Posted on: June 17, 2011 8:02 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 12:28 am
NEW YORK – NBA commissioner David Stern declared Friday that an unofficial drop-dead date is looming next week in the accelerating negotiations to prevent a lockout.
“Tuesday is a very important day in these negotiations,” Stern said after emerging from a 4 1-2 hour bargaining session in which progress was in the eyes of the proposer.
Stern touted what he described as a “very significant” concession that was proposed Friday in which owners backed off their insistence on eliminating fully guaranteed contracts. The players, however, did not view this as a major step forward in the negotiations, saying the owners remain entrenched in their position to slash player salaries by as much as $700 million annually – and that owners have the ability under the current system to offer contracts that are less than fully guaranteed.
“They moved to giving us back guaranteed contracts, which we already had,” said Wizards guard Maurice Evans, a member of the players’ executive committee. “That’s not a move. How can you call that a move?”
However the latest twists and turns are viewed by either side, Stern left no doubt that an expanded bargaining session scheduled for Tuesday in New York – featuring a larger contingent of owners and players, and also player agents, who will be key to signing off on any deal – would be crucial to determining whether there is enough momentum to complete a new labor deal before the current one expires on June 30.
“I really think that the time to have an optimistic or pessimistic view is at the close of the day on Tuesday,” Stern said.
At the end of a nearly 20-minute briefing with reporters Tuesday night in a conference room of the Omni Berkshire Hotel, Stern answered “yes” when asked if a breakthrough was needed Tuesday to assure there would be enough time to get a deal done. The key sticking points remain the negotiated split of revenues that would be paid to the players and the system by which the money would be delivered – a hard cap, which the owners remain insistent upon, or a soft-cap system that more closely resembles the rules already in place.
“If we made a big breakthrough on one or the other, we would have such positive momentum that we could, I think, look forward to a faster track than we’ve been dealing with,” Stern said.
In addition to Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter and legal staff from both sides, Friday’s bargaining session included nine members of the owners’ labor relations committee, the players’ executive committee (including Hornets star Chris Paul), as well as Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, Bucks guard John Salmons, and Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair.
“I would say we’re not on the same page right now, but there’s some good conversation going on,” Anthony said. “Both sides are trying to come to an agreement.”
The logistics surrounding Tuesday’s bargaining session in New York leaves little doubt that it will be a turning point in a process that formally began with the owners’ initial proposal in January 2010, just prior to All-Star weekend in Dallas. League executives will be in New York for Thursday night’s draft, and dozens of players will be in the city for the NBPA’s annual meeting. Stern hinted that if enough progress were made Tuesday, the session could be extended by several days – perhaps even into the weekend – as the clock continues to wind down toward the June 30 deadline to avoid a lockout.
“Even though the clock is ticking and the runway is shortening, we think that it’s worth our time and effort to go back to our individual offices and do a lot of crunching of numbers and ideas and to return on Tuesday,” Stern said. “… We're hoping that we will receive from them a proposal directed to the economics.”
As a matter of timing and logistics, Silver announced that the league would be canceling Las Vegas Summer League this weekend – though the move is not meant to send any signals to the players.
“It was purely a function of the calendar and drop-dead dates with hotels and the arena,” Silver said.
Stern said the owners’ decision to back off their insistence on eliminating fully guaranteed contracts as part of the 10-year deal they’ve proposed was in response to a presentation from the players and their attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, about their insistence on protecting such guarantees.
“Of all the issues, the guarantee is one that is very, very important to individual players,” Stern said, describing what was conveyed to the owners and their lead negotiators during the presentation.
This must have been music to the owners’ ears, because their priority from the beginning has been to reduce player salaries by at least one-third. The method of delivery – via a hard cap with shorter and less guaranteed contracts – would seem to be a secondary issue to the overall dollars. Based on the players’ current 57 percent share of revenues, they would go from $2.1 billion to $1.35 billion under the owners’ original proposal – the basic structure of which remains in place, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. That’s a reduction of about $750 million annually, regardless of whether the money is guaranteed or not.
