Tag:collective bargaining agreement
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:47 pm

Players, owners approve CBA

NEW YORK -- NBA players and owners on Thursday approved a new collective bargaining agreement, formally ending the five-month lockout and paving the way for training camps and an already rampaging free-agency period to open.

The players voted via email from 6 p.m. ET Wednesday until 4 p.m. Thursday and the deal was approved by 86 percent of the more than 200 players who participated -- less than half the union membership. The owners' Board of Governors, with representatives from all 30 teams, approved the deal at a meeting Thursday in Manhattan by a vote of 25-5, commissioner David Stern said.

As a result, the lockout will be lifted, training camps will open as scheduled, and the free-agent and trading period officially will begin at 2 p.m. ET, sources said. The league will begin a 66-game regular season, the second season shortened due to a labor dispute in NBA history, on Christmas Day.

Also on Thursday, owners finalized their new revenue sharing plan by which big-market teams -- particularly the Knicks and Lakers -- are expected to kick in a substantial portion of what will be at least a quadrupling of the previous revenue-sharing pool. According to executives familiar with the details of the plan before it was finalized, the league was expected to incorporate some new sources of revenue that would be shared. Of paramount importance to small- and mid-market teams, market size was expected to be considered as much as or more than a team's financial performance in a given year, sources said.

Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:06 pm

Source: Howard hasn't told Magic what he wants

Dwight Howard has not yet indicated to Orlando management whether he wants to stay with the Magic, request a trade or play out the season and become a free agent, a person directly involved in the organization's planning told CBSSports.com Tuesday.

"Training camp opens the door to everything," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think that will happen very, very soon."

The soap opera of whether Howard stays in Orlando or seeks a trade to the Lakers already has begun in full force, however, and there already has been a casualty. Team executives were apprised via email Tuesday morning that CEO Bob Vander Weide has stepped down and will be replaced by team president Alex Martins. In replacing Vander Weide, 53, whose departure is being characterized as a retirement, Martin's first order of business will be to represent the Magic on the NBA's Board of Governors, which is scheduled to vote on the new collective bargaining agreement Thursday in an electronic ballot.

UPDATE: Whether Vander Weide's departure has anything to do with the owners' labor relations committee -- of which Vander Weide was a member -- signing off on a deal that could actually expedite Howard's departure from Orlando is a matter worthy of consideration. The Magic scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to address Vander Weide's departure, but Vander Weide admitted Tuesday that he did, in fact, call Howard at 1 a.m. earlier this week after "a couple of glasses of wine" -- a conversation in which the executive reportedly urged the star to stay in Orlando.

The person familiar with the Magic's strategy said Tuesday that, while Howard has yet to verbalize what he wants, the All-Star center has "deep roots here" and has previously expressed that "this is where he'd like to fulfill his career."

"He wants to win," the person said. "That's on his mind intensely."

While Howard has never publicly expressed a desire to leave Orlando, it has been known among people in his inner circle for months that his preference is to play for the Lakers. The only way he's getting to that L.A. team would be via a trade, and the Lakers -- with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom -- are one of the few teams in the league with enough assets to pull it off.

The new rules set to be approved by the players and owners this week have cut off some of the avenues for superstars looking to leave small markets for big markets -- but some of those rules actually increase the pressure on the home team to make a decision to trade such a player sooner than in the past. The extension Orlando can offer Howard -- same as New Orleans can offer Chris Paul -- falls short of what each could each get as an unrestricted free agent come July 1. And since they can no longer get maximum contract length and raises via a sign-and-trade, their teams don't have that avenue as a fallback option.

"I don't think he knows what he's going to do at this point," the person familiar with the Magic's strategy said. "I'm not sure anybody does. It's impossible to predict."

The overwhelming opinion in central Florida -- which in 1996 saw Shaquille O'Neal flee Orlando to sign with the Lakers as a free agent -- is for Howard to let his intentions be known sooner than later.

"Don't drag us out," the person said. "Tell us what you want, so we can react with facts, not theories and guesses."
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:30 pm

Progress on B-list; on-time vote expected

NEW YORK -- Negotiators have made significant progress on secondary issues that must be finalized before the new collective bargaining agreement can be ratified and are confident the process will be completed in time for both sides to vote on the deal this week, a person briefed on the process told CBSSports.com.

Lawyers for the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have pared the list of outstanding items to about 50, down from about 250 when the process began Friday, the person said. Among the more important B-list issues, it remains likely that the age limit for draft eligibility will be unchanged and is expected to be revisited at a later date when there is time for more thorough discussion. The two sides also are still negotiating the language on a new drug-testing policy and a provision by which teams will be able to shuttle players back and forth to the NBA Development League.

Player reps from all 30 teams will be in New York Wednesday to discuss details of the new deal. Players and the league's Board of Governors are scheduled to vote eletronically on Thursday, with training camps and free agency slated to open Friday.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:18 pm

Mediator? Stern, Hunter need to go 1-on-1

While sources confirmed Tuesday that the NBA and National Basketball Players Association are discussing the possibility of bringing federal mediator George Cohen back into the bargaining process, we already have learned that this is no cure-all for the lockout.

