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Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:55 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 2:03 pm
NEW YORK – With another ultimatum, artificial deadline and accusations of fraud and bad-faith bargaining, the NBA labor talks blew up again early Sunday. This time, they appear to be careening toward a point of no return.

After eight more hours of talks under the direction of a federal mediator, league negotiators delivered a proposal around 1 a.m. ET and informed the players’ association it has until the close of business Wednesday to accept it or receive a far worse deal.

Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, singled out by David Stern as the one who rejected virtually all the compromises the commissioner said were proposed by mediator George Cohen, described the league’s tactics as “threats” and characterized the NBA’s description of its economic proposal as “fraud.”

“Today is another very sad day for our fans, for our arena workers, our parking-lot attendants, our vendors,” union president Derek Fisher said. “A very frustrating, sad day.”

League negotiators essentially offered the players a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, their obvious target for weeks. The offer was tweaked into the form of a 49-51 percent band for the players’ share – the same band discussed informally Oct. 4 at a key meeting that fell apart over the split of revenues between owners and players.

In the league’s proposal, the players would receive 50 percent of revenues (net about $600 in expense deductions, as in the previous system) if revenues grew as projected – 4 percent a year. Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver portrayed the band as capable of delivering a 51 percent share to the players if there was, as Stern described, “significant growth.”

But Kessler -- speaking with Fisher in the union’s press conference in the absence of executive director Billy Hunter, who was “under the weather,” according to an NBPA official – said it would take the “wildest, most unimaginable, favorable projections” for the players to ever receive 51 percent of revenues.

“The proposal that this is a robust deal at 51 is a fraud,” Kessler said. “… You can't get to the top of the band.”

The players, who received 57 percent under the previous six-year deal, proposed a 51-49 split in their favor – with 1 percent going toward a fund for benefits for retired players, such as health care, life insurance and pensions. The league never responded to that proposal, union officials said. By going from their previous proposal in which they would've received 52.5 percent, the players moved about $60 million in the first year of the new deal and nearly $400 million over six years. The owners remained in essentially the same place they’ve been economically since Oct. 4.

“They've been consistent for weeks,” Kessler said.

“We made the moves that we needed to make to get this deal done on the economics,” Fisher said. “It just doesn’t seem to be good enough for this particular group of team owners.”

Stern said the proposal will be on the table until the close of business Wednesday, after which the owners will forward a new proposal to the players offering them 47 percent of BRI and an NHL-style “flex cap,” two items the players previously have rejected.

“Hope springs eternal,” Stern said. “And we would love to see the union accept the proposal that is now on the table.”

But while the economic gap between the sides – once 20 percentage points apart – has now shrunk to 1 percent, the implosion early Sunday was as much related to system issues as money. But looking at those issues makes it cruelly implausible that they’d lose a season and squander billions of dollars over their differences.

"With the system issues that we felt like were left open, that we felt like were significant, that we must have in order to get a deal done, they did not go very far at all in trying to close that gap," Fisher said. "And we just did not get the sense that they really had the intent on coming in here tonight to get this deal done. Because there was every opportunity to do it. We were prepared to stay here until the sun came up to get this deal done."

The two sides could not bridge the gap on key aspects of the luxury tax system, specifically the penalty for teams that stay over the tax for three years out of five. The league reduced its offer from $1.50 additional tax for such teams to $1, while the union is holding firm at 50 cents additional tax on the first $10 million over the tax level and $1 after that. The punitive impact would only be felt by a handful of teams that historically have spent at those levels.

They also differ over the length and amount of mid-level exceptions that can be used by tax-paying teams. The players want tax-payers to be able to sign players to four-year mid-level deals starting at $5 million every other year. The league proposed two-year mid-level deals starting at $2.5 million every other year.

Non-tax-paying teams would be able to sign players to mid-level deals starting at $5 million, with the length alternating between four and three years each season under the owners’ proposal. The players want straight four-year mid-level deals for non-tax-payers.

The luxury-tax “cliff” experienced by tax teams, by which they felt the full brunt of going slightly over the tax level by losing all the tax money they would’ve received had they stayed under, also was addressed in the owners’ proposal. The league offered that such teams would receive half the tax money squandered by going from being a tax receiver to a tax payer.

