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Tag:Adam Silver
Posted on: June 14, 2011 9:49 pm
 

Owners, players still hundreds of millions apart


NEW YORK -- Top executives from the NBA and National Basketball Players Association convened for a small meeting with their top staff Tuesday to discuss collective bargaining proposals that were made in Miami and Dallas during the NBA Finals.

According to league spokesman Michael Bass, the meeting included commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and the union's "in-house staff."

"We're not disclosing what was discussed in the meeting," Bass said.

A larger meeting including the owners' full labor relations committee and the players' executive committee is scheduled for Friday in Manhattan.

With the countdown under way to the expiration of the league's collective bargaining agreement on June 30, the two sides remain hundreds of millions of dollars apart, sources told CBSSports.com. The owners have twice offered to delay their vision of at least a 33 percent pay cut for the players, delivered through a hard salary cap with shorter and non-guaranteed contracts -- first through a two-year phase-in and then, in a verbal offer during the Finals, by adding at least one more year to "soften the landing," one of the people with knowledge of the talks said Tuesday. But once the phase-in period ends, the owners are still insistent on their original plan -- proposed in January 2010 -- to deduct approximately $900 million in expenses from the league's basketball-related income (BRI) and reduce the players' share of that from 57 percent to a 50-50 split, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

Given that league revenues in 2009-10 -- the last season for which final numbers are available -- totaled about $3.6 billion, the players would get half of the $2.7 billion left after expenses, or $1.35 billion. That's $700 million less than the players' share under the current system, or a reduction of more than one-third.

Coming out of last week's full-scale bargaining session in Dallas, verbal proposals from both sides needed to be formalized in writing, and the union requested more extensive revenue projections from the league since the owners have proposed a 10-year CBA. After Stern expressed optimism following one of the bargaining sessions during the Finals, he said last week it would be a "challenge" to avoid a lockout. NBPA president Derek Fisher revealed the same day that there was "no change at all" in the owners' demands.

Posted on: June 7, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 2:35 am
 

Stern: No agreement, but seeking 'breakthrough'

DALLAS – With both sides determined to reach what commissioner David Stern described as a “breakthrough” in labor talks, NBA owners and players negotiated for more than five hours Tuesday in the second of three scheduled sessions during the Finals.

Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver both said they were optimistic that the negotiations have continued, with a second full-day session featuring nearly the full negotiating committees on both sides scheduled for Wednesday. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter did not address reporters after the meeting at the Dallas Hilton Anatole, and players leaving the session said they would speak Wednesday.

“We haven’t reached agreement on anything and we have a deal that there will never be an agreement to be spoken about until we have an agreement on everything,” Stern said.

UPDATE: Why is there so much to talk about? Sources told CBSSports.com that the players made a formal counterproposal last week in Miami -- the first such proposal since the owners made their second proposal in April. Sources were reluctant to discuss details of the players' plan, since much of the time in bargaining sessions during the Finals has been spent explaining the details and responding to the owners' questions about it. But one detail, CBSSports.com has learned, is a sliding-scale model for the players' share of basketball-related income (BRI), where the players would take a reduced share of the pie if revenues went up.

In view of the NFL labor talks getting bogged down in the courts and mediation, Stern said there was “expressed determination on both sides to reach a compromise and accommodation with each other.” The language suggested a further softening of the public rhetoric, though Stern described the tone of the negotiations as “in the language of diplomacy, open and frank.”

“I just take it as a real positive that we’re continuing to meet,” Stern said. “When you have parties like this, it’s just as easy if you don’t think that there’s a possibility of a breakthrough to say, ‘All right, let’s pack it in and let’s go home.’ But nobody on either side wanted to go home.”

Echoing Hunter’s comment from last week’s bargaining session in Miami, Silver said a third day of meetings in Dallas could be scheduled for Thursday depending on how Wednesday’s session goes.

Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who represents players in both the NFL and NBA bargaining talks, opted to attend Tuesday's NBA session in Dallas rather than an unmediated NFL meeting at an undisclosed location. 

Stern said the meeting consisted of a “wide-ranging discussion” of the biggest issues separating the two sides: the system under which the league operates, with owners wanting a hard or harder cap with reductions in salaries and guarantees, and the split of revenues between owners and players. Players currently receive 57 percent of basketball-related income (BRI) after certain expenses are deducted. Owners want more expenses deducted and have thus far scoffed at the players’ offer to negotiate a reduction in their share of revenues.

