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Posted on: October 10, 2011 10:18 am

The Lockout List for Monday's talks

By Matt Moore

The league and players met for five hours Sunday and nada, zip, zero, zilch. Not a deal, not a framework, not a conceptual agreement, not a tentative agreement, not even "progress." We're just guessing here, but we have this image of them each sitting there like it's study hall, passing notes to their friends and not really talking about anything of substance. Apparently BRI never even came up

That's right. The biggest issue remaining on the table, and they didn't even touch it.

So what has to happen for a dea on a new CBA to happen today and to avoid the loss of regular season games as David Stern promised there would be without a deal Monday? Here's what it looks like.

  1. Resolve revenue sharing. SI reports that revenue sharing remains the biggest systemic, non-BRI issue on the table. This is tricky territory, as it's not something the NBA even wants to be talking about. They don't even want it on the table. But apparently they've let it on and both sides are squabbling over what it will look like. The biggest hangup is likely that the players' best friend in the BRI and cap issues, the large market owners, are the ones that will pump the brakes on revenue sharing. The players want an extensive system, because the more money is redistributed on the owners' side, the less money they'll have to contribute to recovering losses, hypothetically. 
  2. The 12-foot, sabretoothed, hulking monster in the room that is BRI. The owners aren't budging on 50/50. The players won't move off 53 percent. Either one side's going to have to bend, or they'll have to find some sort of compromise in-between. Maybe it's the owners taking 52 to get the player down a percent. Maybe they split the difference. But neither side is even open to that possibility. If talks turn to this issue on Monday afternoon and neither side is willing to move at all on their number, it's going to be a real short meeting. 
  3. Get a framework, then get the votes. Even if the smaller parties can get a conceptual framework in place, complete with BRI and everything else, they still have to get approval from their constituents for a vote. Say the owners talk the players down to 51 percent. All it takes is one leaked quote from an owner about how they knew the players would cave, and then Kevin Garnett turns that into a rallying cry, and then the agents hit the roof and start calling for decertification again and the whole thing blows up. Say the players get the owner sup to 53 percent through concessions, but one of them turns out to be a sticking point for one of the owners and the rest of the league sticks with their guy who says he can't do it. There are a million ways this blows up once the reasaonable grown-ups negotiating the deal now get done. 
  4. Get a vote, get a timeline, get the paperwork done, start the offseason. 
All of this within the next 21 days. 

So as you can see, we're kind of up against it here.  
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:54 pm

NBA: We would have negotiated system issues

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Earlier Friday, Ken Berger of reported that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association could not agree to meet prior to Monday, the deadline commissioner David Stern has set for cancelling the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season. 

Berger reported that an NBPA source said that the NBA would only agree to meet if the union agreed to accept a 50-50 split of Basketball-Related Income. The NBPA felt it could not go through with a meeting given that major pre-condition.

The New York Times reports that NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the NBA was not willing to negotiate past the 50-50 BRI split but said the league was willing to discuss other subjects, such as system issues.  

Adam Silver, the N.B.A.’s deputy commissioner, confirmed that the owners are standing firm at 50-50, although he disagreed with the union’s portrayal of events.

“What we told the union was that we were not prepared to negotiate over the B.R.I. split beyond the 50-50 concept that had already been discussed,” Silver said, referring to the N.B.A.’s acronym for basketball-related income.

Silver added, however, that the league was “prepared to continue negotiating over the many other issues that remain open” — such as the salary-cap system, the luxury tax and the length of contracts.

An NBA spokesperson returned the finger-pointing in a statement to and other media: "We told the union today that we were willing to meet as early as Sunday. We also advised them we were unwilling to move above the 50-50 split of revenues that was discussed between the parties on Tuesday but that we wanted to meet with them to discuss the many remaining open issues. The union declined."

The posturing on both sides here is clear.

For the players, agreeing to meet to discuss only portions of the deal would effectively allow the owners to take the lead on setting the agenda, and that's a big no-no, because it sends a message to the average player that the union's leadership is weak and not on equal footing. To agree to take a stand, the average player has to feel he's standing on firm ground, not a sand dune.  

For the league, the refusal to budge on the 50/50 split accomplishes two goals. First, it continues to perpetuate the idea that the talks are stalling because the players are refusing to accept a "fair" 50/50 split, catering to public opinion and applying pressure on the NBPA to re-think its refusal to budget on its formal desire for 53 percent of the BRI. Second, it sends a message to any rank-and-file player who might be eager to get back to work. That message is: "We'll give you 50/50 and if you're OK with that, great, just let your union leadership know."