The league has not relented on its insistence that tax-paying teams be forbidden to execute sign-and-trade transactions, which the union argues -- when coupled with the other system restrictions -- would dry up the market for free agents in a way that imitates a hard team salary cap.

"They want it all," Kessler said. "They want the system where tax payers will never be in the marketplace and that for repeat tax payers, it's going to be like a hard salary cap. And those deals are not acceptable for players today, and it's not acceptable for future generations of players. ... The players will not be intimidated."

Nonetheless, the players now find themselves at a crossroads that could determine whether there is a 2011-12 season by Wednesday. Can Fisher and Hunter, notably absent from the post-meeting news conference as Kessler fanned the flames, determine whether they can sell essentially a 50-50 deal to more than half the union membership? A deal with no hard cap, with guaranteed contracts, with mid-level deals scaled back mostly for tax-paying teams, and with salaries rising to nearly $3 billion in 10 years despite an initial 12 percent reduction?

If not, the union appears almost certain to dissolve – either through a decertification petition or a more expeditious but legally riskier disclaimer of interest – either of which would throw the talks into chaos and imperil the entire season.

“We’re not going to talk about other options,” Kessler said.

Stern said the threat of decertification is “not an issue that we're focusing on at this point.”

“We are trying to make a deal with the National Basketball Players' Association,” he said. “They are the duly authorized representative of the NBA players. That's a good thing, and we hope to make a deal with them.”

Fisher said he would communicate with the players and "assess our situation. … But right now, we’ve been given the ultimatum. And our answer is, that’s not acceptable to us."

In the end, the truest words spoken early Sunday morning came from Kessler, who said the owners' tactics were "not happening on Derek Fisher's watch. It's not happening on Billy Hunter's watch. It's not happening on the watch of this executive committee."

If the players successfully decertified, none of the aforementioned would be in power. 

A decertification petition requiring the signatures of 30 percent of union membersship would put the union on approximately a 60-day clock before an election is held to disband it -- and that's only if the National Labor Relations Board authorizes the election. Typically, the agency does not when a union has an unfair labor practices charge pending.

The mere signing of the petition by 30 percent of the union would not by itself cease negotiations since the union would remain in power until the election, which wouldn't happen before January -- if at all.

That leaves two months for cooler heads to prevail. But really, the stopwatch has been set for four days -- 96 hours to spare chaos. Of all the inflammatory words spoken after this latest fiasco, the words "best and final offer" were never among them.

That's legal mumbo-jumbo for this: There's still time to end the asshattery, if everyone's heads return to a place where oxygen is available.

The clock is ticking. 

Since: Nov 6, 2011
Posted on: November 6, 2011 7:34 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

I am not sure you are inteligent enough to understand this lockout situation, so let me try to explain it to, because your whole understaning is completely false.

First and foremost, you say "players have no rights here", do you actually follow NBA? The players are THE PRODUCT here. Period. Owners, yes, pay them to play basketball, but the players are the ones people come to watch by paying expensive tickets, TV Broadcasters pay franchises hundreds of millions of dollars so they can produce the programme so everybody can watch the final product, once again, THE PLAYERS. Remove the players, and let the owners bring replacement players and lets see how many tickets will they sell, how many TV deals will they have.

Secondly, the NBA is not a regular business, for example, like a supermarket. A supermarket has salespersons who sell products like vegetables, fruit and so forth. And if those salepersons don't want to work for a certain pay the supermarket owner can fire them, and bring another group of people to sell fruits. Because, any idiot can sell fruits. On the other hand, the NBA can't fire the working force, because their working force is their product.

This whole lockout is owners fault, many of them are incompetent to make profits, everybody who follows basketball knows what kind of idiotic deals some General Managers, team owners made and those deals are their faults. Nobody forced Bryan Colangelo, a GM for the Toronto Raptors to give Amir Johnson a 40 million dollar contract, we have a number of examples like that one. By forcing the players to accept this bad deal, the owners want to save themselves from their own mistakes and they want players to pay for those mistakes.

