Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 12:31 pm
NEW YORK -- Flanked by some of the biggest stars in the game, players' association president Derek Fisher stood in a ballroom at a Park Avenue hotel Friday and declared that the willingness to reach a new collective bargaining agreement is there on both sides.
Next will have to come the movement, the tipping point that pushes the negotiations to the point of compromise. And that point did not come Friday, when stars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen got to see for themselves what the owners are asking of them as they seek a system that gives all 30 teams an opportunity to compete and be profitable.
After some initial ugliness -- a person familiar with what happened in the negotiating room told CBSSports.com that some players were initially infuriated by how little the owners' stance has changed -- the bargaining session took on a tone of cooperation that signaled to some players that a deal was within reach.
UPDATE: But not before it appeared that Friday's bargaining session would be short-lived, and that there wouldn't be any more talking this weekend.
According to a person familiar with the negotiations, the owners and players met initially at about 2 p.m. ET and broke up to discuss the situation privately among themselves. The players, furious at seeing first hand the owners' offer of 46 percent of basketball-related income (BRI) -- down from their previous level of 57 percent -- were unanimous about what to do.
"Let's go," one of the players said, according to a source. "There's no reason to go back in there."
The players decided to return to the bargaining room with a much smaller group. Among those joining Fisher for the second session were James, Wade, Anthony, Kevin Durant, Baron Davis and committee member Chris Paul. None of the players joining Fisher sat down during this portion of the talks, a person with knowledge of the meetings said.
It was at this point that Wade took exception to commissioner David Stern's tone and gesturing -- the commissioner evidently was pointing his finger while speaking to the players -- and "stood up for himself," a person with knowledge of the meeting said. According to two people familiar with the incident, Wade warned Stern not to point his finger and made reference to not being a child.
Several versions of the quote were reported. According to a witness, Wade's tone was not threatening. But the upshot was clear: This was a potentially galvanizing moment for the players, who finally got the kind of star participation -- and leadership -- that they've lacked at key moments in these talks. In Wade, the players have found their Michael Jordan circa 1999, when the Bulls star famously told the late Wizards owner Abe Pollin to sell his team if he couldn't afford to run it.
After the confrontation, union chief Billy Hunter and Stern met privately, seeking a way to calm nerves and preserve the rest of the negotiations. Hunter, according to the person with knowledge of the talks, convinced the players to go back in -- selling them on the idea that the negotiating process had to be respected and telling them that the two sides would switch from the split of basketball-related income (BRI) to system issues.
It was after session that began at 6 p.m. and ran for about an hour that the two sides agreed to return to the bargaining table Saturday. The takeaway for the players, sources said, was the definite impression that the owners want to have a season.
"I don’t think it was a sense of now or never, but I think there was definitely a sense of, 'It’s time to stop throwing ideas around and let’s actually work towards making these ideas happen,'" said the Heat's Udonis Haslem, attending his first bargaining session. "I heard enough to really believe in my heart that both sides will work tirelessly to find a middle ground. I don’t know if that will happen."
Indeed, both sides tamped down expectations that a deal had to be achieved by the end of the weekend to prevent cancellation of some -- and perhaps all -- regular season games. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said, "There are a lot of issues on the table," and questioned whether a deal could be consummated by Sunday strictly from the standpoint of "the number of hours in the day."
The rhetoric about the entire season being in jeopardy if a deal wasn't reached this weekend was "ludicrous," Stern said Friday -- just two days after pointing out that there would be "enormous consequences" from a lack of progress and that they "won't be a question of just starting the season on time."
The two sides will meet again Saturday morning with nearly the full committee of owners and multiple players on hand in addition to the NBPA's executive committee.
Joining the big stars with Fisher, Hunter, and several committee members in the union's post-meeting news conference were Davis, Elton Brand, Ben Gordon, Andre Iguodala, and others as Fisher challenged those who've questioned the involvement of the game's biggest names in the bargaining process.
