Blog Entry

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:31 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 9:58 am
NEW YORK – A few thoughts on a very important day for the NBA:

• What does it mean that commissioner David Stern is giving mediator George Cohen one day to solve all the league’s problems before breaking away for two days of Board of Governors meetings? On one hand, it’s unrealistic that Cohen and his colleague, Scot Beckenbaugh, could do in one day what Stern and Billy Hunter haven’t been able to do in two years. On the other, it creates a sense of urgency – without which nothing ever gets done in negotiations. “That’s David’s style,” one league executive said. “He likes deadlines.”

• There are rumblings in the agent community and among team executives that the hawkish position of the players’ association – its line in the sand at 53 percent and inflexibility over competitive aspects of the system – is a recipe for doom. “Sad to say, but I think (the owners) just want to sit the season out,” one prominent personnel man said. The involvement of superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the negotiations two weeks ago shook some team executives who believed the two sides were on their way to a deal. “It baffles me that a union of 400 guys is fighting for one or two guys, whereas hundreds of guys are the ones taking the loss,” another team executive told

• Several executives fear that Hunter and union president Derek Fisher have been swayed by star players and their agents into taking a hard-line position that could be devastating to hundreds of rank-and-file players if the season were lost. “The thing that they’re fighting for right now is not the middle-of-the-road guy, and that's who you would think the union would be fighting for,” one of the executives said. “They’re fighting for the max guys right now or the max-to-be guys.”

• Longtime agent Steve Kauffman, a player agent during the 1998-99 lockout who now represents coaches and management executives, agrees that not enough time has been spent examining how much money and system flexibility could be freed up by reducing max contracts. “The deal is there to be made,” Kauffman said. “It's ridiculous. The main thing is, tell me what the max salaries are going to be. Because if you want to really help your union, who does the union represent? Whose interests are they protecting? If it's supposed to be everybody, then you've got to strike a balance.”

• Among the negotiating points that the league has said it’s conceded is the initial goal of curtailing the size and length of max contracts. Kauffman believes that’s gotten in the way of getting a deal. “You can make the argument that the stars deserve to be paid 75 or 80 percent of the payroll,” Kauffman said. “But if the max got a 15 percent cut, there would be more room to do those contracts that (the agents) are complaining they can't do. … The superstars are always going to get theirs through endorsements and other avenues.”

• Does this point about max salaries bear out in the math? A 15 percent reduction in future max salaries would represent only 1 percent of BRI annually – about $54 million based on the 21 players who currently make $15 million or more. But over a six-year deal, that’s roughly $325 million – the difference between a players’ share of 52 percent, which sources indicate the union would accept, and 51 percent, a figure that owners likely also would agree to. If the league’s biggest stars took a pay cut, or at least agreed that future max contracts would be reduced by 15 percent, the difference could easily be made up by giving those players a bigger share of licensing money, which currently is divided equally among the players regardless of whether you’re Kobe with millions in jersey sales or Sasha Vujacic, whose only jersey sale likely was transacted by his finance, Maria Sharapova.


• Some small-market executives are fearful that the amnesty provision being negotiated will turn out to be only another advantage for big-market teams. The provision would allow teams to release an underperforming player and spread the money left on his contract over twice the years remaining, plus one, for cap purposes. One small-market GM envisions this provision being used by big-market teams to collect players cast off by small-market teams. "It's a great idea until Baron Davis goes to Miami," the GM said.

• Do not underestimate the owners' obsession with creating a competitive system that mimics the NFL, through whatever vehicle gets them there. 
"In the NFL, every team has a chance," one team executive said. "That's what makes it great, and we don't have that. We're like Euro League. Until we have revenue sharing and a hard cap, we not going to be a fair league." 

• One final note on the two weeks of games that have been canceled so far. Given reports that league scheduling guru Matt Winick is working on a host of contingency plans, including an 82-game schedule that would begin Dec. 1, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that those games are lost forever. Of importance Tuesday in the mediation session with Cohen is that those games could enter the equation as a valuable bargaining chip. If the two sides reach another impasse on the BRI split, they could be enticed to move closer by getting back the $200 million each side “lost” when those games were canceled.


Since: Oct 18, 2011
Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:26 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

maybe the owners should make these prima donnas pay for their first class flights, luxury hotels, laundry, shoes, gear, etc. like the real athletes, these guys get paid no matter what, if there hurt or not, unlike the jockeys and golfers who get paid ONLY by their performance, lets see how many players would go for a performance based contract, you don't perform, you don't get paid, lock these guys out and let them sell off all the gold and diamonds they own and the luxury cars they drive, no sympathy from me.

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:12 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

you know - if these guys had stayed in school and got a degree in a meanful field, they could get jobs to tide them over until the lockout was lifted... 

just sayin'...

