular season. For the players, it's $200 million -- $140.6 million for the 301 players under contract, plus an estimated $53.7 million for the 129 free agents, $4.4 million for the 30 first-round picks and $1.2 million for the 30 second-round picks, based on calculations provided by a front office executive.
Berger uses this plank to launch into his belief of how a deal will eventually come down in the 11th hour with the deal point on players' share of salary coming in between 51 and 52 percent.
Rip Hamilton has threatened to leave longtime agent Leon Rose if the representative doesn't pull off of his push for decertificaton as a next step for the players' union in the NBA lockout, reports EPSN's Chris Broussard. Hamilton was Rose's first major NBA client; Rose, who has deep ties with William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, now also represents LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, among others.
But it's Hamilton's long relationship with Rose, not his stardom, that makes this noteworthy. Rose is one of seven agents from six top agencies who sent a letter to players on Monday essentially counseling those clients to stick to their guns on givebacks in lockout bargaining and to demand enough time to fully review the collective bargaining agreement before voting on it. Rose is also one of the agents reportedly clamoring for decertification of the union, something the union leadership has heretofore resisted.
NBA lockout talks broke off on Tuesday. Commissioner David Stern has set a Monday deadline for a deal to save the first two weeks of the season.
UPDATE: Hamilton tweeted that the report is "100% UNTRUE."
With the NBA lockout dragging on for another week, some reporters are optimistic that both sides will settle their differences in time for most of the season to be saved. Charles Barkley disagrees.
On Tuesday, he appeared on NBATV to talk about the NBA lockout, and per usual, Barkley minced no words. "I've said all along," he began. "I don't think they're gonna play this year. I think the owners, uh... It's two things to me. I think the owners are saying, 'you know what? We're gonna do like hockey. We're gonna have to burn down the house and start over, come in with a cap, and make this thing competitive for all the teams.'
"I think that's what the owners have said from the beginning," he continued. "They're not gonna budge this time. They're gonna hold our feet to the fire, and they're gonna get what they want, or we're not gonna play at all this year. I've said that from the beginning."
As for the players role in all this, Barkley thinks they've made a mistake by underestimating the owners' resolve. "I think in the back of the players mind, they're trying to play hardball, and in the back of their mind they think, 'Oh, we'll start the season in January.'"
In other words, once the lockout begins costing them games, the owners may not soften their position the way they did during the 1998 NBA lockout. "I don't think you can compare 1998 to 2011," Barkley explained. "Number one we've been in a recession for the last two or three years, some of these teams are really hurting. Player salaries have continued to go up, and they're gonna continue to go up. I think the players made a major mistake thinking, 'Oh, they'll only cancel the first couple months of the season, and we'll do like we did in 1998, and play in January.'
As he continued, "Those owners feel like, 'We'll lose less money not playin at all.' And I think that's been their strategy from the beginning." Again, if you were looking for optimism, Barkley's not the man.
You can watch the full interview on NBA TV here. As it concludes, Rick Kamla says, "Well Charles, wish we had more time to talk..."
"Lemme break something to ya," Barkley interjects. "We got a lotta damn time to talk."
NBA lockout talks have ended for the foreseeable future, and players' union president Derek Fisher and director Billy Hunter sent a letter to players to explain why. According to tweets from Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the letter asserts that the union will not back down from its current proposal, which reportedly would cap player salaries at 53 percent of the established definition of basketball-related income.
Union letter: "Reducing our share of BRI by 7 points to 50% -- a level we have not received since the early 1990's -- is not a fair split."
Woj also reports that the letter states that negotiations are "far from over," despite the union apparently ending talks on Tuesday after the league offered a "concept" that would cap player salaries at 51 percent.
Basketball-related income, as currently defined, does not include about $500 million of revenue that owners take off the top. The NBA, according to reports, had sought to increase that pool to $850 million in some proposals made on Tuesday, with the remaining revenue being split 50-50. If you include the $500 million not included in basketball-related income, the union has actually proposed a deal that would cap players' salaries at 46.8 percent, based on last season's numbers.
David Stern looks pretty close to a grand NBA lockout bargain ... if he can bring the players back to the table. How far apart are they really? Plus: Bill Plaschke solves everything.
At the conclusion of Tuesday's negotiations between the NBA's owners and players' union, David Stern told the media during a press conference that he had approached the union about a 50-50 split of revenue, which the players had rejected. It was an informal offer, Stern said, but a potential framework for a deal, and a sign that the owners were willing to budge from previous demands to end the lockout.
While an offer may have been made, sources tell SI.com's Chris Mannix that it wasn't quite a 50-50 split, and that officials within the union resent Stern's decision to discuss it with the media:
While admitting a private offer was made -- an offer NBPA executive director Billy Hunter did not acknowledge during a news conference -- union sources dispute the NBA's numbers. According to multiple sources, the offer was for a guarantee of 49 percent of the BRI with a max of 51 percent. Still, union representatives took the offer back to the group. A short time later, they countered with a proposal for a guarantee of 51 percent of the BRI with a cap at 53 percent. That offer, sources said, was rejected.
Union officials were furious that Stern publicly disclosed the offer. Some believe it was put out to drive a wedge between the union, which thus far has been largely represented by veteran players making mid-seven- or eight-figure salaries. And in some ways, it had that effect. Three role players told SI.com via text message that, while needing further details, a 50-50 split sounded fair.
Attempting to find common ground and seeding dissension are two completely different things -- and yet Stern has apparently managed to do both at the same time.
While decertification may look like an increasing possibility in the wake of NBA lockout talks breaking off on Tuesday, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski cites two agencies who think that, right now, the supporters of the move don't have the votes necessary to dissolve the players' union.
Several high-powered agents have pushed for decertification of the union throughout the lockout, with calls for the move intensifying as the league's stoppage has careened toward the regular season. Those agents need just 30 percent of players to sign a petition to get decertification up for a union vote, but then need a simple majority to officially dissolve the union. Doing so would clear the way for antitrust litigation. The league has threatened to void all player contracts if the union successfully decertifies.
The agents told Woj that right now, they don't have the 50 percent needed. In fact, on Monday, NBA.com's David Aldridge reported that LeBron James and other stars who attended weekend lockout sessions told union leadership that they did not support decertification right now.
We'll see if the mood changes and whether agents decide to push further.
David Stern and Billy Hunter continue to preach doomsday scenarios to the media (and Amar'e Stoudemire is tweeting the same), but there's reason for hope given the amount of progress that's already been made, say two plugged-in NBA reporters. First, Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
So while Hunter and Stern remained publicly entrenched in the economic positions of their most recent formal proposals -- with the players asking for 53 percent and the league offering effectively 47, the reality is this: the gap has closed to 2 percentage points of BRI, the difference between the midpoint of the two offers.
With each percentage point of BRI worth about $40 million, the two sides -- who were at one time $8 billion apart over 10 years -- are now a mere $80 million apart on an annual basis. So you can see what the two sides saw Tuesday -- the road to a deal that both sides eventually can find a way to live with that is better than the alternative of missing a substantial portion of the regular season.
Now, Chris Sheridan:
Moreover, the 50-50 concept (Stern made sure everyone understood the distinction that the owners are officially offering 47 percent, but conceptually are willing to go to 50-50. They also made it known that owners last weekend backed off their demand for rollbacks or givebacks from players' current contracts) does not constitute the owners' final offer.
"It demonstrates the potential for more movement on our part," Silver said.
So if you read between the lines and cut through the bullshit, the end game became clear.
There is a deal to be done at 51/49 or 52/48, and there are five days to get there.
To me, that's a layup.
Makes sense, right? Let's hope the players and owners see it the same way.
As a response to a continuing NBA lockout that has cost the league's entire preseason and will soon take regular season games off of the schedule as well, the players' union will fund and open at least three workout centers across the country. Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players Association, said that the union will open workout centers in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston, and possibly in Miami.
A huge number of players have been working out in L.A. and Las Vegas with various paid trainers throughout the summer. Teams including the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and L.A. Clippers have held player-organized workouts, too. Exhibition games have been popular, with the Goodman League in Washington, D.C., getting plenty of attention. But seeking to offer free, reliable options for players, the union will provide workout spots.
Whether that plan keys in the sentiment that Hunter and the union think the lockout will last deep into the winter -- you'll notice Boston, Chicago and Detroit aren't on that list of locatons -- is unknown. That one of the workout centers won't be located on Maui is a positive, at least.
In the wake of NBA lockout talks that broke off on Tuesday, commissioner David Stern told the media that he is cancelling the remainder of the preseason schedule and that if a deal isn't reached by Monday, he will cancel the first two weeks of the regular season. The NBA and players' union have no further meetings scheduled.
Stern claimed that the owners offered players a 50-50 split of revenue, and pulled proposals to roll back existing player contracts and institute a hard cap off of the table, but that the union rejected the offer. Earlier, National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter said that the league's proposal actually removed $350 million in revenue from the equation before splitting the kitty down the middle, effectively creating a 53 percent share for owners under the previous definition of basketball-related income.
The NBA had already cancelled preseason games through October 15. It's widely accepted that the league needs about a month to get regular season games going after a handshake deal is reached.
The NBA lockout talks on Tuesday resulted in almost no progress, so with the threat of regular-season games being canceled, even NBA Players Association head Billy Hunter admitted it is time for the players to explore all their options. Hunter said Tuesday that the NBPA would have to now "give some thought" to decertification, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Decertification would make the lockout a legal battle. It is something the NFL Players Association did during the NFL lockout, and whether it worked depends on who you ask. Hunter's admission, however, is significant because decertification is the path preferred by many high-profile agents. Those agents reportedly want to push Hunter out because of his previous disinclination for decertifying and because they feel Hunter has given too much back to the owners in negotiations already.
It remains to be seen if Hunter's admission is a sign that he is coming around to the agents' line of thinking or whether it displays he is powerless.
According to Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players Association, the final offer that owners presented at Tuesday's NBA lockout talks essentially called for the league to net 53 percent of total revenue, with players dropping from 57 percent under the last collective bargaining agreement to 47 percent in the new one. The union rejected this offer, talks broke and no further sessions are scheduled.
