Tag:Billy Hunter
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 CBSSports.com, 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 - CBSSports.com 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 6:54 pm

NBA commissioner David Stern cancels preseason

Posted by Ben Golliver

NBA commissioner David Stern announced on Tuesday that the league would cancel the rest of its preseason schedule effective immediately and expected to cancel the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season on Monday, Oct. 10, as a result of a lack of progress in ongoing labor negotiations between the league and the National Basketball Players Association.

"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," Stern said. Back on Sept. 23, the NBA announced the cancellation of the first two weeks of the preseason. 

The NBA's regular season was supposed to start on Nov. 1. 

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said that the two sides do not currently have any further negotiating meetings scheduled and that the next meetings might be "a month or two months" away.

Here's video of NBA commissioner David Stern cancelling the preseason and the likely delay of the regular season.

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 CBSSports.com 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 SI.com 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.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 1:56 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 1:32 pm

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

Posted by Ben Golliver


Saturday essentially represented the eleventh hour if ongoing labor negotiations were going to progress enough to save the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season, and the league's owners responded with all the urgency other people their age bring to planning a 2 p.m. nap. The owners wanted to save the season so badly that they agreed not to even discuss the money issue because it was so clearly a waste of time. The owners were so committed to avoiding a true work stoppage that they used the oldest trick in the book, "working late" on Saturday as an excuse to take off Sunday. 

The lasting scene from the last two fruitless days of labor negotiations is not Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade standing up to commissioner David Stern on Friday. No, the image that will endure is billionaire Heat owner Micky Arison cracking a joke about the exchange and then treating himself to a New York steak on Saturday night.

Sure, imagining Wade sticking it to basketball's bellicose bully is a great picture, but if you zoom out you can clearly see the league's owners yawning, or perhaps even chuckling, at Wade's confident petulance, knowing that his outburst stems from a growing sense of outrage and frustration at the lack of progress in the talks. "If the superstars are getting this upset," you can almost hear the owners thinking, "just imagine how mad the mid-level players must be."

Once the natural sense of satisfaction and vindication caused by Wade's confrontation with Stern wears off among the league's rank and file, they will soon realize that the exchange of words and, really, the entire appearance of stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at Friday's talks in New York was nothing more than a sideshow, a distraction from the fact that the owners have not meaningfully moved on the only topic that matters: the split of basketball-related income. Expecting Wade, James and Anthony to influence the mindset of owners dead set on a financial system overhaul is as ridiculous as the costume Cleveland Cavaliers guard Baron Davis wore to the proceedings. It didn't make any difference. The superstars, it turns out, are not a panacea. So, what next?

Aside from praying for a favorable ruling by the National Labor Relations Board and the longshot, that-ship-has-sailed option of decertification, the National Basketball Players Association is running fresh out of ideas. Patience has been the order of the day up to this point but panic seems like a more apt description of what should come next, given how unblinking the owners were this weekend. As a group, the owners have shown no real cracks and they even offered up a generous, expanded revenue sharing program to the surprise of many. Sure, they are getting killed for jeopardizing the future of their league and for being profit-hungry, and they deserve every word of it, but damned if they aren't unified in their questionable course of action. They are driving this season off the cliff in tandem. Thirty motorcycles will crash into the ravine simultaneously.

And that's why the month of October in these negotiations will be defined by the resolve of the other side, which already seems a touch shaky. NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter, despite their best efforts and tireless work, have struggled to maintain order and interest among their ranks. Only a few dozen players bothered to show up at a recent regional meeting in Las Vegas and the league's star players were virtually absent during this process until their brief cameo on Friday. The NBA's most popular player, Kobe Bryant, couldn't be bothered to break off from his overseas obligations. The NBA's MVP, Derrick Rose, has been seen fighting bullfighters in sneaker commercials but hasn't stepped into the labor ring. LeBron James, the league's biggest talent, is reportedly among a group of stars ready to dig in and take a hard line at 53 percent of the BRI, regardless of the consequences, but that's easy for him to say because he's made more money in a season, multiple times, than the average player will make in a career. He has copious, global endorsement opportunities to help ease the pain, too.

Dozens of fringe players have already bailed to play basketball overseas and, with the cancelation of regular season games just around the corner, middle of the road guys who had been weighing their options are likely to follow suit. Those who don't go will only get antsier and antsier, louder and louder, once this weekend's non-action sinks in and the missed paychecks become a reality rather than a threat. When that clamoring starts to pick up, we know where the owners will be: laid back with their feet kicked up, holding onto the same demands they've held since the beginning of the process, laughing all the way to the bank.

