Posted on: June 30, 2011 9:22 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 10:15 pm

League to fine teams $1M for contact with players

Posted by Royce Young

After midnight, the NBA will lock out its players. Not in just a metaphorical sense. No, it will physically shut the doors on every practice facility and cut off all communication with players.

It's natural to assume ,though, that maybe there will be a little leeway in terms of teams talking with its players. No big deal on a phone call asking about a workout or going over a few things from last season. Right?

Wrong. Big deal. Very big deal.

According to ESPN.com, the league has informed teams if there is contact with players, they will be fined $1 million. The league is taking a no nonsense, hardline approach to this lockout. During the NFL's lockout, there has been some questioning of how teams have operated with coaches supposedly being involved in unofficial workouts and such. The NBA is making it clear there will be none of that.

This shouldn't surprise anyone. David Stern doesn't mess around. When he says there's a lockout, he means it. Call up a player to ask how that new diet plan is going and you're getting nailed with a $1 million penalty.

Will teams contact players? I'm sure they will. I don't think the league office is going to be installing phone taps or anything. This isn't going to be The Wire 2: NBA Lockout or anything. I don't think Herc and Carver are going to be on a rooftop across from Carmelo Anthony's condo to make sure Mike D'Antoni doesn't drop by for a cup of coffee.  Actually, I might be able to picture that. Remember, Stern's the guy that reportedly told players during one bargaining session that he "knows where the bodies are buried."

If the league catches wind of illegal contact going on, Stern's going to bring the hammer down hard. And if teams are losing as much money as they say they are, then getting stiffed a cool million should be enough to get their attention about breaking the rules.

Maybe for some players this will be a relief. I bet most Orlando Magic players are nodding right now. A couple months without hearing from Stan Van Gundy might be a little perk to this whole thing.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 8:43 pm

NBA lockout officially announced in statement

The NBA officially announced that it would be locking out its players on Thursday afternoon. Posted by Ben Golliver. lockout-graphic

On Thursday afternoon, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that representatives of the NBA owners had informed representatives of the National Basketball Players Association that the league would proceed with a lockout after negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in New York proved unsuccessful.

Within hours, the NBA released an official statement on its website, confirming that a lockout will commence early Friday morning.

Here's the full text of the statement via NBA.com.
The National Basketball Association announced that it will commence a lockout of its players, effective at 12:01 am ET on July 1, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the National Basketball Players Association.

"The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams," said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. "We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable."

"We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2 billion annually as the players' share -- an average of approximately $5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth," said Silver. "Elements of our proposal would also better align players' pay with performance."

"We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game."

During the lockout, players will not receive their salaries; teams will not negotiate, sign or trade player contracts; players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose; and teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions, or team meetings.
There's nothing groundbreaking in the five paragraph statement. The same themes that have been hammered on for months now are repeated: a broken financial system, aligning pay with performance and creating a better competitive environment for small-market teams.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 6:12 pm

NBA Lockout: David Stern says 'I'm not scared'

NBA commissioner David Stern says he is not scared of an NBA lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Following a bargaining session in New York City on Thursday, NBA owners informed the players that there would be a league-wide lockout, effective at midnight.

After that announcement, NBA commissioner David Stern and his deputy, Adam Silver, addressed reporters in a televised press conference.

Stern was asked what scares him about an upcoming lockout, which could result in a work stoppage and missed games if the two sides are not able to reach a compromise and create a new collective bargaining agreement.

Stern said, "I'm not scared, I'm resigned to the potential damage that it can cause to our league. As I said earlier, all of the people who earn a living from our league, as we get deeper into it, these things have a capacity to take on a life of their own. You never can predict what will happen."

During the 2010-2011 NBA season, the league enjoyed record television ratings and website traffic. A lockout, some fear, could damage that progress made and turn fans off.

Here's video of NBA commissioner David Stern saying that he is not scared.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 5:22 pm

NBA owners to players: lockout starts at midnight

The NBA owners have informed the players that there will be a lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.


CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports from New York City that the NBA owners have informed representatives of the National Basketball Players Association that they will be instituting a lockout, as no deal was reached on a new collective bargaining agreement.

This decision was expected, given the lack of progress during recent negotiating sessions. The two sides had until midnight Thursday to negotiate a deal that would have avoided a lockout. The lockout will officially begin at 12:01 AM eastern time. Berger reports that the two sides have not yet scheduled any future bargaining sessions.