Hunter and players' union president Derek Fisher said that their side was willing to go down to 53 percent of revenue. How the NBA framed its own offer will be debated going forward, as Hunter revealed that the league's proposal would have removed $350 million currently counted as "basketball-related income" from the equation, and splitting the remainder 50-50 with players. But that effectively gives the players just 47 percent of what has been defined as "basketball-related income" for some 13 years.
David Stern is scheduled to address the media Tuesday evening.
NBA lockout talks lasted for four hours on Tuesday in New York City before players' union president Derek Fisher, flanked by a number of NBA stars, told the media that the owners did not present a plan that players could approve. Fisher said further that the union expects the NBA to cancel the rest of the preseason soon and eventually delay the start of the regular season, slated to tip off on November 1.
Perhaps the most important news: the players' union and league are not expecting to meet on Wednesday to continue talks.
Fisher said that the league's offer was not "fair and amenable" to the players, and that the union finds itself where it expected to be all along: facing a shortened or cancelled season. Fisher also revealed that the players' union moved its proposed revenue split to 53-47, while the league moved to 47-53. In other words, each side wants 53 percent of league revenue in a new deal.
Amar'e Stoudemire was one of a number of All-Stars who attended NBA lockout talks on Tuesday in New York City. The Knicks big man left just after 4 p.m. ET, about three hours into the negotiating session, and briefly talked to reporters, relaying that progress was being made but that he wasn't sure there was enough momentum to end the stoppage soon and prevent the delay of the season.
Amar'e Stoudemire leaves, but meetings still ongoing: "So far, we're making progress, which is great."... On season starting on time: "I still have a neutral feeling. We're not sure."
On Monday, NBA commissioner David Stern said that if the Tuesday session was "very short," it would be a bad sign for negotiations. At three hours plus, it's safe to say that by that standard the league has avoided a bad outcome on the surface. Now we wait to see what actually happened -- and is still to happen -- inside the room.
The NBA's lawsuit against the players' union seeking to prevent decertification during lockout negotiations will have its oral arguments at the U.S. Second Circuit court on November 2, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. That is, of course, unless NBA owners end the lockout before then. The regular season is scheduled to begin November 1. Without a deal, that opening night is expected to be pushed out or cancelled.
Sam Amick of SI.com had reported earlier on Tuesday that officials from both the league and players' union had met with the federal judge assigned the NBA's suit as a prelude to crucial lockout talks in New York. Derek Fisher, the union's president, has called Tuesday a "very big day," though most expect talks to continue through the week.
If the stoppage gets to November 2, there could be larger problems for the league: player agents have indicated their interest in getting more involved in the talks, and have threatened to push for decertification against the will of union leadership.
The NBA's most important day of collective bargaining is well underway, and with the lockout threatening the regular season, superstars like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, and Paul Pierce have all been spotted.
So far during the bargaining process, stars have come and gone, but the attendance today is the surest sign yet that the players are aware of the stakes surrounding Tuesday's bargaining session. As Jeff Zillgitt reports for USA Today, there are too many players to count at what's been called a "very huge" labor meeting. And it has to be considered a good thing for the players' union.
It's one thing for NBA owners to make threats and demands in the face of Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter, and the rest of the players union, but saying it to the most recognizable faces in the game requires a whole different level of commitment to the cause. In other words, if owners are serious about sabotaging the season in the name of protecting their profits, then they can say it to Kobe's face.
Before crucial NBA lockout talks kicked off on Tuesday afternoon in New York City, Sam Amick of SI.com reports that officials from both the league and players' union met with the federal judge taking up the NBA's lawsuit seeking to remove decertification from the table.
The NBA sued the union in early August as negotiations remained stalled. The thrust of the league's lawsuit was to get the courts to rule that decertification by the union -- long seen as a last resort for players -- would be considered a sham. The lawsuit also requested that if the courts and National Labor Relations Board ruled that an NBPA decertification was legal, the NBA had the legal right to void all existing player contracts.
It's unclear why the judge summoned NBA and players' union officials on Tuesday. The NLRB still has not ruled on either the union's or the league's unfair labor practice complaints. The union alleged that the NBA never negotiated in good faith and planned to drag the lockout into the season to gain leverage as players began to miss paychecks. The NBA's own complaint, filed in August, had the same intention of the federal suit.
As we count down to arguably the most important meeting in the NBA lockout talks thus far, one potential solution has sort of presented itself. ESPN's Henry Abbott proposed an interesting idea that could allow the NBA to have a full season that starts late: what if the NBA season simply ended later?
Abbott posed the question to David Stern, and he did not rule it out.
"As we said to the players, everything is negotiable," Stern said after the sides met in small groups Monday in New York for about five hours. Yet, Stern added, "we haven't ever discussed this; it would be really great if we could start the season on time."
Stern did say later that it was a difficult option to pursue, citing arena booking and TV scheduling issues. However, another issue is that the qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics begins in early July, and many NBA players would certainly be playing for their countries. That gives the NBA only a couple weeks to add on to the season. The playoffs normally end in mid-June.
Derek Fisher, the point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers and -- more importantly -- the president of the National Basketball Players Association, has sent a third letter to the members of the players' union, this one coming on the eve of crucial NBA lockout talks on Tuesday that could make or break the season. Fisher sent his letter as an apparent response to a letter sent Monday by prominent agents warning players to carefully review any deal that Fisher and Billy Hunter bring to the union.
The Associated Press published Fisher's letter in full.
One issue I need to again be very clear on...nothing can be accepted without a vote by the players. If and when there is a proposal that we feel is in the best interests of us as players, each of you WILL have the opportunity to vote in person. It's in the union bylaws, it's not up for negotiation. You will have the opportunity to see the full proposal before you agree, you will be able to challenge it, question it, anything you feel appropriate in order to know that this is the best deal for you and your fellow players.
The letter goes on to claim solidarity within the union.
The bargaining session between the NBA and players' union is scheduled to begin at noon ET.
The NBA lockout will reach a head on Tuesday, all because the league's owners can't get enough money and refuse to prioritize anything over the quest for wealth.
As the doomsday clock ticks its way to basketball armageddon, Tuesday's NBA lockout talks now seem to have the potential for spectacular implosion. Agents have begun agitating for a fair deal for players, and have become (almost) openly hostile toward union leadership. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski quotes one anonymous player agent who said that NBA commissioner David Stern fears having to answer to agents rather than Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players Association.
"Stern doesn't want to deal with us; he wants Billy and his lawyers in there. Maybe if Stern's faced with revealing financial records, legal costs and paying possibly billions in damages, maybe he'll have more incentive to make a deal than sitting across the room from Hunter, eat turkey sandwiches and taking a percentage point at a time away from the players."
CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports that agents have a new nickname for Hunter.
Billy "Giveback" Hunter, one agent referred to him as on the phone early Tuesday -- and it got worse from there, much more mean-spirited and unfair and too angry, honestly, to publish any more. There is real anger here among the agents, some of whom are advising their clients not to vote for a deal that gives back one dollar of the players' 57 percent of revenues -- even as the National Basketball Players Association is believed to have offered 53 percent and maybe lower.
Berger warns that if the owners don't bring a deal substantially closer to the status quo than what has heretofore been offered, agents will go through with their plan to force a union vote on decertification and the eventual replacement of Hunter. Fun times.
Just in case you thought that the NBA lockout would get easy as the league and players' union dig in to attempt to negotiate a deal before commissioner David Stern cancels regular season games, agents have thrown some wrenches into the ordeal. After six agencies signed a letter to players warning them to carefully consider any deal that comes out of this week's talks, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted some fear-inducing quotes from an anonymous prominent agent.
"We're not just walking off the cliff with (Billy Hunter). We're ready to take the next step and decertify. We're not going to let the league set up [Tuesday]'s meeting as a way to trap us into a bad deal."
A brief reminder since it's been a while since decertification was a hot topic: those in favor of the move need 30 percent of the union's membership to sign a petition requesting a union vote on whether to decertify, then it comes up for a majority vote. If passed, the union would dissolve, and a group of players would file anti-trust litigation against the NBA. The league has threatened -- in a federal lawsuit, mind you -- to void all existing player contracts if the union successfully decertifies.
The agents who support decertification are the very same agents who wrote the letter to players warning of a potential deal this week. Sam Amick of SI.com clarified ESPN's report on the letter, saying that the language indicates that players should not accept a deal that provides less revenue than the 52 percent that the union has already negotiated down to.
You know the NBA lockout is reaching a climactic period when a number of prominent agents send a letter of their clients warning them not to quickly ratify the first deal they can vote on. ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that six agencies, including CAA and Wasserman Media Group, have done just that on Monday. The letter warns that in 1999, the NBA gave players just 24 hours to review the proposed collective bargaining agreement and demanded in-person votes. Less than half of the players' union showed up to vote.
The letter also disparages the still unreached deal by outlining predicted salary rollbacks and a shift in the revenue split. Team owners have reportedly requested rollbacks on already-signed contracts in addition to a cut in the share of league revenue players earn.
Bucher reports that the agents on board include Leon Rose, Henry Thomas, Bill Duffy, Arn Tellem, Jeff Schwartz, Dan Fegan and Mark Bartelstein.
Top-level negotiators for the league and players' union met on Monday to rekindle NBA lockout talks after taking Sunday off. Based on comments NBA commissioner David Stern made to the media afterward, Tuesday's meeting between each side's full bargaining committee could determine whether we have an 82-game season.
According to Ken Berger, Stern said Monday's session "set the table" for Tuesday, where both sides will be expected to be ready to negotiate all matters. The league and union met Friday and Saturday, the latter a seven-hour affair where the revenue split -- seen as the most important and contentious issue -- wasn't even discussed.
It's widely accepted that without at least a handshake deal this week, the NBA will delay the scheduled November 1 start of the regular season. The league has already cancelled preseason games through October 15, and will soon be forced to cancel or delay the remainder of the exhibition schedule. Training camps were supposed to open on Monday.
As the NBA lockout wears on, David Stern suddenly looks more optimistic than his union rivals. What's that tell us about how things are really going? Also, how we can blame George W. Bush for all of these lockouts.
