Posted on: October 21, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 7:40 pm
By Matt Moore
As the dust settles after the detonation following yesterday's breakdown in negotiations between the NBA and the NBPA, nothing has really changed. Further games haven't been canceled. Some things were solved but the two sides remain apart on both systematic issues and BRI. The players are still trying to hold out for some level of legitimate compromise on the part of the owners. The owners are still being lead by extremist positions inside their collective. There's still a lockout. The season is still in peril.
So why do things feel so much worse this morning? Why does everything seem so much darker and more bitter? Where did Paul Allen come from? And who in God's name is running this thing?
To try and sort things out, here's a list of what we do and don't know after Thursday's breakdown.
We know more games are going to be canceled.
The NBA declined to make any sort of announcement following talks yesterday, but that's probably more to do with the absence of David Stern than any sort of hope for a delay. Stern had previously said if a deal wasn't done by last Tuesday, Christmas would be in danger. So with it now being Friday, you can bet that Monday there will be at least some segment of games in November and possibly December scratched. Logistically, there are reasons to cancel the next two gamesweeks of the season, and from a bargaining standpoint, the owners have made it pretty clear that there's a benefit from showing the players their paychecks being burned before their eyes. One report Thursday night indicated that Peter Holt, formerly regarded as a moderate of moderates in the talk, told the union, "You haven't felt enough pain yet." That pain only comes with one thing, lost paychecks, which means pain for the fans in lost games.
We don't know what happened at the Board of Governors meeting.
Something happened. Thursday was the latest and most extreme example of a disturbing trend. Tuesday and Wednesday, the owners' and players' influence is minimal, the negotiating is done by the heads of both sides. Progress is made. Then either Kevin Garnett, Robert Sarver, Paul Allen, or Dan Gilbert decide to open their mouths and everything goes to hell in a handcart. But the players painted a pretty convincing picture given the circumstantial evidence that things were on track before the Board of Governors meeting and then the meeting happened and the train went off the rails and crashed into a mountain and now everything's on fire, oh, God, the horror, the horror. Hunter intimated that Paul Allen was brought in due to a concern from some of the owners that the league had already given up too much in the talks.
Given up too much? They didn't have anything! They barely put together a formal proposal. If you want to allege that the players' claim to 57 percent is based on a previous agreement that doesn't exist, you can't then turn around and say that your imaginary footholds on a non-existent deal are something that can be surrendered. Or maybe you can, because you're the owners and have apparently gone completely insane with power.
Whatever happened at Board of Governors lead to a dramatic change in the tone and direction of the talks.
It went from "slow and reluctant progress, but progress" to "Hey, look, the Parthenon's on fire, let's get marshmallows!" And where did that come from? That leads us to another question.
We don't know what happened with David Stern.
As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com noted while slowly losing his mind, union advisor Jeffrey Kessler suggested without stating it that someone other than Stern was running things. Billy Hunter said at the podium that the players never heard Stern's voice on the call yesterday. Obviously he was contacted during negotiations when the owners huddled, but not even having him on the conference call during negotiating sessions just to listen in while he sipped chicken soup and recuperated?
There's no doubt Stern's ill. To suggest that this was all a ruse for benching him would be too much of a conspiracy theory. But with Stern out for the day, Dan Gilbert, Peter Holt, and Paul Allen became significantly bigger players. Is that a coincidence? Why wasn't Adam Silver, who has been primary point on these negotiations from the beginning, the one in charge, making statements and handling things? How did things get so far out of hand so quickly once Stern headed home to watch old movies and groan?
We know that the hard liners are still in control.
There was some hope with the progress that had been made that maybe cooler heads were back in the control room. James Dolan, Micky Arison, Jerry Buss, all were in attendance at this week's meetings. Mark Cuban flipped from being a hawk to helping to broker compromise on the BRI deal, according to reports. If enough of the owners with their heads on their shoulders could band together and pull in the undecideds...