When this whole lockout started, I just wanted to see NBA basketball again, but after everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks I've never been more on the side of players then right now. Right now, I want them to fill the petition for decertifycation, and I hope they win in the courtroom, and then lets see owners what they will do when some average players wants 5 million dollars per year, when a superstar wants a 25 million per year, when there are no restrictions, no salary cap to protect them.


Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: November 6, 2011 7:33 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

so explain this to me...i own my house, put my money into making it my home. i pay the monthly mortgage and everything that comes into the home was purchased by me. i bought the couch, the oven, the tables, the bed, and on and on. Then, I would like to have my house painted, but due to the time it would take to do that, I employ someone else to paint it. They come over, paint the house and I pay them what they charge for such a job. Now, is that painter then entitled to half of everything in my house since they were under my employ? I purchased the house, but since the did the job that I myself did not do, do they deserve one of my televisions? I mean, the guy painted it so it would be more pleasing to look at for everyone in the neighborhood. Does his ability to do that and the fact that it is a benefit for those in neighboring houses make that painter deserving of my earnings?

The owners own the buildings, the materials, the land, the team and it is their money that runs the whole ship. Yes, I wish I had their money, but I don't. Should I begrudge Mark Cuban his billions of dollars he earned by being a smart and savvy business man. If the owners were criminals and earned that money illegally or improperly, yes I would want them gone. But, these guys spent their money on a team. They didn't have to spend that money if they didn't want to.

The players are paid what they are because they are what the fans come out and see, but they deserve a larger portion of the profits then the men who write their checks? It makes no sense at all. The money, the profit, belongs to the owners. Not the players. The money they get from their agreed upon contract, that's the player's money. They are entitled to what they agreed upon when they were hired to do the job. In no other industry or business do you see the employees running to ownership and demanding that they get half of the company's profits because they were the one's who built the car, or laid the brick?

And don't for one second believe that these players care that a minimum wage earner who works in concessions isn't working. I'm sure the owners don't really care either. Maybe it would be the best for both sides if the season was cancelled. Then you would see which of these players actually loved the game and missed playing and who was just there to make the money (LeBron) and be a star. And maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't cost $75 for a crappy seat to go to a game.

Since: Sep 26, 2011
Posted on: November 6, 2011 7:21 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

  Owners tell Stern, Let Them Eat Cake!

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: November 6, 2011 6:45 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

Players and other people that support the players ridiculous demands believe they have some kind of right to other people's money, and that wealthy business owners are the enemy....

The problem with that philosophy is, those people always run out of other people's money long before they get what they feel they "deserve".

I don't understand people hating owners- has a poor man EVER givewn someone a job ?

Besides, NOTHING works unless people do. 

Players believe they should be treated as "partners" in a business they don't invest in. They aren't partners, they are employees...very overpaid employees that are too stupid to realize how lucky they are.  

Frankly, I want the lockout to end in the owners favor, so they DO make a profit, and start paying taxes they can help us taxpayers that have help build NBA arenas pay for all the dead-weight slackers to choose to sit at home watching the NBA, instead of working to help pay for it.

It's really simple math.

The concessions the players have offered still leave a $100 million/year deficit. Players demand GUARANTEED money, but somehow believe their employers shouldn't have the same. It's not going to happen.

Before people start slamming the "greedy" owners that have chosen to invest hundreds of millions of dollars EMPLOYING people, instead of just drawing dividends, they need to look at the players, who have an average salary of $5 million /yr, an average of less than 2 years of college, and an average IQ of 100.... Most people with those qualifications are among the poorest percentage of people in the U.S. yet they are making income in the top 1/2 of 1 % in the NBA...and they are trying to convince us it isn't isn't.... They should be making 10% of what they make. 

All the players have to do to go back to work, is take a $300,000 cut in pay...then they would only be making $4.7 million a year. It's a tough life, huh? 

....Or they can stay home and live on what they've already made. Or, maybe they can go play elsewhere...Or, get a job wherever a 7 foot tall black guy with a 5th grade education can do better.    &nbs

 Owners are justified to tell these fools to...take a cut, or take a hike. There is a basketball player for every square foot of asphalt from Brooklyn to Bejing.