Berger also reports that the players union "has no plans to decertify as of now and will continue to negotiate, according to a source." That decision will allow the two sides to continue negotiating.

Berger quotes Derek Fisher, president of the NBPA, regarding a "last-ditch proposal" presented to the owners on Thursday: ""It was met with the reality that we'll probably be locked out tonight."

He also quotes Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBPA: "I've been anticipating this lockout for the last two or three years, and now it's here."

The Associated Press adds these additional details.
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the NBA and its players could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. The CBA was due to expire at midnight.

All league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday, and games eventually could be lost, too. The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.

The sides remained far apart on just about every major issue, from salaries to the salary cap, revenues to revenue sharing.

Players, who previously offered to reduce their salaries by $500 million over five years, considered the owners' proposal for a "flex" cap, where each team would be targeted to spend $62 million, a hard cap. Although the league said total player compensation would never dip below $2 billion over the life of its proposed 10-year deal, that would amount to a pay cut for the players, who were paid more than $2.1 billion this season in salaries and benefits.

Owners also wanted a reduction in the players' guarantee of 57 percent of basketball revenues.
NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in a televised press conference that the players suggested that the two sides should "start from scratch" in their forthcoming negotiations.

"The players on the way out suggested to us that when we reconvene maybe that we should start from scratch. Maybe there are things that we should think about that we haven't thought about before. I don't mean to suggest [the league's current offer] is 'off the table' in any threatening way, it just hasn't done the job. The question is what does it take on both sides to get the job done."

Stern also said: "I'm not scared, I'm resigned to the potential damage it could cause to our league."

Here are live updates as they come in from New York City regarding the labor negotiations.

Yahoo! Sports quotes NBPA representative Matt Bonner: "We tried to avoid a lockout. Unfortunately we could not reach a deal."
CNBC.com reports that Billy Hunter, the Executive Director of the NBPA, said: "Their position was that we're too far away... the gap is too great." The site also quoted Hunter on the decision not to decertify the union: "I just don't think it's necessary."

The New York Post reports that Hunter expects the two sides to meet "in two weeks" to continue their negotiations. The paper also notes that the players association has requested "documentation" from the owners.

The Salt Lake Tribune quotes Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell on the union's resolve: "We're not going to crack."

This post will continue to update throughout the day as news breaks.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 2:11 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 2:13 pm

NBA LOCKOUT: Countdown to nuclear winter

Posted by Matt Moore

Our eve of destruction is upon us. Now is the summer of our discontent. Other cliches and references. The owners are about to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of "letting the players run out of money because most of them are not used to having to manage their time, let alone their finances in any rational fashion." The lockout is a coming. So we thought we'd give you the opportunity to enjoy these last few precious hours with a nice countdown to keep you company. We'll be providing updates from the fruitless labor session throughout the day and more analysis. In the meantime, check out the Berger Plan for what should, but won't, happen.

Hold us, we're afraid.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 1:56 pm

Report: Shane Battier asked Hunter to take paycut

Posted by Matt Moore

You have to lead by example. That's always been pretty clear. You can't expect people to follow what you say unless you walk the walk. So now that the NBA has entered into the deep dark lockout landscape, things are about to get real. No more t-shirts, no more slogans, no more parading. This is the real thing, and the money will stop... well, in November, since that's when most of the players contracts under the last CBA run through. But still! The money chokehold is about to get serious, and some players have some questions for their leadership.

Yahoo! Sports reports that after Kevin Garnett did his usual over-dramatic rabble-rousing last week, Shane Battier asked a question of the union president, Billy Hunter. Would he take a paycut, just as NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith did?  Hunter sidestepped the question, then the rest of the executive board came to his defense, according to the report. But Hunter's evasiveness of the issue calls into question his commitment to the cause, and exactly how much he's "in the trenches" with the rest of the players for what Hunter has set up to be a very long lockout. Yahoo! also reports Hunter was granted over $1 million last year for unpaid vacation. Which is categorically insane independently, considering his job structure and responsibilities, but whatever. 