“There were a lot of questions asked today,” Silver said. “There were questions – owners to players trying to understand what their concerns are and help us prioritize what their issues are, and players to owners as well. The owners and players did a lot of talking today.”

Approximately eight players attended the bargaining session, including union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers, who had a prior commitment and could not attend last week’s session in Miami. In attendance for the owners’ labor relations committee were were chairman Peter Holt (Spurs), Mickey Arison (Heat), Mark Cuban (Mavericks), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves), Jeanie Buss (Lakers), James Dolan (Knicks), Robert Sarver (Suns), Clay Bennett (Thunder), Bob Vander Weide (Magic), and Larry Miller (Trail Blazers).

Tempering the optimism and momentum that has been built with 23 days before the current collective bargaining agreement expires was Stern’s dismissal of an idea first floated by the players two weeks ago at a small bargaining session in New York: the revised BRI split based on an increase in revenues. Stern called the proposal “a tiny part” of the negotiation.

“There needs to be a very significant restructuring in order for the owners to have a sustainable investment here, hopefully approaching $5 billion of revenue,” Stern said. “So incremental stuff isn’t going to do the deal.”
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:42 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Stern: Will be 'challenge' to avoid lockout

MIAMI – NBA owners and players will meet Wednesday for a “full-blown bargaining session” in the hopes of gaining momentum toward a new collective bargaining agreement before a lockout is imposed July 1, commissioner David Stern said Tuesday night.

In his annual pre-Finals media address, Stern said it will be a “challenge” for both sides to move off their current positions in time to avert a work stoppage, the threat of which already has begun damaging the business.

“The question is whether the owners and the players will be bold enough to do what has to be done here to keep this sport on the tack that it is on now, which is straight up,” Stern said.

Two bargaining sessions already had been scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas during the Finals, but Wednesday’s session in Miami was added after the National Basketball Players Association introduced what Stern described after his media address as a new “concept” last week. Stern described the status of negotiations as a “give and take,” and said the players haven’t submitted a formal counterproposal to the owners’ revised proposal, which was handed over in April.

"We told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach," Stern said.

Stern said the players’ new proposed concept addressed one of the key issues the owners are trying to resolve in their efforts to vastly change the financial landscape of the sport in favor of the owners. Asked after his media address if the players’ new concept moved the negotiating needle, Stern said, “We have a deal that nothing moves the needle until the moved the needle is moved. We have no agreement on anything until there’s agreement on everything.”

During a Q&A with assembled media before Game 1 between the Heat and Mavericks, Stern declined to offer a percentage chance of a lengthy lockout. He also was asked to compare his feelings on that topic to how he felt during All-Star weekend in February.

“I can’t answer that,” Stern said. “I don’t even want to make guesses, because I know that both sides will make their best offers before the lockout – because if they don’t, then there’s going to be a lockout that would be destructive to our business from the owners’ perspective and the players’ perspective.”

Progress made last week in a small negotiation session in New York was “encouraging enough that we think tomorrow is time well spent and we think the two days next week will be well spent," Stern said.

Asked after his media address why he’s so confident a worse deal would be struck after July 1, Stern said, “Because the damage gets to be intense from our perspective. We know the deal can get worse.”

Asked for whom it would become worse, Stern said, “For the players. And to us, the deal will get worse for the owners. So we’ve got to decide to focus fully on how bad it will be after July 1. So June 30 is a really important date.”

Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver were asked several times about whether a new CBA would require a team like Miami – with three stars on the books for $46 million next season – to be broken up. The owners have proposed a $45 million hard cap to replace the current soft-cap/luxury tax system. Their revised proposal offered to phase in those changes over a two-year period, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com. But the union viewed that offer as not much of an offer, since such drastic changes would have to be phased in by definition without across-the-board salary cuts, which the players will never accept.

Pressed on the issue of what happens to the Heat in a new CBA, Stern said after his address, “That hasn’t really been addressed. But I would expect (the team) to be together. I hope so.”

But at one point, Silver made a comment that is expected to rankle the Heat stars and other top-tier players in an attempt to explain the economics of why owners believe the current system is broken.

“Costs have risen much faster than revenues over the course of this deal,” Silver said. “… At the same time, non-player costs are growing at a much higher percentage, and the built-in increases of our contracts are much higher than inflation and the growth of our business. For example, the three key players on the Heat all have 10.5 percent per year increases built into their deals for next year, at a point when revenues in our business are growing somewhere around 3 percent. It’s a broken system.”

