Tag:NBA
Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:09 am
 

Marathon mediation leads to another meeting

NEW YORK -- After a marathon, 16-hour bargaining session supervised by federal mediator George Cohen, negotiators for the NBA and its players' association left a Manhattan hotel after 2 a.m. ET Wednesday with no comment -- but with another meeting scheduled hours later in an attempt to end the lockout.

The two sides will reconvene at 10 a.m. Cohen requested that both sides refrain from making public comments, and they obliged.

"Nothing has been agreed to," said a person who was briefed on the talks. "There was nothing to say."

Negotiators rehashed the issues they've been wrestling with for more than two years, with the difference being that Cohen, according to a source, "took the emotion out of it." No topics were excluded from the mediation session, including the biggest obstacles in the way of a deal -- the split of revenues and a revised luxury tax system that would replace the hard team salary cap owners long sought in their efforts to achieve parity and competitive balance.

Cohen, a presidential appointee and the top federal mediator in the country, was at least able to do something that the two sides had been unable to do during a recent flurry of negotiations: focus on bridging the gap between them as opposed to concentrating on their own, still widely divergent positions, a source said. 

At one point late into the night, it was decided that the two sides needed to come back later Wednesday -- a session that is expected to decide whether the change of format and removal of emotion will yield movement in each side's position. A person with knowledge of the talks described Tuesday's session as laying the "building blocks" for Wednesday. 

Both sides clearly realized it was time to make a deal, but neither was ready to do it in this -- by far the longest -- bargaining session of the 3 1-2 month lockout.

A meeting of the owners' labor relations committee previously scheduled for Wednesday morning will be replaced by that committee's bargaining session with the players, again under Cohen's supervision. The owners' full Board of Governors is scheduled to meet Wednesday night, and Thursday, the planning committee is scheduled to present to the full board its revenue sharing plan -- a key cog in the logjammed talks.

In addition to the lead negotiators and lawyers for both sides, the mediation session featured the owners' full, 12-member labor relations committee (plus Lakers owner Jerry Buss) and eight members of the players' executive committee (minus Keyon Dooling, who did not attend.)

The meeting began at 10 a.m. Tuesday and finally broke up at 2 a.m. Wednesday, when both sides decided to return to the bargaining table eight hours later.



Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:02 am
 

Marathon mediation leads to another meeting

NEW YORK -- After a marathon, 16-hour bargaining session supervised by federal mediator George Cohen, negotiators for the NBA and its players' association left a Manhattan hotel after 2 a.m. ET Wednesday with no comment -- but with another meeting scheduled hours later in an attempt to end the lockout.

The two sides will reconvene at 10 a.m. Cohen requested that both sides refrain from making public comments, and both sides obliged.

"Nothing has been agreed to," said a person who was briefed on the talks. "There was nothing to say."

Negotiators rehashed the issues they've been wrestling with for more than two years, with the difference being that Cohen, according to a source, "took the emotion out of it." No topics were excluded from the mediation session, including the biggest obstacles in the way of a deal -- the split of revenues and a revised luxury tax system that would replace the hard team salary cap owners long sought in their efforts to achieve parity and competitive balance.

Cohen, a presidential appointee and the top federal mediator in the country, was at least able to do something that the two sides had been unable to do during a recent flurry of negotiations: focus on bridging the gap between them as opposed to concentrating on their own, still widely divergent positions, a source said. 

At one point late into the night, it was decided that the two sides needed to come back later Wednesday -- a session that is expected to decide whether the change of format and removal of emotion will yield movement in each side's position. 

Both sides clearly realized it was time to make a deal, but neither was ready to do it in this -- by far the longest -- bargaining session of the 3 1-2 month lockout.

A meeting of the owners' labor relations committee previously scheduled for Wednesday morning will be replaced by that committee's bargaining session with the players, again under Cohen's supervision. The owners' full Board of Governors is scheduled to meet Wednesday night, and Thursday, the planning committee is scheduled to present to the full board its revenue sharing plan -- a key cog in the logjammed talks.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. Tuesday and finally broke up at 2 a.m. Wednesday, when both sides decided to return to the bargaining table eight hours later.



 
Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 8:54 pm
 

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

The NBA labor talks are headed for government intervention after the canceling of games drew the attention of the nation's top federal mediator.

George Cohen, director of the federal mediation and conciliation service, will oversee further negotiations between the NBA and its players' association on a new collective bargaining agreement, the agency said in a news release Wednesday. The sessions will begin Tuesday in New York.

