Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by EOB Staff.
The situation, as Ken Berger put it so eloquently, is thus: "In other words, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, the excrement has hit the air conditioning."
The owners and players met Friday in an effort to make progress off of the owners' seemingly concilliatory last offer. The natural step in a negotiation is for the players to respond with another counter-proposal as the two move closer together. But after everyone thought the owners' proposal was a great step forward, the union went ballistic over it.
The result? Beger reports that Jared Dudley told media Friday after the meeting that the players elected to not offer a counter-proposal, saying the two sides were "too far apart." With a Board of Governor's meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Berger reports that he players expect the owners to vote for the lockout at that meeting.
It's been a long time coming, and we have a week to go with NBA players and owners agreeing to a "smaller bargaining session" on next Wednesday or Thursday, but the reality is here.
We're headed for an NBA lockout, without question.
If you're looking for subtext here, imagine that the goal is to get a plank balanced on a post. Both sides want as much weight added to their side of the plank while keeping it balanced up in the air. They add things the players want (and have) like guaranteed contracts and things the owners want (like restrictions) to try and get things balanced. After the owners' very Cold-War approach to negotiations for the last, really two years, their last proposal seemed like a move towards progress. But the players feel that the owners have simply moved the post far enough and counter-weighted their side to make it look like it's balanced. In reality, the players feel they's simply moved the post and gotten more of what they want, by managing the story.
The players' abrasive and ultimately toxic approach Friday represents the line in the sand. They're not going any further, and they're not going to let the ownership dictate terms any more. The players have been concilliatory about BRI, exceptions, revenue sharing, the works throughout this process. Now that the owners have tossed them what they feel are bread crumbs and called it progress, the players have elected to throw the bread back in their face and walk out the door.
Berger reports Stern characterized his reaction to the decision as "disappointed." I characterize his chracterization as "the work of Captain Obvious."
Perhaps you're wondering why it's taken until a week before the end date of the current CBA to reach this point, why they couldn't have negotiated seriously earlier, to reach this point and then push through it instead of running up against the cliff.
Welcome to the club.
There's almost no escaping it now. Barring a miracle or a significant coup among the owners by the voices of reason, it's game over.
Professional basketball stops on a dime at midnight Thursday night.
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:53 pm
Could coaches and excecutives be facing limits to their salaries as the NBA labor restructuring process unfolds?
Posted by Matt Moore
Sports Illustrated reports today the CBA talks and financial restructuring of the NBA and its business policies will not only impact the relationship between ownership and players. It may influence the creation of an informal cap structure for both coaches and executives. From SI:
The players aren't alone in worrying about the values of their future paychecks. Several coaches and team executives have told me they believe they'll be threatened with a major cut in salary next season as part of a new cost-savings approach that will affect all areas of NBA business.
"The players are going to require it," said a team executive with knowledge of the owners' agenda. "The players aren't going to accept a rollback of 35 percent, and then allow some team to pay Phil Jackson $15 million."
Two team executives predict that each team will be given a standardized budget (not yet determined, but let's say it's $4 million per team) from which to pay the entire coaching staff, and another budget to cover the salaries of the entire front office. Because there is no collective bargaining agreement between owners and coaches or front-office employees, the owners won't be able to cap their salaries. However, the league could attempt to punish teams that "overpay" coaches by refusing to share certain revenues with them, in much the same way that high-spending is prohibited from receiving their share of revenues from the luxury-tax pool.via Salary cuts, coaches' pay to come into play at NBA labor talks - Ian Thomsen - SI.com.
This escalates things significantly.
SI also reports that coaches are concerned for their pensions. And those pensions are the line in the sand for the coaches. One coach tells SI there will be a coaches walkout, which should surprise no one.
A significant key here is that this is a feeling among coaches and executives, not coming from the league. While a league representative has shown significant interest in coaching contracts, this isn't a league-leaked initiative. Which means it could be a phantom concern. But if it's real, this isn't just a fear for coaches and execs, this is a legal apocalypse waiting to happen. You're talking about an unmandated policy being enforced by arbitrary revenue dispersal. Trying to shove that through would be like rolling out a welcome mat to the mongol lawyer hordes waiting behind every coach's representative agency.
It make sense within the context of the NBA's rather significant initiative to completely revamp the costs of doing business in a league that sees little to no profit for a significant portion of its representative owners, but the same issues will arise here as they do in the player talks. At what point is the balance struck for owners between curbing salaries within their industry and maintaining the ability of their more fortunate representatives to commit whatever resources they choose to winning? Or, to put it another way, are the Jerry Busses of the NBA going to be comfortable with a situation which decreases their advantage in inking coaches like Phil Jackson? But even that isn't the largest quarrel that will be raised here. It's the same one at the heart of the labor talks.
At what point is ownership responsible for the decisions it makes?
