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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.
With the NBA still working out the logistics of a new collective bargaining agreement, the start of 2011 training camps could be delayed until Monday, says on report. Previously camps had been scheduled to open on Friday, but the delay in ratifying the league's new collective bargaining agreement, coupled with other logistical difficulties, may force NBA teams to wait past the weekend.
Yahoo! Sports spoke to numerous league executives, and while no decision has been made as of now, there seems to be a consensus that pushing training camp back could be a win for everyone. As Adrian Wojnarowski reports, "Friday is the first day that teams are allowed to sign free agents and make trades. Training camps, scheduled to start the same day, could be preempted to allow free agency to take shape for 48 hours and give players changing teams time to join their new squads."
For now, nothing's been decided officially. But if you've been waiting anxiously for basketball to officially start league-wide, then don't hold your breath. Or at least, prepare to hold your breath until next week.
The players' NBA lockout lawsuit has been settled by lawyers for each side, reports SI.com's Zach Lowe. A set of players had filed anti-trust litigation against the league after the union disclaimed interest in representing players in collective bargaining. That lawsuit didn't make much progress in the courts, but about 10 days after it was filed the players and league had negotiated a deal to end the lockout.
Next up: players need to authorize the union to negotiate on their behalf by returning signed authorization cards. Once that is complete, the union and league will hammer out the final details of the collective bargaining agreement and put it up for a ratification vote. If all of that happens on schedule, free agency will begin on December 9 as planned and the regular season will commence on December 25.
The lockout lasted 150 days and cost the league 16 regular season games per team.
The NBA age limit is one of the more discussed topics when it comes to issues still not hashed out in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the current plan seems to be that the league will stick with 19 for now. That doesn't mean that other options aren't being presented, however.
The NBA would like to extend the NBA's age limit to only allow players who are out of their teens to play professional basketball in the best league in the world -- the NBA Development League's age limit is still 18 -- but ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that the Association will likely remain with the current rule for at least the next two years.
After that, however, numerous options are being discussed.
Several alternatives have been discussed, sources said. One option would be to allow players to enter the draft directly out of high school but have the option to withdraw and go to college, similar to the draft rule used by Major League Baseball. Under this concept, a player would next be required to attend at least two years of college before entering the draft again.
Another option would be to revise the rookie salary scale by adding incentives to stay in college longer, a source familiar with the labor talks said. Potential incentives would include increasing the salary range for each year a player stays in school or allow him to qualify for free agency sooner.
The former option seems to be much more appealing that the latter, but either way it gives players more options as they decide their future in professional basketball.
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 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.
Why, after 149 days of debilitating disagreement, were the owners and players finally able to get a deal to end the NBA lockout on Friday? According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the sides became desperate to hammer out an agreement and save the season before it was too late.
"Everyone felt the urgency of getting a 'real' season," Alridge said on NBA TV, which is owned by the league but operated by Turner Sports. "Nobody wanted a repeat of '99 with a 50-game season."
The deal will allow the league to produce a 66-game season beginning on December 25 with a slate of nationally televised games that should provide a huge ratings push for the NBA. The playoffs and NBA Finals are expected to each start a week late. The entire schedule will be re-written, though the Christmas schedule may remain the same.
Reports had indicated that without a deal by the end of the weekend, Stern may have opted to cancel the entire season rather than repeat 1999, when a 50-game season began in February.
And with that, an NBA lockout that's dragged on far to long is over, according to multiple reports early Saturday morning. The league and players rekindled talks over the course of Thanksgiving week in hopes of saving the Christmas day games. After the NBA Players Union disbanded following a breakdown in talks earlier this month, progress was finally made in earnest, resulting in a tentative agreement to end the lockout after marathon talks on Black Friday.
The report comes from Ken Berger, who has been dutifully staking out the negotiations throughout the lockout.
BREAKING: Tentative agreement reached, according to one of the negotiators. #NBA #lockout. Agreement will be followed reforming of the union, which must be recognized by the owners -- a formality, pending finalization of details.
In a news conference to announce the tentative agreement, David Stern and Billy Hunter elaborated on what this all means.
Stern We're optimistic ... that the NBA season will come to pass on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, with a triple-header. Stern: We're optimistic that it will hold and we'll have ourselves an NBA season.
Hunter: We're going to turn it all over to the lawyers ... and see how that proceeds.
Stern: Conference call will be tomorrow with labor relations committee. Hunter also declines to discuss details before sharing w/ players.
All quotes via Berger.
Free agency and training camps are both scheduled to open on Dec. 9, as well, creating for what should be a fun ride. All of this is pending ratification and the NBPA reforming as a union.
So that's it. As long as the agreement passes through the lawyers and is agreed upon by the players, the NBA will return at long last. We'll be back with more as it becomes available.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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