Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 10:11 pm

NBA labor deal 'within striking distance'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Assocation met for more than seven hours in New York City on Thursday, one day after the two sides spent 15 hours working to fashion a new collective bargaining agreement. No deal was reached, but there were plenty of smiles and quips to go around.

The talks, which are expected to shift focus from system issues to the split of Basketball-Related Income, will resume on Friday morning. Talks began at 2 p.m. on Thursday and lasted past 9:30 p.m., and included commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher.

"I think we're within reach, within striking distance of getting a deal," Hunter said. It's just a question of how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal."

Asked if he might reveal some of the deal points, Hunter said he was not yet able to. "I'm hopeful that tomorrow we will be. Commissioner Stern is back there smiling, so I guess that's a good indication."

Stern then shouted out: "Tomorrow."

So, with this jovial mood and evident progress, why didn't talks go deep into the night?

"We've been here all day," Hunter said. "We've made little progress. I think everybody is pretty wiped out after last night. What we've decided to do is recess the process until tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. We're going to reconvene and hopefully spend as much time as we possibly need in hopes of getting a deal."

"We're working at it," Fisher said. "It's a tough process. As we move through and try to close the gap in as many places as we can, it gets tougher towards the end. Trying to be respectful to the process, not rush through it, come back later tomorrow."

"We would not have spent the time we spent here today without making some progress," Fisher added, "but as I just stated we are working through so many different issues, and we are trying to close the gap in each issue, as you try and make a move towards getting a deal done, it gets tougher towards the end. We have to continue to grind at it."

The light mood continued, for the most part, when Stern and Silver, addressed the media. 

"I can't tell you we resolved anything in such a big way," Stern said, "but there's an element of continuity, familiarity and I would hope trust that would enable us to look forward to tomorrow, where we anticipate there will be some important and additional progress, or not."

Stern was asked whether he had a real and concrete idea of what a deal might look like.

He replied simply: "Yes."

Stern was asked whether he would consider it a failure if a deal is not reached in the next few days.

He replied simply: "Yes." 

Both Stern and Silver made it clear that the discussion recently had been centered on system issues but would turn to the BRI split on Friday. The two issues are separate, Silver insisted, and thus not standing in the way of the other being resolved. "One goes to the overall economic health of the league, the second issues goes to competitive and parity," Silver said. "While we need to resolve both issues and both issues are critical, one is not dependent on the other."

Silver also then made a point to clarify that the system issues are not yet totally resolved. 

Even so, Stern said that Friday could potentially be the deal-making day.

"There are no guarantees we will get get it done but we will give it one heck of a shot tomorrow," Stern said, "and I think that Billy and the union's negotiators feel the same way. And I know that ours do."

Click here for the latest NBA Lockout Buzz.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 11:56 pm

NBA Lockout Buzz: Thursday

Posted by Ben Golliver nba-lockout

Is it starting to feel like we're entering the home stretch portion of the NBA Lockout? From here to the finish line, stick with CBSSports.com's Lockout Buzz posts to get the very latest news and rumors concerning the ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations. These posts will update regularly.

Thursday, 11:50 PM EST

Via Yahoo! Sports, the last system hurdle appears to be use of exceptions for taxpayers. "Tax not issue" a source said. "Exceptions are where the fight is."

As for where the deal stands, it's "in a very good place" according to the report. “There’s a strong expectation [within the negotiations] that hands will shake [Friday],” a source said.

Thursday, 10:20 PM EST

Thursday's negotiations ended after seven hours. For a wrap up, click here. Talks will resume Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, 9:00 PM EST

Where Thursday's talks stand

Talks began at 2 p.m. Eastern in New York City.

ESPN.com reports that the two sides broke for dinner at roughly 8 p.m. and that "the next round of talks will center on BRI." BRI refers to the split of the league's revenues. ESPN.com also reports that the players are "currently at 52.5" for their portion of the split and that "Intel saying if -If! - they budge, it's not likely to be below 52." The owners have been pushing for a 50/50 proposal.

