Tag:Collective Bargaining Agreement
Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:05 pm

Report: Nets books show major losses

Posted by Royce Young

The NBA hasn't just been fighting the Players Association over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It has also been fighting a pretty major PR battle against the media and public over how truthful all these claimed losses are.

The league says 22 of 30 its 30 teams lost money last season. The league says in total, it lost about $370 millon, give or take. The league says owners are currently operating in a broken system that makes it extremely difficult to turn a profit, especially if you're not in a major market.

Some are having a hard time believing that. After a NY Times piece earlier in the week questioned how true some of the league's claims were, things only ratcheted up another notch. The league responded with a rebuttal, providing more facts and numbers in an attmept to quell some of the skepticism. The league claims $1.8 billion in losses over the past six years, but as many have noted, it's kind of hard to just take the league's word for it. We need to see stuff. Like open books.

Well, CNBC's Darren Rovell got ahold of the New Jersey Nets' books from last season and according to the report, the Nets suffered substantial losses over the past few years. (Click here to read the entire document.)
For the 2008-09 season, the documents reflect that the Nets lost $77,227,184. The team earned $78,783,677 in operating income, including $26 million in ticket sales and $32.5 million in total broadcast revenues. Operating expenses were $147 million, off mainly $66 million in salaries and $33.3 million in "amortization of intangible assets." When the team's $13.3 million interest expense is added, the Nets loss for the 08-09 season hits $77.2 million.

So there's that. According to the audited books, the Nets lost almost $80 million for the 2008-09 season. That's a lot of money. But there's still some skepticism over it all because sometimes bookkeepers are creative with their accounting. Rovell explains:

Now let's break it down for you. Assuming the operating income is accurate, there are three questionable line items within the operating expenses that are worth exploring. The most important is the $33.3 million amortization, since it's the largest number and often the number that the players union says is creative accounting.

So let's explain it first and then how it's reported. When a person buys a team, the price paid is distributed throughout various expense lines, the amortization line is one of those places. It's not voodoo accounting, it's actually part of generally accepted accounting practices. But the point is, that the NBA doesn't include that line item when it breaks out the losses to the union. So subtracting that number, the Nets loss that season, as the owners reported to the union, is probably closer to $44 million.

Rovell also notes that two other numbers could be disputed. That includes the $2 mllion in depreciation and the $13.4 million in interest. The union claims neither of those should be included in losses. But while the players dispute those being included, reality is, those are real losses. The value of the franchise is part of it all because it reflects the cost of expenses related to growing revenue. In terms of interest, that's actual money out of the owner's pocket so of course it should be included. It might not be a "real" loss in the same terms of expenses being more than revenue but as part of the whole pie, it counts.

One more note by Rovell to wrap it up though:

Finally, let's explore the bigger number. For the 2008-09 season, NBA owners told the players they lost a single-year record $370 million. Not only that, a record 24 teams lost that amount of money. Consider that amount of money an aggregate loss. Sources have told me that those 24 teams lost approximately $485 million, which leaves the six profiting teams with a net gain of $115 million.

So now take the Nets loss of $44 million that year. That means that the Nets share of the losses were nine percent of the total losses. If all teams used generally accepted accounting practices, is it possible that 23 other teams lost an average of $19.1 million that year? Of course it is.

What we have is another team where the financial picture is becoming clear. But that doesn't mean it's still not blurry. This is one of 30. There's a reason the league is locked out and it's because the players aren't buying everything the owners are selling. Like I've said before, the system has issues. No one would deny that. The players accept that as they've flexed on being willing to roll back their percentage of Basketball Related Income.

The matter is how deep the problem goes and how much give there has to be to fix it all. But the more information there is, the better things will get. Better PR for the league, better information for the public to digest, more pressure to make something happen.

Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:09 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Southeast Division

Posted by Royce Young

Talk of losing an entire season is a bit ridiculous to me. There's just way too much at stake. Money, momentum, fan support, money, loyalty, money -- it's just hard to imagine losing any games much less a whole season.

But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise. Let's start with the Southeast Division.