"For a number of months, I have participated in separate, informal, off-the-record discussions with the principals representing the NBA and the NBPA concerning the status of their collective bargaining negotiations," Cohen said in the statement. "It is evident that the ongoing dispute will result in a serious impact, not only upon the parties directly involved, but also, of major concern, on interstate commerce—i.e., the employers and working men and women who provide services related to the basketball games, and, more generally, on the economy of every city in which those games are scheduled to be played.

"In these circumstances, the agency has invited, and the parties have agreed, to convene further negotiations under my auspices," Cohen said.

Billy Hunter, the NBPA's executive director, divulged in a radio interview with WFAN in New York earlier Wednesday that the two sides had agreed to have their failed negotiations federally mediated.

Cohen, appointed by President Obama, was called upon to mediate the NFL's labor negotiation with the NFL Players Association before that sport's recent lockout was imposed. He has no binding authority and can only make suggestions. If nothing else, a fresh set of eyes and opinions -- not to mention meetings with a different venue and format -- couldn't hurt.

Cohen has argued five landmark labor cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and last year helped avert a crisis in Major League Soccer's labor talks. He is a former appellate court attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, and in fact argued before then-U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the day she issued an injunction that effectively ended the Major League Baseball strike in 1995. Cohen was the MLBPA's lead attorney in the case, and also has worked with the NBPA.

In a Los Angeles Times article from March, football agent Leigh Steinberg said a good mediator is "an expert in the psychology of human gridlock." To that extent, Cohen has joined the right fight, as the NBA and NBPA are hopelessly, needlessly gridlocked over issues that should have been easily solved once they approached a compromise on how to divide the sport's $4 billion of revenues. The league's bargaining talks broke off Monday night after 13 hours over two days and multiple sessions over a two-week period. The league on Monday canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.

Drawn by the fact that lost games will have an economic impact beyond the parties involved, Cohen's office called both parties this week to request that they voluntarily participate in mediation, two sources said. Both agreed.

For those wondering why the step wasn't taken sooner, federal mediators generally don't get involved in labor disputes unless asked, or unless they reach an impasse after the sides had ample time to bargain. The NFL requested Cohen's involvement before the lockout was imposed, and while it's unclear what impact he had on the ultimate resolution, his powers at the time were muted by the lack of urgency in the talks.





Posted on: October 10, 2011 12:25 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 3:10 am
 

NBA labor talks extend to Monday

NEW YORK -- Facing a deadline for the cancellation of regular season games, negotiators for the NBA and its players' association met for nearly 5 1-2 hours Sunday night and will reconvene Monday afternoon for more bargaining.

Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver emerged from the Upper East Side hotel where negotiations took place at 11:50 p.m. ET, and Stern issued a brief statement before walking away.

"We don't have any comment at all, other than we are breaking for the night and reconvening tomorrow afternoon," Stern said.

Stern has said he will cancel the first two weeks of the regular season if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't agreed to by Monday. He did not address the cancellation deadline in his statement, and a person with knowledge of the talks said both sides agreed it would not be addressed with reporters.

"We're not necessarily any closer than we were going into tonight," union president Derek Fisher said. "But we'll back at it tomorrow and we'll keep putting time in."

According to a person briefed on the talks, the primary focus Sunday night was system issues -- salary cap, luxury tax, etc. -- leaving Monday to reconcile those complicated items with the most important point of all: the split of revenues between owners and players. Fisher characterized the meeting as "intense."

"We're going to come back at it tomorrow afternoon and continue to try and put the time in and see if we can get closer to getting a deal done," Fisher said.

The last-minute meeting was called after league and union officials originally couldn't agree on the parameters of one final bargaining session to save regular season games. On Friday, officials from the National Basketball Players Association requested a meeting, but were met with a precondition from the league that they agree to a 50-50 split of revenues that was offered in Tuesday's bargaining session. The union declined, and scheduled regional meetings for Miami on Saturday and Los Angeles on Monday.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter did not travel to Miami, and an impromptu players' meeting was held after the All-Star charity game at Florida International University featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Paul and other stars. Fisher said the regional meeting for L.A. on Monday was postponed so union officials could concentrate on bargaining.

"Our guys would want our time to be used in meeting and trying to get closer to getting a deal done," Fisher said. "So instead of going forward with that (Los Angeles) meeting, we're going to put it off and then we'll reschedule it accordingly, depending on what happens tomorrow and into the week if we continue to meet."

Silver arrived at 5:10 p.m. ET, climbed out of a black sedan and greeted league security personnel with a smile and handshake. Union chief Hunter and general counsel Ron Klempner arrived at 5:30, followed closely by union VP Maurice Evans, who stepped out of a yellow taxi moments later. The three greeted Fisher, the union president, when he arrived in a black SUV at about 5:50, and the players' contingent stayed on the sidewalk and talked for about 25 minutes. NBPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler arrived, followed by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, the chairman of the Board of Governors, and Spurs owner Peter Holt, chairman of the labor relations committee. The meeting started around 6:30 p.m.