Yahoo reports: "There's been significant progress on the luxury tax, but league sources say that there's still a couple of sticking points left to work out... Beyond major items - system/BRI - still level of 'B' list issues (age limit, drug testing, conduct, draft rules) that haven't been touched."

Newsday reports that the two sides made progress on the following system issues: "length of guaranteed contracts, mid-level exception and amnesty."

ESPN.com reports: "Example of system issue where NBA owners/players now agree? Sign-and-trades. [They] will be allowed in new deal after fears they'd be outlawed. But one sign-and-trade wrinkle sides still negotiating is whether teams over luxury tax will be allowed to partake in sign-and-trade deals."

Optimism in the air

Yahoo reports that NBA teams are making preparations that might be a signal that an agreement will be reached in the short term. "Team executives are cancelling scouting trips, preparing for free agency."

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh says: "Hopefully we can keep the momentum and get back to playing basketball very soon. I am and always have been optimistic."

Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley says: "Really [encouraged] about hearing whispers about a deal being close. Hope both sides can get it done and feel good about it. I have faith."

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Omri Cassp asks: "Who thinks the lockout will be over by this weekend?????"

Could something go wrong?

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports: "Team executives I've spoken with optimistic for deal by Monday, but cautious. One says gut tells him 'this will blow up one more time.'"

SI.com says watch out for the hard-liners on both sides: "What happens when hard-line owners like Cleveland's Dan Gilbert and Portland's Paul Allen re-enter the conversation Thursday afternoon? Or when the stars such as Boston's Kevin Garnett or the Lakers' Kobe Bryant weigh in on the fact that the 53-percent-BRI-line-in-the-sand has long since been crossed by the union?"
Posted on: October 27, 2011 4:29 am

Five takeaways from Wednesday's marathon meeting

By Matt Moore

With the NBA and NBPA having met for 15 hours Wednesday-into-Thursday, the two sides were understandably brief and frazzled at 4AM EST when press conferences were held. But from those pressers, we have enough to give you some takeaways on what to expect.


Derek Fisher was adamant about expressing that the idea that there was a deal to be had is a "reach," while David Stern chose to simply communicate that both sides had agreed not to talk about it. But if you want the best indication of where things stand, it comes from a throwaway line from a sleep-deprived Billy Hunter amid a sea of reports of optimism.

By itself, Hunter referring to what the two sides have in front of them as "the deal" is nothing more than a slip of the tongue on national television, a poor phrasing. But combined with all the other indicators that there's hope and progress that was made on Wednesday, it's and indication of this: it's no longer about "ideas" and "concepts." There's a framework, or something resembling a framework being hatched. It may have gigantic holes in it, it may not be able to support itself if you put it up on its end, but there's structure to what the two sides are discussing.

Which means that they can see it.

2. Both sides think BRI is solvable.

If BRI wasn't solvable, they wouldn't have gone 15 hours. It remains the number one thing that can detonate this entire process. The union could be thinking the league has to be willing to budge on 50/50 with all the system concessions, while the league is staying where it's at. "They know where we stand" Adam Silver said. Conversely, the league could assume that the players know they won't budge on 50/50 and this is all adjustments with that understanding, even if it wasn't a precondition.

But that's not what it sounds like. The two sides didn't touch BRI Wednesday, a mind-boggling element considering the two sides met for 15 freaking hours. But there's simply no way all the smiles and talk of a "positive energy" would have rang out if both sides were aware that BRI wasn't going anywhere. They're not staying in a room for 15 hours again knowing that any progress is pointless since they're still going to war over that three percent that separates them.

BRI may not be solvable, but both sides think it is.

3. The things that remain are still big.

The list of things that they could still be working on include the tax structure (though it would seem that's the biggest issue and there were huge gains there, most likely), the length of contract, the mid-level exception, and the length of the deal. Clearly there had to have been some movement on some combination of those issues to warrant the optimism of an 82-game seaosn being played with a deal done by Monday a possibility all of a sudden.

But that doesn't mean that one side or the other is assuming that a big issue will be small. Interpretation of the other side can get muddled in the intensity and if one side or the other takes a vicious stand over something small, like a two year gap in the length of contracts for max players, all of a sudden things could spiral. Quickly.