When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh get wind of that comment, they could become as emboldened about fighting the owners as they were at All-Star weekend in Dallas in 2010. At that time, 10 All-Stars – including James and Wade – attended a bargaining session and were incensed that an NBA team executive had made derisive comments about them in telling CBSSports.com that owners had the upper hand in the negotiations.

“If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” the team executive said at the time.“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.”

In decrying the collectively bargained contracts Miami’s Big Three signed, Silver was taking aim at the team – and the three players – who were most responsible for the NBA’s astronomical increases in TV ratings and worldwide fan interest that is culminating with the Finals that tipped off Tuesday night.

The countdown to a real and important deadline to keep that momentum going is very much under way.
Posted on: May 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 7:04 pm
 

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

MIAMI – Driven by record TV ratings in the conference finals and worldwide interest in the Miami Heat’s quest for a championship, the NBA will embark Tuesday on a heavily anticipated NBA Finals. It should be good, and it better be. This could be the last competitive NBA event for a long time.

The Heat vs. the Mavericks promises the kind of drama that can cement a sport in the nation’s consciousness for years. And yet the league continues to face the very real possibility of a work stoppage, with the negotiating clock at T-minus 30 days and counting.

Publicly, the signals have been decidedly mixed since All-Star weekend in Los Angeles about whether a lockout – presumed inevitable for at least a year – can be averted. The rhetoric was significantly softened at All-Star weekend in February, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver made the most optimistic comments to date at the draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J., earlier this month, saying the “throttle is down” on efforts to hammer out a deal before the current one expires June 30.

But those olive branches subsequently were snapped in two by National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, who has described the owners’ revised proposal – in which they offered the non-offer of phasing in their draconian changes over several years – as worse than the original one. Last week, the NBPA filed an unfair labor practices charge against the NBA with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging, among other things, that owners have not negotiated in good faith or provided suitable financial proof of their claims that the league is losing hundreds of millions a year under the current system.

So where are we? Thirty days out from what would be a debilitating and foolish display of stubbornness by both sides, sources familiar with the negotiating climate say it isn’t time to panic – but that time is coming soon.

“If there’s going to be a deal, I would say there are tipping points," one person familiar with the negotiations told CBSSports.com. "One tipping point is June 30. Once you get past June 30, people are inclined to sit around until the next tipping point, which is September.”

While the two sides remain far apart on the issues of a hard cap, reduced player salaries and an eventual elimination of guaranteed contracts, they at least are in agreement that they are farther along in negotiations than they were prior to the 1998-99 lockout, which resulted in a 50-game season. But one of the people familiar with the talks said there has been less progress at this point than there was in 2005, when noxious lockout fumes were in the air and catastrophe was averted with a surprise agreement during the NBA Finals. The owners, clearly, are no longer celebrating that victory, since they are trying to detonate most aspects of the deal that was ratified at that time.

Representatives for the owners and players met for a small bargaining session last week in New York, and a larger session is scheduled when the Finals shift to Dallas for the middle three games next week. Despite immense differences, the dialogue has been consistent for weeks – proof that neither side likes its chances if the dispute follows the NFL path to the courts.

“I think everybody is taking every opportunity right now to see if something can be done without a whole lot of distractions and rhetoric,” a person familiar with the negotiations said.

Developments in the NFL lockout have affected the NBA talks in significant ways. The NFL players’ initial victory in having their decertification validated in court, followed by the owners’ victory in temporarily preventing the lockout from being lifted, has only underscored the notion that commissioner David Stern and Hunter do not want this negotiation taken out of their hands and into the hands of politically appointed judges they don’t know. In some ways, both understand they’ll get a better deal through negotiation between now and July 1 than they’ll get in a courtroom after months of negative publicity and venom.

A ruling on the NBPA’s unfair labor practices charge isn’t expected for 6-8 weeks, sources say, which means the owners may have to decide to impose a lockout without knowing the outcome of the ruling. But the NLRB charge, sources say, has more to do with leverage than outcome. By putting their complaints in writing, the players have put the onus on both sides to hold good-faith negotiations and exchange legitimate proposals until the current deal expires.

“It puts the onus on both sides not to stall,” said another person familiar with the bargaining talks.

Of more importance is a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the validity of the NFL lockout. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard June 3, with a ruling possible before the NBA lockout begins. If the appeals court upholds the portion of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that proclaimed the NFL lockout of a decertified union illegal, leverage in the NBA negotiations would swing significantly toward the players. At that point, the proverbial throttle would be pushed even harder toward a negotiated deal; why would NBA owners want to follow the same futile path through the courts that foiled their NFL counterparts?