Perhaps most concerning from the players' perspective is this quote from Yahoo!, from a player regarding how Hunter conducts himself in response to union representatives voicing questions or concerns:
“Billy isn’t afraid to embarrass you in front of other players, if he doesn’t like your line of questioning,” an Eastern Conference player said. “He’s done a good job keeping us informed and fighting [NBA commissioner David] Stern, but I don’t need to be lectured by the guy. I’m allowed to ask a question.”
via Hunter sidesteps question on pay - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

That's bad leadership right there. As is declining a pay cut. Even if you structure it differently to ensure you get the same money eventually, you need to in order to be side-by-side with the players who pay you to represent them. Otherwise, you have a system wherein someone who isn't taking responsibility allows months and months to go by without negotiations, waiting until the last minute to enter into serious conversations and only then taking a stand against progressively stronger tactics from the owners.

Oh, right, that's exactly what happened.

The players' side has been considerably more willing to compromise during this entire process, and up until the last few weeks have conducted themselves in a much more professional manner. But the fact remains that Hunter has been out-flanked badly in this process, and now he's stepping into snares from his own players, even as the trap-setters say "Don't step there!"

Whether the center can hold will determine if the players can avoid getting routed in this process over the coming months.  

Final note: Is there anything more perfectly exemplary of the discrepancy among the players? Kevin Garnett brings t-shirts with "STAND" on them and does his dramatic yelling trick, and Shane Battier asks a relevant, important question. One is celebrated, the other shut down. Does not inspire confidence for the players' side in this.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:35 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

Posted by Matt Moore

It's just about over now. The respiration machines are slowing, the room has gone still, and everyone's trying to make peace with it. NBA momentum is almost dead. And the players and ownership are still haggling with one another over its possessions. 

It's grotesque how everything has happened that has led to this point. From the owners' scorched earth policy to avoiding any move toward real compromise or negotiation, their refusal to offer counterproposals over a period that lasted longer than six months, the players' desperate moves to maintain their footing, and most of all to the fact that both sides only really started negotiating within the last month. They knew this was coming. They knew what was at stake. And their pride kept them out of the board room. This is not how business should be conducted, not how men should decide the fate of the league at its most important time. 

There should have been dialogue the whole way through. It should have started last year and continued as often as possible. Both sides should have offered alternatives outside the box (the players have provided some ideas, but they were mostly regarding tertiary issues and didn't address the primary concerns). Both sides should have recognized that total victory is not obtained through negotiation. But maybe the owners knew that. Perhaps they understood the only way they were going to get their way was to force a siege and then choke off the supply lines. Maybe this was the plan from the start. If so, they're even dumber than the contracts they gave that put themselves into this position would show. But either way, there should have been efforts made to avoid this at all costs. This should have been the absolute last option, not the starting point to try and avoid. That would have been reasonable, that would have been intelligent, that would have been good business. 

Instead, we've got this, the height of success for the league since Michael Jordan left being set aflame because of principled stances and juvenile dramatic positioning.

We've got a lockout.

The NBA and ownership meets Thursday for the final time at noon eastern (high noon, as the drama continues) to try and resolve this. Or at least to look as if they're trying to resolve this. If you have a key negotiation that's being done to avoid shutting down your business entirely, do you wait until the absolute last minute? Is that how things are done? Absolutely not, but that's what's going on here. Instead we have one more chance for each side to try and position themselves as the compromisers, as the ones trying to get a deal, to try and create a crack in the other side. It won't work, of course. What would work is a group of smart people in a room trying to find solutions to the problems both sides face. Instead, we get two sides providing lip service by showing up for a meeting neither of them expect to actually do anything. 

If ownership is largely responsible for the injuries sustained to NBA momentum with its refusal to offer counterproposals, ridiculously hard line, constant scare tactics, and unrealistic expectations to completely revolutionize the sport in one renegotiation versus aiming to make changes over several, the players pulled the plug by refusing to offer a counterproposal to the owners' last effort. Was the owners' last design a series of false admissions of compromise wrapped in a deceptively hard stance? Absolutely. But there was no reason to cut off the talks, to stop the process of offering alternatives. That's negotiation. Instead, as the players elected for at All-Star Weekend in 2010, they pulled off dramatics that seem more like the work of dress-code-protesting teenagers than an organized collection of professionals. T-shirts that read "STAND," the brainchild of the ultimate NBA drama queen, Kevin Garnett along with Paul Pierce (you thought I was going to say LeBron, didn't you?). Walkouts of practice at All-Star Weekend. The players are one-step shy of stomping and screaming "It's not fair!"