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
David Stern, Billy Hunter and the top-level negotiators from the league and players' union will meet again on Monday to work on breaking the NBA lockout, reports Ken Berger of CBS Sports. The sides met Friday and Saturday, but will not formally get together on Sunday. Berger reports that full bargaining committees will assemble on Tuesday, with hopes of picking up momentum towards a deal.
Berger also reports that Stern will not announce anything further preseason cancellations on Monday, but could do so at any point afterwards. The NBA has already cancelled preseason games through October 15, and delayed the start of training camps, which were supposed to open Monday.
The two sides met for seven hours on Saturday, tackling only salary cap structure issues as there's an impasse on the players' share of revenue. The league's proposal averages 46 percent of total revenue for the players, while the union has gone as low as 53 percent.
NBA lockout talks ended after seven hours on Saturday, and will pick back up after at least a day off. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that NBA commissioner David Stern said that the league and players' union are "closer than they were before," but National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter cautioned that the two sides are still "miles and miles apart."
The talks centered around the salary cap structure and its associated rules on Saturday, as opposed to the more contentious and impactful revenue split, which dictates how much money the players earn in the aggregate each season. NBPA president Derek Fisher pitched the separation of the matters in an attempt to gain some progress where the two sides could.
Stern told reporters that the sides won't meet on Sunday. The league and players' union met on four of the past six days, with Saturday's session being the longest. It's anticipated that if a deal isn't close by the middle of next week, the league may have to consider cancelling what's left of the preseason and delaying the start of the regular season. Camps were supposed to open on Monday, but a week ago Stern announced a postponement of that and the cancellation of 43 exhibition games.
NBA lockout talks continued on Saturday in New York City, without the stars (sorry, Baron Davis) and without the alleged heat of Friday's Dwyane Wade-David Stern showdown. The lack of battles might in part be due to the fact that, according to Ken Berger's sources, the league and union representatives focused on Saturday on non-economic issues at play in collective bargaining agreement.
It's unclear if that includes salary cap structure, which with the players' share of revenue remains among the most contentious and important items on the table. Otherwise, there are any number of small items to negotiate, including the age minimum, drug testing and off-court obligations. It's hard to imagine a six-hour (and counting) negotiating session would focus on just those items, so some slice of salary cap structure is likely to be involved.
That said, everything is economic: the cap structure debate informs and interacts with the revenue split issue. If progress is made in one, progress is made in the other ... in theory.
The second day of NBA lockout talks are underway with "enormous consequences" looming, according to Commissioner David Stern, if the two sides aren't able to move closer to an agreement. Luckily, according to the first reports out of Saturday's discussions, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Baron Davis makes it seem as if the talks are progressing.
"We're working, we're working," Davis said while leaving Saturday afternoon, according to Newsday's Alan Hahn. "Both sides are willing and able."
In all honesty, those quotes don't mean much, but at least his reason for stepping out in the middle of the negotiating session doesn't sound like it was done because something negative -- say Commissioner Stern poking his finger at him -- had happened inside the bargaining room. In fact, Davis told NBA.com's David Aldridge that Friday's report of the dust-up between Dwyane Wade and Stern was actually "blown a little out of proportion."
Luckily, Davis also addressed his business-super-casual-like-if-casual-meant-what-you-wear-when-chopping-wood attire: "I'm funny looking, so that helps ease the tension."
From Dwyane Wade on down to Robert Sarver, we offer up The Hook's latest NBA Lockout Power Rankings.
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
Very little of concrete value came out of the NBA lockout debriefings that the players' union and league gave late Friday after the day's talks wrapped up. One was that the sides will meet again at 10 a.m. Saturday. (That's good news.) The other is that the revenue sharing program being hammered out by owners will be quadrupled by 2014. From NBA.com's David Aldridge:
Stern also disclosed for first time that [the revenue] sharing plan will quadruple from current $60M/year in [year] 3 of new plan after tripling in [years] 1-2.
The NBA's current revenue sharing system is basically nonexistent, so it remains to be seen whether increasing it from $60 million to $240 million will make a huge difference. The NFL essentially shares about $4 billion thanks to fully national television deals. But as teams like the L.A. Lakers (who signed a TV deal worth about four times more than any other team) and the New York Knicks (who raised ticket prices 49 percent and will still sell out) make so much more than small-market competitors, it's bound to help make the playing field a bit less tilted at the very least.
Once again: in the absence of good news, we'll take the absence of bad news. That's what commissioner David Stern reports after NBA lockout talks broke up on Friday after a five-hour session, telling reporters that there was "no bad news" in the negotiations. Stern's deputy Adam Silver said the sides would continue to negotiate through and beyond the weekend to get a deal done, and the commissioner said that there have been no threats to cancel the season in the absence of immediate progress. He emphatically pushed back against a question as to whether the season would be zero games or 82 games.
Friday marked the third day of negotiations this week, with more promised starting at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday. The sides met briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday before breaking for Rosh Hashanah; the players' union brought in a number of star players for Friday's talks, and the league's full labor committee plus Mickey Arison of the Miami Heat represented owners. It's widely considered that this next week will determine whether the season begins on time on November 1.
NBA lockout talks have ended Friday evening after five hours of negotiations between players and owners. Derek Fisher led a press conference held by the National Basketball Players Association after the conclusion of talks, and said no new proposals were made and the meeting did get contentious at times. (No word on whether the presence of both Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and No. 1 enemy LeBron James had anything to do with that.)
Fisher also said that he couldn't predict whether a deal would get done this weekend, but did say that no threats were made that the lack of a deal would kill the season. ESPN reported on Thursday that NBA commissioner David Stern had threatened to cancel the season completely if a deal wasn't reached by mid-week.
The regular season is scheduled to tip off on November 1. It's generally accepted that the league needs a handshake deal this week to start the season on time.
It's Friday night and it's time for some good feelings, you guys. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski has talked to an official who has been briefed on how NBA lockout talks have gone Friday in New York City. These two tweets provide your daily dose of optimism:
From official who's talked w/ people in room: More than one previously hardline owner, including Dan Gilbert, has come wanting to make deal. Nevertheless, there's still no concrete information on whether the owners and players have made real progress. Yet, the vibe isn't bad.
Vague good news is better than vague bad news. While reports have varied recently as to whether guys like Robert Sarver were really willing to concede a season to get a preferable deal, Gilbert has always been seen as a staunch hawk on the issues driving the lockout. Having him amenable to compromise and -- joy of joy, basketball! -- would be a great thing, indeed.
Theo Ratliff, one of the members of the National Basketball Players Association's executive board, left Friday's NBA lockout talks in New York City just after 6 p.m. ET, and told the assembled reporters -- including Ken Berger and David Aldridge, who tweeted it out first -- that the meeting was still going and that the sides would also hole up together on Saturday.
Each side actually met independently until 2 p.m. ET on Friday, and may have split apart into their respective caucuses during talks. David Stern, the NBA's commissioner, had indicated previously that both sets of top-level negotiators had cleared their weekend schedules to work on a deal as the November 1 scheduled start of the regular season approaches.
Big names on both sides of the aisle are in attendance, as the full league labor committee, including Jerry Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers and James Dolan of the New York Knicks, participated and star players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony made it in.
As players and owners meet in New York City in an attempt to settle the NBA lockout in advance of the scheduled November 1 start date for the regular season, bookmakers remain unconvinced a deal will get done. Bodog released odds for the full season being cancelled at 5/4, higher than the line for no games being missed, which is at 8/5.
Bodog has puts the odds of 33 or more games being lost at 3/1, and 31 games or fewer being missed at 4/1.
In 1998-99, of course, the league played 50 games after a deal was reached at the last minute in early January 1999. Commissioner David Stern had set a date in January as a deadline to save the season, and the league condensed a 50-game season into less than three months, complete with back-to-back-to-backs. It's unclear the league would consider playing a regular season smaller than 50 games, though it seems unlikely.
The stars are making their ways to New York City for the latest round of NBA lockout talks, reports Sam Amick of SI.com. Amick reports that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are expected to take part in Friday's critical session between players and owners in the Big Apple, joining the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee, which is made up of far less notable players, with the exception of NBPA VP Chris Paul.
Kobe Bryant, returning to the United States from a European tour with Nike, is not expected to be back in time for Friday's session, Amick reports. The sides are, however, expected to bargain through the weekend.
In addition to a heavier set of players, reports suggest 15 team owners will join David Stern, Adam Silver and the league's leadership in New York. Traditionally, the two sides have made progress when meeting in smaller teams with less than a dozen people in the room. When the groups get larger, the talks collapse. Let's hope that changes this time around.
Kobe Bryant has reportedly signed a deal to play for Virtus Bologna in Italy, just as NBA lockout talks reach a critical point. What interesting timing!
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
The NBA lockout talks have been going on for 91 days as of Friday morning and, for the most part, it has seemed the only things the owners and NBA Players Association have talked about revolve around the "blood issue" of a hard cap and the split of BRI, short for Basketball Related Income. Fortunately, though, it seems that there have also been other factors being bandied about inside the negotiating room.
The two sides have put numerous other concessions on the table, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, with the proposed "Supertax" being the issue that would essentially replace the current hard cap that the players are so set against. The other issues would limit the length of guaranteed contracts, changes to the current system of Larry Bird Rights and the previously mentioned salary rollbacks and amnesty clause that was included in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Below, a list of issues that Stein has learned should be discussed this weekend as the two sides meet in what seems to be an almost make-or-break negotiating session.
- The institution of a sliding "Supertax" that would charge teams $2 in luxury tax for every dollar over $70 million in payroll, $3 for every dollar over $75 million in payroll and $4 for every dollar for teams with payrolls above $80 million
- A provision to allow each team to release one player via the so-called "amnesty" clause and gain both salary-cap and luxury-tax relief when that player's cap number is removed from the books
- Shortening guaranteed contracts to a maximum of three or four seasons
- Limiting Larry Bird rights -- which enable teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents -- to one player per team per season
- Reducing the annual mid-level exception, which was valued at $5.8 million last season, to roughly $3 million annually and limiting mid-level contracts to a maximum of two or three seasons in length as opposed to the current maximum of five seasons
- A new "Carmelo Rule" that would prevent teams -- as the New York Knicks did in February with Anthony -- from using a Bird exception to sign or extend a player acquired by trade unless they are acquired before July 1 of the final season of the player's contract
- The abolition of sign-and-trades and the bi-annual exception worth $2 million
- Significant reductions in maximum salaries and annual raises and a 5 percent rollbacks on current contracts
It's worth noting that the proposed "Carmelo Rule" wouldn't have actually applied to the Anthony trade this past season between the Knicks and Denver Nuggets (hat tip to SB Nation's Tom Ziller for pointing that out). Anthony was still under contract for an extra season, thanks to his player option, meaning that his three-year extension upon signing in New York would have been allowed under the current rules.
