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Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:38 pm
 

Federal mediator Cohen will not continue with NBA

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.

NBA LOCKOUT

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
 

NBA Lockout talks break down

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.

NBA LOCKOUT

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 2:20 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 11:27 am
 

NBA, NBPA meet for 16 hours with federal mediator

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

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).

Representing the players were Derek Fisher, Maurice Evans, Chris Paul, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Matt Bonner, Roger Mason and James Jones.

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
 

Report: NLRB could block NBPA decertification



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.

The decert talk has cooled in recent weeks, but if union members decided they wanted to dissolve the union, they would need 30 percent of their members to sign a petition declaring they want an election to decertify. The NLRB would then hold a hearing to determine if an election was warranted. If it approved, the election would proceed, and a simple majority of union voters voting yes would decertify the union. A tie would also mean decertification, because the union would not have received a majority of votes.

Yet Katz says the unions pending complaint against the NBA would make decertifying an impossibility.

"The vote on decertification is a vote controlled and run by the NLRB," he said. "In my opinion, they could not process the petition for a vote because of the pending petition."
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.  
Posted on: October 15, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 8:02 pm
 

McGee's blunder least of NBPA's concerns

Posted by Ben Golliver

derek-fisher-nbpa

"Ready to fold." 

Those three words, uttered by Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee as he exited a players union meeting in Los Angeles, will wind up being the only words that anyone remembers from the last week of NBA labor negotiations.

That's in spite of the union's best -- and worst -- efforts. National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher launched a social media campaign around the words "let us play." Over and over, from union leadership and players, we heard the phrase "stand united." New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony put it more bluntly: "This s*** sucks." And, mixed into all of that, there were numerous apologies from players to fans for the lack of real basketball.

The reason McGee's words will have staying power, even though they were almost immediately retracted and then later shot down by union leadership, is because they are the only words spoken recently that promise a resolution. Patience is a finite virtue. When McGee admitted that some of his fellow meeting-goers in Los Angeles were ready to forego the hard line for the quick deal, the first plainly verbalized cracks in the union's armor during months of negotiations against a group of owners that appears firmly entrenched, he obviously undercut his side's position but gifted fans and observers with hope that this maddeningly long negotiation might actually end before commissioner David Stern has to push the red button and cancel the whole season.

"The person who spent the least amount of time in the room can't make that statement," Fisher said of McGee's remarks on Friday. "He's in no position to make that statement on behalf of the group."

"As it turned out, the pacifists in the room happened to be me and Derek," NBPA executive director Billy Hunter added. "These guys behind us happen to be extremely strident. They thought we were starting to weaken."

But no amount of distancing or deflecting on behalf of the union's two-headed public leadership, nor a Twitter denial from McGee posted just minutes before audio confirming his comments went up online, can undo the damage. If the NBA's owners needed any confirmation that their plan to stall negotiations long enough for players to miss checks and agree to system-altering changes that will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, this was it. "McGee will pay for his honesty," you can imagine the owners thinking. "Call David and tell him to lower our BRI offer by two percent."

But there's a bigger problem for the players. Yes, McGee's admission was as idiotic as it gets -- the only worse words that could have been uttered under the circumstances would have been "We surrender" -- but it was only a symptom, not the disease. 

You can see the disease when you fact-check Fisher's response to McGee.

Because McGee, even though he reportedly left the meeting after less than two hours, with discussion carrying on for another hour or so, was not actually the person who spent the least amount of time in the room. In fact, McGee spent more time in that room than 90 percent of the NBPA's membership. Fisher, despite the social media campaign and multiple appeals to his members, was only able to convince 30 out of 450 players to attend. Most of the players that showed up were the same faces who showed up to the last regional meeting in Las Vegas. Some of those who showed up live in Los Angeles. Some of those who showed up are NBPA board members. Some of those who showed up are rookies whose professional careers have been hijacked by this process and have nowhere else to go.

That's 30 players in attendance with two weeks already cancelled and the rest of the season hanging in the balance. 30 players in attendance with their livelihoods on the line and the next six to ten years of basketball up for grabs. This was supposed to be a critical meeting in which everyone was invited to make difficult decisions, not a reenactment of the courtside scene before Miami Heat home games. Did Fisher have to break out white sheets to cover up empty seats? 