The biggest question hovering over the Magic isn't about wins and losses or if Gilbert Arenas should stop tweeting. It's all about Dwight Howard's future and July 1, 2012. That's when Howard will become an unrestricted free agent. General manager Otis Smith has already said he won't trade Howard, but that could just be talk. Howard has said he wants to be in Orlando, but hasn't committed, turning down a three-year extension.

But if NBA offices are shut down and all transactions are halted, Howard might be forced to stay with the Magic all season -- except he won't play a game. Meaning Orlando could lose out on A) having a team good enough to convince Howard he wants to stay because he can win there; B) the Magic won't have an opportunity to trade Howard and get a Carmelo-like deal where they can restock the roster instead of letting him walk with nothing in return; or C) the Magic miss out on at least one more year with Howard meaning they miss out on a chance of having a good team that can compete. That's a lot to think about if this lockout starts stretching into 2012.

It's simple and very obvious for owner Micky Arison and the Heat: Lose the 2011-12 season and that's one less year you have of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. That's one less year of the spotlight, the attention and all that money funneling right into South Beach. That's one less shot at a title. That's one less season of constant sellouts, through-the-roof merchandise sales and huge TV ratings.

Basically, it's one less season of $$$$$. And one big reason for Arison to be an owner willing to bargain.

The Hawks are in pretty solid shape right now. After the 2011-12 season, they only have six players under contract, including all their big names (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford and uh, Marvin Williams I guess).

But a prolonged lockout could simmer the momentum built from last season's deep playoff run. The roster still isn't quite there and a resolution on what to do with Smith has to be figured out. The earlier he's traded means the more he's worth. Losing that opportunity is bad news for the Hawks, even if they choose to keep Smith.

But on the bright side, it is one less season of overpaying Joe Johnson.

The Bobcats aren't really going anywhere this year, or even next year. The roster needs work. It needs more talent, more ability and better structure.

But the Bobcats used two lottery picks on Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, meaning there's a little jolt of young talent on the roster, which is exactly the direction Rich Cho is looking to take them. Younger, faster and a path to building, not just hanging on with marginal veteran talent.

A year without basketball for the Bobcats means a year of stunted growth. These guys need to play together every second they can and I don't just mean on a blacktop in Greensboro. Even if they lose 60 games, that's progress. But they need to be on the court to even have the chance to learn through losing.

Michael Jordan was a player (if you didn't know). I don't know if that means he's on the players' side because I'm sure he also wants a system that helps his franchise competitively and one that helps him make money, but at the same time, I think he cares more about winning and playing than all the rest.

It's the same story for the Wizards too. John Wall, new pick Jan Vesely, Nick Young and JaVale McGee are all young guys that just get better every night they play.

The bright side though is that Rashard Lewis is owed $21.1 million next season and that could be money well not spent. Which is why Ted Leonsis, an NHL owner who has been through an extremely painful lockout, probably isn't all that worried about things like stunted growth when there's money to be saved and made. The Wizards aren't on the path to prosperity right now and are likely one of the teams hemorrhaging a little dough. The Wizards risk setting back their development, but I think that's a price Leonsis would be willing to pay.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 10:14 pm

Is the NBA trying to pull a financial fast one?

Posted by EOB Staff.

Update (9:46 p.m.): The NBA has released a statement in which it disputes the figures linked to below, claiming that it is "indisputably" losing money. The league also disputes conclusions drawn from those figures, originally published by Forbes, but has not yet released more accurate figures.

Original Post: The NBA is losing money. Lots and lots of it. Some $370 million. 

Or at least that's what the league says. We've all kind of been forced to accept this fact to some degree, even though facts like "22 of the 30 teams lost money last year" is a bit of a controversial "fact" that's lobbed around at every opportunity by Adam Silver and David Stern. 

The system has issues, otherwise there wouldn't be a lockout. I think that's obvious. But could there be a little financial trickery going on? Nate Silver of the New York Times did some sleuthing using public financial data and came up with this: The league may not actually be losing any money at all.
Instead, independent estimates of the NBA financial condition reflect a league that has grown at a somewhat tepid rate compared to other sports, and which has an uneven distribution of revenues between teams — but which is fundamentally a healthy and profitable business. In addition, it is not clear that growth in player salaries, which has been modest compared to other sports and which is strictly pegged to league revenue, is responsible for the league’s difficulties.


