Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: June 11, 2011 8:28 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 8:29 pm

Weak European market for locked out NBA players?

One NBA agent says the European market for locked out NBA players is pretty weak. Posted by Ben Golliver.

With little progress coming out of the latest round of labor negotiations between NBA commissioner David Stern and National Basketball Players Association head Billy Hunter, NBA players are forced to consider the fact that Game 6 on Sunday or Game 7 on Tuesday could be the last time an NBA game is played for quite some time.

Everyone's back-up plan, at least in theory: Go to Europe and play there!

But one NBA agent with experience negotiating contracts overseas says that players are in for a rude awakening when it comes to demand for their services in the European market.

Agent Marc Cornstein, who recently negotiated a contract for former Boston Celtics center Nenad Krstic with CSKA Moscow, told SportingNews.com that economic factors will prevent very many players from finding high-paying work overseas.
“I think what a lot of people don’t realize is, you’re going to have a perfect storm of issues here,” Krstic’s agent, Marc Cornstein, told Sporting News. “The economy in Europe is not great, that is a consideration. The lockout here is a big consideration. The bigger teams, like Moscow, are going to be very aggressive early. But beyond that, there are very few teams overseas that are going to be able give lucrative contracts. 

“Maybe 10 or 12 teams will be able to give out $1 million contracts, and they only have 12 roster spots. A lot of those teams have players already under contract, players that they’re happy with. Not every team is going to be in a position to completely restructure the roster to bring in NBA players. None of them are, really."
Going overseas requires a lifestyle change. Certainly some percentage of NBA players wouldn't be interested for that reason. Others simply might not need the money. 

But for fringe NBA players without future guaranteed contracts, international players that want to play closer to home, American players who simply want to compete competitively no matter what happens with the labor negotiations, and those who are looking to maximize  their career earnings potential, there's plenty of motivation to explore the overseas option should these negotiations continue to drag. That is going to put a serious squeeze on the available spots, to be sure.

While we might not be there quite yet, the date for NBA players to commit to the overseas option is approaching very rapidly. This could soon become a matter of who jumps first.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 5:34 pm

Union charges NBA not bargaining in good faith

The National Basketball Players Association reportedly has filed an unfair labor practice against the NBA. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Are the NBA's collective bargaining negotiations about to take an ugly turn or could legal action prevent a lockout?

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the National Basketball Players Association has "just filed unfair labor practice charge with National Labor Relations Board, accusing NBA of failing to bargain in good faith."

Shortly thereafter, Yahoo! Sports reported that the "NBPA's complaint to NLRB for unfair labor practices charges the NBA with 'harsh, inflexible and grossly regressive 'takeaway' demands. Players Association also charges NBA is 'engaging in classic 'take it or leave it' and surface bargaining intended to delay action.'" The site also noted that it's possible this is simply legal maneuvering. "These charges will probably go nowhere, but the union seems determined to make clear that there's been no progress with Stern and owners."

The Associated Press reports that the move could impact whether there is a lockout this summer. 
The NBA players' association filed an unfair labor charge against the league Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board, a move it hopes could block a lockout it feels owners want.

The union says the NBA hasn't bargained in good faith, has made financial demands without offering concessions to the players, and has bypassed the union to deal directly with players.

The charge filed with Region 2 of the NLRB seeks "an injunction against the NBA's unlawful bargaining practices and its unlawful lockout threat."
In recent weeks, the Players Association has expressed frustration with a lack of progress in ongoing negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Via the Salt Lake Tribune, the NBA issued the following response on Tuesday afternoon.
"There is no merit to the charge filed today by the Players Association with the National Labor Relations Board, as we have complied -- and will continue to comply -- with all of our obligations under the federal labor laws. It will not distract us from our efforts to negotiate in good faith a new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association."
Back in April, Yahoo! Sports reported that the NBA referee's union filed a similar complaint.

This post will be updated with more on this story as it develops.
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:44 am

Report: Hard cap proposal delayed in new offer

Posted by Royce Young

In the latest collective bargaining agreement proposal that was rejected last week by the NBA Players Association, included the implemenation of a hard salary cap lower than the current figure, but not to take place until the 2013-14 season according to ESPN.com.

The new proposal, which the Players Association was reportedly very unhappy with, didn't have near the changes as expected. Instead, according to the report, were just that major changes to the CBA would now be eased in rather than implemented immediately.
The league, sources said, regards this as a major concession, since the next two seasons would employ a salary-cap system with luxury-tax penalties not unlike the system currently in place. Teams currently operate with a salary cap of $58 million per franchise, with a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax imposed for every dollar teams spend over the tax threshold of $70.3 million.