The owners are the perfect villians: rich beyond our wildest dreams and determined to squeeze out every possible penny, regardless of the collateral damage. The scary part is that they don't care how they appear to the public, the media or, even, to Wade. The terrifying part is that it's still not totally clear the players understand what they are up against yet.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 11:42 pm

NBA Lockout: Wade becomes the man on fire

By Matt Moore

Dwyane Wade spent the week shilling for an on-court traction product. It was very Bruce-Banner-y. He did a wide range of interviews for the product, talked about the Heat, flashed that Wade smile, did the whole publicity tour. Wade had been quiet for months regarding the lockout. He hadn't appeared at any of the Pro-Ams. He hadn't been a presence at the meetings. He hadn't been aggressively supporting the union in front of or away from the cameras. In short, some were beginning to wonder where Wade was in this whole lockout landscape, the silent superstar in a league full of big moneymakers who seemed to be just looking out for themselves and enjoying their summer. Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul (who serves on the union's executive committee) and Kevin Garnett seemed to be the only leaders from the star contingent. 

Then Friday came.

And Dwyane Wade took a flamethrower to the whole damn place.

It started early when Wade gave an interview to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, and discussed, essentially, being an underpaid superstar. Wade's understanding of the earning power of superstars in the NBA wasn't off factually, even if the timing was questionable.  It was a high-impact interview with a high-impact reporter that set the tone for the day. And Wade was only getting started. 

Next up, he drops comments across the board regarding the fact that the players "may lose a season." It was an odd and seemingly out of place set of comments considering the importance of getting a deal this weekend. Wade was essentially taking a hard-line position of saying "We want to play, but don't think we're not willing to lose the year just to get a deal." This from a player who notoriously is careful to avoid controversy. He's taken on a lot of flak this year as a member of the Heat from the backlash from "The Decision" and the formation of the Triad on South Beach, but Wade has always been popular with reporters for providing sound bytes without ever getting in trouble. He rarely if ever comes under scrutiny for his comments, and here he is being up front about the realities of the talks after saying that he's not getting paid what he could. 

Then there was the meeting.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirmed that at one point Wade stood up to David Stern's aggressive speech to the players. ESPN reported a direct quote from Wade:
Source: David Stern pointed his finger at players while talking. Wade shouted, "You're not pointing your finger at me. I'm not your child."
via Twitter / @RicBucher: Source: David Stern pointe ....

What the...?

Where's the baby-kissing, hand-shaking, lovable Dwyane Wade we've come to know? Where's the meek and mild player that no one was loooking to for leadership? Apparently all it took was Kobe Bryant having prior commitments with Nike in Europe to bring the Warrior Wade to the front... with a blowtorch.

Consider this, from earlier this week on the New York TimesNBA blog Off the Dribble:  
Wade said he has been in regular contact with Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players union, about the state of negotiations. But he said he felt no need to join the meetings himself, and he shrugged off the criticism directed at superstar players for their lack of involvement.

“That’s a silly thought,” Wade said. “I’ve been in a few meetings — I’ve been in three or four meetings myself.”

But none of the league’s top players have been a regular presence since the lockout began July 1, with the exception of Chris Paul, who serves on the union’s executive board. It has been suggested that a greater presence by the game’s superstars could push the N.B.A. toward a deal. Wade disagreed.

“The negotiation is the negotiation,” he said, adding: “We’ve been in there. Not only have they said their shpiel, we’ve said our shpiel, we’ve listened. We’ve taken notes. We’ve done all this. And we believe in our players association.”
via Negotiations Don't Need a Star Presence, Wade Says - NYTimes.com.

In two days, we've gone from Wade saying there's no reason for the superstars to be more active, to Wade himself aiming at the commissioner of the NBA to get his finger out of their face. Something happened, and it's likely not a coincidence that Wade suddenly came off the leash. The Players' Union needed someone with a big name and a face to come out guns blazing, to pull a Jordan '99 and Wade was the man to step up. For all the flak the Heat have taken, Wade is as respected as they come, and his foot forward spoke volumes. 

The players needed someone to go rogue and play bad cop.

Dwyane Wade pulled out the billy club on the start of the most serious negotiations in the entire process and started swinging from sun up to sun down. We'll have to see if this galvanizes the union to stick together, or if this came off as empty rhetoric from a player not representative of the league's primarily roleplayer whole.

Finally, consider this report from a Miami-based reporter who spoke with a player to gauge reaction to Wade's outburst Friday.  
Just spoke to an NBA player not in today's meeting. Said "400 guys in our league have a new favorite player tonight, and it's Mr. D-Wade."
via Twitter / @ByTimReynolds: Just spoke to an NBA playe ....

To quote a popular song for NBA players, "Say hello to the bad guy."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com