First, many of the purported losses — perhaps about $250 million — result from an unusual accounting treatment related to depreciation and amortization when a team is sold. While the accounting treatment is legal, these paper losses would have no impact on a team’s cash flow. Another potential (and usually within-the-law) trick: moving income from the basketball team’s balance sheet to that of a related business like a cable network, or losses in the opposite direction.
Silver lists three more good reasons why we should be skeptical: 

1) The Warriors sold for $450 million (some $90 million more than Forbes' estimated worth), the Pistons sold for $420 million (about $60 million more than the estimated worth) and the Wizards sold for $551 million last year which was about $230 million more than Forbes' valued the franchise. 

2) Silver says, "The NBA’s data has not been made public, although it has been shared with the players’ union. If the league expects their figures to be viewed credibly, they should open up their books to journalists, economists and fans." Point, Silver (Nate). 

3) His last reason is the one I like most. The league signed a new deal in 1999 -- one that owners wanted so badly that the league sacrificed 30 games for -- and renewed that same CBA with just a few tweaks in 2005. For the most part, that deal was considered very favorable to the owners, at least initially. Yes, costs have risen and the league had to endure a recession, so revenues decreased. But Silver says, "But to hear the NBA owners complain about the current deal now, when none of the fundamentals have changed, reminds one of the old Woody Allen joke about two women kvetching at a restaurant: 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible,' one says. 'I know. And such small portions,' the other replies."

So digest all of that. Think about it. Should we all really sit here and not raise an eyebrow? Hard not to wonder what's really going on here. Hard not to listen to Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher and say, "Yeah, I guess I can see why you guys are a bit skeptical of this all."

But as Silver notes, that isn't to say the league's CBA doesn't need a restructuring. The system does have issues. Costs have undeniably risen and gate revenue hasn't contributed as much as the league needs it to. Some markets and franchises struggle to keep their head above water both financially and competitively. That's not right.

At the same time, if the league truly is fudging the numbers and massaging facts a bit just to try and make sure its owners score big, and games are lost at a time where the league's popularity is nearly at an all-time high, should we all be downright ticked?

Because think about it: The owners got the agreement they wanted in 1999 and stuck with it in 2005. Now the league is producing all-time revenues highs and projects to be incredibly successful over the next 10 years. And so they want a new deal that cuts into player salaries and "guarantees profitability." I don't know about you, but that smells funny to me. At least enough to make me say, "Hmm..."

Henry Abbott asks a very worthy question at TrueHoop today about this whole thing: If any other normally profitable business soured and started experiencing big losses, who would we blame? Upper management, right? Some blame deserves to go on the league office, but Abbott isn't willing to pin it all on The David's head.
Stern, et al, get off the hook, by and large, because their story is that 22 of 30 teams are losing money (more recently the league has said they have lost $300 million in 2010-2011). Stern works for those 30 owners. If 22 of them want to lavish more on their teams than they should have, he has little power to stop them. So, it's a story of bad management, perhaps. But it's not necessarily a story of Stern's bad management, to the extent the story is Mark Cuban deciding to spend deep into the red time and again to try to win a title.
Abbott's entirely right: You can't blame Stern. Owners run their teams, not the NBA -- well, except for the Hornets I guess (I always forget Stern's an owner). But for as great a commissioner David Stern has been -- and he has truly been an outstanding leader for the league -- this is the fourth lockout that's happened under his watch. One short one in 1994, another quickie in 1995, the big 1998 one and now the 2011 stalemate. For as much grief as Bud Selig gets, his league has been humming along for 17 years now without a work stoppage. Think about that one.

Whatever the case, the league and players are extremely far apart and when they get back to the bargaining table in a couple weeks, I'm sure Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher will mention a lot of the exact things Silver pointed out. In fact, I'm sure they've been saying them for two years now.  Both sides have a case, but always keep in mind: Both sides want what's best for them. Players don't care about owners' bank accounts and vice versa. But in the end, the people that feel it the most are the fans and extraneous team employees. So get this thing sorted out, will ya?
Posted on: July 4, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:37 am

Hard cap could mean hard times for small markets

Posted by Royce Young

NBA owners want a hard cap. It's probably one of the three biggest reasons we're stuck in a lockout right now. Owners want a hard cap, or at least one they're trying to disguise by calling it a "flex cap," and the union has basically said they will never, ever accept a hard cap.