Nope. Thursday's meetings made one thing clearer than anything else. The Loony Tunes are still running the show. Starring in this week's episode, Gilbert, Allen and Holt, who surprised nearly everyone after being considered a moderate. This lockout has been, and always will be about a four-way power struggle. Rich and mid-level players and moderate and extremist owners. The lines for the owners seem based on market lines, but pay close attention and you're going to see a few large market owners aligned with the hard-liners. Ted Leonsis was mentioned yesterday by Billy Hunter, and all that talk of the NHL system from yesterday? That's all tied directly back to Leonsis, owner of the Capitals.
As long as this thing is in the hands of unreasonable owners like Gilbert and Sarver, with shrewd new owners like Leonsis pulling weight, we're not headed for anything but more missed games and more rhetoric.
Trust my gut.
We don't know why the owners wouldn't listen to the players' proposal.
The union said yesterday it proposed a 50-53 band on BRI, the primary issue still left to be decided (but not the solitary one). Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has reported several times since October 4th that the owners' proposal is a 49-51 band, that's what's called the 50/50 split. It's an average of 50, with the players' average 52.5, according to a statement from Adam Silver.
But Billy Hunter said that the league wouldn't even listen to the union's proposal about the 50-53 band, that they would only hear proposals on 50/50. "Take it or leave it" was the sentiment issued. But wait a second. If the league is struggling like the league is claiming, the revenues wouldn't be high enough and they'd reach the bottom end of that 50-53 band.
Let me state this is obviously as I can.
The owners refused to hear an offer in which they could conceivably pull 50 percent of the revenue, because they will only listen to offers in which they pull 50 percent of the revenue.
There is no clearer indication of how nonsensical this thing has become, regarding the owners' position.
Let's say that the players' proposal called for thresholds in which the owners would never see 50/50 unless it was the most dire circumstances in terms of revenue. That's not the point. The point is that by putting that deal on the table, the owners would have locked the players into an offer where it was possible for them to get 50/50. All they have to do then is negotiate down on the thresholds. It gets them in the door on 50/50. Yes, they know they can wait and bust down the door to the 50/50 palace and loot it for all its charms, but this is a solution in which all the money of a lost season gets saved, they get the concessions they want, and the figure they want.
And they wouldn't even put it on the table to look at.
We don't know when they'll meet again.
It could be today, with David Stern pulling a Jordan flu-game and saving the day. It could be this weekend, in small groups now that the owners have gnashed their teeth and rabble-roused like South Park villagers screaming about jobs. It could be next week, next month, next year.
Or, the union could finally throw its hands up and say, "We did all we could. Now the agents get their way. We'll unleash the courts and let God sort them out. " If that happens, you can kiss the season goodbye. Speaking of...
The one thing we know, more than anything, is that the possibility of losing a season is more likely than ever.
We n trouble.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 1:36 pm
By Matt Moore
We've only lost the first two weeks, technically. There will certainly be more cancelations Monday, but if we're going in two week increments, there's still some time between now and losing games in December. But the NBA sure seems to be pretty comfortable with losing games in December, since they're already telling arenas they can book dates on game nights. Yeah.
From the Orange County Register:
The Lakers’ still-scheduled Dec. 13 home game against the Toronto Raptors will not happen under any circumstances then and there.via Dec. 13 Lakers-Raptors game already off schedule - Lakers blog : The Orange County Register.
So their plan for a revised NBA schedule to account for the games missed in the first two weeks of November... includes missing more games in December?
It's plausible, absolutely. They're going to rework the entire schedule, they allegedly already have plans in place. So sure, they can just be reworking all of the dates, including moving a few around, and found room to shove things out of the way so people can Watch the Throne. But the perception to the common fan will be that the league is already preparing to lose those games outright. One thing to keep in mind, any plan to reschedule the season, whatever the number of games, would probably include measures to move all the games around. In essence, everything would be liquid in such an instance.
For a professional basketball league, the NBA seems awfully at ease with losing the "B" part of their name. Scheduling meetings with union leadership? That seems haphazard and spur-of-the-moment. But canceling games? That feels like something they've been planning on for a very long time. They seem better at getting rid of basketball than working to bring it back. All part of the process.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:33 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 11:04 pm
By Matt Moore
The NBPA fired back aggressively at the NBA following the breakdown of negotiations Thursday. To put it in perspective, here's how things started, via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
And things only got rougher from there.