This latest impasse wastes valuable time and will likely lead to both sides digging in deeper for the time being. Once the deadline to "save the full season" is passed, the two sides will need to regenerate an urgency factor, or we could all be waiting for awhile.
Posted on: October 5, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 11:22 am

The NBPA is up three, it's time to foul

By Matt Moore

We're right there. I mean it. Right freaking there. This thing's within arm's reach, if there can just be a few more inches of movement. From Ken Berger of, a hefty blockquote to get the full perspective on where we stand:
In that group, the league -- sensing the opportunity for a deal was there -- proposed essentially a 50-50 split with no additional expense reductions over a seven-year proposal, with each side having the ability to opt out after the sixth year, two of the people said. This was the offer Stern described in his news conference Tuesday evening, one he and Silver thought would be enough to finally close the enormous gap between the two sides.

The league's offer, according to four people familiar with it, came in a range of 49-51 -- with 49 percent guaranteed and a cap of 51 percent, the sources said.

"There was a real opportunity to make progress," Stern said.

Stern told the players and Kessler that he was bringing this proposal to his owners in an attempt to sell it, making no bones about the fact that he would. In fact, Stern said in the news conference, he did sell it; the owners were prepared to sign off on this 49-51 percent band. With many of the most polarizing system issues resolved -- the league previously had relented on its the most severe version of its hard team salary cap, agreed to drop its pursuit of rollbacks on existing contracts and offered to retain the basic structure of max contracts -- the framework of a deal was in sight."

Adam and I felt comfortable and confident that we would be able to report to the players that we could move to the next subject, because the split had been accomplished," Stern said.

While the owners were caucusing, a member of the players group returned with a counterproposal -- effectively 52 percent of basketball-related income BRI for the players with no additional expenses deducted. The players' counterproposal followed the format presented by the owners -- a 51-53 percent band, though sources gave different accounts of whether the players offer included a guarantee at 51 percent and a cap at 53.

So while Hunter and Stern remained publicly entrenched in the economic positions of their most recent formal proposals -- with the players asking for 53 percent and the league offering effectively 47 -- the reality is this: the gap has closed to 2 percentage points of BRI, the difference between the midpoint of the two offers, or stated differently, the value of one Gilbert Arenas.
via With nearly all of $8 billion gap closed, season can be saved - NBA - Basketball

NBA Labor
The union sent a letter to the players last night according to ESPN, another in a long series of missives to keep the troops together, to keep them updated, and keep the agents out of the conversation. In that letter, they said that a 50/50 split is "not a fair deal." Now, getting beside the base-level hilarity of that statement, they're probably on target. But anything, and I mean anything north of 50/50? That's a huge win for the players. 

Since the lockout began, the players knew they had no leverage. They've sought it. From European contracts to legal recourse, the union only has so much it can do. The owners still hold the biggest advantage. They sign the checks. The players make the product and have shown that they're more than willing to lose the year to get a deal they find acceptable. But this? This is painfully close to a win on all fronts. 

Hard cap? Off the table. 

Rollbacks? Gone. 

Sweeping systemic changes? Limited to a few acceptable shifts. 

And the BRI which last week was at 46 percent, an insulting, ridiculous figure indicative of the owners' approach throughout this process, has been raised to 49 with a 51 percent ceiling, conceivably. The players don't want to fall to that, and that's understandable. But the second, the very second the average hits above 50 percent, they need to jump on it. This is as good a deal as they're going to get. Their figures will not improve once checks are missed. This is not some owners-supporting propoganda, it's reality. With the strength of the league, the odds of the revenues hitting above that 51 percent mark are pretty likely. But if they want to hold out for that extra percent or two, fine. But here's the reality. The players are at 52 percent, bottom offer. The owners are at 51 percent, top offer. Yes, 51.5 percent is probably the best compromise but that's not the point. It's right there. 

The players have to take this deal the second that percentage ticks up, and it will this week. The owners, after two years of bullying and absurdly insulting proposals, have gotten serious and offered real proposals which the union can take. They get back a lot of what they want, set the table for further wins in the next CBA, and get the "reset" they've been pushing towards. The players and owners both save face. The players just have to know their position and take the win. 

That's what this is. A win. A big ol' win that represents the players dodging a catastrophic possibility of being forced into a hard cap, a sub-50 BRI percentage, and the loss of any and all flexibility. Theyv'e done it. They've held together long enough to get things where they need them to be. They still can get a 50+ cut of the BRI, and have gotten the hard cap off the table. 