And when the hard cap topic is brought up, people always wonder how a $55 million hard cap would affect a team like the Miami Heat. Between Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, those three soak up about $47 million on the Heat payroll. And that's just for 2011-12. In 2013-14, that number will be about $58 million, so even the suggested $62 million "flex cap" the league talked about would leave the Heat only $4 million to fill out their roster.

The super-together, we're-a-real-team Mavericks? Yeah, their total payroll added up to nearly $90 million last season, third highest in the league. That's about $30 million over the current salary cap but because it's a soft cap, it was fine. (Fine in the sense it didn't break any rules, but still, pretty outrageous.)

The feeling though with this hard-cap business is how much it'll affect teams like the Lakers, Heat, Bulls and Knicks. Now their greatest assets -- money and market -- don't mean as much because in a hard-cap system, signing multiple big contract stars just isn't an option. Victory for the small markets, right?

I'm not so sure about that.

I wonder about a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the smallest-market teams in the league. The feeling is that a hard cap would help smaller markets compete because talent would get distributed a bit more evenly throughout the league. With teams unable to pay a bunch of guys on the roster $15 million or go $30 million over the cap line, either players would have to take a serious pay cut or go somewhere else.

Except in the case of the Thunder, a straight hard cap would destroy them.

Kevin Durant just signed a five-year extension that will pay him around $16 million a year. Russell Westbrook, an All-Star point guard at the age of 22, is eligible for an extension and would probably have it if there weren't a lockout. He's probably a max player or close to it. So that would be another major mark on the cap for the Thunder. Then the other guys -- Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Eric Maynor -- are all eligible for extensions next summer.

If the league has a stiff cap of even $60 million, how can the Thunder dream of re-signing these guys and keeping the core intact?

Answer: They can't.

That has been Thunder GM Sam Presti's plan since Day 1, though. He wanted to draft a bunch of young guys and let them grow together. Let them progress, develop and become a team all together. And when they did, lock them all up long-term and have yourself a contender for the next decade. It has worked. The Thunder just went to the Western Conference finals with one of the youngest teams in the league and should be in the mix for at least the next five.

Unless of course they have to let a couple of their big pieces walk.

Last season the cap was set at $58.04 million and the Thunder were one of only five teams under that number. While a lot of smaller markets prefer not to bust into luxury tax territory, most likely OKC would be there after those key pieces were extended. So while they're under now, that probably wouldn't be the case in the future.

Reality is, a hard cap might have more of an affect on the little guys, which is who the league wants you to think it desperately wants to protect. But basically, with a hard salary cap system, building through the draft and letting a core grow together is no longer the way to go. Put together a roster with five good players that need extensions and you're out of room after three. Maybe you can get four, but how do you add another nine guys to fill out a 13-man roster?

What we might see is the Maverick Plan instituted as the way to win in the NBA. Now again, they totaled nearly $90 million, but I just mean the idea. Grab one star player and fill in the rest with a couple rookie-level contracts and a bunch of aging veterans willing to take $5 million or less. The Mavs had one star and everyone praised them for it. But in a hard-cap world, that might be best philosophy.

Because a team of Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka probably can't exist just as one of LeBron, Wade and Bosh can't. Doesn't exactly seem right, does it? The idea is a hard cap would help restore some competitive balance and the bigger markets wouldn't be able to just dwarf the small ones by going $30 million over the cap like the Mavericks did. The Thunder would never do that.

At the same time, while the playing field might be leveled in terms of payroll, it could come at the cost of breaking up the band and redefining how a small-market team must build.

Every team that's using the draft to build -- which is the sound and socially blessed way to structure a team -- would have to reconsider. The Cavaliers might've just committed 80 percent of their future cap to Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson if those two pan out. Same for the Jazz with Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. The future for those teams might be just enjoying the four years you get with them on their rookie contracts and then choose one to keep. I don't really think that's what the NBA has in mind, but that's going to be what happens. Small markets probably will take the brunt of a hard cap much harder than the big ones. Or at least the good small-market franchises that understand how to build.