Since: May 23, 2007
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:59 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

Why bargain!  the players obviously are business savvy enough to run there own league, they've said so themselves!  If the players are that naive enough (i know, big stretch) to think that the the guys that pay there salary, pay the people to look after there medical issues, hire people to set set all of there travel arraingements, and bring together fifteen thousand + "FANS" while paying for all the parking attendants/ticket collectors/vendors/security and insurance companies in case any of the folks i just mentioned screw up just to watch these premadonnas cry, whine, and showboat while working for 2 hours...where an i going with this?  oh yeah, take the 50/50 split and be happy you have people willing to bend over backwards to watch you put a ball through the iron.

Since: Feb 8, 2010
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:52 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

Amen.  Every day that this lock-out keeps him off the court is a good day.  On a related note, how many people lost their appetites for McD's just because they used him in their commercial?  No more McMuffins for me!

Since: Jul 7, 2007
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:20 pm

Lock them out

I say lock the players out for more than a year!  I can't wait to see how much the backups and lower paid players complain.  Better yet, lock them out long enough so they have to "get a real job".
And if a couple smaller franchises go bankrupt during the lockout, so be it.  There's too many teams as it is and its a joke that teams under .500 make the playoffs.

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:18 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

it's strange that in the NFL, where your chances of getting injured are far greater because of the physical nature of the game, you have non-guaranteed contracts. However, in the NBA, the contracts are 100% guaranteed, which makes no sense. I can understand the players not wanting to give that up, but if i'm a player, i know what i'm capable of night in and night out, so i am going to earn my contract and whatever raise i get afterward. however if i am playing with a guy that is making 10 Mill per season, and he is always hurt and when he does play he is not productive, i think it would be nice if management could release this guy and bring in someone who is worth the money to help us win. I'm in Indiana, and the Pacers have been paying for Jamaal Tinsley for years, even after they knew they no longer had any plans to allow him to play, due to all his off the court problems and multiple injuries.

The players need to wise up and allow the NBA to be put into a better position were the entire league can prosper. it seems that more people overall cared about the NFL lockout than they do about the NBA lockout, and that is partly because of the fact the same teams win in the NBA over and over again. The NFL's system is designed to allow anyone to succeed if they run their team correctly. Yes, there are going to be issues, but the NBA's system is flawed without a doubt.

Last, David Stern needs to go. His arrogant ways give me a bad taste in my mouth. I cannot believe this guy would sit there and say they are ready to cancel the entire season just to try and prove their point...ridiculous...if the season is cancelled, it is going to take a LOOOOOOONG time before the NBA wins back alot of casual fans...and some diehards as well. They have just now got back to the point were people care about the all of that is going right down the drain! idiots!   

Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:47 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

The longer the strike, lockout whatever the longer the Bum has no championship!  Players should vote and strike once the lockout end next year!!  strike  strike strike

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:22 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

I think the solution is no resolution for now.  Everyone can get ZERO for a while.  Then, cooler heads will prevail and the players will come to their senses.

Some players might come to their senses in time, but most players will have the same opinion don't matter how much time pass.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:21 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

The players are being greedy.  It is sad that the union president who is supposed to represent all in the union, is holding pay to those who really need it, for a handful of superstars who more than got it.  I say, let them strike, and when they do, all the players in the union but those handful cancel their membership and go back to playing ball in the league and the handful of players will have to come back if they want paid.  And they would. 

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:11 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

This says exactly what I've believed all along- the Union is holding 95% of the players, and all the other NBA stakeholders (owners, fans employees and taxpayers) hostage to protect a few, elitely paid superstars and their agents, who believe they can commit armed robbery by holding the gun to Hunter, Fisher and the other NBPA members heads.

It's obvious. The NBA needs to tell them to go ahead and shoot if it's that important to them. 

The owners locked out because the system these short sighted fools demand can't support the NBA, it only supports the top paid 5% of players.

The NBA can't be repaired by agreeing to what amounts to a $100 million loss, just so the Kobe's and LeBrons can continue to make more money. Let them make it on endorsements (a better motivator than a max salary anyway, because they don't give endorsements to underperfoming slumdogs) instead of reducing what owners can pay for entire franchise operations.

Arguing over "BRI" percentage is a B.S. stall tactic.... Get to the real points-Caps, Max and Tax... 

At some point, owners, fans, the NBPA AND the rank and file NBA players are going to have to concede to what keeps them employed, and if that means telling the NB
A All-Star team to take a cut, take a hike, or retire, so be it.  The NBA will do just fine without them.

I hope fans understand what a few players are trying to do, when they decide which shoe to buy (or NOT to buy).

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