While Fisher was wrong to say that McGee spent the least amount of time in the room, he was correct in saying that McGee doesn't speak for the group. Because the group, the vast majority of players who will eventually vote on a new labor deal, speaks with no voice, offering little to no support for its union leadership. That silence, not McGee's bumbling errer or Fisher's eloquent speeches or Hunter's bombastic rhetoric, is what speaks for the union right now. 

You can read that silence as resignation or apathy or as misplaced faith that the owners, eventually, will come to their senses and things will work out. But if we, Fisher included, are going to kill McGee for his honesty and for leaving early, we should at least acknowledge that he actually showed up in the first place. That's more than can be said for most of his colleagues.

I take Fisher and Hunter at their word that the players in that Beverly Hilton room remain "strident" and ready for war with the owners. It's the rest of the players that they should be worried about. Because if more players don't start showing that they care by voting with their presence, what little sympathy the public has left for them will evaporate in the face of disappointment, frustration and, yes, disgust and resentment. That, combined with missed paychecks, creates a vicious cycle in which those players who were already thinking about folding, start thinking harder about it.

NBA owners -- and Stern -- are the type of businessmen born with a sixth sense for sniffing out fear and desperation. So far, the process has played out exactly according to plan for them. An apathetic rank-and-file that doesn't speak loudly and together is a body that will be amenable to the first deal presented to it, regardless of the details. The owners are banking on continued quiet from the vast majority of the players.

Folding in a billion dollar negotiation isn't likely to be a loud, spectacular scene with shouts, screams and tears. It will probably happen in silence. This is America, where money -- large amounts of money -- disappears all the time, because nobody says a word.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 6:23 pm
 

NBPA calls Stern's Tuesday deadline 'arbitrary'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

NBA commissioner David Stern minced no words in countless radio and television interviews this week: If a labor agreement can't be reached with the National Basketball Players Association during a Tuesday negotiation session led by federal mediator George Cohen, then the league's annual Christmas Day games will be put into grave jeopardy. 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com recorded the clear, repeated threats.
"It's time to make the 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."

"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.
NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter pushed back hard against those threats following a union regional meeting at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Friday.

Fisher made it sound like the deadline and the urgency surrounding it were simply figments of Stern's imagination.

"That's an arbitrary deadline just to throw out on commissioner Stern's part," Fisher said. "We don't see it that way. Obviously he's entitled to make the statement but it just seems very arbitrary and with no real purpose other than to sway player sentiment. I don't agree with the way it's been done but I'm not him so I can't speak to that part of it."

Hunter called out the NBA for choosing to limit its availability for discussions next week.

"George Cohen, the federal mediator, was proposing that we actually set all of next week aside," Hunter said. "The entire week, for mediation. It's because of the NBA's schedule and the commissioner's alleged inability to get together with us over four or five days, I think he set the sort of superficial, arbitrary deadline saying that if it doesn't happen by Tuesday then all these other things will evolve as a consequence." 

Hunter also noted that its unrealistic to expect a single day of negotiating to produce a new collective bargaining agreement.

"My attitude is that if they really want to get a deal, we've been negotiating for over two years," he said. "The probability and likelihood of getting it in one day, because we'll only be together one day on Tuesday, then I believe the NBA has scheduled Board of Governors meetings and other meetings on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So that's why it's limited to one day and one day only."

If Stern's purpose in launching the media blitz and ramping up the threats was to appeal to rank-and-file union members, Fisher said it won't work. 

"For our players, we've made a pledge not to continue in any way to allow what is say or written or printed in the media or statements that would be made to frustrate us or sway us in any way," he said. "To make sure we're thinking as businessmen and we're being very smart about what we need to do."

Hunter even resorted to a firearm metaphor to underscore how undeterred he was by Stern's threats of cancelled games and "vaporized" player wages.

"I think it can only get worse for both of us," Hunter said. "If somebody is pointing a gun at my head, I'm going to point one back at him. That door doesn't swing one way. It's not just the players who will suffer if games are lost."
Posted on: October 15, 2011 4:06 pm
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Posted on: October 15, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Report: Garnett, Pierce, Kobe intervened in talks

By Matt Moore

Imagine there's a U.N. debate. It's a discussion on global economics, centered around a few key and pivotal points, and a compromise must be reached in some form. The ramifications of this meeting are monumental dependent on the outcome (I know, it's the U.N., use your imagination). Both sides began on polar opposite sides of the issues. But as things have gone on, there have been more and more concessions from both sides, though clearly one side is expressing its overwhelming leverage from a position of strength, arguably to an excessive degree. 