Who knows what the NBA landscape will look like when the dust clears in this lockout mess. The players have taken a hard line on a hard cap and supposedly will refuse to back down. The owners though are committed in their efforts to get one. Yeah, it'll reduce salaries. Maybe the system will stay the same but just instead of Harden getting a $10 million-a-year extension, he would get $6 million. That's possible.

But this is the NBA and just because a new salary system is in place doesn't mean the league doesn't have impulsive general managers that are ready to snatch away a player like Harden and give him that $10 million a year simply because they know the Thunder can't go that high. That'll be the world teams operate in. One where the Thunder Way is no longer the blueprint for small-market building success.

Maybe the players have a point, huh?
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:17 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 12:35 pm

A CBA/lockout FAQ: Understanding what's going on

Posted by Royce Young

The NBA's owners voted to lock out the players on Thursday, meaning that officially, the league is operating under a lockout.

We're all hearing that term being tossed around a lot. I overheard two guys talking about it at a restaurant yesterday in fact.

"You hear there's a lockout? I can't believe this!"

"Me either. So ridiculous. What exactly does that mean?"

"Something about a Collective Bargaining Agreement. And money."

Pretty much, yeah. But there's more to it than that. What is a lockout? What happens to the players? Why does the league do it? What's decertification?

So I put together a little Lockout FAQ. Hopefully most of your questions are answered here. And in normal language, not lawyer talk that the two guys at the restaraunt would never understand.

1. First, a did you know:
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement isn't actually expiring, as many have been saying. It's actually being terminated by the owners. The old one signed in 1999 had an early termination option for the owners and they are exercising it. Just wanted to get that out there.

2. Why are the owners doing this?
The league claims it lost $300 million last season and that 22 teams lost money. That might not be entirely true. But the owners and league maintain that they are operating within a broken system that prevents all 30 teams a chance at profitability. Supposedly, that's all they want. Owners are trying to to reduce things like how much Basketball Related Income (BRI) the players receive, guaranteed contracts and the length of contracts.

Basically the why is that the owners want to make money. What else could it be?

3. I don't get it. The league is reportedly pulling in bigger revenues than ever before. How are they losing money?
Rising costs. That's what the league says. It costs a lot more to operate a franchise now than it did 10 years ago. Player salaries have steadily moved up, arenas cost more and on and on. And the players don't really disagree. Concessions have been made such as the players saying they'd be willing to drop receiving 57 of the BRI to 54. That's a pretty big give.

But the owners want more. They claim the number needs to be in the 40s. They want a hard cap. Some would say that this is a lot the owners' fault by giving stupid contracts out -- also known as "Travis Outlaw" -- but that's just the nature of the beast. The system the NBA operates in allows for that and so to remain competitive, bad contracts are just part of the game. Owners want to try and cut down on some of that to, you guessed it, make more money.

4. What do the players want?
More of the same, really. The NBA is on a path to explode financially over the next 10 years and the players want to make sure their piece of the pie is still big. As Kevin Durant said recently, " The way the CBA worked before is something we really liked. There’s no need to change it. Things have been going very well for us, as far as the league, revenue and things like that are concerned. We want to stick with that pace, but of course the owners want to go a different way with it."

That's kind of the mindset, although they are willing to flex some. How much is the question. And when it happens I guess is the other.

5. So what exactly happens in a lockout?
Exactly that. Players are physically locked out from the practice gym, weight room, video room, etc. No contact between teams and players. Essentially, the teams have suspended their employees which in this case, are the players. The reasoning is to encourage them to sign a new CBA, one that the owners like.

During a lockout, players lose their salary, all benefits and basically any connection to the team (sponsored travel, use of practice facilities, equipment and the like). There won't be any trades, no signings, no extensions, no meetings, no practices and most importantly, no games. The league entirely freezes. People will be laid off, money will be lost. It's an effort to bleed the players so that eventually they'll cede and bargain with the owners.

Right now, the players are taking a Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive approach though. I... don't... bargain.

6. Why does the league use a lockout?
A lockout isn't anything new. The league locked out players for four months in 1995. They did it for a few hours in 1996. And then the big one that lasted six months spanning between 1998 and 1999 that resulted in 30 lost games.