It would be nice if the talks also extend to things not involving money this weekend. Regardless, the sooner the deal is done, the better -- especially if it saves the entirety of the NBA's regular season.
As the NBA lockout edges closer to the regular season, the financial advantage of the league's national TV contracts begins to come into play. But Sean Deveney of Sporting News reminds us of his July report that puts David Stern's reported threat to cancel the season if a deal isn't reached soon into context.
Deveney reported in July and again on Thursday that NBA only keeps its revenue from ABC/ESPN and TNT -- some $930 million -- so long as games are actually played in 2011-12. If the entire season is missed, the league would have to pay back that revenue to the networks plus interest. Assuming the reports are accurate, that creates a real incentive for the NBA to save the season, even if it means playing fewer than 82 games.
In fact, to get really cynical, it'd be in the NBA's best financial interest -- ignoring long-term impacts of brand damage and concerns for future media contracts -- to lose as many regular season games as possible to save on expenses like player payroll and game production costs, and then put together enough of a season to keep the media revenue.
We've checked with the media partners and the league for more information. We'll update this StoryStream as we learn more.
If the NBA lockout has reached its Tupac moment, it's because David Stern is making crazy threats while dancing around without a shirt on. Or, uh ...
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
Chris Sheridan remains optimistic that a NBA lockout deal will get done in time to save the start of the regular season, which means that a deal would be done in another week or so. (NBA commissioner David Stern has said there will be "enormous consequences" if a deal isn't done this weekend.) Sheridan continues to point out that the aggregate dollars in such a deal are the important part as Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, the leaders of the players' union, attempt to sell a settlement to their constituents.
Sheridan pegs the aggregate dollars at the deal point -- which amounts to a 51-49 or 50-50 split of revenue -- at $13.8 billion over six years, or an average of $2.3 billion per season. That's more than what players received last season ($2.17 billion), but far less than what they would have gotten had the revenue split remained at 57-43.
Check out Sheridan's post for a full rundown.
In the NBA lockout of 1998, NBA commissioner David Stern didn't draw a line in the sand for the cancellation of the full season of basketball until January, after months of games were missed. But Stern is reportedly starting that train right now, with ESPN's Marc Stein and SI.com's Sam Amick each reporting that sources say the league has threatened to skip a partial cancellation and axe the entire season next week if the parameters of a deal aren't reached soon.
The immediate reaction to the reports is that it is a bluff, a negotiating tactic aimed at getting players to soften up on the key issues at stake. Amick implies that it will have the opposite effect as the union calls in its star players, including Dywane Wade, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, to attend the weekend meetings in New York.
What's clear is that after the Rosh Hashanah holiday, we're in crescendo mode. The lockout has been real for a minute, but heat is coming on fast.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports has covered the NBA lockout like a fire blanket, and he's got quite an interesting nugget in the aftermath of Wednesday's talks: part of the league's conceptual proposal offered on Tuesday included salary rollbacks for players under contract.
Needless to say, this is a controversial concept. The rationale Berger presents is that major decreases in the players' share of revenue going forward that are likely to be a part of a new collective bargaining agreement will unfairly impact stars just coming up for free agency, like Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose. Players who have already locked in long-term contracts would be relatively safe from the new economics for a few years at least.
To make it more equitable across all players -- locked-up stars and pending free agents alike -- existing contracts would be docked a certain percentage while the cuts are phased. Rob LeBron James to pay Chris Paul, in other words. It does not appear that this concept went over very well; Berger reports that union officials deemed the idea "alarming" on Tuesday.
After NBA lockout talks broke for Rosh Hashanah on Wednesday, NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters that this weekend -- when sides will resume negotiations -- represents a "key moment" for the league. From CBS Sports' Ken Berger:
"There are enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend," Stern said [...]. "Either we'll make very good progress, and we know what that would mean - we know how good that would be, without putting dates to it - or we won't make any progress. And then it won't be a question of just starting the season on time. There will be a lot at risk because of the absence of progress."
It's unclear if the mere cancellation of games is what Stern is warning players about, or whether he's implying that if the sides don't reach an agreement to preserve the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season, the owners' proposal will become more draconian and painful to players.
More than a dozen of the league's team owners and a group of players including All-Stars are slated to join the talks on Friday. Traditionally in these talks, the larger the group negotiating has been, the less progress has been made. Let's hope that pattern changes.
The NBA Lockout continued with more bargaining sessions on Wednesday, but as both sides concluded early, they again left with out a new deal. They did, however, agree to more meetings this week.
The sessions on Wednesday concluded after four hours to honor the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and at least one union official said, "We are not close to a deal." On the bright side, per Ken Berger at CBS Sports, Derek Fisher said that while the owners and players have yet to find common ground in the negotiations, the desire to make it work is strong on both sides.
The meetings will continue later this week, and may even include bargaining sessions this weekend if both sides think a deal is within reach. But for the record, as far as actual optimism is concerned, it's in short supply Wednesday as the deadline for negotiations nears, and the NBA lockout moves closer and closer to threatening the cancellation of regular season games.
As Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tweets:
While the increased communication is good, the NBA and union are still far apart on terms to make a deal. The union does want to bring in several high-profile players for Friday's meeting, especially with such a big ownership turnout planned. The union believes its stars have been supportive behind scenes, but knows the membership would like to see the big names front-and-center.
In other words: both sides are still miles apart, but as the deadline nears, we can take solace in two, separate silver linings. First, both sides will meet Friday and continue into the weekend if necessary. Second, if part of the NBA regular season is about to go down in flames, then at least the owners will have to say it to the faces of some of the league's biggest superstars.
Wednesday is shaping up to be a pretty pivotal day as far as the NBA lockout talks are concerned. The chance that it seems both sides are advancing toward some sort of deal is also seeming more like a reality than hopeful optimism from those hoping to watch professional basketball in the near future, too, as reports indicate larger group meetings are planned for the weekend in New York.
"Word is players are headed to NYC for union meetings this weekend, with NBPA executive board," reports Newsday's Alan Hahn via Twitter. "A few star players expected to attend."
Ken Berger of CBS Sports confirmed the report, adding a few details of his own to what could be a big step if Wednesday's meetings go as well as one can hope.
If warranted, players -- and possibly owners -- could be in NYC to discuss latest bargaining developments, source says. Possibility of larger groups converging underscores importance of (Wednesday's) bargaining session.
Hopefully the two sides have something to agree upon in New York following Wednesday's meetings rather than having to go back to the drawing board.
An eventual NBA lockout settlement is coming into view. The only question is whether it will come in time.
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
The NBA lockout talks held Tuesday in New York City may have lasted only a couple hours, but they were fruitful nonetheless, as Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that in the high-level, the league showed a willingness to abandon its push for a hard team salary cap. ESPN's Ric Bucher and CBS Sports' Ken Berger later reported similar news.
The pullback on the hard cap isn't without conditions, of course. In place of the hard cap, the owners reportedly want to make the luxury tax much more punitive to prevent teams from massively outspending their rivals. The owners also want to restrict use of the Bird salary cap exception to once annually, and shrink the size and length of the mid-level exception. They also want the union to concede on the revenue split players are due.
The two sides went back to their corners after exchanging the ideas on Tuesday, as the players' union representatives felt they needed to discuss the concepts internally. The two sides are scheduled to meet again Wednesday morning.
NBA lockout talks held Tuesday in New York City lasted just two hours before officials from the league and players' union separated to discuss their positions. Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association, told the assembled media that the two sides planned to meet again Wednesday before breaking for Rosh Hashanah.
Fisher also told reporters not to read into the brevity of Tuesday's meeting.
Since the sides last met on Thursday, the NBA cancelled 43 preseason games and indefinitely postponed the start of training camps. The league was scheduled to open camps on Oct. 3, which is next week. Obviously, considering the sides seem to be nowhere near a deal and there has been no free agency period, that became impossible to pull off.
Fisher told reporters that no new proposals were delivered on Tuesday, but that each side needed to discuss internally the ideas and concepts at play.
No matter how wacky the NBA lockout gets, remember that contraction is a bad, bad idea. Also in The Hook: Derek Fisher fires some shots at the owners and a writer makes the mistake of thinking he is omniscient.
Want The Hook delivered to your Facebook News Feed daily? Like SB Nation NBA.
Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers point guard and president of the National Basketball Players Association, sent a letter to players Monday that was subsequently posted by Marc Stein at ESPN.com. The letter urges players to continue to stand together during the NBA lockout as a cancellation of regular season games -- and paychecks -- moves closer. It says that the union will push back against a hard team salary cap so long as the players oppose such a structure, and asserts that fractures among ownership ranks will help the players' cause soon.
"There are a number of team owners that will not lose the season over the hard cap system. We've been clear from Day 1 of this process that we cannot sign off on a deal that attempts in any way to include a hard salary cap for our teams. That has not changed," Fisher said.
The letter came as reports suggested Fisher will be a part of small group talks on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday with October looming.
NBA lockout negotiations will resume Tuesday in New York City, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger, as players' union director Billy Hunter has postponed a regional meeting in Miami to make himself available. The small, high-level teams that have most frequently met over the past month are expected to be the ones that reconvene.
There were concerns the league and union would not meet this week after talks broke down on Thursday. The union had one of its regular regional meetings scheduled Tuesday in Miami and Thursday and Friday mark Rosh Hoshanah, a major Jewish holiday that would lock a number of participants out of negotiations. But the union's move to postpone the Miami meeting opened up Tuesday and Wednesday for talks in New York.