Heading into the weekend, the players' were entrenched in their desire for 53 percent of basketball-related income (BRI), while the owners were stuck on offering the players 50 percent. The split under the six-year agreement that expired July 1 was 57 percent for the players and 43 percent for the owners.

From the standpoint of negotiating leverage, psychology and feeling the need to follow through on their threats, both sides seem willing to sacrifice the first two weeks of the regular season -- possibly more -- to get a deal. But from the standpoint of math and what's at stake economically by failing to reach an agreement by Monday, it is clear that a deal would be more advantageous to both sides than digging in.

The last movement of Tuesday's negotiations indicated that there was room on both sides to move beyond their respective positions on BRI. The league offered a 49-51 range for the players, who countered with a 51-53 range. Both offers occurred during informal side conferences involving Stern, Silver, Holt, Fisher, Kessler, and superstars Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

If you look at it from the midpoint of each side's range in their most recent offers -- 50 percent and 52 percent, respectively -- they are only $80 million apart in the first year of a new CBA. Each side would lose about $200 million by canceling the first two weeks of games. A rational split of 51.5 percent for the players and 48.5 percent for the owners -- with most of the system issues remaining the same, as the players want --would address most of the owners' stated annual losses of $300 million and preserve the flexibility the players wanted to maintain from the existing system.

By holding out for 1.5 percent of BRI -- the owners at 50 percent and the players at 53 -- each side would be drawing a line in the sand over less than $400 million -- $393 million, to be exact -- over six years. And each side would lose half that amount by canceling the first two weeks of games. In the simpler, shorter-term horizon of the first year of a new CBA, each side failing to move 1.5 percent to the 51.5-48.5 split would cost it $200 million compared to the $60 million that would be negotiated away by making the concession.
Posted on: March 12, 2010 2:39 pm
 

Bulls shouldn't be without Rose for long

The Bulls got welcome news on All-Star point guard Derrick Rose's left wrist Friday when MRI results came back negative, according to a source. Rose will be re-evaluated further, but the original diagnosis of a sprained left wrist turned out to be accurate.

Losing Rose for an extended time would've all but crushed Chicago's playoff hopes. The Bulls, in a fight for the eighth playoff spot in the East, saw Rose go down hard after colliding with Orlando's Dwight Howard on a drive to the basket in a 111-82 loss to the Magic on Thursday night. It was the second time this season that Rose was injured in a collision with Howard.



Posted on: September 18, 2009 4:18 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2009 5:51 pm
 

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

The NBA formally notified the union representing its 57 active referees Friday that it was imposing a lockout, saying the rejection of its latest contract offer left "no choice but to begin using replacement referees."

Lamell McMorris, lead negotiator for the referees, told CBSSports.com that he received formal notice of the lockout from the league shortly after 3 p.m. ET. Replacement refs will convene next week for the annual training camp for officials, although the timing of the camp is undecided based on the logistical challenges of convening replacements.

If the NBA and its referees' union can't agree on a new two-year contract before Oct. 27, replacement referees will officiate regular season games for the first time since 1995.

UPDATE: After McMorris spent the past week making headlines with swipes at commissioner David Stern and the league's staunch negotiating stance, the league took some swings of its own in the memo distributed Friday to teams and the media. In addition to pointing out that the league agreed to negotiate an unusually short two-year agreement -- "so that the referees would be able to renegotiate as the economy improves" -- the NBA hit the refs where it will hurt most in the eyes of public opinion.

"Under the prior collective bargaining agreement, which expired on September 1, referees were awarded enhanced retirement bonuses of up to $575,000, on top of pension benefits that could exceed $2 million," the league's news release stated. "These retirement benefits, which the NBA has proposed to change, were in addition to compensation of almost $150,000 per year for entry level referees and over $550,000 per year for the most senior referees." League officials and negotiators clearly know that fans, who already have a negative impression of refs, will go through the roof when they read how much they make. Class Warfare 101.

“The proposals we have made to the NBRA are extraordinarily fair and reasonable, given the current economic circumstances,” said Rick Buchanan, the NBA’s executive vice president and general counsel. “Since late 2008, the league and our teams have made far deeper cuts in non-referee headcount and expenses than we are asking for here. It is extremely disappointing that the NBRA has ignored the economic realities, rejected our offer, and left us with no choice but to begin using replacement referees.”

UPDATE: The refs and McMorris convened in Chicago earlier this week and unanimously rejected the NBA's latest proposal. After the refs stayed in Chicago for a night-long strategy session, Buchanan rejected their counterproposal Thursday. The tenor of the negotiating conference call was bleak, according to sources, one of whom said both sides agreed: "We have nothing further to discuss."