“It’s not as big a move as it would have been if the hard cap was not linked to it,” Kessler said of the owners’ revised stance on guarantees. “That really undermines, from the players’ standpoint, what it means. … They didn’t move on hard cap, that’s for sure.”
Said Evans: "We’re far apart. They’re still negotiating from their proposal from two years ago, and we’re negotiating from the current system we have."
But Stern disputed the notion that the owners have not moved from their original demands on salary reductions, though he declined to get into specifics. And sources said the owners expressed for the first time Friday a willingness to discuss with the players how they would be paid in the “out years” of their proposal – meaning the seven years after a three-year transition period owners have proposed to soften the blow of these drastic cuts.
“There’s been considerably more movement from our first proposal than you understand,” Stern told reporters.
In addition, Silver said the players made a move in their position Friday in terms of how much of basketball-related income (BRI) they would be paid under a new agreement. But he added, “Even they would characterize (the move) as having been very small.”
Part of the problem for the players, aside from how much of a pay cut they are willing to accept, is computing how the new structure would work out for them if revenues rise, as the NBA is predicting they will. When the two sides reconvene next week, the apparent willingness on the owners’ part to negotiate how rising revenues would affect player salaries in the final years of the deal could represent a far more significant development than their decision to back off on the idea of eliminating guarantees.
For example, owners could incentivize the players to accept a revised computation of BRI that increases the players’ share as revenues increase. But the owners’ projections of rising revenues are based on rules that have never been in place, making it difficult for the players to trust the projections.
“We can’t talk about one part in a vacuum because it impacts the entire system,” NBPA president Derek Fisher said of the owners’ reversal on banning fully guaranteed contracts. “We haven’t been, or at this point are inclined to say whether that’s a huge thing. Because without other things, it doesn’t mean much.”
How much is at stake next week? If you liken the negotiation to a million-piece jigsaw puzzle, all parties involved admitted that two or three key pieces need to be in place by the end of the day Tuesday.
“One piece controls several hundred thousand pieces,” Fisher said. “So essentially, we could put together a million-piece puzzle in a very short time if we can get two or three pieces in the right place. And that’s what we're focused on doing.”
Posted on: July 2, 2010 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:30 pm
Amar'e Stoudemire will arrive in New York Saturday with "broad agreement" on the Knicks' five-year, nearly $100 million proposal, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, broke off talks with the Suns Friday, almost certainly ending his eight-year tenure there. Stoudemire rejected a five-year offer from Phoenix that wasn't fully guaranteed in the final season with a clause that included playing-time incentives, according to the Arizona Republic .
After the Stoudemire talks broke down, the Suns agreed to terms with power forward Hakim Warrick on a four-year, $18 million deal. To consummate that contract on July 8, the Suns will have to renounce their rights to Stoudemire, meaning he couldn't be signed and traded at that point.
While a deal with the Knicks is preferable to the incentive-laden contract Phoenix was offering, there are concerns on both sides that will have to be addressed this weekend. Stoudemire, like other second-tier free agents, is worried about being the only superstar to come to New York, where fans have been speculating for two years that LeBron James would wind up in a Knicks jersey. Stoudemire was said to have spent Friday trying to recruit a fellow All-Star to join him, with the most likely targets being the Hawks' Joe Johnson and the Spurs' Tony Parker.
As for the Knicks, Stoudemire's knees and eye will be subject to thorough exams by the team's medical staff. Reports have indicated that Stoudemire's contract will not be insurable due to his injury history.
Warrick, who averaged 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 76 games last season with the Bulls and Bucks, was among the surprise deals of free agency thus far. "Mindboggling," one rival executive called it. "He played for $3 million last season and the Bucks couldn't wait to get rid of him."