They have not "solved" anything. They just have enough ideas to support more talks and the idea of a deal is being entertained.

4. The biggest problem for both sides is their constituents.

Stern referenced the fact that any deal that is agreed upon must be ratified by vote by both the union and the Board of Governors. Which means that all this good news and positive vibes can be set on fire tomorrow once Dan Gilbert, Robert Sarver, Ted Leonsis, Peter Holt, or any combination of agents or players are notified of what was agreed upon Wednesday/Thursday.

Fisher confirmed that no additional members would be brought in for the talks, in fact the union is losing an advisor to a conflict Thursday. But that's their best hope for a deal. PUsh through without the owners or players, get a deal they think represents both sides' interests, and then try and ram it through with the promise of a season.

Any number of unstable elements who have already caused sessions to crash and burn could do the same to whatever progress was made in the past two days. The bridge to tomorrow has a number of trolls hiding under it.

5. The sides that don't want to miss games are in control at this point.

Both sides referenced the very real possibility of an 82-game season. That's a little bit insane considering the first two weeks are canceled and David Stern confirmed the likely loss of the next two weeks, losing an entire month. But the plan is there, as has been suggested before, if they can get a deal.

The word "window" has popped up repeatedly in the last two weeks, even with the disaster of last Thursday's meeting. There's a narrow gap between losing paychecks, the start of court proceedings, the opportunity for keeping an 82-game schedule pre-arranged by the league, and getting this mess behind everyone before the damage is irreparable. It's clear there are forces still pushing to sacrifice the entire season, but they're not the ones working now, and the ones working now have built enough to keep the number "82" alive, for now.

Thursday's big. Huge. Looking like a season? Not there yet. But we're closer than ever and things are more optimistic than ever.

Which of course means everything will plummet into despair Thursday afternoon. But we'll keep riding the rollercoaster we're handcuffed to.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 12:54 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 2:55 pm

NBA talks show progress; 82-game season possible

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

After nearly a week without face-to-face talks, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association met for more than 15 hours in small groups in New York City on Wednesday. The result: progress made in the discussion of system issues and both sides saying that saving an 82-game regular season is still possible.

The in-person talks were the first since labor negotiations broke down last Thursday afternoon following an NBA Board Of Governors meeting on Thursday morning. Talks began at noon on Wednesday and lasted past 3 a.m. Thursday morning, and included commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher

The two sides are scheduled to reconvene at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

"We were able to work through a number of different issues regarding our system," Fisher said. "We can't say that major progress was made in any way but there was some progress on some of our system issues, obviously enough for us to come back at 2 p.m. tomorrow. We'll continue to work through as long as we possibly can and as hard as we possibly can."

The players would not reveal details about what those system issues might be. "We'll withhold specifics at this point," Fisher said.

The players were then asked whether it was possible to reach firm compromises on system issues if the revenue split issue hasn't been resolved. "It's somewhat difficult," Hunter said. "But we've been trying to negotiate and conduct discussions within the context."

Hunter said talks with deputy commissioner Adam Silver picked back up on Friday and over the weekend so that a deal could be reached with enough time to save a full 82-game season. "If a deal can be achieved between now and Sunday or Monday of next week, I think it's possible. It's going to be somewhat stressful because of the need to do some back-to-backs."
Fisher said playing a full 82-game season "may be slim, but still possible if a deal is reached within the next four or five days."

Stern, making his first public statements in a week, said that it was a "solid day of negotiations."

Stern said the NBA's labor relations committee would have a conference call Thursday morning before negotiations with the NBPA resume. "We did such a good job today, we're going to do it again tomorrow," Stern said. "The energy in the room has been good, the back and forth has been good, and we're looking forward to tomorrow."

Stern confirmed what Hunter and Fisher said: salvaging an 82-game season is still possible, although it might be problematic and a deal needs to get done in the short term.
"I have given them the sense that we will knock ourselves out with them, consistent with what's in the best interests of our fans and our players, in terms of a schedule, to try and schedule as many games as possible," Stern said. "If we can make a deal this week, whether that gets to be 82 games or not, it really depends on so many things that have to be checked. We've got building issues, we've got building issues versus hockey issues, we've got travel schedules, we've got all kinds of things. We've got the sheer volume of games that might have to be compressed, the amount of back-to-backs that players could be asked to play. And really the amount of games that fans could be asked in a given time to attend. These are all considerations that would be on the table and we are going to work on it with the union."