Fisher began by stating that the implication that the players were not willing to stay and talk is patently false, that they were willing to continue negotiations for as long as it takes. Fisher said that at the impasse in regards to BRI, the players suggested tabling the issue again and moving back to the systemic issues. The owners refused, Fisher said.
Then Hunter took to the podium, and things only got more serious from there.
Hunter came out firing, claiming that the union offered a "band" BRI offer similar to the 49-51 offer from the owners described by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com earlier this week. The band? 50-53, effectively providing the league with the revenue split it desires, should revenues not reach a certain point. Hunter said that the owners would not even listen to any proposal unless the precondition was that of a 50/50 split. "Take it or leave it" was the phrase used.
Then he started naming names. Hunter revealed that the owners were speaking directly, claiming that Dan Gilbert told Hunter to "trust his gut" and that Paul Allen was a new participant. Hunter said decertification is on the table, along with "everything," an option that seems more likely with every breakdown in talks. Hunter reiterated that the union remains open to any and all negotiations and they "want to talk."
Here's video of Hunter going off about Gilber telling him to "trust his gut" on the revenue split.
Perhaps of most interest, Hunter and union attorney Jeffrey Kessler both claimed that something occurred at the Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday night and Thursday morning to change the tone of the owners' approach. Hunter stated that there was a feeling from the owners that they had surrendered too much in previous meeetings.
David Stern did not attend Thursdays meetings, due to what Adam Silver described as the flu.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:38 pm
By Matt Moore
The FMCS released a statement on behalf of federal mediator George Cohen indicating that the two sides in the NBA-NBPA dispute are so far apart it does not warrant further mediation by the FMCS.
Here is the statement.
NEW YORK, NY — “As a follow up to the NBA’s and NBA Players Association agreeing to my invitation to conduct negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS, three days of mediation have taken place. During this period, a wide variety of issues were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner, consistent with what one would expect to take place in a constructive collective bargaining setting.
Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement, nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held, competing positions that separated them on core issues.
In these circumstances, after carefully reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered judgment of myself and Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, who has been engaged with me throughout this process, that no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time. For our part, the Agency has advised the parties that we will be willing and prepared to continue to facilitate any future discussions upon their mutual request.”
Posted on: October 20, 2011 7:39 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:40 pm
By Matt Moore
In short, nearly the worst kind of news. The NBA and NBPA met for another long mediated session Thursday. The result? At around 7:35 EST Adam Silver and Peter Holt held a press conference to announce that talks have broken down and no further meetings are scheduled.
Silver would not confirm any further cancelations of games, but the mood is extremely grim.
Silver did confirm that the issue that lead to the breakdown between the owners and union was back to BRI. There had been a significant amount of talk about the issues being systemic issues, particularly the luxury tax and revenue sharing. Silver revealed that the union had lowered its offer to 52.5 percent of BRI, with the owners holding the line at 50/50, still.
Ken Berger reported Monday that the owners' 50/50 offer was back to a 49-51 range. The question is whether the concessions made in the systemic issues pushed the players back to a flat 50/50. Silver also said that the two sides were "far apart" on systemic issues.
Silver told reporters that the players in essence wanted a trade-off. In essence, if the players were conceding on BRI, they wanted more from the systemic issues.
Spurs owner Peter Holt said that at this point, both sides felt "stuck" and that both sides had been "negotiating a long time." Holt said that one reason for the talks to end was due to fatigue, saying "both sides have been negotiating for a long time."
With the gap down to 1.5 percent, $100 million as estimated by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger for the 2010-2011, you would think that splitting the difference now more than ever would be a likelihood, particularly with mediation from George Cohen. But Silver revealed that the NBA is looking for a 10-year deal, which would make the 1.5 differential $1 billion. Silver and Holt both reiterated that 50 percent is the absolute figure they're willing to go "today" in the words of Holt.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 7:35 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
After leading 16 hours of NBA labor talks on Tuesday and more than eight hours of talks on Wednesday, federal mediator George Cohen issued his first -- albeit brief -- public comments to media members assembled in New York City.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Cohen "shed no new light on the status of talks. He emphasized importance of confidentiality."
Representatives for the league and its players did not comment on Wednesday but will meet again on Thursday, according to Cohen, with talks scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
Here's video of Cohen's brief remarks.