Cohen spent more than 24 hours over two days refereeing the talks last month, only to see them blow up over the contentious issue of the BRI split. The same thing happened without Cohen on Friday, and while sources believe union chief Billy Hunter wouldn't have been permitted to walk away from the table with a line in the sand drawn at a 52-48 split in favor of the players, it's not clear whether Cohen would've been able to elicit enough compromise to keep the talks going.

So while bringing the mediator back into the room couldn't hurt, I have a better idea. To borrow a phrase from commissioner David Stern: mediator, schmediator. Breaking the impasse and securing a handshake on a new CBA so the NBA can reopen for business really only requires two people to be in the room:

1) Stern, and 2) Hunter.

It's time for the two men whose job it is to secure a deal to get in a room together and figure it out. It's time for Stern to tell Hunter how much wiggle room he has on his owners' 50-50 proposal, provided Hunter is willing to compromise on the Big Three system issues that remain. It's time for Hunter to tell Stern exactly what he needs to be able to sell a 50-50 or 51-49 deal to his players.

It's time for Stern and Hunter to throw each other a life raft so they can both paddle ashore holding both fists aloft in the universal gesture of victory. (Although, to do that, they'd need someone else to paddle. So they can bring Cohen in to propel the boat during the victory parade.)

This is how the 1998-99 lockout ended. Stern and Hunter ended it. On the day Stern had set for the rest of the season to be canceled, the two deal-makers pulled an all-nighter, and emerged on the morning of Jan. 7 to shake hands and end the 204-day lockout.

This one has endured a little more than half that time, but there's no need for any more. There are two people who can end this, and each one needs to tell his constituents that he intends to do just that. Stern and Hunter have been negotiating against each other for 15 years. They don't need a mediator, just an empty room.

Posted on: November 1, 2011 2:43 pm

Three items that could break the BRI logjam

As explained expertly by SI.com and the New York Times in recent days, much progress has been made on system issues that are crucial to a new collective bargaining agreement. But there are several subsets of deal points still unresolved, and many so-called "B-list" items that haven't even been broached yet.

It's within those issues that compromise finally will have to be reached to push the two sides closer together on the biggest sticking point: the split of basketball-related income (BRI). 

The owners are dug in with their offer of a 50-50 split, while the players aren't budging lower than 52 percent. But not all 50-50 deals are created equal, and the key to breaking the revenue logjam will be tradeoffs that have to be made on the remaining open system issues.

There are three key issues that could be tweaked to entice the union to compromise further on BRI and/or compel the owners to move from their 50-50 position. They are as follows:

1) The punitive entry point for small- or mid-market teams considering "wading into" the luxury tax temporarily, which the union refers to as "the cliff." The obvious solution would be for the distribution of luxury tax money to be changed to eliminate the double-whammy teams experience by going from being a tax receivers to tax payers. Such a whiplash effect, in some cases, triples the cost of going for it with a modest move into the tax. For example, a team that is just below the tax adding a $2.5 million player results in a net cost of $7.5 million -- the cost of the player, the loss of $2.5 million in tax revenue from tax-paying teams, and the cost of the $2.5 million in tax that team would have to pay. Rather than a straight transfer of tax money from tax payers to non-tax payers, distributing the money as a revenue-sharing transfer based on need -- or using it for another purpose -- would flatten out the cliff and move the two sides closer to compromise.

2) The ability of tax-paying teams to use exceptions such as the Bird and mid-level exceptions. The players don't want tax-paying teams, which typically are big-market and/or high-revenue teams, eliminated from the pursuit of free agents through restrictions on their willingness or ability to spend that act like a hard cap. Owners have reluctantly agreed to leave the Bird and mid-level exceptions intact, albeit with shorter contract lengths. But the owners are digging in with their insistence on forbidding tax-paying teams from using these exceptions, which to the players means a smaller market for free agents.

3) Severe penalties for repeat offenders who spend multiple years over the tax threshold. While the owners' proposal for recidivism tax rates would accomplish their goal of reining in the big spenders, the players have been unwilling to accept restrictions that would further shrink the options for free agents in a system that, even as previously constructed, typically only had a handful of teams with cap space or the ability to blow through the tax threshold in a given year.

There are any number of small-ticket items still undecided that could be used for what the negotiators call "horse-trading" to close the gap on BRI. As I've suggested previously, one of them is increasing the players' share of licensing money -- which would have a net-zero affect on BRI since those funds already come off the top before the balance is split with the players -- and changing how that money is distributed so stars who sell a lot of jerseys and merchandise get a bigger share of the pie. Another item would be deal length and opt-out clauses; the players will accept a 10-year CBA only if they can opt out after the sixth and eighth years, while the owners want an opt-out after the seventh year.

