NBA owners with meet with an assembly of players at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles to try to iron out some progress on the the league's next collective bargaining agreement, reports the Associated Press. NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, the league's lead negotiator in this round of collective bargaining, said last week he wasn't sure the sides would meet during All-Star Weekend. But union leaders made an objection, and the sides will indeed meet as they did a year ago in Dallas.
Atlanta Hawks guard Maurice Evans told FanHouse's excellent Sam Amick on Wednesday that the union was offended the owners wouldn't carve out some time during a critical stretch in the negotiations.
"They don't want to do it because they don't want to have the LeBron James and the KGs (Kevin Garnetts) and the Kobes (Kobe Bryant) and all these guys in one spot where they can come in and look them in the eye and address them," Evans said. "It's easier to look at Mo Evans and Derek Fisher and Keyon Dooling and Etan Thomas and guys like us and Theo Ratliff (all of whom are members of the NBAPA executive committee).
"It's easy to come in and look at guys who aren't making $20 million (per season) and aren't franchise players, and say, 'Hey we need (salary) rollbacks. We don't have enough money. This model isn't working, blah blah blah blah.' But tell that to LeBron James. You can't lie to those guys, because you know it's working."
That's an incredible rant, and shows that the union is seriously about flexing its muscle as frequently as possible. There's no better opportunity than All-Star Weekend, when the league (and much of its media corps) descends upon a city for four days of undivided post-Super Bowl, pre-baseball attention.
Last year's All-Star meeting didn't go so well, as the union tore up the league's proposal. It had called for unprecedented salary rollbacks and concessions. All through the negotiations, the union has maintained that NBA owners haven't been willing to budge or actually negotiate.