But the league and the referees' union can't seem to agree on much else, including the exact issues they disagree on. McMorris cited only one issue as standing in the way of a deal, describing it as "systemic changes" to the refs' retirement benefits. Two sources with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com that the issue in question is a severance benefit that has been available to referees leaving their jobs at age 55 and older. The NBA wants to phase out that benefit, and has accused McMorris of agreeing to modifications more than a month ago and then reversing course.

League sources also have cited two additional roadblocks to a deal: An NBA plan to integrate WNBA and D-League officials into a limited number of early season games for evaluation and training purposes, and a proposal to convert the refs' traditional pensions to 401-Ks. League sources disagree with McMorris' assertion to CBSSports.com on Thursday that the refs have made $1 million in concessions and that the financial gap between the two sides has essentially been closed.

UPDATE: McMorris has stoked concern that extended use of replacement refs during the regular season could result in player injuries due to a lack of control by inexperienced officials. This theory has credence due to the league's rapid expansion of instant replay authority for officials -- presenting inexperienced refs with complicated review guidelines -- and also in light of frequent controversies during the 2009 playoffs over the threshold for flagrant fouls. During the Lakers' playoff series against Houston -- in which Ron Artest's flagrant foul against Pau Gasol became one of many such calls changed upon review by the league office -- Kobe Bryant called the interpretation of flagrants "so subjective, it's ridiculous. ... We've got to address that."

The refs picked up another unlikely supporter on Friday when Shaquille O'Neal voiced his support. Attending a charity event in Orlando, O'Neal told AOL Fanhouse: "The refs have been vital to this league for a long time. They should be treated accordingly. We need perfection out there. We don't need second best. The league needs to get this done.''

Category: NBA
Tags: lockout, NBA, referees
 
Posted on: February 7, 2009 7:53 pm
 

Barkley golfs; what about All-Star weekend?

Charles Barkley has been on a leave of absence from his announcing duties with TNT since early January after his Dec. 31 arrest on suspicion of drunken driving in Scottsdale, Ariz.

I asked TNT officials on a pre-All-Star conference call last week if any decision had been made as to whether Barkley would return to the booth during All-Star weekend in his adopted hometown of Phoenix.

"Nothing has changed regarding Charles’ status," said Jeff Behnke, executive producer for Turner Sports. "He continues to be on a leave of absence and no date has been set for his return."

A person familiar with the situation said if a decision hasn't been made for Barkley's return by now, the chances he'll be part of TNT's All-Star coverage are remote. As difficult as it is to imagine the league's signature midseason event without the man who has become its signature voice and on-air personality, clearly some things take precedence. Like Charles getting his life back in order.

"There’s other things that are more important than All-Star weekend," TNT analyst Reggie Miller said. "Obviously, for himelf and for his family, this is time for them to take a step back and just re-evaluate things. The thing about the NBA and basketball, it’ll always be there. There’s bigger things in life to worry about."

It should surprise no one that Barkley's first public appearance since his arrest occurred on a golf course. Barkley kept his commitment to appear at a charity golf tournament Friday in Lakeland, Fla.

"Clearly, I made a mistake drinking and driving," Barkley told the Lakeland Ledger. "And I'm getting penalized for that, and rightfully so. "Drinking and driving is a very serious thing. It was stupid, and it was 100 percent my fault.'

According to the story, Barkley said his return to the booth is up to TNT.

Here's hoping that happens soon, but not a minute too soon.

 

 

Category: NBA
Posted on: February 6, 2009 3:49 pm
 

Former ABA owners victims of Madoff?

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business like a glove for CNBC, has done the most interesting reporting I've seen on sports victims in the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme. In perusing the 162-page client list released Thursday night, Rovell discovered that the beneficiaries of the sweetest sports deal of all time were on it: Ozzie and Dan Silna, former owners of the Spirits of St. Louis in the defunct ABA.

The Silna brothers were quite shrewd when their team was one of two not absorbed by the NBA in the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. They negotiated a settlement that called for a $2.2 million buyout plus 1/7 of the television revenue earned by the four former ABA teams who were absorbed -- forever.

That's right, forever. Rovell's in-depth piece on how the deal was struck is here.

By Rovell's estimate, the Silnas have earned some $200 million thus far -- and stand to rake in $136 million from the NBA's current eight-year, $7.4 billion national broadcast rights deal with ABC/ESPN and TNT.

The client list does not say how much money each client had/lost with Madoff. Rovell tried to contact Ozze and Dan Silna, to no avail. The trusty TrueHoop blog brought this news item to our attention. Sobering, sobering news.

 

 

 

 

Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com