The league would not go so far as to say that it was confident that a deal would be struck in the short term.

"I think it's too early... still in the negotiations to express confidence that we're at a deal," Silver said. "But there's no question, though, that we did make progress on some significant issues. But there are still some very significant issues left."

"This has been a very arduous and difficult day, and productive," Stern added. "Tomorrow is going to be just as arduous and difficult if not more so. We hope it can be as productive... There's no deal on anything unless there's a deal on everything."

Major media outlets mostly reported optimism, with Wednesday's discussions said to have focused exclusively on system issues rather than the revenue split.

The New York Times reported that the two sides "have moved closer on most system issues", Yahoo Sports cited three sources who said that the sides were "making progress on system issues, including [the] luxury tax", SI.com cited a source who said that the two sides made "a lot of real progress" with it being "very possible" that an agreement is reached by the end of this week, and USA Today quoted an anonymous NBPA team representative who said that there was "lots of optimism" that a deal can finally be reached. ESPN.com reported "moderate progress" with "no agreement in sight yet" while Grantland.com reported "lots of optimism now" and that a full 82-game season could be salvaged if a deal is reached by this weekend.

Positive vibes were the theme throughout the lengthy day of negotiations.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported Wednesday morning that the two sides were "inching closer" towards a deal, and multiple optimistic reports broke Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening, ESPN.com reported that the two sides were "definitely making progress" and Yahoo Sports reported that a source said "there's a deal to be had if everyone shows a little flexibility."
Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:19 am
Edited on: October 26, 2011 11:40 am

Report: Owners are back off 50/50 precondition

By Matt Moore

When NBA talks broke down last Thursday, the sticking point was the owners' refusal to even hear proposals from the union without a precondition that the union accept a 50/50 Basketball Related Income split. It's like trying to negotiate for a car when the dealer says "we can negotiate anything you want as long as you accept full price first." If that doesn't sound much like a negotiation, then I'd like to welcome you to the 2011 NBA lockout circus. Please check your hats at the door, and be careful, someone will probably steal it by the night's end. 

But with talks resuming Wednesday in New York around noon eastern, it looks like, and I'm going to bold this for its importance, for the moment, the league has backed off the 50/50 precondition. Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com reports:
A source close to the talks tells SheridanHoops.com that the owners have dropped their insistance that players agree to a 50/50 split of revenues.

That precondition is what brought about last Thursday’s contentious breakup after the sides had met for more than 30 hours over three days.

This opens the way for "outside-the-box" solutions to be offered. The players want to get concessions on either revenue or system. The owner want wins on both. If they can find a middle ground that manages to let both sides believe that, that is to say the league feels like the changes are enough to justify the split they gave up, or the union believes the changes are minimal enough to justify their BRI sacrifice, something could get done today. 

It won't, but it's a nice thought. Sorry, we're all out of hope here. Try the corner store down the street.

It should also be noted that the league could also be dancing with the conditions set about in the union's complaint to the NLRB concerning "good faith bargaining." (For more on the elements in play for the union and league in the NLRB process, check out our podcast this week with an expert in the matter.) By backing off the 50/50 precondition, then returning to it sporadically, the league can delay the process, forcing the players to miss checks, while keeping the appearance of good faith negotiations. But with the strength of the legal precedent on their side, there's no real need for that. Both sides have expressed a willingness to get a deal done. 

Now we'll just see if the moderates can keep everyone else out long enough for progress to be made. 

That sound you hear is us not holding our breath.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:21 pm

Report: NBA talking, but not meeting, with NBPA

By Matt Moore

The NBA is very busy doing everything except actually meeting with the union to resolve the NBA lockout. With the next two weeks of the NBA schedule expected to be canceled later on Tuesday, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that ownership is expected to be on a conference call today to discuss revenue sharing. Reports over the weekend suggested that Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck's proposal last week was confusing, so clearly the issue is still being worked out by the league. 