A ruling in favor of the owners in the Eighth Circuit would shift the leverage to the NBA owners, and raise the chances of a lockout to a near certainty.

But while there is no disputing the communication and momentum, there are a few problems with comparing the NBA’s current situation to the NFL’s – or even the NBA’s in 1998 and 2005. As for the NFL comparison, legal experts believe the NBA owners would have a better case in the courts because they are claiming to be losing millions under the current system – and have provided audited financial statements and tax returns to prove it. NFL owners don’t claim to be losing money; they just want to make more.

As for comparing this to the NBA’s ’98 or ’05 negotiations, the NBA is in a different place than it was then. In ’98, salaries were out of control and the game was about to embark on the uncertain journey of life without Michael Jordan. In ’05, owners were looking for tweaks to the ’99 agreement. Now, they are looking to permanently and dramatically alter the landscape of the sport.

Which they most certainly will do with a prolonged lockout. They will forfeit the lofty place in the sports world that the NBA finally has attained after the golden era of Magic and Bird and the golden goose that was Jordan. The Finals begin in about 24 hours, but it’s T-minus 30 days and counting to the showdown that matters a lot more.
Posted on: April 15, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 6:58 pm
 

Anaheim Royals? Not so fast

NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday dismissed the last-ditch candidacy of Ron Burkle to purchase the Kings and keep them in Sacramento, and the league’s board of governors voted to extend the Maloof family’s deadline to apply for relocation to Anaheim until May 2. 

In calling the Burkle plan "not a high priority," Stern at the same time praised Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s presentation, in which he promised millions of dollars in new sponsorships and funding for a new downtown arena. But after a decade of failed efforts to get the Kings a new building in northern California, Stern expressed skepticism about last-ditch efforts to keep the team there. 

"In light of the history in Sacramento, that's usually an eye-roller," Stern said in a news conference after the end-of-season Board of Governors meeting. "We don't know if that's real or a pie in the sky. We don't know whether we can find that out in a couple of weeks, but we are going to knock ourselves out to do it."

Later, on a pre-playoff conference call with national media, Stern described Johnson’s presentation as "persuasive," and said the relocation deadline was extended so owners would have more time to evaluate both the Anaheim relocation plan and Sacramento’s save-the-Kings proposal. Stern said a presentation by the Maloofs and Anaheim city officials was made "in good faith," but left owners with an incomplete understanding of issues such as funding, TV rights, desired arena improvements and "what would be an appropriate relocation fee."

"It just seemed to be a good idea to put it off for a couple of weeks," Stern said. 

If the Maloofs follow through with their application to relocate to Anaheim, Stern said the board would then evaluate whether the market can support a third team. Two board members told CBSSports.com that owners have yet to take a tally of whether the Maloofs have the required 16 votes to approve the relocation. One owner noted that if the vote is close, it will call into question the fact that the league will be casting the vote for New Orleans, which is now owned and operated by the other 29 owners. 

Sources also told CBSSports.com there’s a feeling among representatives of at least one team that more consideration be given to moving the Kings to Kansas City, given the franchise’s roots are there and the city’s arena is more NBA-ready than Anaheim’s Honda Center. "Interesting position," said one team representative. The issue of Kansas City, however, was not formally raised during the two-day meeting. 

"I think they’re planning on looking more closely at the Sacramento situation before a final decision is made," the team rep said. 

One of the owners told CBSSports.com that he detected a "bias" against relocation among members of the executive committee, which consists of representatives from all 30 teams. "I don’t think anybody likes to see teams moving," the owner said. 

But this sentiment was not evident in the selection of Thunder owner Clay Bennett to chair the relocation committee. Bennett’s appointment was quickly panned for several hours online by those pointing out the apparent conflict on Bennett’s resume -- given that he moved the SuperSonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City, creating a public relations nightmare for the NBA. Stern, of course, rejected such a notion while praising Bennett for his "yeoman’s work" on various committees. 

"I don’t think there’s any conflict at all," Stern said. "What would the conflict be? … Maybe Sacramento will think the same thing you do, which I don’t, that he favors movement. In this case, he favors what’s best for the league."