"Some of our guys have been questioned in terms of their commitment to this process, to the players' association and to the game," Fisher said. "Their presence here today, we all know for picture’s sake says a lot. These guys have always been with us."
James, Wade and Anthony abruptly left the news conference without speaking with reporters, climbing together into an idling SUV waiting for them outside the hotel.
But their presence, without question, was felt in the bargaining room. According to two people involved in the talks, several owners who typically are the most boistrous in the meetings -- including Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Suns owner Robert Sarver -- were noticably subdued. "Much tamer," said one of the sources. "They know it's time."
The owners were represented by nine of their 11 committee members, with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban absent. Heat owner Micky Arison, facing the potential destruction of his Big Three (two of them being in the room), was the only owner not on the committee who attended.
The only progress described by anyone Friday (other than the fact that they'll meet again Saturday) was the state of the owners' revenue sharing plans. Stern revealed for the first time that the league is prepared to triple the current revenue sharing pool in the first two years and quadruple it starting in the third year.
But even that issue is clouded in big-market, small-market politics and the issue of when the high-revenue teams will begin to substantially increase their sharing. According to two people familiar with the owners' revenue sharing plans, the Lakers and Knicks would be called upon to pay the lion's share -- with the Lakers paying roughly $50 million and the Knicks $30 million -- into the new pool. But some big-market teams are increasingly reluctant to share their growing local TV revenues; the Lakers, for example, recently signed a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner that dwarfs some teams' total revenue.
Stern said Friday the players "know precisely" what the owners' revenue sharing plan will look like.
"They know as much as we know," Stern said. "We’ve told them about generally how it’s going to work. We haven't given them a piece of paper, but that will not be the issue that separates us."
So what happens now? After the cleansing process of stars voicing their opinions, threatening to walk out and calling out Stern in front of his owners, the time comes now for smaller groups, cooler heads and compromise. It is the only thing we know at this point about these talks: Both sides want a deal. Both sides want to play.
Both sides have room to move on the economics, too. The owners will quickly lose their appetite for certain non-negotiable system changes once they realize that addressing their losses is within reach. And the players will prove to be willing to negotiate on certain key system points -- such as a modest reduction in the mid-level exception and a more punitive tax system -- once they get the anticipated economic move from the owners.
The owners having witnessed the star players' resolve, and the players having witnessed the owners' willingness to make a deal, won't hurt. Because there will have to be a deal eventually, so why not soon? Why not now? Because, as one source offered, it would be "crazy not to."
And he might as well have been speaking for both sides.
Tags: Adam Silver, Andre Iguodala, Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Paul, Dan GIlbert, David Stern, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Heat, Hornets, Kevin Durant, Knicks, LeBron James, lockout, National Basketball Players Association, NBPA, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Robert Sarver, Sixers, Suns, Thunder
Posted on: April 2, 2009 12:24 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2009 12:24 pm
Time to chase away the crickets from that Lawrence Frank post. Can you hear 'em?
Yes, LeBron James is on Twitter. Allegedly. According to J-Cam's reporting, the Twitter folks say it's really him.
Funny thing is, there are 426 followers, but no posts yet. The world awaits breathlessly. My guess is, LeBron is waiting for someone to pay him to Tweet. That's what I'd do, if someone would pay me to Tweet. (I'm working on it.)
As it usually goes on the interwebs, one click leads to another, which leads to another, and by the time I was finished digesting J-Cam's Twitter story, I had learned that Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Danny Granger, and Chris Bosh are on Twitter, too. Pierce used the social networking site to advise fans to show up at the TD Banknorth Garden at a specified time to get free tickets in his suite.
“first 5 people who meet me at the garden in the players parking lot entrance at 445 with my jersey on get free tickets password is truth,” the Truth wrote. This was no joke. Five fans scored the tix and watched the Celtics beat Oklahoma City from Pierce's personal suite.
I also learned that not only is Bosh on Twitter, but he's on Facebook, too. He has 44,405 friends and counting, all of whom apparently were at his 25th birthday bash, photos of which are posted here. Ah, to be young, rich, and going from one max contract to the next. There's also a photo of the Eastern Conference All-Stars posing with Muhammad Ali in the locker room. Bosh scooped every major and minor news organization in the world with that pic.