Meawhile, ESPN is reporting that while the NBA and NBPA had "lengthy talks" via the phone on Monday, no further talks are scheduled.  So just to be clear, the next two weeks of the regular season are being canceled today, the two sides spoke all day by phone, and yet they won't agree to get in a room and meet. 

It's almost hard to believe this process has failed so badly.

The union has been extremely forthcoming about its stance regarding negotiations, saying after the breakdown in talks last Thursday that they were ready to continue talking that day, and each day since. The league on the other hand seems very much committed to dragging its heels, which is bizarre considering the state of things, and at the same time completely predictable based on what appears to be a very real not just willingness, but desire to miss most of if not all of the season by the owners.

If this thing is going to get saved before it get substantially worse, something has to move soon. They're talking, which is great. They're not meeting, which is not.

Tuesday is day 117 of the NBA Lockout.  
Posted on: October 25, 2011 9:07 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:11 pm

Report: NBA has laid off 400 since lockout start

By Matt Moore

You can't make a golden omelette without breaking a few eggs that just want to do their jobs and have nothing to do with your cooking.

The NBA obviously is in a bit of a bind with the lockout putting a clamp down on revenues since it's a sports league that doesn't actually have a sport. And on the whole, the league and its teams are managing the downturn in creative ways. For instance, not only are they not paying the players, they're also laying off lots and lots of people. From Sports Business Journal:  
The NBA has lost about 400 jobs as part of the collateral damage inflicted on the league and its teams during the four-month-old lockout.The job losses are estimated to number roughly 200 at the NBA’s headquarters and its international offices and about 200 across its 30 teams since last season and over the course of the lockout, said a source familiar with the league’s business dealings.
via SBJ: NBA job losses near 400 since end of season - NBA - Sporting News.

The NBA has said that most of its layoffs were not tied to the lockout, that they simply were part of a cost-saving initiative. Here's the bind. It's hard to criticize the NBA for implementing the lockout as the only viable way to cut down on costs, and then criticize them for layoffs which is another way to cut down on costs.

If the league wanted to shift the perception of victimizing labor in multiple spots, they should release a review of the other ways they've saved costs. The NBA operates in a luxury industry. As such, they've historically been generous on spending regarding meals, perks, and intiatives. The league reference in its initial release regarding the layoffs this summer that they had cut back on travel, technology, and media assets. Providing examples that those various expenses have also been curtailed would paint a more complete picture. Because the image that's been painted publicly is just that the owners think the only way to get their finances in order is to either sacrifice the game through a lockout or fire people.

And that doesn't help with the whole "cold-hearted, blood-sucking corporate monster" thing, which isn't accurate. All employers go through cutbacks in personnel, especially in this economy. You can argue that with things like a $930 million media deal and the other assorted revenue streams, they shouldn't have to enact such measures, or that if they ran their teams better, they would be more popular and drive more revenue (which are decisions from the top-down), but there's a line to walk in regards to the reality of the situation.

That will likely be of no comfort to the 400 people who have found themselves out of work in such an opulent industry.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:00 pm

Breaking down the progress on the new CBA

By Matt Moore

So we know that talks crashed and burned last week, that the two sides have not met since, are not scheduled to meet at this point, and that we're facing more cancelations, as early as Monday afternoon. But over the weekend, details have started to slip about the progress that has been made regarding some of the surrounding details. These don't indicate a deal, in fact, given the gulf on the primary issues (the luxury tax that is to serve as the "hard cap" and of course, BRI, the split of the money), it's likely some of these will wind up getting revised or yanked off the table by one side or the other by the time this is through. Nevertheless, we have some interesting elements which indicate what the future of the CBA will look like. 

Let's take a look at the reports and what they mean.

Chris Sheridan has the most complete set, which covers a wide variety of topics. Everything from the length and size of the mid-level exception to the structure of raises within contracts is covered.  In the interest of brevity (for once), I'll cut this down to just the tastier bits. 