Some other news items from Stern’s pre-playoff media tour with deputy commissioner Adam Silver on Friday: 

• On the issue of Kobe Bryant’s gay slur costing him a $100,000 fine, Stern said there were no plans to come up with a list of words players would be forbidden to utter on the court. "Our rules are what they are, and for the most part, our players conduct themselves in the manner we’d like them to conduct themselves," Stern said. "Kobe apologized for his insensitive remarks. I think he understood it. He was severely penalized, and we’re ready to move on."

• The sale agreement transferring ownership of the Pistons from the Davidson family to Tom Gores’ Platinum Equity group has been signed, and Stern said the deal will close no later than June 30. Gores and Karen Davidson have assured Stern it will be done by the end of May. Owners were impressed with Gores, whom Stern referred to as "really gung-ho to make this thing into a winner and a community asset."

• Owners had what Stern described as "a very energetic discussion" about resuming play promptly after timeouts and possibly reducing the number of timeouts. 

• Despite the threat of a lockout, Stern said season ticket sales for next season are "ahead of last year’s pace." But Stern noted the money will have to be returned to customers, with interest, in the event of a work stoppage. 

• In response to a question about the roughly one-third of NHL teams that lost less money by not playing during hockey’s 2004-05 lockout, Silver said, "We do have teams that are in that situation. I won't say the precise number, but there are several that will do better financially if we’re not playing. Having said that, it’s absolutely our goal to get a deal. And even those teams that would do better by not playing, I’m sure they would prefer to be playing and build their business. There’s no doubt that as a business, we’d do enormous damage to ourselves by not playing."

Posted on: March 30, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Sources: NBA sends '09-'10 data to union

NEW YORK -- In another baby step in NBA labor talks, the league has furnished long-awaited financial data for the 2009-10 season to the National Basketball Players Association, which has begun a review of the documents, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Tuesday.

The data are crucial to both sides as they prepare for more heated negotiations that center on the financial health of the sport. Owners are seeking massive changes to the collective bargaining agreement, which expires June 30, based on their contention that the current model is not sustainable due to annual league-wide losses approaching $400 million. The NBPA, however, contends that the sport is healthier than the owners are willing to admit, citing last season's record revenues -- which are detailed in the documents furnished to the union in recent days.

Sources told CBSSports.com that high-ranking union officials have yet to analyze the documents, which will be added to a treasure trove of financial data the NBA has turned over to support its case for a massive reduction in player salaries and a hard salary cap to replace the current luxury tax-based system loaded with spending exceptions. Unlike the NFL in its labor fight with players, the NBA has been forthcoming with financial data, including audited tax returns from all 30 teams.

While the 2009-10 data are expected to support the union's belief that revenues remain robust and at record levels, the owners' case hinges on their assertion that costs are too high. While the '09-'10 data have not been fully vetted, they are expected to reflect an approximately $100 million decline in gate receipts, which was offset by a $130 million increase in non-ticket revenues, according to a person familiar with the league's finances. The $30 million net increase in revenues represents approximately a 1 percent rise from 2008-09, during the depths of the economic recession. During the same period, negotiated player salaries have decreased $120 million, the person familiar with league finances said.

While owners and league negotiators have long countered that a decrease in negotiated salaries is irrelevant because players are guaranteed 57 percent of basketball-related income (BRI), the players' association indicated in its July 1 proposal a willingness to negotiate a reduction in that guarantee. Nine months later, the owners have yet to come back to the table with a formal counterproposal.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter, who had been out of the office and was unaware the league had sent the '09-'10 financial data when he spoke recently with CBSSports.com on various labor issues, is said to be preparing for an April meeting with commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver. Such a meeting, which has yet to be officially scheduled, could set the tone for negotiators on both sides as time begins to run out to achieve a compromise before a lockout would occur upon the expiration of the current agreement at midnight June 30. 

It is unclear when the heavy hitters in the NBA's labor fight will have clarity about the success or failure of the NFL players' attempt to thwart a lockout by decertifying their union. A hearing in the NFL decertification case is scheduled for April 6 in federal court in Minneapolis, but a ruling could take several weeks, sources say.










Posted on: November 15, 2010 9:42 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 9:52 am
 

Kobe rips owners: 'Look in the mirror'

LOS ANGELES – With labor talks reaching a critical stage between now and the All-Star break, Kobe Bryant weighed in for the first time Sunday night with some strong words for NBA owners.

“I think the owners need to look in the mirror,” Bryant told CBSSports.com when asked about the $750 million to $800 million reduction in player salaries being sought by the owners. “They need to make the right judgment themselves and stop trying to force us players to be the ones to make adjustments. They’ve got to look in the mirror and decide what they want to do with the sport, and we as employees will show up and do what we’ve got to do.”