Interesting times. I guess the question I'll pose is this: Which is bigger right now? LeBron or Twitter?
Posted on: February 18, 2009 8:22 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2009 12:57 am
UPDATE: After hearing and reading media reports that Tracy McGrady will have season-ending microfracture surgery on his ailing left knee, the Houston Rockets aren't ready to pack it in. They might be looking to do something big.
"Not happening," a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com early Thursday.
The Rockets and Clippers discussed a trade that would've freed Davis from a disastrous return to his hometown and allowed the Rockets to remain in contention without McGrady. One possibility, first reported by SportingNews.com, had the Clippers willing to take back McGrady even though he won't play the rest of the season and faces a long recovery from the microfracture procedure.
That should tell you everything you need to know about how desperately Clippers owner Donald Sterling wants to retreat from the rare spending spree that resulted in Davis going to Clipperland in the first place. There figure to be other suitors for Davis, who has four years and $54 million left on his contract. Thus, possible landing spots would have to be limited to financially sound teams willing to take risks. (Mark Cuban, are you out there?)
The Sporting News' initial report on the Baron-to-Houston scenario quoted a person close to Davis saying, "It would be best for everyone if Baron moved on." That smells like an inside job, with Davis and his operatives trying to drum up an exit strategy to a solid playoff team. (Hey, it would beat the heck out of finishing the season with the 13-41 Clippers.) One team executive expressed serious doubts early Thursday that the Clippers would be successful in their Dump Baron campaign.
As for the Rockets, another source said they're telling teams they're working on "smaller deals." So while they're not taking McGrady's season-ending injury passively, they're not alarmed enough to make a $54 million bet.
Posted on: January 15, 2009 5:47 pm
The presidential inauguration is a few days away. By now you know that Barack Obama is about to become the first African-American president. You may or may not know that he enjoyed financial and verbal support from athletes, including NBA players such as Baron Davis, Shawn Marion, Stephon Marbury, and LeBron James, who ponied up $20,000, according to federal election committee records.
That's all well and good; it's positive for our athletes to be involved in politics and speak up on important issues. (Still waiting for Team USA to boycott the Beijing Olympics over the atrocities in Darfur, but these things take time.)
It's great that the president will have a basketball court in the White House. But I seem to recall the outgoing president being fairly involved in Major League Baseball. And really, what did that have to do with anything?
Posted on: December 30, 2008 11:36 am
"No, I don't want out," Davis told The Los Angeles Times Monday. "I don't know what Stephen Jackson got from my conversation. That never came out of my mouth. I'm here. I'm here doing the same thing I did at Golden State. The first year I got to Golden State it was rough. It was a tough season. We were figuring each other out, figuring out the system. That transition year is always a tough year."
Davis did acknowledge telling Jackson he misses playing with him.
"When you see people, you miss what you had," Davis said. "Obviously, in no way shape or form am I ready to jump ship. That's not why I came here. That's not why I committed to come here. I'm committed here to turn this thing around. I like the talent on this team, I like the promise. The team is going to get better. My job is to continue to get better and make this year as positive and productive as we possibly can."
So there you have it.
Whatever Baron said or didn't say to Captain Jack, I stand by my original reaction -- with a slight amendment. The Warriors are a mess. So are the Clippers.
Posted on: December 29, 2008 10:22 am
Edited on: December 29, 2008 11:20 pm
Now I've seen it all. According to the Contra Costa Times, Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson spent some time over the weekend with former teammate Baron Davis. And guess what? The Baron said "my bad" on opting out of his deal with the Warriors and signing a five-year, $65 million deal with the Clippers.
"He wants to come back," Jackson said. "And if he wants to come back, I want him back."
Things have gone south fast in L.A.; Davis has clashed with coach Mike Dunleavy and the Clips are 8-21.