Clearly, like I said, the league is looking to try and capitalize on irresponsible players that didn't handle their checkbooks wisely. By locking them out, players don't draw paychecks anymore. Which means a lot of players are in big trouble. Which means they'll want to give in to a deal quicker. You're saying, "But they're millionaires!" Yes, in terms of salary, they sure are. But you'd be surprised how many NBA players live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. All those cars, houses and needy fourth cousins add up quickly.

But don't misunderstand: The league and owners are losing money during a lockout too. The idea though is that they have more in the coffers and the owners through their other businesses, can handle missing out on on gate revenue from games.

7. So is that why some players have said they'd play overseas?
Some have said they'd consider it, but let's be realistic: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and others aren't going to do that because they don't need to. Mid-level and lower income players might, but it's a major risk. If a player were to get injured, his NBA team could void his current contract when a new CBA gets settled.

8. When is free agency then?
Whenever the lockout is lifted. That very well could mean a scattered, scrambled two-week free agency period in September. Or January (gasp). For example, during the 1999 lockout, free agency, training camps and two preseason games were all stuffed into two weeks.

9. What about players like Russell Westbrook that are eligible for an extension right now?
They've got to wait. Everything ceases. And I mean everything.

10. Are players going to get retropay then when the lockout is lifted?
No, players won't get paid back. That's the whole idea of the owners locking them out. They're kind of punishing them for not signing a deal. Whatever paychecks they miss out on during the span of the lockout, they don't get back.

11. How many games can be missed and the league still have the NBA Finals?
I don't think there's actually a set number on that. In 1999, David Stern issued a drop-dead date of Jan. 7 to get a deal done so that the league could build a 50-game season, which was seen as enough of a regular season. I would imagine if a lockout bled into February, that the postseason would be in jeopardy.

12. What happens if Otis Smith decides he wants to check in with Dwight Howard about his summer workouts?
Reportedly, that results in a $1 million fine. And the league could actually punish any way it sees fit. Lost draft picks, money penalties, a phone call from David Stern berating you and your extended family -- who knows. The league means serious business about this stuff though. And you don't want to mess with The David.

13. Could the NBA players do what the NFL players tried to do and decertify?

14. Hang on, come back to that one. What's decertify actually mean?
Basically the players would be separating themselves from the union. The union could announce it is "disclaiming interest" in representing players in their employment within the NBA. Without a union representing them, players pretty much become individual contractors, instead of a collective bargaining group. Because of that, legal restrictions such as max salary, the mid-level exception and the draft would become vulnerable to federal antitrust laws.

It's kind of a way for players to hit back at the owners from locking them out. The NFL players tried it and succeeded, but only momentarily before a judge overturned it in the U.S. Court of Appeals' Eighth Circuit.

15. OK, so again, are the players going to decertify?
They could. They aren't going to though, at least not right now, so says Billy Hunter. The NBA has never decertified, not even in the prolonged lockout in 1998-99.

Clearly the union is interested, at least at the moment, in still trying to negotiate a deal. Hunter said that decertification wouldn't really help the cause and he's probably right. When that path appeared to work for the NFL, I'm sure Hunter and the union took notice. But since it was overturned by a judge and the lockout reinstated, that whole mess is something that the players want to avoid. For now, at least.  

The goal for the players is to get back to work. They want to draw their paychecks and play ball. Decertification just makes it all that much more complicated. What's going to fix this is getting back to the bargaining table and finding a deal both sides can live with. Not a legal battle over antitrust laws. The best way to end this is to keep talking, which is what Hunter and the players intend to do.

16. Does everyone have to grow a lockout beard now?
It's not a rule and David Stern already said he's not going to be donning another. But nobody's stopping you if you really want to.

17. Will there be a 2011-12 season? Should we totally panic?
It's just my opinion, but I have no doubt there will be a 2011-12 season. There's a lot of doom and gloom talk going around, but I just can't picture the league really taking the risk of ruining all this momentum and goodwill by losing a bunch of games. I mean, considering how good a place the league is in right now, if the NBA were to lose a whole season or even just a lot of it, it seriously taints David Stern's career. You think he doesn't realize that?

Don't panic yet. If it's September 1 and nothing has been done, start panicking. All you're missing out on right now are some free agent signings, Summer League and maybe a couple trades. No basketball has been lost yet. We're still a solid four months away before that happens. "Lockout" sounds all big and bad, but there is a lot of time left before things actually get ugly.