Bryant, the highest-paid player in the league under what is likely to be his final contract, is scheduled to join Michael Jordan as the league’s only $30 million players in the final year of the deal in 2013-14. Asked where he stands in the labor dispute that could be more punitive to stars like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose – who likely won’t get new contracts until a new CBA is in place – Bryant said, “I’m going to fight for our players.”

“It’s about making sure we have the best deal going forward,” Bryant said. “That’s my stance and that’s not going to change. I’m not going to waver. It’s about taking care of the generation that’s coming after us. That’s what the guys before us tried to do, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m not going to waver from that.”

These were the strongest words yet spoken publicly by an NBA player about the owners’ pursuit of a hard cap, enormous salary reductions and a rollback of existing contracts. Coming from Bryant, they carried weight – both with the players and owners.

“The onus is not on us,” Bryant said. “People are trying to put that responsibility on us. It’s not our responsibility. It’s the owners’ job. This is what they do.”

Bryant’s vow to fight for players who didn’t get max deals under the current system and will likely have to accept less in a new CBA comes as a divide is forming between two camps – the paid, and the not-yet-paid. CBSSports.com has learned that players like Howard and Anthony, Chris Paul and Rose are growing wary of possibly getting shut out of the kind of max money that this past summer’s free agents scored. If owners aren’t successful in getting across-the-board rollbacks, but do negotiate a reduction in future max salaries and guarantees, the players subject to the haircut are “not going to have it,” according to an influential person involved in the players’ side of bargaining strategy.

“They’re not going to allow those guys to sneak in a year before collective bargaining and say, ‘We got paid,’” the person said. “They can’t have their cake and eat it, too. There are too many powerful players whose contracts are coming up to let that happen.”

Bryant isn’t choosing sides in that debate; he just wants a fair deal for everyone. His point was primarily directed at owners who went on a spending spree this past summer before quickly shifting gears to claim player costs must be brought down to stem hundreds of millions in annual losses. And his comments come at a time when, as on the court, Bryant perhaps senses that the bargaining game is about to get interesting. Commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher of the Lakers will hold a 2-on-2 bargaining session Thursday to ramp up the intensity of talks heading into All-Star weekend, a key time-stamp in both sides’ efforts to avoid a lockout when the current deal expires on June 30, 2011.

Bryant’s comments also represent the strongest signal of commitment from the players since multiple All-Stars made a surprise appearance at a bargaining session during All-Star weekend in Dallas last February.

“If they’re gonna pay players to perform and this that and the other, then do it,” Bryant said. “It’s not on us.”

Posted on: November 14, 2010 10:56 pm
 

Heavy hitters set for Nov. 18 CBA meeting


LOS ANGELES -- As union leaders and ownership prepare for a pivotal bargaining session during All-Star weekend here, both sides are first gearing up for a two-on-two session involving the heaviest hitters in the negotiations.

Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver will match wits with union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher of the Lakers on Thursday, Fisher told CBSSports.com. Fisher, who will be in Minneapolis on an off-day during the Lakers' road trip through the Midwest, will participate via conference call.

"The smaller meetings allow us to get more accomplished," Fisher said. "We're going to be hard at work on this between now and All-Star weekend, that's for sure."

Since the last formal bargaining session in New York, the two sides have begun holding smaller staff meetings to address specifics of each side's proposal. But Thursday's meeting of the minds will be the first session involving Stern, Silver and Hunter since Stern dropped his bombshell after last month's Board of Governors meeting that owners are seeking a $750 million to $800 million reduction in player salaries.

Stern subsequently confirmed a CBSSports.com report that owners are considering contraction as one option to cut costs -- a threat that is viewed by most parties in the talks as a negotiating tactic -- and a person involved in bargaining told CBSSports.com that owners are seeking a rollback of existing contracts as part of a new CBA. The union has stridently rejected the owners' position on salary reductions, and a person with knowledge of the union's strategy has told CBSSports.com that the owners' bid for a hard salary cap is a "total deal breaker" for the players.

There will be plenty to talk about Thursday with time running out before All-Star weekend, which both sides have acknowledged will be a crucial turning point in the talks. If significant progress isn't made by All-Star weekend, both sides have acknowledged that the likelihood of a lockout when the current deal expires on June 30, 2011 will increase significantly.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com