Point guard Steve Blake agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with the Lakers, insurance in case free agent Derek Fisher leaves, a person with knowledge of the agreement said. The Blake signing probably takes the Lakers out of th running for sharpshooter Mike Miller, but not entirely, the source said. When deals become official July 8, the Lakers would have the option to work out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers for Blake and still give their mid-level exception to Miller. That scenario, however, appears unlikely. Miller also has attracted significant interest from the Knicks and several other teams.
The Blazers, Knicks, Bulls and Clippers have expressed interest in Spurs free-agent guard Roger Mason, while the Jazz, Nuggets, Bobcats, Knicks and Heat are pursuing Suns free-agent forward Louis Amundson, sources say.
John Salmons' five-year, $40 million agreement to return to the Bucks was finalized Friday, pending the official paperwork after the moratorium on player movement is lifted on July 8, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Posted on: February 16, 2010 5:57 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 12:35 am
The Knicks' negotiations with the Rockets on a blockbuster deal that would send Tracy McGrady to New York continued to progress early Thursday as a key piece of Houston's leverage faded from the picture: the Chicago Bulls.
While New York and Houston continued negotiating the level of protection the Knicks would place on two first-round picks involved in the discussion, the Bulls were having trouble finding a third team -- preferably one with extra first-round picks to offer -- as a way to sweeten their proposal, sources said.
Though nothing was resolved over the draft pick issue, it appeared that the Rockets and Knicks were confident enough in the framework of their deal that the Bulls dropped out of the discussions, a high-level source involved in the process said. The situation was described Wednesday night as strictly between the Rockets and Knicks, with the key issue remaining how much protection the Knicks would require on two first-round picks involved in the trade.
In a sign of the Bulls' retreat, John Salmons did not play against the Knicks Wednesday night after management told him to stay at the team hotel in New York while they finalized a trade. Later, the Bulls engaged the Bucks in discussions that would send Salmons to Milwaukee for a package of expiring contracts -- perhaps Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson, sources said. That deal would pave the way for the Knicks and Bulls to finally orchestrate their long-discussed swap centered around Al Harrington and Tyrus Thomas.
"It's still in play," a person with knowledge of the talks said.
New York officials reported back to the Rockets earlier Wednesday with their protection parameters, and the Rockets were pushing hard for less protection, two people familiar with the talks said. Sources have indicated that once the Rockets received New York's final determination on pick protection, they would choose between offers from the Knicks and Bulls for McGrady, whose $23 million expiring contract is one of the most coveted assets before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.
The Knicks, having been burned under previous regimes for giving away draft picks with little or no protection, were seeking to adequately protect a 2011 first-round pick that Houston would have the option of swapping with New York and a 2012 first-round pick that could go to the Rockets based on where it falls in the draft. Before word came Wednesday night of the Bulls' withdrawal from the talks, one person familiar with the negotiations said Houston was "asking for too much," while a second person with a stake in the deal continued to say the Knicks continued to have the leading proposal to extract McGrady.
The Knicks would get a package centered around McGrady in exchange for Jared Jeffries, Larry Hughes, Jordan Hill and the draft pick considerations. Shedding Jeffries, owed $6.9 million in 2010-11, comes at a high price -- one that Knicks president Donnie Walsh was having trouble getting comfortable accepting, sources said. The Rockets were asking for so much because they'd face little in the way of negative implications by keeping McGrady and simply letting his contract fall off the books.
Moving Jeffries is crucial to the Knicks' 2010 free agency plan because it would get New York within striking distance of its stated goal of clearing maximum cap space and flexibility heading into the crucial free-agent class that begins July 1. The Rockets, who are getting nothing from McGrady this season, would benefit from an approximately $7 million swing in luxury tax payments -- but that issue was described by one source as "not material" compared to the pick protection.
If the Knicks were successful in shedding Jeffries' $6.9 million contract for next season -- along with Hill, their No. 8 pick in 2009, and Hughes -- they'd be within about $2 million of their elusive goal of clearing space for two max free agents this summer. By completing the McGrady deal as currently constructed, New York would be able to get to the approximately $33 million needed for two straight-up max signings by buying out Eddy Curry's $11.3 million contract for next season. Curry's agent, Leon Rose, also represents the No. 1 potential catch in the 2010 sweepstakes, LeBron James.