That's the central point in this. If a coach elicits $5 million per year, and an owner is willing to pay him that, why should there be a ceiling to what that coach can be paid? Isn't it up to the owners to show discretion in spending, and won't that be the most effective way to curb salaries? The NBA and its owners are seeking to set up guidelines, fences, controls to keep the spending beasts penned in. But in a situation like this, coaches, who often have the most stress of anyone in the league, will be faced with the question of why their money is being trimmed while player salaries are guaranteed? Finally, again, those pensions are the lifeblood of the coaching fraternity. If the coaches have any ability to organize themselves, they'll put everything they have in front of those pensions to protect their futures.
The next six months look bloodier and bloodier by the minute.
Posted on: November 26, 2010 2:21 pm
NBA labor dispute could have impacts not only on NBA players but freshmen headed for one-and-done status.
Posted by Matt Moore
Kyrie Irving was busy tearing up teams on Duke's way to dominating the CBE Classic in Kansas City. Terrence Jones was making a name for himself in Maui. Josh Selby was continuing his ineligibility thanks to Team Melo. Harrison Barnes was struggling to find himself, and Enes Kanter, well, he wasn't doing anything much at all.
The country's best freshmen draft prospects were a little distracted last week when NBA Union head Billy Hunter said he was 99% sure there would be a lockout next season . But don't think the comments didn't trickle their way into the youngsters' ears at some point later, along with Ken Berger's report of hope emerging in the talks just as Hunter talks doom and gloom.
You're going to hear a lot from these kids as the year goes on about how they're not paying attention to the CBA talks. You're going to hear about how they are just focused on their team and trying to win now, for their teammates. And everything you hear is ignoring the reality which is that the current tensions between the owners group and the union has to have these standout freshmen concerned.
The freshmen have a bigger decision because "one-and-done" players are usually the most talented and have the best chance of getting drafted as high as possible. There are certainly exceptions (Evan Turner and Blake Griffin are two that spring immediately to mind). But "one-and-done" has come to mean high profile draft pick in recent years and next year's projected draft class is chock full of them. Five of the top six players projected in the 2011 class by Draft Express are freshmen (though it's hard to argue Enes Kanter is a freshman anywhere at this point).
A lockout means leaving college puts them in a precarious position financially should they elect to jump to the draft this summer. Staying in college increases the odds of injury, their stock dropping, or other forces beyond their control impacting the number of millions they're able to collect when they decide to become a professional.
So it's kind of a big decision.
The question is if the concerns surrounding a lockout for the freshmen will be enough to keep them at their schools next year. If they do talk kids off the professional highwire ledge, it could have huge impacts on next year's college basketball season. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com isn't convinced the lockout concerns will freeze the freshmen, because they'll have other options to make some dough before their contract dough gets sorted out. But if they do, it'll make for a stellar college basketball season in 2011-2012. As Parrish told F&R:
"I'm not certain a lockout would force everybody back to college the way some suspect because the elite guys, at the very least, will still have options. A freshman coming off a great season and deep run in the NCAA tournament -- Jared Sullinger? Kyrie Irving? Terrence Jones? -- might be high-profile enough at that point to secure endorsements that can't be turned away, or maybe a European club offers big money to bring a 'name' over. Beyond that, academics could always force the hand of a few who never intended to be in school more than a year. So we shall see. But if a lockout comes and guys subsequently decide it's to their benefit to just remain in college, wow, we could be in for a great 2011-12 season of college hoops.
The union naturally isn't concerned with players who aren't in the league, beyond some preliminary talks about eliminating the age restriction. They've got bigger concerns for established veterans and trying to fend off the losses in revenue share being discussed. (Read more about how the union is softening on that stance in Ken Berger's column here.) But this situation goes to show how massive this lockout situation is. It will hold an impact on the NBA which is enjoyed success it hasn't seen since Jordan retired (the second time), players, owners, agents, and even those youngsters making a name for themselves in front of the student bodies.
It's just another example of a world that could be dramatically altered not by play on the hardwood, but by talks held in boardrooms over the next ten months.
Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:31 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Ken Berger's report on the upcoming meeting of the players' union and ownership is probably only going to go as well as the last meeting did. Here's a little dramatic re-enactment of that exchange:
Players' union: "Psshaw!"
Players' union: "As if!"
Owners: (Rabble rabble!)
But among the information KB passed along , there is the one that keeps coming to life:
Like partygoers ordering the last few rounds of drinks on the Titanic, owners doled out more than $1 billion in salary commitments during free agency. Five-year deals north of $30 million for the likes of Channing Frye, Drew Gooden, Amir Johnson and Travis Outlaw were among the head-scratchers -- or, as one person on the players' side of the debate called it, "the height of stupidity" for owners heading into a labor fight.
In politics, I'm told there is a drive to create easy-to-digest slogans. And "You gave Darko Milicic $20 million" is the union's new rallying cry. And it's certainly a valid one. But wrapped up in all this two-faced jesterdom is a question that started bugging me. KB notes that teams gave out up to a billion dollars in free agent money this summer. But then later, there's this sobering, theoretically unrelated note, again, something we know but that bears repeating:
"There's a concept known as the self-fulfilling prophecy," one of the people involved in bargaining said. "When you have both parties saying there's going to be a lockout, the likelihood of it happening is very high. ... My interpretation is, I don't think either one of these guys is ready to move."