I have a couple of thoughts: First, for Baron: When you opt out of your contract and sign with another team for a lot of money, you don't get to change your mind. And for Jackson: It might be time to stop playing fantasy G.M. If I could figure out who was in charge of the Warriors and making the decisions there, I'd be able to determine who was the most ticked off that Jackson seems to spend more time contemplating trades than trying to make the team better. What a mess in the Bay Area.
UPDATE: Matt Steinmetz has some insightful analysis of the situation here. His conclusion is what you might expect -- Baron isn't going back to the Bay Area -- but not for the reasons you might expect.
UPDATE: In the wake of Baron's comments to Jackson, Corey Maggette was asked before Monday night's game against Toronto if he wanted to do the Baron two-step and return to the Clippers. "Who me? No. I love it here, man," Maggette said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Posted on: December 15, 2008 10:44 am
* Most intriguing game on the slate by far Monday night is the Knicks at the Suns -- Mike D'Antoni returning to the team he nurtured to 58 wins a year the past four seasons. Turns out D'Antoni is missed in the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix continues to struggle under the defensive-oriented, halfcourt approach favored by new coach Terry Porter. What's astonishing is not so much the record (14-10) -- all teams have their peaks and valleys -- but the discontent that is boiling in the locker room. The Suns are so unrecognizable to Steve Nash that he feels like he's been traded. The subplots are thick. D'Antoni had some choice words for Suns owner Robert Sarver over the weekend, but D'Antoni doth protest too much. Everybody should know that he came out of Phoenix smelling like roses, given that Sarver and Steve Kerr conspired to force a style on him he didn't want to play. Who was the coach, anyway? If things keep going downhill, eventually the coach could be Kerr, who keeps coming up with these harebrained ideas.
* It's Money Back Guarantee Day in the NBA; Monday is the first day players who signed contracts this past offseason become trade-eligible (as long as 90 days have passed since they signed their deals). Among the players in that category are Baron Davis, Corey Maggette, Elton Brand, and Monta Ellis. A person familiar with Golden State's situation said the Warriors are, indeed, fielding offers for Maggette -- as difficult as it will be to trade a player in the first year of a five-year, $50 million contract.
* The Lakers (20-3) joined the Celtics (22-2) and Cavs (20-4) on the 20-win plateau, easing past Minnesota 98-86. The best part about Kevin McHale coaching the T-Wolves is that, like Isiah Thomas the past two years in New York, he'll now have to meet with the media three times a day and explain, for example, why he traded O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love. Thanks to TrueHoop for linking us to McHale's comments in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Kevin's a 20-year-old rookie," McHale said Sunday. "He really brings a lot of stuff: great energy, a nice basketball feel. He's learning all the time. With all these kids, there's a learning curve that goes into it and you've got to be patient while he learns."
* Which segues nicely into the Grizzlies' fourth straight win, 102-86 over Miami, fueled by Mayo's 28 points. With five coaches sent packing already, it's nice to see Marc Iavaroni climb off the canvas and turn things around. Rudy Gay (18 points) was back in the starting lineup as Iavaroni played small Sunday night. The Grizz are expected to take another step toward the future with a buyout of Antoine Walker. (Or at least Antoine has that impression.) Also, let not your hearts be troubled, Grizzlie fans, by the team's decision to sign troubled former No. 3 overall pick Darius Miles to a non-guaranteed contract. It's basically being handled as a short-term tryout, a person with knowledge of Memphis' plans told me. The Grizzlies also will be looking to the D-League to bolster the back end of the roster.
* The Hornets showed why they lead the league in 3-point shooting, hitting 12 from beyond the arc in a 99-91 victory over Toronto. James Posey accounted for half of them. To borrow a phrase from the great Clyde Frazier, New Orleans is beginning to percolate with eight wins in its last 10 games.
* Gotta love the media biz. Columnist gets scoop on former coach ripping previous employers. Not to be outdone, previous employers circle wagon and feed aforementioned columnist material for follow-up column asserting that previously ripped team is on the right track. Welcome to my world!