Emboldened by the uncertainty surrounding the draft pick issue, the Bulls intensified their research on McGrady late Tuesday night and into Wednesday, a source said. The framework of the Bulls' offer was believed to have included Brad Miller, Thomas, and either Kirk Hinrich or Salmons. If Hinrich were involved, the deal likely would've had another player going to Chicago with McGrady; the Bulls are believed to have wanted either Luis Scola or Carl Landry. The Bulls' interest in one of those players -- combined with their desire to move either Hinrich or Salmons, both owed significant money next season -- appeared to have hurt Chicago's proposal. Hinrich has two years and $17 million remaining, and Salmons is owed $5.8 million next season.
The Knicks completed a minor deal Wednesday, sending Darko Milicic to Minnesota for Brian Cardinal in an exchange of expiring contracts that did not directly impact the McGrady discussions. Walsh told reporters at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night that the NBA had awarded the team cap relief on Cuttino Mobley's $9.5 million, insurance-protected contract -- another step in getting the team's books in order. Also on Wednesday, the Knicks became deeply involved in talks that would send Nate Robinson to Boston as part of a package that would yield 3-point specialist Eddie House.
Posted on: April 21, 2009 2:27 pm
In the visiting locker room before Game 1 in Boston, the Bulls' Luol Deng mentioned something interesting that comes to mind now with word that Leon Powe is out for the year with a torn knee ligament.
The morning after John Salmons tweaked his groin in late March, Deng rushed to the practice court to test the stress fracture in his leg to see if there was any chance of an accelerated comeback. With the Bulls in a tight playoff race, Deng felt an extra sense of urgency to get back on the court and "give it a go," he said.
"The next day," Deng added, "I had a huge setback."
So the strategy didn't work. But that doesn't mean it can't be tried again. Not by Deng, but by one Kevin Garnett.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has made it abundantly clear that Garnett will not play in these playoffs and that he's not entertaining any more questions about it. That doesn't mean the story -- or Garnett's desire to return -- will go away.
Garnett's every move is under close scrutiny, as evidenced by this story Sunday in the Boston Herald describing a surprise appearance by Garnett on the Celtics' practice court in workout clothes. Clearly, Garnett is continuing to test his knee in an attempt -- however futile -- to rejoin his team and avert a first-round series loss to the Baby Bulls.
The Celtics can't do this without Garnett, much less without Garnett and Powe, a key reserve in their title run last year. So based on how Deng and other injured players are known to react when more teammates get injured, I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that Garnett will kick it up a notch in his effort to return.
It might not work, and Rivers might not want to talk about it. But that doesn't mean it can't be tried.
Posted on: February 18, 2009 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2009 5:42 pm
The Sacramento Kings have agreed to send center Brad Miller and swingman John Salmons to the Chicago Bulls for Drew Gooden and Andres Nocioni, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.
The deal has yet to go through the league approval process, so other pieces could be involved. But with that basic framework, the Kings pay a hefty price for Gooden's $7.1 million expiring contract. Nocioni is owed $21 million over the next three years, with a fourth year at a team option for $7.5 million.
UPDATE: According to the Sacramento Bee, the Bulls also send Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons to the Kings. In a separate deal, the Kings send Ruffin to Portland for Ike Diogu and about $1 million. When the math is done, the trades will save the Kings about $13.5 million next season.
UPDATE: K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago also is discussing a separate salary dump that would send Kirk Hinrich ($26.5 million due over the next three years) to Minnesota for Jason Collins' expiring contract and noted cap albatross Brian Cardinal, who has $6.75 million coming off the books after 2009-10.
The Mavericks, who are shopping Jerry Stackhouse (only $2 million guaranteed next season) were in the mix for Miller, but the Bulls had the pieces necessary for the Kings to move the two players they wanted to trade in the same deal. The Knicks also were interested in Miller, but had no serious conversations with the Kings on that front.