Meanwhile, the owners are harboring delusions of grandeur of their own, wanting to "win" a negotiation outright. The CBA is an agreement. It takes two sides to tango. And while their money is what creates the backbone of the league, and it is their teams that form its foundation, they cannot exist without the players, without these players, without the best players. Yet the owners think it better to create nuclear winter and then wait for their opponent to buckle. 

You know why neither the United States nor the Soviet Union elected to use nuclear weaponry in the cold war? Because killing all of the citizens you're fighting for in an effort to protect them doesn't make any sense. Putting the league into a lockout, killing all the momentum and shutting off revenue streams in order to make more money isn't just cutting your nose to spite your face, it's drowning yourself to make sure you don't run out of air. It's madness. 

The league is at its best point since Jordan left. Ratings are up, league interest is sky-high. The internet has allowed fans to follow their teams in a way they have never been able to. All the games are broadcast on League Pass. Trades provide constant speculation and fans huddled around screens waiting to see what happens next (and will become remarkably difficult in a hard cap, hope the owners are remembering). The draft got crazy ratings, for crying out loud, and it was a horribly weak draft! China is a still-emerging market, the game has never been more globally recognized,  revenues have come back up, and yet here we are. Wasting all this is borderline criminal. Depriving the fans, who, if we're being totally honest, are the ones who actually drive revenue, of this sport wastes everything that has been built over the past five years. We're talking about incredible amounts of money, in the billions. The money is there. We're just going to shut everything down over how we're going to split it up? Really? This is the big strategic design?

Getting hurt by your long-term contracts to wasteful players? Don't offer them. Don't think you should lose money in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression? Grow up, everyone's tightening his belts, even the owners. Want to guarantee profitability? Open up conversations about revenue sharing and we'll believe you. Want to protect future players' earning potential? Give them a league to play in.

There are alternatives being looked at. Ken Berger's got a plan. Other smart people have a plan. The players and owners? They've just got the body of NBA momentum, dying in front of them while they fight over the silverware. 

The NBA lockout is upon us. And every inch of it should be something both sides should recognize is wholly and entirely stupid.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 1:12 am

NBA Lockout Primer: questions and answers

A quick primer to get you up to speed on the NBA lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver. 


If you think the upcoming NBA lockout and potential work stoppage boils down to billionaires and millionaires fighting over who gets to make money off of a game, I wouldn't argue with you.

Despite more than a year of rhetoric from both sides, charges that the game's economic model is totally flawed and needs to be revamped and threats that an entire season could be lost, the labor situation facing the NBA boils down, first and foremost, to dollars and cents. NBA owners are looking for a larger share of the pie, less financial risk and a more equitable playing field; the players are mostly aiming to maintain the status quo, which includes a healthy share of league revenues, lengthy, guaranteed contracts and a soft cap system that helps prop up player salaries.

The league's teams are represented by NBA commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and an ownership panel. The players are represented by NBA Players Association Executive Direction Billy Hunter, NBPA president and Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, and other board members.
To get an idea for what the two sides are arguing about and where they stand on each of the major issues, let's break it down item by item.

1. Split of Revenues 

By far the biggest issue facing this labor situation is the division of overall revenues. In the NBA, revenues are referred to as Basketball-Related Income. Under the current system, the players take home 57% while the owners are left with 43%.

Over the last year or so, the owners have raised a number of reasons they feel their share should be bigger: costs associated with stadiums, additional expenses incurred through long-term debts, the rising costs of travel and so on.  The NBA has claimed that 22 of its 30 franchises lost money this past season.

The easiest way to fix that problem, of course, is to drastically reduce costs associated with players. In other words, by cutting their salaries significantly. Options on the table: rolling back future salaries of previously agreed to contracts, reducing the length of contracts (less years = less money) and reducing the amount of guarantees in a contract (allowing an owner to get out of a bad contract more easily or more quickly). It goes without saying that the players are opposed to all of those ideas on principle, given that they represent major concessions to what they have previously negotiated for themselves.    