NBA.com reported that Cohen called the participants in the meeting "extremely focused on the issues" and that the talks have been "direct and constructive."
Yahoo! Sports reported that "progress was made on the BRI revenue split" according to two sources involved in the negotiations.
Berger reports that NBA commissioner David Stern left Wednesday's mediated session before its conclusion to attend to other league business. The NBA's owners are assembled in New York for Board of Governors meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.
Cohen met with both the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association on Monday in advance of Tuesday's mediation. Representatives for both sides refused to comment following Tuesday's negotiating session, which went into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
The NBA and the NBPA have made little formal progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement since the league's owners locked out its players on July 1.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 11:27 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Representatives of the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association took part in more than 16 hours of talks led by federal mediator George Cohen in New York City on Tuesday but failed to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the two sides will resume their negotiations at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The NBA's owners had been scheduled for Board of Governors meetings on Wednesday and Thursday in New York but Berger reports that the labor talks "clearly take precedence."
Specific details of the marathon negotiation session are unclear. Berger reports that a spokesman for the NBA "has asked both sides to refrain from commenting, and they are abiding."
NBPA board member Chris Paul said on Twitter: "WoW, 16 hours...I PROMISE we are trying!!!"
Yahoo Sports cited a source in the meeting saying that "very little" progress was made, that the two sides were "still not anywhere near a deal," that the only "gaps" that had been narrowed were "on small stuff" and that it was "hard to see where this is going."
Newsday reported that "nothing [was] achieved toward a deal. But there's always tomorrow."
Cohen met with both the league and the players union individually on Monday in advance of Tuesday's negotiations, which come eight days after commissioner David Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season.
Tuesday's meeeting, the longest since the NBA imposed a lockout on July 1, dragged on for so long that NBA writers staking out the talks reported receiving complementary cookies from the NBA and, later, ice cream and chinese food from the NBPA. The talks began at 10 a.m. Tuesday local time and concluded just after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.
SheridanHoops.com reported the following attendees at the meeting.
Representing the owners were Peter Holt (San Antonio), Clay Bennett (Oklahoma City), Mickey Arison (Miami), Mark Cuban (Dallas), Jim Dolan (New York), Dan Gilbert (Cleveland), Wyc Grousbeck (Boston), Larry Miller (Portland), Robert Sarver (Phoenix), Glen Taylor (Minnesota) and Bob VanderWeide (Orlando).In radio interviews last week, Stern said that nearly two months of the season could be in jeopardy if a resolution was not reached on Tuesday.
"Deal Tuesday, or we potentially spiral into situations where the worsening offers on both sides make it even harder for the parties to make a deal," Stern said. "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut -- this is not in my official capacity of canceling games -- but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day."
Further game cancellations are expected to come in two-week increments. The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the season came three weeks in advance of the scheduled start date of Nov. 1. If the same lead time is necessary for the next cancellation, an announcement should be made by Monday, Oct. 24.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:57 pm
There have been reports for the past month about the powerful agents of some NBPA members circling the union authority like vultures, wanting to undermine Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher and push for decertification, followed by a barrage of lawsuits against the NBA and its owners. Today NBA.com's David Aldridge reports that a lawyer for the union doesn't believe that the NLRB would allow the union's decertification until after the NBPA's complaint with the National Labor Relations Board is complete. From NBA.com:
"They would block any decertification petition," he said.via Competitive balance? NBA has always been about dynasties | NBA.com.
This could explain why the agents have gone quiet recently and why there's been more support for the union. The court process will be used as a weapon by the NBPA, it's their last weapon, the nuclear option. But it won't be on the agent's timeline, it'll be on the NBPA's.
The NLRB's regional ruling has been filed and the national board is in the process of reviewing the complaint. There's no timeline for that decision, but rest assured the NLRB will drag its heels as much as possible to wait for both sides to reach a settlement through negotiation. Avoiding precedent is a pretty big deal in this case and the NLRB will want to dodge the buck as long as possible.
The NBA's suit agains the NBPA seeking to block decertification is set to begin opening proceedings on November 2nd, the day after the regular season was initially intended to begin. But really, what would you rather see, the opener of the NBA season or a court battle?
Don't answer that.