18. When's the next bargaining session? Please say tomorrow.
That's yet to be determined as of now. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said everyone was going to take a break over the holiday but would start prepping to get back to work at it on Tuesday. By all indications, the two sides are going to keep the dialogue going. In July of 1998, after negotiations fell apart and the lockout began, the sides went a month without talking and that was a minor 90-minute session.

Derek Fisher seemed to believe that talks would resume in a couple weeks though.

19. Who is more right -- the owners or players?
I'll be honest: I can't really decide. Both have very valid points. Hence the reason we're at this impasse. Both sides have made fairly major concessions but both sides don't feel like it's enough. Again, therefore a stalemate.

Remember though: This is billionaires arguing with millionaires about money. There's no way around that. And it's the owners that are the ones pushing things to the limit. So if you want to point the finger at someone and get angry, take it out on the owners. Both the players and owners are to blame, but the lockout was imposed by the owners.

Finding a middle ground is going to be a challenge. Finding a solution that keeps players happy and feeling like they will share in the successes of the league over the next 10 years while also making sure owners have a path to profitability won't be easy. But nobody makes money when games aren't being played. Nobody makes money when games aren't on TV. There's a lot of motivation to get something done. Ticking off fans is a pretty good one. Maybe the best one. Don't think for a second that David Stern, the players and everyone else doesn't totally understand that.

But neither side is willing to blink just because of that. The best leverage the players have is the fact the league is in its best position it has been in some 15 years. Eventually someone will. It's just a matter of how long that's going to take.

20. When will players start feeling the affects of this?

Actually, not until Nov. 15. That's when they're due their first check. So that's kind of a scary part. Up until then, the lockout really isn't going to sting anyone's bank account, which means the players might be fine digging in until then.

21. Doesn't this totally suck?
Yes. Yes it does.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 12:30 am

The lockout starts, NBA.com officially goes dark

Posted by Royce Young

Welcome to the new NBA.com, where the second lead story is, "WNBA MVP race heating up." Yeah, this whole lockout thing totally sucks.

What happened? Where'd StatsCube go? Where's all the player profiles? Where are the stories, columns and pictures?

All gone because of the lockout. At exactly 12:01 a.m., the time the lockout officially began, NBA.com transformed to a cut-down version with no pictures, videos or text about players. Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop explains why:
Does it really matter if there's an extension of the CBA in July or a lockout? After all, there aren't any games nor do players get paid during this summer.

But for the guys who are in charge of those team websites and NBA.com, the pending deadline is a huge deal.

That's because the moment the clock strikes midnight on the current CBA, all those images and videos of NBA players have to disappear off NBA-owned digital properties. Depending on how you interpret "fair use," the prohibition could include the mere mention of a player's name on an NBA-owned site, though different teams have different interpretations of this particular stipulation.

Over the past few weeks, NBA website administrators and support staff have endured two-hour conference calls and countless planning sessions to figure out how to eliminate all these photos, highlights, articles and promotional features from the sites.
At last check, a lot of team sites still were normal, but we'll see what happens there in the coming days. But there is literally no NBA-related content on NBA.com that includes anything about a player. All content has been wiped clean for now and the only content is either about the lockout or the WNBA.

If you needed a visual, obvious sign of the lockout, just check NBA.com. It's on, people.

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 8:42 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 10:17 pm

Derek Fisher speaks about oncoming lockout

Posted by Royce Young

Union president Derek Fisher spoke with reporters following the 2 1/2-hour meeting that ended up not producing enough progress to prevent a lockout. Fisher said the players' new proposal wasn't received well and expressed his disappointment in the failed negotiations.

But he also made the point that this isn't the end.

"Both sides left the room still fully committed to trying to get a collective bargaining agreement done," he said. "If [a lockout] is what we're faced with tonight, that doesn't mean NBA basketball is over. We're going to continue to negotiate in July, August, September  and figure out a way to get it done."

Regardless, there's still a giant gap between the sides. Getting back to the negotiating table will be good, but that doesn't mean a deal is going to get done. Both sides are going to have to give a lot to finally find some common ground in the middle. It's just a question of who is finally willing to bend.

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