Whether anything comes from those talks, however, is a tougher nut to crack. The league on Friday cancelled 43 preseason games and delayed the opening of training camps. A week from now, the NBA will consider whether to kill the rest of preseason.
Should the NBA lockout bleed into the season, the league will have lost all momentum and lost its best shot at cementing its place in the American and global sports hierarchy. It's not worth it.
With Friday's cancellation of 43 preseason games due to the ongoing NBA lockout, season ticket holders are in line for some cash. All 30 NBA teams were affected by the cancellations, and as such, all season ticket holders who pay for preseason games will be due some money back.
According to NBA policy, those fans will get refunds for any games missed due to the lockout plus interest. In an example, season ticket holders for the Sacramento Kings can opt to receive a refund plus 6 percent interest for all games missed once the lockout ends or the season is cancelled, or they can choose a plan that refunds the fan once monthly for any games missed plus 1 percent interest. The first of those refunds would be due in mid-November, according to the Kings' plan. Most season ticket holders have been paying for their tickets since February or March.
Refunds will also be going out to fans in non-NBA cities who have bought tickets for exhibition games off the beaten path. Kansas City's Sprint Center posted a message on its website shortly after Friday's cancellation announcement directing those who had tickets for the scheduled Oct. 15 game between the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets to return tickets for refunds beginning Monday.
The news that the NBA lockout has caused the postponement of the NBA preseason and training camps was bad, but the latest on the actual negotiations only softens the blow a little. The good news for NBA fans is that the owners have made a compromise on the percentage of Basketball-Related Income they are willing to offer the players. The bad news is that offer is still below 50 percent, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
More details emerged Friday of a revised proposal from the owners on the split of revenues with the players, with two sources telling CBSSports.com that the aggregate share offered by the league remains below 49 percent.
The number offered Thursday by commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver was deemed "unacceptable" by representatives of the National Basketball Players Association, according to one of the sources familiar with the proposal.
Under the previous NBA agreement, the players received 57 percent of BRI. They had offered to cut that figure down to 54 percent and have been willing to go even further down, but not this far as of yet. The good news, according to Berger, is that some progress is being made, albeit not much.
The NBA has officially announced it will cancel 43 preseason games and postpone training camps until an as yet to be determined date. This isn't anything that was unexpected, of course, but it makes the situation surrounding the NBA lockout seem just a bit more dire.
The NBA was expected to open training camps on October 3, less than two weeks away, with preseason games beginning not long after that date. The inability to achieve any sort of deal during Wednesday and Thursday's meetings between representatives for the owners and the players meant that at least a delay to the start of the NBA season was inevitable.
"We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games," NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release. "We will make further decisions as warranted."
The loss of some preseason games isn't the worst news as it's been long expected barring any sort of miracle, but the next thing set to be cancelled would be regular season games -- though that situation is much more important, and therefore avoidable, provided that David Stern and Derek Fisher can come to some sort of an agreement.
As SB Nation's Tom Ziller wrote earlier Friday morning, the date that the Collective Bargaining Agreement needs to officially be agreed upon is still up in the air.
This thing is going all the way down to the wire; it's actually fun to see reporters continue to push the "drop-dead" date for the season to be preserved. We'd thought Oct. 1 would mark a real deadline to save the season start, but Berger offers up Oct. 14 as a date that would delay the season start but get us 82 games. So sometime in the next three weeks, we'll actually have a drop-dead date.
That would mean there are about three weeks for the two sides to get something done. It seems possible, right?
Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players Association, spoke to Chris Sheridan after Thursday's NBA lockout talks in New York City. While there are conflicting reports as to just how much progress was made on Thursday, Hunter certainly works to keep up the appearance of doom first offered by NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA president Derek Fisher, who told reporters on Thursday that they had "nothing to report."
Hunter held to his previous prediction that a lockout would cost the season.
"In general, we haven't made any progress," Hunter said. "I really don't think they're ready to do a deal. My position is that they said 2 years ago they were prepared to lockout for a year to get what they wanted, and I think the way they've negotiated gives every indication that that's bearing out.
"And while they're talking about not wanting to miss the season or having to cancel games, I'm not really sure that that's the truth," Hunter said.
Whether Hunter is speaking what he feels to be the truth or is posturing for effect to place more pressure on the league to cave is for you to decide.
The NBA lockout looks like it will never end. That's by design. The Hook talks about the need for brinkmanship. Also, a defense of Moneyball tactics in the NBA.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that while no proposals were actually accepted or formally offered during Thursday's set of NBA lockout talks in New York City, the owners did move on their revenue split desires. How far they moved remains unclear, but Berger cites sources who say that the gap between the players' union and league on what share of total NBA revenue players ought to be due is shrinking.
The owners' number, one of the people familiar with the details said, represented a willingness to move off their most recent formal proposal to cap player salaries at $2 billion a year for the bulk of a 10-year proposal. So, do the math: Assuming 4 percent revenue growth next season to $3.95 billion, the owners' $2 billion proposal represented roughly 50.5 percent of BRI for the players. If the players were willing to go down to, say, 53 percent with assurances that a soft cap would remain in place, that would be $2.094 billion -- leaving the two sides only $94 million apart in the first year of the deal.
The sides are due to meet next week, though bad news will come before them, as numerous reports suggest the NBA will cancel the first two weeks of the preseason schedule sometime Friday.
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that when the league announces on Friday that the NBA lockout has impacted the 2011-12 schedule, it will cancel the first two weeks of the preseason calendar, including the start of training camps and the first exhibition games.
Camps were set to open with leaguewide media days on Oct. 2. (In non-lockout seasons, a few teams typically begin the preseason overseas, and as such hold their media days earlier than the rest of the league. The NBA didn't send any teams overseas this year, though.) The NBA released an exhibition schedule over the summer that included six games on Oct. 9. Wojnarowski reports that those games and more will become lockout victims on Friday, after NBA commissioner David Stern speaks to the owners' labor committee.
More important, Woj reports that the bleak visage Stern and union president Derek Fisher presented after Thursday's talks weren't an act: sources told Yahoo! that the two sides "dug in" on points of contenion and found no middle ground on Thursday.
ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that the league will announce postponements for training camps and some preseason games on Friday due to the ongoing NBA lockout. League and players' union officials met Thursday, but apparently conjured up no progress in ongoing talks. Camps were slated to open Oct. 2 and the first preseason games are scheduled for the following week.
With opening night of the regular season slated for Nov. 1, the doomsday clock is ticking louder than ever. NBA commissioner David Stern did tell reporters on Thursday that league and union officials will meet again next week, though it's unclear where progress will come. The point of highest contention right now, according to reports, is the structure of the team salary cap.
Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press reported that Stern will speak to members of the owners' labor committee on Friday. The announcement to postpone training camps and games could follow shortly thereafter.
The NBA lockout talks held in New York City on Thursday between the top officials from the league and players' union have apparently yielded little if any progress, as NBA commissioner David Stern and his deputy Adam Silver left the meeting without anything to report to the assembled media. Silver told the press the sides wouldn't meet again until next week.
The NBA regular season is scheduled to open on Nov. 1. Preseason games are scheduled in early October. Training camps are supposed to open on Oct. 2. All dates seem in imminent danger of delay or worse.
This specific group of officials last week two weeks ago. After what appeared to be progress in those talks, the league and union assembled broader committees to bargain last week, but that Tuesday session crashed and burn when two owners -- the Cavs' Dan Gilbert and Suns' Robert Sarver, reportedly -- refused to concede on a push for a hard team salary cap. After Stern caucused with his owners on Thursday, he told the media the league remained committed to a hard cap, but that he had permission to negotiate all points of a deal.
David Stern and leaders from the players' union began their latest round of NBA lockout talks at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, according to NBA.com's Steve Aschburner. Like recent sessions that had apparently yielded some progress, the invite list was short: just four officials each from the league and union are reportedly in the room, including just one team owner (the San Antonio Spurs' Peter Holt) and one player (the L.A. Lakers' Derek Fisher).
At this point, with training camps supposedly to open in less than two weeks, nothing short of rapid progress will get the complete preseason schedule saved. In another couple of weeks, the start of the NBA regular season -- slated for Nov. 1 -- will be in real jeopardy. That puts these talks on Thursday in a huge place of importance, especially coming off the unified stands each side presented following internal meetings a week ago.
When the NFL lockout was finally solved in July, it took the main characters bunkering down for several days to hammer out the framework of an agreement. One assumes that if the NBA seeks to preserve its schedule, it will end up doing the same. The league and union can't wait much longer to get to that point, and fans would love nothing more than to see the sides make that commitment to hammer it out right now.
While player agents haven't been able to execute their alleged plot to take over the players' union, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that those very agents are now planning to rally against an eventual NBA lockout deal between the union and the league. Woj reports that agents feel that the union, led by Billy Hunter and Lakers guard Derek Fisher, is poised to make huge concessions to end the stoppage. Agents feel that these concessions would be "crippling."
Privately, the most influential player agents in the business swear they won't let Billy Hunter cut a crippling collective bargaining deal. They won't let his parting gift to the union membership be deeper concessions, givebacks to the owners. They can't storm the negotiating room in New York this week, but they believe they can ultimately stop the ratifying of a deal. They can deliver the percentage of players needed to decertify the union. They believe they still can unleash holy hell on this sure, steady capitulation to the NBA.
It's unclear what specific concessions would lead to an agent-led uprising; the current proposal on the table, since rejected by the league, is a 53-percent share of revenue for the players and a continuance of the soft team salary cap structure. That doesn't seem particularly crippling, but Woj mentions that some forecast that the split will eventually get down to 50 or 51 percent.
One thing is clear, though: if a deal is reached and agents kill it by leading a clandestine roll to decertification, they and the players they bring with them will be vilified to no end.
As owners determine what exactly they are willing to agree to in a deal to end the NBA lockout, The Oregonian's John Canzano reports that the league has apparently reached a consensus on approving an amnesty clause that will allow teams to remove one player from their books completely. Canzano said that, like the 2005 amnesty program falsely dubbed the Allan Houston rule, players would still get what was owed to them, but would be waived and the luxury tax payments the team owed would be reduced by that players' salary.