2. The Type of Salary Cap

Unlike the National Football League, the NBA operates under what is called a "soft cap" as opposed to a "hard cap." In a hard cap system, there's a spending limit that you cannot exceed on player salaries. Once you hit the maximum salary amount, you can't add players without subtracting current players by trading or waiving them. In a soft cap system, teams are able to exceed the salary cap in a number of ways. In the NBA, the most common way to exceed the salary cap is to re-sign your own players to large contract extensions. The NBA also has salary cap exceptions which allow teams that have exceeded the salary cap to sign additional players. These include the mid-level exception, which allows every team  over the cap an extra salary slot that is equal to the average player salary in the league, and the veteran's minimum, which allows a team to fill out its roster with low-dollar salaried players.

The NBA owners have proposed switching the league's salary cap to a hard cap system. This would have the effect of limiting spending overall, as owners would not have the ability to employ their exceptions or sign their star players to lucrative extensions without making cuts from the rest of their roster. Under a hard cap system, if you wanted to sign a star player to an extension, you would have to make room by getting rid of other players first. For example, if the Memphis Grizzlies wanted to sign Marc Gasol this summer, they would have to trade away some of their current players to make it happen.

A soft cap system is ideal for the players. It keeps salaries high, gives them good options in free agency and allows them to be rewarded for their loyalty if they decide to stay with their current organizations when they become free agents. It's worth noting that some teams -- especially big-spending teams -- are going to be opposed to a hard cap system. Star-laden teams with large payrolls like the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks would be difficult, if not impossible, to build in a hard cap system. The Lakers have the highest payroll in the league, in part, because they have signed stars like Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to big-dollar extensions.

The NBA has enjoyed booming popularity this season, in large part because of the success of the Heat, which was built on acquiring multiple, high-dollar free agents. Switching to a hard cap system could kill that golden goose. Still, many owners are pushing to level the playing field when it comes to spending because large-market teams are able to shell out significantly more dollars because their revenues -- in the form of television deals and the like -- are so much greater. One possible compromise that has been raised is a "flex cap" system, which would firm up the current system a bit but still allow for some exceptions.

A balance will need to be found between protecting the owners' ability to retain their own players while also protecting them from being able to spend so recklessly that they are not able to turn a profit. The players believe this boils down to the owners simply needing to exercise greater restraint. The owners believe the system needs additional measures because spending big -- way too big -- has become necessary to put together a winning team. 

3. Revenue Sharing

There's no better way to illustrate the difference between large markets and small markets in the NBA than to look at the TV deals. In 2007, the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly signed a 10-year agreement with Comcast Sports NorthWest to carry their games for $120 million. In February, the Los Angeles Lakers announced a reported 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner Cable. In other words, the Lakers will receive more revenue in the first year of their deal than the Blazers will over the duration of their decade-long deal.

Currently, the league has a system of revenue sharing that redistributes money from teams that exceed what is called the "luxury tax." When teams spend significantly over the salary cap, they pay a dollar-for-dollar tax to a league-wide fund that gets split up and sent out to all the teams that didn't spend significantly over the salary cap. 

Generally speaking, small-market teams argue that the large-market teams couldn't succeed and profit as greatly as they do without the league structure and all of its teams. Therefore they believe large-market teams should share a great portion of their revenues. The large-market teams believe their organizations and brands are the ones generating the revenue and therefore believe they shouldn't need to share those revenues with small-market teams. By and large, the players are mostly indifferent on this issue. They care less about how the owners divvy up their money and more about what slice of the Basketball-Related Income pie they receive themselves. 

NBA commissioner David Stern has said he wants to create an atmosphere where all 30 teams can compete for a title. That's been taken to mean that the NBA will expand its revenue sharing system. It's possible that the revenue sharing discussion would come after the first two issues mentioned above are resolved.

4. Tertiary Issues

Every time these two sides get together to negotiate, smaller issues arise. In the past, these have included things like the dress code, the institution of a one-and-done rule which mandates players attend college for at least one season, and the inclusion of an amnesty clause, which allows owners to achieve some financial relief on a contract that currently exists.

This time around, the owners could push for an expanded version of the one-and-done rule which would require two years of attendance in college. The players generally oppose that revision -- and the current rule -- preferring that high school players be eligible to enter directly into the NBA Draft pool. 

Both sides could be in favor of an amnesty clause as the owners receive financial relief and the players would be paid in full and able to seek a new contract if it is used.

A franchise tag, which would increase a team's ability to keep its own high-demand free agents, has also been rumored.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com