So just to go over this once more. The ownership group lays out $1 billion dollars the summer of free agency and takes on water for it. At the same time, the ownership group is steadfastly moving towards a lockout with seemingly no concern over how long it will go on. Anyone else picking up a paradigm here? The owners gave out a considerable amount of money over a given number of years... but are almost positive they will not be giving the full amount.
A lockout season prorates the players' pay. With players paid twice a month, if the lockout lasts into half the season, that scrapes off half that first year's salary. Take a swing at how much less those salaries become depending on how long the lockout lasts? Meanwhile, the ownership group negotiates for a tougher deal which will curtail spending in the future. So we've got a primary element of the union's case that probably won't be true. It won't stop the union from being able to use it as an argument, but then, the more the union uses it, the more likely a lockout becomes, which of course, drops the price off the contracts.
Even if the lockout only lasts a month into the season, that could drop millions off a team's payroll. Combine that with whatever revisions the owners force the players to concede, particularly those top-end players, since they aren't making their presence felt at the meetings, and there's a pattern forming here. The owners seem like they're a step behind. But it's possible that Berger's source was right:
"[The owners] are not remotely worried. They're fully prepared to shut the thing down."
The union's campaign slogan may ring true in theory, but it's possible the owners are a step ahead, regardless of how these talks develop.
Posted on: July 30, 2010 8:45 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Ken Berger's column today touches on the future of the league through the ever-narrowing window of the upcoming CBA talks. The column itself specifically touches on the viability and reception of an NFL-style franchise tag in the NBA. But a salient point might get lost in the column, one that belies another level of complexity in the talks that will occur over the next 12+ months.
From KB's piece :
“The league would love to have [a franchise tag] in place to maintain competitive balance,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the Sports Law Program at Tulane University. “The small-market owners would love it, but the big-market owners wouldn’t. It’s not just a struggle between the owners and the players. It’s a struggle between the owners and the other owners.”
The point belies something lost in the offer-counter-offer-counter-counter
The league will first and foremost side with the owners. They have a responsibility to ownership to protect their interests. But the league is also torn on the interests of the big-market teams versus the small-market teams, who have competing interests within the owners contingent.
For example, a franchise tag as Berger outlines would have helped Cleveland keep LeBron for another year, buying time to make another run at a title, provided the Cavs targeted an “exclusive” tag for James. Even a non-exclusive tag would have prevented the Big 3 from forming by demanding two first round picks in exchange for James, making the sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh that much harder, especially if Toronto also oped for a franchise tag on Bosh.
And that's great for Toronto and Cleveland, but the teams that have led the labor negotiations have been the very teams that would hate a franchise tag, those teams that were in contention for LeBron this summer. New York. Chicago. New Jersey/Brooklyn. LA Clippers. And the Miami Heat. It's those owners, along with those in Boston and LA who have the most to lose from restructuring, that could prevent change at this level.
But the franchise tag is a concept. There's a very real battle that will be fought during these negotiations, one that could drive a wedge of confusion into the owners' obtuse fortress.
Revenue sharing is a players union issue. At least that's how the union sees it, and it has been pushing for changes to the revenue sharing system aggressively. David Stern said at the All-Star game that revenue sharing was a priority for the league, but also made it clear that it would be a separately negotiated process internally with the owners, not something the league would allow the players to negotiate during the CBA talks.
This is likely to be a major issue of contention, to the point where the union may have to employ labor law in order to force the issue onto the table. But the owners may not just be having to fend off this push from the union. Forces within the owners group may have a rising contingent of newer owners who are unhappy with the current model, which essentially gives the big market teams significant advantages at every turn, trapping small-market teams at the bottom in a rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer model. There are obvious exceptions in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Orlando, but both the Spurs and Magic have spent a considerable amount of money in order to overcome that gap, and the Magic have yet to claim a title while the Thunder are merely projected towards success.
As a few examples, in the NFL, which is clearly the most successful sports league in America, television revenue is split among all the teams while in the NBA, the home team negotiates its own television deal. The NFL home team splits the gate 60/40 with the away team, while the NBA home team keeps all its revenue.
An adjustment like this may seem indicative of a move towards welfare ownership that could lead to bad ownership allowing to float, but it's hard to argue that's a worse arrangement than the massive gap between the small market teams and the big markets. Newer ownership, though, has made noise about wanting to move away from the status quo.
Meanwhile, as the owners are trying to shore up their own front, they are likely to tailor their proposals to the union to benefit the non-superstar players while restricting the top percentage of players. Appealing to these players with concessions could help them with their overall goal of capping exorbitant spending (on non-Darko players, of course). This sets up a scenario of there being five separate entities in the CBA talks. The superstar players, the role players, the big-market owners and the small-market owners, with the league trying to keep tabs on everyone in the hopes of getting a resolution (that obviously favors their constituents, the owners).
Things are going to get a heck of a lot messier before they get better.