To close this deal, with so much on the line, do you send in your experienced diplomat, the man who has the know-how and demeanor to establish guidelines, work to squirrel away as much as can be reasonably established,  and ensure that the lines of communication stay open? Or do you send in your slightly off-balance general who too often resorts to screaming and who considers everything to be a battlefield?

The owners sent in the warrior, and that at least partially contributed to the disaster of losing games so close to a deal.

Dual independent reports from ESPN today tell of the meeting that could have saved the season, and of the reported 50/50 deal that fell apart (which both sides claim came from the other side). And the conclusion came not with Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher dealing with the union, but with Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant... and Kevin Garnett marching in to tell the owner's what what.

The first report came from Bill Simmons in his column yesterday at Grantland 
During one of the single biggest meetings (last week, on Tuesday), Hunter had Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Garnett (combined years spent in college: three) negotiate directly with Stern in some sort of misguided "Look how resolved we are, you're not gonna intimidate us!" ploy that backfired so badly that one of their teams' owners was summoned into the meeting specifically to calm his player down and undo some of the damage. (I'll let you guess the player. It's not hard.) And this helped the situation … how? And we thought this was going to work … why?
via Bill Simmons Avoids a Few Subjects Before Making His Week 6 NFL Picks - Grantland.

OK, a vague report which doesn't name the particular player that went nuts. We can pass that asi...oh. From TrueHoop:
As Stern has recounted a dozen times since, not long after what was supposed to have been the hallway conversation that saved the season, something odd and wholly unexpected happened. There was a knock on the door where Stern was selling his owners on the idea. The players wanted to talk.

When they convened, instead of the union's head, Hunter, or their negotiating committee of Maurice Evans, Matt Bonner, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas and Chris Paul, representing the players were Fisher, Kessler, and three superstars who had been to very few of the meetings at all: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant.

A bad sign: Pierce was still wearing his backpack.

The players had two pieces of news that shocked the league: 50/50 was not good enough. And there was nothing further to discuss.

...

And players who hadn't even been in the talks, and who seemed not to be on the same page with the crew that had endured more than 40 meetings, had been the ones to reject the best offer the league was likely to have, and to end the best day of negotiations prematurely.

What in the hell was going on? How had they so misread the situation? And where was Billy Hunter? Who spoke for the union? Should the league have been negotiating with Kevin Garnett all along?
via TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

Ooh, ooh! I'll answer it! Me! Me! Me!

No.

Under no circumstances should Kevin Garnett be in charge of negotiating anything but an entry pass from Rajon Rondo on the left block. That's it. Not only should Garnett not be heading the conversations, Garnett shouldn't be allowed inside the building. He, Dan Gilbert, and Robert Sarver should be barred from the building, through court orders, if necessary. This whole disgusting charade has gone on long enough with ego, dramatics, and nonsense running the show. This is a business negotiation, and even if both sides want to approach it from the ruthless, cutthroat perspective, let it be done with the pen, not with petty shows of strength that only manage to detonate critical talks at a critical time. 

Garnett's going to get the most blame for this based off of his reported behavior. But Pierce and Kobe were both in the room, and should share the blame. The goal was to show the owners they won't back down. What they managed to do was weaken the union's position by making them look out of their league, which was reinforced on Friday with JaVale McGee's "folding" disaster. It's admirable that the players wanted to make a show of strength. But this wasn't the way to do it. Calmly standing behind Billy Hunter and reasserting their stand at 53 percent? Okay, not really helping the whole situation, but it's a reasonable position. 

Going solo with or without Hunter's permission and winding up in a screaming match with the owners?

That's not a reasonable approach. That's making a bad situation worse.

This entire scenario is reflective of the simplest terms of the lockout. The owners have been intransigent, manipulative, hypocritcal, and self-contradictory. They've pushed 50/50 as a compromise, when in reality it's a cave-in by the players to what the owner want. They've extorted and back the players into a corner. It's nearly shameful the power grab that's gone on throughout the course of these negotiations, dating back two years. 

And the players?

They're in that corner, and they can't stop themselves from running into the walls.

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