Restricted Free Agency:
Restricted free agency: The union went into these talks asking that the waiting time for a team to match an offer to a restricted free agent be reduced from 7 days. The owners have acquiesced, and the window for matching will be reduced to 3 or 4 days. The union also is asking that restricted free agency be removed for players coming off their rookie scale contracts, which would allow first-round picks to become unrestricted after four years instead of five, which is the case for second-round picks.
via NBA lockout update: Where the sides stand on financial and system issues.

The first point would lead to a lot more movement and brash decisions based off not having as much time to determine what you want to do with a player. You'd think that teams would have contingencies mapped out regarding keeping a player depending on what offer they received. You would be wrong. Teams will often go into RFA with no clear idea of what that player will receive. It's a reason why so many teams jump at the chance to re-sign players to keep them out of RFA. It's not going to lead to massive changes, but it will shift the balance somewhat.

The second point is a doozy. The players are asking for the most valuable commodity in the NBA, star young players, to be able to leave as they will sooner. The RFA is a powerful mechanism in keeping players put for the first eight years of their careers. This would shift a lot more. You'd still have the majority re-sign, due to the benefit of re-signing, for the stars. But if you have a player who is unhappy with his role, who has been mishandled by coaching or management, this would free them to head elsewhere. This isn't the bitterest pill for the league to swallow, but it's not going to go down so smooth. It also makes building a young core over more than four years very difficult. 
Trade rules: Under the old system, the salaries of players being traded had to be within 125 percent of each other (if both trading teams were over the salary cap). This rule will be loosened considerably, although a final formula has not been agreed to. The players want the percentage to rise to 225 percent (whereby, for instance, a player making $1 million could be traded for a player making $2.25 million), while the owners have indicated a willingness to allow the percentage to rise to 140 or 150 percent — although teams paying the luxury tax would have a tighter restraint.
Hello, trade deadline. This is one where you have to track the various elements inside the union. Teams with big payrolls are going to love the idea of looser structures, allowing them to add players when they're willing to pay the tax (if Isiah Thomas ever gets back in the league, this rule could make him even more of a nefarious legend than he already is). Teams with smaller payrolls won't fight it as much, since it increases the package they could get back for a star, and because the control for trading the player still lies with them. For example, the Nuggets could have pulled in even more with Melo under a similar structure.  This is a big one in terms of what it could mean for fans. 

Sheridan also confirmed this fascinating new concept discussed by the New York Times Friday night:  
There will be a “stretch” exception, available every year, allowing teams to waive players and stretch out their remaining salary over a number of seasons, thus reducing the annual salary-cap hit.
via With N.B.A. Talks Halted, Sides Predict a Meeting Next Week - NYTimes.com.

This is huge for a number of reasons. The biggest is this: One of the owners' many intentions in this lockout is to pursue changes to the system to prevent themselves from making horrific mistakes in terms of signings and overpaying for players. The stretch exception doesn't prevent them making those decisions, but it does restructure their mistakes and allow them to recover. There's the cap perspective and the salary perspective. From the salary perspective, in most cases, this is going to lower the number of buyouts we see. Players will allege that if the team wants to get rid of them , they can simply use the stretch exception. That way the player still gets his money but the team gets the cap space reconfigured. In essence, this would work a lot like an interest free credit-card for players. You don't want to pay that $20 million to get rid of the veteran who no longer contributes to your rebuilding process? Get the cap space now, pay for it later. It's more justfiable to add a few million every season to payroll rather than swallowing huge chunks at once. It allows for more space to add players through trade.

Where this would be useful? Take Rip Hamilton last season in Detroit. The Pistons want him gone, but he'll only go for the full buyout. This would allow them to waive him and pay out his salary over time. It's not known whether the two sides can work out an adjusted figure for the stretch exception (i.e. if Hamilton were agree to take half his remaining money and pay that out over three years or if it has to be the full amount).

There are other elements at play. The max contract structure reportedly will stay the same, and the base-year compensation rule (a complex rule which restricts player movement via trade) will be eliminated. But this gives us an idea of where things are headed. Or at least, where they were headed before Thursday's meltdown. For all we know at this point we're back to square one.

That's not depressing at all, is it?
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com