This situation the players are in? They're up three points, and the opponent has the ball. The players can foul, lose the points (the drop from 53 where they wanted to stay), and take the win (avoiding complete pillage), or they can try and defend the perimeter. But in this case, the opponent is trotting out a lineup of five Ray Allens. 

For the first time, the players are in control. They get to make the decision on a reasonable deal. They can save the season, save the jobs, save the damage to the game, save their own paychecks, their own careers. The owners have moved, finally. 

Give the points. 

Take the win. 

Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 6:55 pm

No NBA labor deal, next meeting 'months' away?

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The National Basketbal Association and the National Basketball Players Association met for more than four hours in New York City on Tuesday, in what had been hailed as the most important day of negotiations to date, and emerged aroung 5:30 p.m. without an agreement.

Ken Berger of reports that NBPA president Derek Fisher announced: "Intense discussions today ... today was not the day for us to get this done."

NBA commissioner David Stern said that the league's 2011-2012 schedule will be affected by the lack of progress in the negotiations: "Today we will be announcing the cancellation of the rest of the exhibition season and by Monday we will have no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the season."

Fisher said no further meetings have yet been scheduled. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said it could be "a month or two months" before the next round of meetings.

Fisher said that the players offered to reduce their share of Basketball-Relate Income from 57 percent to 53 percent but were still unable to negotiate a deal that was "fair and amenable" to the players, as the owners reportedly offered only to increase their offer to the players from 46 percent to 47 percent. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said the players' concessions amounted to more than $200 million per year. 

"We are employees and the NBA are the employers," Fisher said. "And they hold the key to when the lockout will be over."

Hunter said that, given the circumstances, the NBPA would reconsider the idea of decertification: "Clearly that's something we may have to give some thought to." While the players wait, reports that Hunter says the NBPA will set up and fund workout centers in Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles that will remain open until a labor agreement is reached.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Boston Celtics forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, and NBPA board members Matt Bonner, Maurice Evans, Keyon Dooling, Theo Ratliff, and Roger Mason, Jr. were all in attendance at the press conference Tuesday.

This post will update with the latest on the NBA lockout.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:46 pm

NBA lawsuit oral arguments scheduled for Nov.2

By Matt Moore

Update: Ken Berger of reports:
In hearing today in U.S. District Court, oral arguments were set for Nov. 2 in @TheNBPA's motion to dismiss #NBA lawsuit, court says.
via Twitter / @KBergCBS: In hearing today in U.S. D ...

The NBA season, if you are unaware, is scheduled to begin the regular season on November 1st. So, really, good news all around! Sigh.

Original report: The NBA and NBPA have been trying to settle their differences inside the boardroom, not the courtroom, to avoid a prolonged battle that would get even uglier than the talks have been. But with "Detonation Tuesday" upon us, both sides are making preparations for the legal fight which could get started as early as this week. 

Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports that a meeting occurred early Tuesday between representatives of both sides and a judge overseeing the NBA's lawsuit seeking to block the NBPA from decertification and subsequent antitrust lawsuits.  
Another ominous sign: source says both sides meeting w/ 2nd circuit judge today in regards 2 league's lawsuit & NBPA's motion to dismiss. That would be stage-setter 4 decertification fight, with league's preemptive suit looking for ruling that it's illegal and NBPA disagreeing.
via Sam Amick (sam_amick) on Twitter.

There are multiple interpretations here. It could be that the two sides are looking to get some sense of where this thing is headed, because if the NBPA is cut off at the head from decertification, that essentially lops out the push from the agents and means that the players have to get a deal. More likely it's simply a general check-in on where things stand and what the process is from here on out.

But regardless, it does mean there's starting to be an eye on the legal front. Which means the focus is shifting away from a resolution. Which means the prospect of losing games looms ever larger.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:10 am

NBA Lockout: The night before

By Matt Moore

We've told you that previous meetings were relevant, were important, were key. And each one has yielded the same result: both sides sayng they were still too far apart, talks will resume tomorrow or in a few days. So forgive me for over-emphasizing this.

Tuesday's the day

Monday night, each set of parties will go to sleep in preparation of Tuesday's NBA lockout negotiations, which are expected to decide whether games will be lost and likely how many. The players will sleep comfortably. They'll have a measure of anxiety for their livelihoods and their careers, sure. But they'll be resting on 500 count sheets, unperturbed by any real consequences. Losing a few games just means an unpaid vacation. The game will be there when they get back. The agents will sleep the sleep of wolves. Knowing you're the thing that goes bump in the night has its advantages. The owners may be coming for their money, but this is a challenge to be thwarted, as is their perception that Billy Hunter has lost control of the fight. (The agents who are not part of the plot are just along for the ride, unfortunately.)