But unlike the Houston rule, Canzano said the current proposal under discussion would wipe the waived players' salary off of the team's salary cap sheet. For the Portland Trail Blazers, that would mean waiving a player like Brandon Roy would give the team a chunk of cap space for this offseason.
This would obviously help the implementation of a hard team salary cap, should the league continue to press for that restructuring of the cap. The players' union continues to claim they will not approve a collective bargaining agreement that includes a hard cap.
Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association and a point guard for the L.A. Lakers, appeared on ESPN's Jim Rome Is Burning on Wednesday to talk about the NBA lockout in advance of a reported meeting between top officials of the players' union and the league on Thursday.
Fisher defended the NBA's star players, who have been far less visible than some would like as the lockout winds through its third month. Fisher said that stars including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire have been at meetings or on conference calls throughout the negotiations, and that the union has sought to allow its elected executive committee -- which Fisher leads -- handle most of the public speaking opportunities.
Fisher also reiterated that the union had no interest in losing its demand for the continuation of the current soft salary cap structure.
"We've been clear on that from the beginning," Fisher said, referring to the players' refusal to accede to a hard cap system supported by ownership.
While Fisher wasn't asked about Thursday's meeting or a reported meeting between attorneys from the two sides happening on Wednesday, he did say he believes a fair deal can be completed in time to save the season start of Nov. 1.
Why is David Stern receptive to an NBA lockout financial deal that doesn't make the league profitable? Could it be that the NBA's claimed losses were trumped up? No!
The NBA lockout is nearly three months old, and it's now running up against the calendar as training camps are slated to open on Oct. 2. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that despite planned meetings between lawyers from the league and players' union in the next couple days, the opening of training camps will soon be delayed.
Postponement of training camps should come soon. It's a foregone conclusion. No way to get a deal done and sign players by Oct. 2.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that a Wednesday meeting between lawyers and staff would lead into a bargaining session between the top officials from each side -- David Stern, Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher included -- on Thursday. The Wednesday meeting is seen as an attempt to reconcile what concessions or ideas each side plans to bring back to the table after talks stalled early last week and each side met with its constituency.
The clock is ticking, and with each day that passes without a collective bargaining agreement, the NBA lockout gets closer to threatening the regular season. So in the spirit of troubleshooting as soon as possible, this week David Stern and Billy Hunter are reportedly working to broker a small meeting between powerful leaders on both sides.
As CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports (via Twitter):
This being a critical week preserve on-time start to season, league and union trying to arrange small, high-level meeting, sources confirm. Bargaining sessions would take place tomorrow and/or Thursday featuring heavy hitters: Stern/Silver/Holt vs. Hunter/Fisher/Klempner.
There is a feeling that the developments last week paved the way for movement by both sides. League, players understand time running short. Key for players, sources say, is that league comes back from BOG in Dallas last week with revenue sharing details. Enhanced revenue sharing, and a commitment from owners on when to implement it, could be key piece that moves talks forward.
Last week, the NBA lockout turned into a Clancy, with wide reports that five top agents were plotting to execute backdoor decertification and, as a result, knock National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter from power. In response, Hunter brought NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith to a players' meeting to calm the decertification storm while NBPA president Derek Fisher fired off a letter to players aimed at neutering the overthrow attempt.
Did it work? We'll see. But if the current pleas of Mark Bartelstein -- one of the powerful agents said to be involved in the clandestine decert push -- are any indiciation, we can award the point to Hunter and Fisher. In an interview with SI.com's Sam Amick, Bartelstein denies any backroom strategizing among agents to knock Hunter out of power has happened.
The way this thing reads, it's like there's all this plotting going on. That's just not true. The idea has never been to blow up the union. This idea that there's a secret agents to blow the union up is completely wrong. The idea that there's this diabolical plan going on is wrong.
Diabolical plans are in the eyes of the beholders; no doubt Bartelstein and Hunter could see the identical meeting in different ways based on their positions and biases. It's hard to imagine Hunter and Fisher would respond so forcefully if they didn't believe all that smoke was put off by a fire Bartelstein was involved in creating. But it's easy to see how, at the same time, the plan may have been exagerrated as everyone gets a bit more touchy in these stress-riddled times.
Who said Kobe Bryant and other superstars aren't taking a big enough role in the NBA lockout? Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times spoke to Billy Hunter, the director of the National Basketball Players Association, about the course of the lockout and the players' preparation. Included in that talk is a mighty interesting tidbit about what Kobe and other unnamed stars have agreed to do if the lockout cuts into the regular season and players start missing paychecks. Here's Hunter:
I know Kobe is intimately involved in interfacing with colleagues and sharing in a pool of revenue to help the others get through this. Kobe has volunteered to do that in the event others need, he and others are prepared to loan money if necessary.
So if Chris Kaman spends all of his rainy day fund on ammunition and spatzle, Kobe will be ready to help pay the rent. If you're of the mind that lockout could stretch into January and threaten the entire season, you should consider this about the most impactful contribution Kobe can make to the union's cause. No matter how prepared Hunter says the players are, there will be a few pushing for resolution at all costs just to get their checks.
The NBA lockout is suddenly looking a lot like the recent debt ceiling debacle. Can David Stern reign in his flank more effective than John Boehner did?
In the ongoing NBA lockout -- 79 days and counting -- this past week was one of disunity, as owners reportedly quarreled over whether to stick with their demands for a hard salary cap and player agents renewed their push for decertification. The latter battle has apparently picked up a major ally, as SI.com's Sam Amick reports that Leon Rose, who represents LeBron James, Chris Paul and a number of other stars as the top agent with CAA, is in favor of decertification of the players' union.
Five agents, including the high-profile Arn Tellem, reportedly discussed pushing for decertification without cooperation from union leadership this week. National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher sent a letter to players before Thursday's meeting in Las Vegas reinforcing unity and pointing out that the agents so dissatisfied with the strategy employed by Fisher and NBPA director Billy Hunter haven't discussed the issues with the leadership itself.
Rose hasn't gone public with his support of decertification; the issue may be moot if an expected National Labor Relations Board decision comes soon, as that could dictate the legal path forward.
The NBA lockout is on the verge of threatening the NBA regular season, but according to some reports, the owners were willing to reach a compromise on a new collective bargaining deal this week. That is, until Dan Gilbert and Robert Sarver spoke up to oppose it.
After initial optimism from both sides, the latest talks were derailed when the owners left the players in New York City to deliberate amongst themselves. ESPN's Dave McMenamin has the scoop:
Owners were seriously considering coming off of their demand for a salary freeze and would allow players' future earnings to be tied into the league's revenue growth, a critical point for players. The owners also were willing to allow the players to maintain their current salaries, without rollbacks, sources said.
But when the owners left the players to meet among themselves for around three hours, Cleveland's Dan Gilbert and Phoenix's Robert Sarver expressed their dissatisfaction with many of the points, sources said. The sources said that the Knicks' James Dolan and the Lakers' Jerry Buss were visibly annoyed by the hardline demands of Gilbert and Sarver.
Indeed, it seems the two sides were closer than it appeared, only to have the minority opposition sabotage this week's progress. And just like that, Suns' owner Robert Sarver and Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert just became public enemy nos. 1 and 2 in the ongoing story of the NBA lockout.
The NBA Players Association held a meeting in Las Vegas to discuss the NBA lockout, and one of the guest-speakers was NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith. Smith was invited by NBPA president Derek Fisher to speak to the players in attendance about the importance of staying united. He also said that decertification, an option reportedly favored by many high-powered agents, wasn't going to automatically solve the problem.
In his remarks to the union Thursday, Smith said several times that decertification was not a "silver bullet" that would solve all problems. He pointed out that even though the NFLPA decertified in advance of the lockout imposed by the NFL last March, the two sides continued negotiations until a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement was reached in July.
"To me, does it matter? You can spin it that way. At the end of the day, I wasn't in a couple of the meetings in New York. Does that mean I'm not unified? I think that would be wrong to write that. At the end of the day, we all have to write papers, we all have to write stuff."
As the week has unfolded and the prospect of missing regular season games has become more likely, there have been signs of dissent among the NBA Players. Thursday, with the players set to meet in Las Vegas, NBAPA President Derek Fisher sent an impassioned letter to his constituents, urging them to remain united.
Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of Fisher's letter, and key sections are below.
I've made it clear, I want to play. You have each made it clear, you want to play. The fans have been unwavering, they want their basketball. The thousand of employees that work in the arenas, the ticket offices, the concession stands, they want a season. We all want to go back to work.
The most recent meetings in New York were effective. What you have been told by your agents, representatives and the media is probably speculative and inaccurate.
Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I'd like to address it. I've read yesterday's stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I've answered their questions, I've been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I'm working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don't make a commission, I don't make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.
It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives.
I work every day on these negotiations. I work so that each player from Blake Griffin to Tyler Hansbrough, Pau Gasol to De'Andre Jordan, Dwight Howard to Jrue Holiday, Taj Gibson to Danny Granger, Steve Nash to Luke Babbit and every single player get a fair and reasonable deal. Not just for this year, not just for next year but for years to come. So that the league that WE the players largely helped build, continues to grow and thrive.
So to address the agents that have decided to say their piece yesterday, I don't mind. Perhaps they are trying to make news. Perhaps they just want to show you, their clients, they are working hard. But what would be appreciated by the 400+ players would be the support of our agents and constructive ideas, suggestions and solutions that are in our best interests.
How his arguments will be received is another matter entirely, but if the union's going to fall prey to an attack from player agents upset with the way negotiations have gone thus far, we know that Derek Fisher won't go quietly. You can read his entire letter at Sports Illustrated.
As the NBA lockout continues, one of the major issues is the supposed divide among the big-market owners and small-market owners. In theory, the big-market owners would prefer to keep the current conditions in place because it gives them a competitive advantage over the small-market owners that are not making enough money to compete. That's what makes the news that Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss is in favor of a hard cap and more robust revenue sharing both surprising and significant.
Dramatically increased revenue sharing will inhibit the Lakers’ spending. A hard cap will flat-out prevent the Lakers from spending. It’s lose-lose when Buss is 77 years old and determined to come from behind the Boston Celtics in total championships, 17-16.