Sources said the owners' latest proposal, however, does still call for immediate rollbacks of 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent to current contracts depending on salary levels, as part of the league's oft-stated desire to reduce payroll by roughly $800 million leaguewide on an annual basis.

The NBA's ongoing push for such sharp salary reductions, sources said, is what caused the quick rejection from the players' side, with the union also still determined to oppose a hard cap.

The league also reportedly wants to install even lower salaries for rookies as well as making it "hugely advantageous" to remain with the teams that drafted them.

The new offer would allow teams to offer longer and more valuable contracts to players that remain with their teams instead of taking their talents somewhere else. Obviously this is a response to the Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard situations. A reasonable idea, considering the mess fans and players have had to endure once their contract's expiration date even appears on the horizon.

There has been some solid progress on the non-lockout front lately, with a report from ESPN.com saying that union executive director Billy Hunter and David Stern were meeting face-to-face on a regular basis recently. That, combined with the ruling in the NFL lockout as well as the positive momentum in the game suggests that a deal is becoming more and more likely. The latest offer was rejected, but still optimism is increasing that a new deal will be signed by both signed before the June 30 deadline.

Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 2:01 pm

NBA not canceling Summer League? Updating...

NBA cancels Summer League, summer internships, and planning for European preseason games in advance of expected lockout. Yikes. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Update 1:26 p.m.: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports: 

While it's obvious that there would be no summer league involving NBA players or drafted rookies in the event of a lockout, two people with knowledge of the situation said the event has not yet been canceled. There have been informal discussions for months between summer league organizers and league officials about what to do with the scouting event if there is a work stoppage, and the ideas have included bringing international teams to the event, one of the people said. In addition, the D-League -- which will continue to operate during an NBA work stoppage because its players are not NBPA members -- is exploring the possibility of holding a Las Vegas event that would replace summer league. D-League officials, sources said, are exploring this hypothetical event without the assistance of Vegas summer league organizers.

But as of now, summer league is scheduled to begin July 8. Given the current labor climate, that would seem to be wishful thinking. 

Original Report:  Up until now, the NBA has kept its heart and mind publicly open to the idea that the labor dispute would be settled before June 30th when the current CBA expires, or soon afterwards, to avoid any disruption of NBA plans. A report from the New York Daily News  suggests the league is moving forward with facing reality. They are cancelling NBA Summer League for 2011, their summer internship plans, and are not planning for any European preseason games. Gulp. 

Summer League is an NBA tradition, used as an early showcase for draft picks, young players developing, and D-Leaguers and fringe players looking to break in. It was thought that Summer League would go on as planned, even in the event of a lockout, just without the draft picks or any player who is a member of the NBPA. It's not known at this point if the event was cancelled due to a perceived lack of interest that would make the event too costly, or whether this is belt-tightening by the league in advance of lost revenue. There will be jokes aplenty about how this doesn't really matter, but consider three things. 

One, if you don't think any talent comes out of this event, take a look at Gary Neal who made a strong case for a few Rookie of the Year votes in any year where Blake Griffin did not exist murdering unicorns.  That's a heavy rotation player who the Spurs invited to Summer League from Europe, watched him excel, signed him and then made him a consistent player who became a favorite of Gregg Popovich. And without Summer League, the Knicks may not have seen the promise of Landry Fields and what he brings to the floor. Want another one? How about starting two-guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, Wesley Matthews (via Twitter ). Summer League has a lot of washout talent, but the diamonds in the rough are found by some of the best GMs and coaches in the league. 

Two, this is the first real breeding ground post-free-agency for trades. The vast majority of general managers and executives make it out to Vegas for a few days of sun and bad basketball, and that's where conversations start that lead to trades. Without it, all of that is set back. The lockout's got to end sometime, this just sets everything back a few months more. 

Three, there's been discussion of replacement players, conceivably using players from the D-League, and the D-League season is slated to go on regardless of the lockout next season. This was a showcase for teams to see those players. Without it, we'll be seeing more of the Collins-brothers-type signings in the future. 