But the aforementioned items are the Big Three of what's left to negotiate. It's pretty simple, really, from a bargaining standpoint. More player-friendly agreements on those three items may allow union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher to be able to sell less than 52 percent to the union membership. More owner-friendly agreements would require the owners to move off their 50-50 split. Something in the middle -- a little give, a little take -- could result in a range of percentages for the players' share of BRI. For example, if revenues come in as expected (4.5 percent growth), the players would get 50 percent. If revenues came in higher, they'd get 51 or 52, depending on how much growth there was. The scale could be tweaked based on the compromises made on the three A-list items.

"A very reasonable suggestion," one official involved in the negotiations told me.

There will be a time for reason, eventually. It's just that both sides need to understand how to get from here to there.

Posted on: February 5, 2010 2:10 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2010 8:24 am

NBA owners propose hard cap, paycut for players

NEW YORK-- Launching a grim opening salvo in what is expected to be a contentious labor negotiation, NBA owners have sent their initial proposal to the players association and are pushing for some elements of a "hard" salary cap as well as a drastic reduction in player salaries, CBSSports.com has learned.

The proposal, sent to the union earlier this week, seeks a reduction in the players' share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to well below 50 percent, according to a person familiar with the document. Owners also are seeking some elements of a hard cap -- a departure from the current luxury-tax system -- and a reduction in the length and amount of max contracts.

Owners and players will meet in Dallas during All-Star weekend for their first face-to-face bargaining session as they try to reach an agreement before the current deal expires in 2011. The talks coincide with the NFL's labor negotiation, in which owners have proposed an 18 percent pay cut for players.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the players association, did not return calls seeking comment on the proposal, which is sure to set a serious tone in talks aimed at averting the league's first lockout since the 1998-99 season. NBA spokesman Tim Frank said league officials would have no comment.

Owners are seeking significant changes to the league's financial structure as many of them face massive losses in the wake of the global economic crisis. In addition to lowering the players' overall share of basketball-related income (BRI), owners are pushing for some elements of a hard cap to replace the current luxury tax system, in which teams with payrolls above the tax line subsidize those staying below the limit, which was set at $69.9 million this season.

But players already are facing a reduction in salaries next season, when the cap is expected to decline from the current level of $57.7 million to between $50 million and $54 million. Most team executives working on financial projections for next season are predicting a $52 million cap.

Union president Derek Fisher, speaking Sunday before the Lakers played the Celtics in Boston, predicted that the owners would "overreach" with their initial proposal and said the players would strongly oppose a dramatic reduction their share of BRI.

One prominent player agent, speaking to CBSSports.com about the impending labor talks, called a hard cap "untenable," but said the owners' financial losses a similar request for pay cuts by NFL owners create a double-whammy of leverage.

"The players will talk tough, but I'm not sure they have a whole lot to hang their hat on," the agent said. "If the NFL is cutting salaries, I think you can expect something similar in the NBA."

If the owners succeed in implementing some version of a hard cap, management sources predict it would drive player salaries down precipitously. The players likely will argue that the luxury tax system is working as a payroll impediment. Only a handful of the highest-revenue teams pay luxury tax in a given year, and a flurry of trades prior to the Feb. 18 deadline will illustrate the union's point. The majority of trades that will be consummated will be driven by teams trying to pare salary to avoid clipping the luxury tax line.

"An NFL-style hard cap is going to blow the minimum-salary and mid-level players completely out of the water," one person familiar with the owners' proposal said. "In any hard-cap system, the owners are going to pay the stars. If there are no exceptions and no ways to exceed the cap, everybody else is going to be left with the scraps."

Perhaps that is why the owners want to go farther than changing the rules; they want the league's highest-paid players to take a haircut, as well. Owners are seeking to reduce the maximum length of contracts to five years for players re-signing with their current teams and to four years for players signing with new teams. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, in effect since 2005, players re-signing with their current teams can be under contract for a maximum of six years. Other free agents can sign for a maximum of five. This would be a way to avoid star players' salaries remaining high while the second- and third-tier players bear the brunt of the overall payroll reduction.

As CBSSports.com reported Jan. 29, a segment of ownership believes that reducing the length and amount of max contracts would wipe out the owners' collective financial losses by itself. But by pushing for a significant reduction in maximum salaries, the owners would be alienating the players who produce the vast majority of revenue for their teams; fans pay to see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, not Daniel Gibson and Dorell Wright.

“If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” one team executive told CBSSports.com last week. “Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.”

The negotiations also have implications that are much more immediate than a potential lockout to start the 2011-12 season. Numerous marquee stars, such as James, Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson, have the ability to opt out of their contracts July 1 and become free agents. Most of those players and their agents already were expecting a less favorable CBA in 2011. But if a drastic cut in max contracts becomes inevitable as part of a new labor agreement, such players might be even more motivated to opt out and sign long-term deals under the current deal. Just another wrinkle that could make what is expected to be the biggest free agency period in NBA history even bigger.

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