Since: Nov 3, 2011
Posted on: November 6, 2011 6:30 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

Excellent analogy, society cheats themselves for always settling for less when billionaires always find a way to mitigate their losses.

Since: Apr 3, 2010
Posted on: November 6, 2011 5:32 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

How about this, the nba plays their season and any player who doesnt want to play under the 50/50 split can f off.  Would never happen but would love to see that.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: November 6, 2011 5:29 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

So people favoring the owners are suggesting that it is "better" or "more fair" to put another 200 million dollars a year in James Dolans pocket?  That guys an idiot who was born lucky.  Or maybe society would be far better off if cavs owner Dan Gilbert had another 400 million dollars in his portfolio?? What?  Yes these Billionaires have the upper-hand over the players.  Posters who support the owners feel badly that the owners may be losing a few mill a year in operating expenses while the value of the team they own increases by tens of millions?  You are an idiot if you think it is best to give the Dolan family more money, or especially Dan Gilbert (check out his role in the recent recession).  It is not better if some billionaire gets a few more hundred million dollars at the expense of anyone when they don't need it.  Billionaires can stay bilionaires, but the players deserve a fair deal.  yeah there are guys who would play pro ball for 25K a year, and then the owners would get another 600 mill each annually and that would be "fair"????
There is no economic or fairness basis where any fan could support the owners here. There seems an eagerness to punish the players, presumably because they are primarily minority. I see postings about education level of players, but statistically more NBA players went to college or graduated from college than the national average so that's not it.
It hurts to see how blatant racism has become acceptable. We can blame certain political factions for making outright public hatred for any minority group acceptable, and even applauded. Posters who support owners are mindless tools and fools filled with non-facts and misplaced resentment.
Billionaires verses Millionaires and most posters are cheering for the Billionaires. I think some people are totally math challenged as they don't realize that it takes a Thousand Million Dollars to equal a Billion.
Think about a family making $50,000 a year, a nice but fairly average sum. If you compare that to billionaires verses millionaires than the "billionaire family" making $50,000 per year would compare to a "millionaire" family bringing in fifty dollars in an entire year. There are dudes flying signs on corners who make fifty bucks a day.
Just about every one posting here can hope their kid becomes a millionaire and maybe have a shot at that happening. No body posting here, zero, can hope their kid becomes a Billionaire.
Owners losing money can just sell their asset for about 400 million bucks and walk away happy. There is zero risk. More money going to Billionaires just hurts the economy. Billionaires money just stays where it is, concentrated in the top 1%.

Since: Jul 21, 2007
Posted on: November 6, 2011 5:25 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

The owners have money.  Whether they inheirted, earned it or got lucky they have money.  Truth
The players have the skillset to play basketball a the highest level.  Truth 

Why do any of the owners have to lose money BEFORE the bad decisions that they sometimes make?

Revenue sharing, Salary cap limits, Luxury tax, Mid level exceptions, Etc. Etc were all put into place to help the owners level the playing fields between small and large markets, rich and richer owners.

The players as a group are the highest paid in professional sports.  They have the most guaranteed money in professional sports. They have the highest percentage of players making additional money from endorsements etc.

The NBA is a business.  The purpose of almost any business is to make money.  I don't see anything the owners are proposing as being out of line as a business owner.

The talk about the people who work the arenas?  Thats as much on the players as it is the owners.  I can just imagine if and when they finally play ball the looks that the players will get as they come into the arena.  Are they heroes?  No,  these workers still lost income and will be getting paid the same and maybe less in the future if the players get their way.

If the players think they can form their own league. LOL
If there was another league that would accept all of them and pay all of them the same money.  Why aren't they playing there NOW?

;     &nbs

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 6, 2011 4:55 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

Derek Fisher who pays the arena workers, parking-lot attendants, our vendors? Let me give you a BIG clue. It's not the players! 
If there are no players, there is no game...therfore no workers, no revenue for the workers to get paid.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 6, 2011 4:54 pm

Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline

I thought this was supposed to be a negotitation,not demands.... The NBA and there owners are a dictatorship right now... thankfully college ball starts tomorrow night, albeit with a light schedule until the wkd..but at least all the b ball fanatics like myself can get there fix.

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