Yet the Lakers have accepted it. Why?
For the greater good.
That's a tremendously important development. If Buss is willing to accept weakening his own team's competitive advantage to help solve one of the league's major issues in this lockout, then it means that a robust revenue sharing plan is on the horizon. It also means that the owners' collective resolve for a hard cap, which is something the NBA Players Association has steadfastly opposed, has also grown greater.
Perhaps commissioner David Stern was right that his owners are more united than it would seem.
The NBA lockout is at a rather pivotal point in the negotiations between the owners and players as each side is currently locked in an impasse that will soon alter the upcoming season. The NBA Players' Association will get a closer look at just what a continued lockout might lead to, though, as union president Derek Fisher has invited NFL Players' Association head DeMaurice Smith to speak to the players during a meeting in Vegas on Thursday morning.
Fisher told Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick that the reason Smith has been invited to the talks is to "help buoy the players' spirits after discussions with the owners broke down on Tuesday while also educating them on the complex issues involved in this process."
One of the reasons Smith has been invited is probably to help educate the players on the option of decertification of the union, a possibility that is currently being pushed for by agents after watching the union fail to be able to get anything solved since negotiations began.
"I asked Billy (Hunter, NBPA union president) one time, I said 'What are the negatives of decertification?' If two months from now, four months from now, we had no deal done, would it be a negative to decertify but you still talk to (the owners)?" Phoenix Suns player Jared Dudley told Amick. "It was kind of iffy on the answers. "That's something I'll bring up to him (on Thursday). He's very open to discuss that, and he needs to discuss that. He's our leader."
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting and, ultimately, to see what might happen with the decertification process after the players are able to quiz Smith on the subject.
The NBA lockout has apparently led to some fissures among the owners' ranks. But if a few agents get their way, the players' union will be broken up completely. Billy Hunter has a lot of work to do to keep it together.
If Tuesday's "bad day" of the NBA lockout talks wasn't chilling enough, consider this slice of the aftermath: two reports suggest that a collection of five major agents who collectively represent 30 percent of the league's players are planning a "coup" of the union, looking to push Billy Hunter aside and pursue a more aggressive drive against the owners.
Henry Abbott and Chris Broussard reported on ESPN.com late Tuesday that the agents -- Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz and Dan Fegan -- spoke via conference call Monday to discuss a plan to make a push toward decertification of the union. That's what the NFL's players' union did back in April in order to clear the path toward anti-trust litigation against the league. The National Basketball Players Association has to date avoided decertification, instead opting to wait on a decision from the National Labor Relations Board on an unfair business practices complaint against the league.
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reported similar information, but also quoted an anonymous agent who said the agents involved in the overthrow attempt have become "militant against the union." If that doesn't sound good, it's because it shouldn't. The agent also warns that the union's Thursday meeting in Las Vegas -- where several dozen players will be -- will get ugly as Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher try to deflect pressure.
Meanwhile, no one seems to know when the NLRB will produce a decision. It could be any day, and a win for the union there could give Hunter just the boost he needs right now.
The NBA lockout hit a stalemate on Tuesday, and while David Stern explained both sides' disagreements, the NBA Players Association is preparing players to sit out half the season. At least. There has to be a silver lining in all this, right?
Based on the rhetoric that came out of Tuesday's NBA lockout meeting between the owners and the NBA Players Association, you'd have thought that both sides took a major step back. However, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the opposite is true. In fact, there was significant movement on one of the biggest issues of the lockout: the Basketball-Related Income split.
Neither side would say how far the players moved economically, but a person with knowledge of the negotiations said they expressed a willingness to move lower than the 54.3 percent of basketball-related income they last proposed on June 30 as a starting point in a six-year deal. Stern disputed the players' contention that the owners haven't made an economic move since the day before the lockout was imposed. Nobody outside the room knows how many millions the two sides shaved off the gap, but it hardly matters since everyone seemed willing to concede that they've at least dipped their toes on common ground when it comes to dollars.
"I'd just say it's on the road, and we know how to negotiate over dollars when the time comes," Stern said.
The old Basketball-Related Income split has the players receiving 57 percent of all income. A previous proposal by the NBPA knocked that down to 54 percent, and now, it's been knocked down further. The two sides are still far apart on the issue of a hard salary cap, but as Tom Ziller implies, that's the kind of thing that should be solvable, assuming both sides are willing to actually compromise.
The NBA lockout now apparently rests on whether the sides can agree on a cap structure. What a stupid way for a season to potentially die.
Amid the hellfire and despair of the apparent breakdown in NBA lockout talks on Tuesday came one slightly positive, albeit likely irrelevant, nugget of news. Officials from the NBA and National Basketball Players Association met Tuesday in New York City in an attempt to find some progress before reporting back to their bases on Thursday. The NBA's owners are slated to meet in Dallas Thursday, while the players' union will host a large meeting in Las Vegas.
Despite an apparent complete lack of progress on Tuesday, NBA commissioner David Stern said owners will not vote to cancel training camps or preseason games when they meet on Thursday. Training camps typically begin in the waning days of September. The first preseason games are slated for the first week of October.
The dour statements from union officials following Tuesday's meeting, however, make it seem as tough it's only a matter of time before schedule changes are necessary. The calendar can only crawl along so slowly.
NBA commissioner David Stern backed up the rhetoric coming from the NBA Players Association that Tuesday's NBA lockout bargaining session did not go well, saying the two sides "did not have a good day." However, he still reiterated his desire for the NBA season to begin on time. Via Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
Stern says it's "still our goal" to start season on time.
Stern said the reason for the issues on Tuesday stemmed from the players insisting the soft cap remain in place in return for concessions on the basketball-related income. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the players had an "emotional attachment" to the current cap system and would only accept the concession on the BRI if the cap remained in place as is. Deputy commissioner Silver also took issue with the NBPA's rhetoric following the meeting.
As the rhetoric coming out of Tuesday's NBA lockout bargaining session between the owners and the NBA Players Association continues to worsen, there was one piece of information that may provide a clue as to why that happened. According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the owners present spent over half of the five-and-a-half hour session talking among themselves.
[NBPA head Billy] Hunter says there's a "division of interest" within ownership. Owners spent three of 5 1-2 hours meeting amongst themselves.
This could mean a lot of things, but it certainly does not bode well for this dispute being solved. It also throws a wrench into David Stern's proclamation a month ago that he's "never seen such unity of purpose" among the owners.
If Hunter's statement is correct, it means the owners still do have a lot to resolve in their own camp after all. This exact scenario is something SB Nation's Tom Ziller predicted several weeks ago.
The news from the NBA lockout talks in New York City is about as bleak as you can imagine. After it became clear that, at least from the players' union's perspective, no progress had been made, the question was just how deflated the top negotiators had gotten.
National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter sums that up in one quote, via CBS Sports' ace Ken Berger:
Hunter bombshell: "We've advised (players) they may have to sit out half the season before we get a deal."
In 1998-99, the league had to restructure with a 50-game season as a deal wasn't reached until early January. The 2011-12 season is scheduled to begin on November 1, and NBA commissioner David Stern has set an unofficial deadline at the end of September to get the docket underway on time.
NPBA prez Derek Fisher said he doesn't "feel like training camp and season will start on time."
Stay tuned for news from David Stern's inevitable chat with the press.
High hopes swirled heading into the latest NBA lockout talks on Tuesday in New York City, as the full NBA labor committee and National Basketball Players Association executive committee assembled to pick up where a smaller, more high-level group left off last week. But apparently, there will be no salvation for NBA fans any time.
At the end of a session that reached nearly six hours, NBPA vice president Roger Mason of the New York Knicks tweeted the bad news.
Just finished a long day of negotiations. Unfortunately we are No Where Near a deal! It's def disappointing!
NBPA director Billy Hunter continued the discouragement. From CBS Sports' Ken Berger:
Hunter: "The owners are unwilling to move off of the position on which they've anchored themselves."
Hunter also said that he is pessimistic that the 2011-12 season, slated to open on November 1, will begin on time.
A select group of the top officials from both sides met last week in New York, and a relative wealth of positive-seeming tea leaves had a number of reporters suggesting the season's start could be saved. With no further meetings scheduled as of yet, those rosey inclinations are sure to dry up.
The top committees from the league and players' union will join the latest NBA lockout talks on Tuesday in New York City, as the two sides attempt to find an agreement in the next couple weeks that can save the November 1 start of the 2011-12 season. The last three meetings have included only the very top officials from the NBA and union; Tuesday's meeting will feature the league's labor committee and the union's executive committee, bringing the count of voices in the room from 7-8 to more than two dozen.
But don't expect a comprehensive proposal to start the day. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that those familiar with the talks expect a collaborative approach building a single, joint plan going forward.
As one person monitoring the talks said, "They're not just sticking to one side and saying, ‘We're not moving.' "
That is a vast improvement from August and puts these talks light-years ahead of where they were during the 1998 lockout. While the circumstances may differ, the comparison is worth noting.
Beck goes on to remind us of the slow pace the 1998 talks took, and notes the personality difference with the replacement of Russ Granik by new deputy commissioner Adam Silver and of Patrick Ewing with new NBPA president Derek Fisher.
After Tuesday's meeting in New York, the union will hold a large meeting in Las Vegas on Thursday while the owners meet in Dallas. It's unclear whether there will be reason to reconvene quickly to hammer out details of a new deal, or whether this is all a mirage.
Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has been fined $100,000 for comments made to an Australian newspaper regarding the NBA lockout and specifically the need for a hard salary cap. MJ was talking to the paper about a golf event, but the chat apparently strayed to labor matters and, oddly, Australia native Andrew Bogut.
Jordan is considered one of the owners is most need of a completely revamped economic system for the NBA, as Charlotte has struggled to become competitive since expansion in 2004. Jordan played less to buy the Bobcats than what Robert Johnson paid to found the team in 2004, showing that not every franchise gains value over time.
Two teams have reportedly previously been fined for making inappropriate lockout-related comments in violation of NBA commissioner David Stern's gag order. Team employees are also not allowed to speak to or of players, unless granted an exception by the league office.
CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports that despite more frequent and optimism-inducing NBA lockout talks occuring over the past two weeks, no major movement has been madeon a serious financial gap between the league and players. Berger cites five anonymous sources who have been briefed on the three sets of high-level talks between top officials from the league and players' union that have occured since August 31.
"I don't think they've made any progress there at all," one of the people briefed on the negotiations told CBSSports.com. "They're talking a lot, and the conversations are more cordial. But as far as the real numbers, I don't think there's anything there."
It's not all gloom, though, as Berger reports that the purpose of expanded talks including the full NBA labor committee and union's executive committee scheduled for Tuesday is to present the ideas developed over the recent talks to a wider audience and take a temperature check on their saleability to the wider bases.
Top league and players' union officials met to discuss a resolution to the NBA lockout on Thursday, talking for the second straight day and third time in eight days. The result: an agreement to hold additional talks. According to reporters on the scene via Twitter, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the full labor committees from the league and union will meet Tuesday in New York City.
Reason for larger group meetings? Larger parties are "ultimately responsible for making a deal or deciding that there shouldn't be a deal," Stern said.
Just the top officials from each side had been meeting in recent sessions. Those talks have included Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter, the Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher and a couple of top attorneys. The full committees to assemble on Tuesday include more team owners and player representatives.
The NBA locked out its players on July 1 after failing to reach an agreement with the union on a new collective bargaining agreement in talks over the past two years. In 1998, the NBA began canceling preseason games when it did not have an agreement as of September 24. The season didn't begin until January 1999, and then on an abbreviated schedule.
The 2011-12 NBA season is scheduled to begin November 1.
Are we seeing progress in NBA lockout negotiations? Apparently, yes! Are player agents poised to ruin it all? Apparently, yes! The Hook reminds you that agents can never pass up an opportunity to crush your spirit.
After almost two months of relative inaction, the pace of negotiations in the NBA lockout is rising. So is optimism that the 2011-12 season can be saved.
Top players' union and league officials met Wednesday in New York to tug out some more progress in lockout talks. While NBA commissioner David Stern was mum on what was discussed and wouldn't project optimism, according to reporters at the scene, players' union director Billy Hunter did let loose a rare bit of sunshine. From Ken Berger, who you should be following on Twitter (@KBerg_CBS) if you care one bit about the lockout:
Full Hunter quote, when asked if enough time to reach deal: "I think there is. I think there clearly is. There's more than enough time."
As a result of that optimism and the ticking, invisible clock sitting somewhere around October 1, the two sides will meet again Thursday and possibly Friday, Berger reports.
Officials from the league and players' union will speak to the federal judge Paul Gardephe on Wednesday to discussing the NBA lockout suit filed by the league, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. Gardephe has called a 5 p.m. ET conference call on Wednesday to discuss scheduling issues and the union's planned motion to dismiss.
Earlier on Wednesday, as reported by SI.com's Sam Amick last week, the two sides will meet in the third bargaining session of the lockout. It's an understandably tricky balance for David Stern and Billy Hunter to navigate, as they attempt to show good faith in negotiations to make progress through September while also needing to use the courts as leverage should things go sour again.
The National Labor Relations Board is also expected to announce soon its decision on the union's unfair labor practice complaint against the league. That's considered the union's best weapon against the league's warchest.
Chris Sheridan, writing for his new site SheridanHoops, suggests that despite soaring rhetoric and a complete lack of compromise through 66 days of the NBA lockout, the stoppage is closer to settlement than you think. Sheridan crunches the numbers to ascertain that the sides are only $170 million apart on player salaries for 2011-12, and $3 billion apart on what Sheridan terms "aggregate dollars" over the life of a six-year collective bargaining agreement.
Union officials had been insisting that the league was pushing to decrease player salaries by more than $8 billion over 10 years, but Sheridan points out that this neglects the givebacks that players have already offered and the likelihood that the deal will be six instead of 10 years.
I have been saying all along that there is too much to be lost by having a work stoppage that extends into the fall and forces the cancellation of games. And with the NBA coming off a fantastic season in which attendance, ratings and merchandise sales all skyrocketed, there is took much risk of punishing the product to go too far down the bumpy road the owners have chosen to take.
At the end of the day, they have too much to gain by making a deal that gives them a significantly larger share of the pie that what they were getting under the old deal.
Sheridan also notes that Oct. 1 is the likely drop-dead date in terms of starting the season on time for an agreement on the big issue, the players' share of revenue.
NBA lockout news has been, for the most part, doom and gloom ever since the owners decided to shut the door on its players following one of the best NBA seasons in recent memory. Following up on a seemingly productive meeting on Wednesday, the NBA and its Players' Association will meet again next week.
Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports that the two sides have agreed to meet in consecutive weeks after previously meeting just once in the first two months of the lockout.
As was the case with Wednesday's six-hour meeting in New York, next week's session is expected to include only a small group of representatives and will likely take place on Wednesday or Thursday.
The two sides are apparently hoping to come to an agreement before September 15, a rumored deadline to cancel the NBA's preseason, but just the fact that they are meeting again so soon is reason for optimism -- even if they're unable to come to an agreement on time to save the exhibition schedule.
How did the results from the last NBA lockout change the league's salary structure? The Hook takes a look.
To get the NBA lockout resolved, someone going to start needing to make concessions, and fast. Is it up to David Stern or the players to start that process?
The central news from Wednesday's NBA lockout talks between David Stern, Derek Fisher and the other top-level officials from the league and players' union was that neither side would be talking about the talks or the state of negotiations in the media. Neither official would characterize the actual substance of talks on Wednesday, and didn't offer specifics on when the parties would meet again.
Fisher did, however, let a little news loose. From NBA.com's Steve Aschburner:
Again, no new formal proposals were made -- there have been none since June, though Fisher said they covered topics "from A to Z" Wednesday.
While they probably need to cover topics from A to Z another two dozen times in that many days, and openness to negotiate is good. Comprehensive new proposals may not be worth the trouble; everyone in the room knows these issues like the back of their hands, so incremental progress on smaller chunks could be a better recipe for success. (Let us pray.)
After Wednesday's secret-but-not-really NBA lockout meeting between league and union officials, NBA commissioner David Stern briefly addressed reporters who staked out the session. Like union president Derek Fisher, Stern didn't say much beyond noting that the parties would be meeting again. But Stern did say one other note of interest.
From the New York Times' Howard Beck:
Stern and [deputy commissioner Adam] Silver just spoke. Just as cautious as Fisher in assessing progress. But Stern said there is definitely time to make a deal.
It was September 24, 1998, when Stern announced the postponement of training camps and preseason games the last time the league had a lockout. Based on that precedent, the league and union have a little more than three weeks to get cooking. Meeting -- even without solid progress -- is a good start.
Wednesday's meeting was said to include only Stern, Silver, Fisher, union director Billy Hunter and lawyer Ron Klempner and Spurs owner Peter Holt.
Top-level officials from the league and players' union had their second meeting of the NBA lockout on Wednesday at what was supposed to be a secret location in New York City. Reporters, of course, found the session about as easily as middle-grade contestants found Carmen Sandiego circa 1992. At the end of the six-hour session, union president Derek Fisher did not oblige the gumshoes with much talk about progress.
He did, however, note that a thawing of relations has occurred. From SI's Chris Mannix:
According to Fisher, two sides agreed that league and players would stop taking shots at each other.
Things had gotten testy since the NBA filed suit against the players on August 2. An appearance on Bill Simmons' popular podcast by NBA commissioner David Stern also fueled a number of fierce responses from player reps.
Fisher also told reporters that the union and league agreed to continue talking. The sides went 29 days without meeting; the previous span between meetings was 31 days.
As the NBA lockout drags on, we're still on whether a complete reset of the finances of the league is needed, or whether a mere adjustment will do.
The Hook runs Monday through Friday. See the archives.
At some point during the NBA lockout, the league will push to extend the age minimum to 21 or three years out of high school. This would be a cynical, greedy mistake. The Hook explains why.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the next meeting between the league and players' union seeking progress in ending the NBA lockout -- scheduled for sometime next week -- will be limited to only the top officials from each side, possibly just five people total. NBA commissioner David Stern, his deputy Adam Silver, San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher are the reported attendees.
The sides have only met once since the NBA locked out players on July 1. That bargaining session drew media attention when Stern said he didn't feel the players were negotiating in good faith. A day later, the NBA filed a federal lawsuit and bad faith negotiations complaint against the union.
Stern has arbitrarily set a Labor Day deadline for progress in order to get the sides on track to avoid missing games in the 2011-12 season. In the 1998-99 lockout, training camp and the preseason was canceled on September 24.
Fans are being deprived basketball during the NBA lockout. They at least deserve honesty from those taking the sport away.
Decertification is "not on the table right now", National Basketball Players Association vice president Maurice Evans told SI.com's Sam Amick on Wednesday. Decertifying the union has been considered a top option for the players' union as the NBA lockout drags toward its third month; the NFL's players' union decertified early in that league's labor impasse last spring. The NBA has sued the NBPA in federal court to block what it calls a "sham decertification", and has also asked for clearance to void all existing player contracts if the union is allowed to dissolve.
The NBPA's strategy has differed from that of the NFLPA, as the basketball union has made a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board its top priority. A ruling from the NLRB on whether the NBA has failed to bargain in good faith is expected in September; that could lead to a complaint from the NLRB itself, which could be attached to an injunction to lift the lockout in what would be a major coup for the union.
But if the NLRB doesn't lend the union a hand, decertification -- and the associated threat of contract burning -- could be the next step.
Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that the second bargaining session of the NBA lockout will be held next week, in the closing days of August. That will mean that the NBA and players' union will have met just twice in the first 60 days of the stoppage, which began July 1. NBA commissioner David Stern had said in a podcast with Bill Simmons in mid-August that without progress by Labor Day -- that'd be September 5, the Monday after the planned bargaining session -- things would look "dark" for the league's 2011-12 season.
Neither side has moved an inch from where it stood on June 30, when the final pre-lockout bargaining session was held in New York City. The owners' proposal involves decoupling revenue from player salaries and essentially freezing the pot of money paid to players over the next 10 years. The players have off