And the owners? The owners sleep the sleep of babes.

Maybe there really is a healthy conversation being held in the owners' meetings. Maybe they arrived at their hardened stance after hours and days of tense and lively debate over the best way to rectify the economic lapses in the system they signed off on. It's possible that they've really been down every road, listened to every argument, embraced every alternative until they were left with nothing but this, the scorched court policy.

But it doesn't seem that way, feel that way, or sound that way.

Every indication is that the owners go to sleep Monday night fully aware that they are likely setting the league back by upwars of a decade, that they are crushing something that bring joy to millions, that they are stomping on the legacy they inherited when they plunked down their change for the right to courtside seats and a number of player headaches. They are aware that their decision will cost people jobs they need, part-time money they need, diversions that make life more fun, and boost local economies. They are aware that there's no decent compromise they're seeking, only total and complete conquest in this dispute.

And every indication is that they could not care less. You have to look out for yourself in this world, apparently.

David Stern goes to sleep with the knowledge that Tuesday will bring with it a judgment upon his term as commissioner of a professional sports league. Failure to bring the owners off the fortress walls or to somehow shakedown the players into what will be a crushing deal for them would represent a phenomenal failure for Stern in his duties to, you know, run the NBA. He will have done his job in protecting the interests of his board and in doing so sacrificed the good the NBA brings with it. Not just from a sports perspective, or economic, but from the lost charity work, the goodwill, the positive influence on young people and every other impact. He will have watched over the league as it costs a year in the careers of promising young athletes like Blake Griffin and John Wall, as it robs history of one of the final years of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

Big king-sized beds for men of wealth and fame, all.

Tuesday the sun comes up, the gloves come off and the lockout will sort them out. Odds are we're headed towards regular season games missed, maybe months, maybe the entire year, along with a lengthy court battle, ugly internal strife in the union, and no professional basketball. It's difficult to see any other result coming out of the boardroom tomorrow in New York. Even the optimists like Ken Berger are staring down the barrel of missed games. Cooler heads have not prevailed. Reason has not won out. It's Lord of the Flies time in the NBA Lockout and we're about to find out how ugly it will get. 

Rome is burning but the Roman Senate sleeps soundly.  
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:00 am
Edited on: October 4, 2011 1:07 am

Derek Fisher sends letter to dispute agents

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The back and forth between the National Basketball Players Association and a group of powerful player agents continues.

On Monday, a group of six agents sent a letter to their clients urging them to hold a hard line on several key bargaining issues and to avoid being railroaded into a rushed labor deal by the NBA's owners.

Late Monday night, the Associated Press published a response letter from NBPA president Derek Fisher, which directly addressed the letter sent earlier by the agents.

The letter however includes misinformation and unsupported theories.

As you would imagine, the agents are not aware of my seeing this ahead of its release. As a player myself, I know that each player should read everything we can. My emails, media reports, letters from their representation, to form an opinion on the situation. Educate yourself, ask questions, do it all. But not all of what you read is fact, you know this, I know this.

One issue I need to again be very clear on...nothing can be accepted without a vote by the players. If and when there is a proposal that we feel is in the best interests of us as players, each of you WILL have the opportunity to vote in person. It's in the union bylaws, it's not up for negotiation. You will have the opportunity to see the full proposal before you agree, you will be able to challenge it, question it, anything you feel appropriate in order to know that this is the best deal for you and your fellow players.

Fisher also made a point to defend the NBPA's unity on the key issues.
Everyone in the regional meetings, Friday's player meeting, and throughout this process has been in support of the position the NBPA has taken. We go into tomorrow's meeting strong, remaining steadfast on the issues we will not be able to move away from. Anyone saying different is not privy to the meetings and is uninformed.
Fisher's response is clear, fair and straightforward, but the fact that he is spending precious time trying to keep his union members in line in the hours leading up to what both sides agree is the most important day of negotiations is not a good sign. A truly united front from the players is necessary to reach the best possible deal with the owners. As of right now, segments of the players appear to be on different pages, with agents threatening to push to decertify the union and reporting that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter could come under fire.

This correspondence is another volley in a war of words that has gone on between Fisher and these agents for nearly a month. Back in September, Fisher pointedly rebuked the agents in another letter sent to all NBA players.
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