Outside the box of the event itself, however, the cancelation of Summer League, the internships, and the preseason games in Europe makes for a pretty bleak future. We're not talking just July here. The NBA is makig contingency plans for October, here. This is one-step shy of going ahead and planning for games not to be played. There's no surprise, but it does provide a sobering reality of just how long and painful this lockout will be. As the NBA heads into what many feel will be one of the best NBA postseasons ever, the dark clouds of the impending lockout continue to rain on our parade.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 2:53 pm

NBPA VP Evans 'sure' there will be a lockout

Maurice Evans, Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, is "sure" there will be a lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

A few weeks back, we noted that Billy Hunter, the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, said that the players "won't cave" and are prepared for a lockout and possible work stoppage. 

On Friday, NBPA vice president, Washington Wizards forward Maurice Evans, took that a step further, telling HoopsHype.com that he is "sure" there will be a lockout because an agreement will not be reached prior to July 1.
"We’re just waiting until the season is pretty much over because we won’t have a chance to all meet again until the NBA Finals are over with (in mid-June). I’m sure we won’t get a deal done by July 1. Therefore, it technically will be a lockout. Hopefully, we’re going to solve those issues before the season starts again.
We’ve had a number of meetings starting over a year ago, almost two years out, and we still haven’t been able to really come to any significant negotiations. Therefore, I know it’s going to go into the summer.
Evans went on to call some of the meetings between Hunter and NBA commissioner David Stern "token" and that the serious negotiating had not yet begun.

The worst part about this situation is that Evans cannot be dismissed as a doomsday voice. He's very practically and rationally letting us know that so much work needs to be done and so little progress in dialogue has been made that it's impossible to imagine an agreement being reached in the next three months. 

That's what we all suspected, but it's still tough to take when delivered so frankly.
Posted on: March 30, 2011 9:47 am

No meetings set between NBA owners, players

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that there are currently no meetings set between the NBA owners and players to discuss a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Posted by Ben Golliver.

During the All-Star break back in February, NBA commissioner David Stern gave his annual state of the union address. Much of the statement and questions afterwards concerned the league's negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Basketball Players Association. At the time, Stern said it was possible there would be a work stoppage next season, but he did give fans hope: he repeatedly said the two sides were committed to meeting with each other to advance the negotiations.

Indeed, on at least four separate occasions, Stern referenced meetings. "In yesterday's session, I would say it's fair to say that we are setting up the next meetings," Stern said. Later, he added, "I think in a very positive vein, we each agreed, the union and the teams agreed that you know everything was available to be discussed, and that we would set up a series of meetings and discuss away so that by the time the agreement currently in effect expires on June 30th, we will hopefully be able to assure our fans that we did all we could possibly do to have a replacement agreement in effect, and that's our intention, to work as hard as possible to cause that to occur."

Stern further added: "The established order, the way we do things, is we go back to New York and we start setting up meetings.  Probably first in small groups to go over certain that's where I become, quote, staff; the small groups of the staff meet with the union staff, and then at the appropriate time, we bring in the principles, which are the player representatives, and the owners or members that we expect there to be.  And it's also allowable to let the lawyers talk to each other, and it's okay to talk on the telephone to go over issues, as well.  There's no specific Magic to how it gets done.  But I think the most important thing is that there be continued communication and the building of trust."

One of Stern's final comments: "We are looking forward to the meetings that we are planning to schedule with the union."

The repeated nature of the comments regarding meetings provided hope, as it showed a willingness to commit to a process publicly.

Unfortunately, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that, more than a month later, no meetings have taken place and no meetings are scheduled!
With three months to go before the CBA expires, it isn't clear when the two sides will meet next. There have been no formal bargaining sessions since All-Star weekend, and even that session was more for show than for negotiation. Sources say there has been discussion of a possible face-to-face meeting involving Hunter, his top legal deputies, commissioner David Stern, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver sometime around the next scheduled Board of Governors meeting in mid-April in New York. A league spokesman, however, said no such meeting has been scheduled.
Though the owners' labor relations committee, chaired by Spurs owner Peter Holt, met last week in New York, there are no indications as to when -- or even if -- the owners will ever submit a second formal proposal before the current deal expires June 30. The only offer on the table from the NBA came in January 2010, when owners proposed a $45 million hard cap and $750 million to $800 million in salary rollbacks for the players. The union countered July 1 by offering to negotiate a reduction in the players' 57 percent share of basketball-related income (BRI). But Hunter said if owners don't submit another proposal, they shouldn't hold their breath for him to counter his own.
"We're not inclined to negotiate against ourselves," Hunter said.
There have been all sorts of signs that point to brewing trouble between the sides recently, including Hunter's more aggressive public stance in recent weeks. But a total lack of dialogue is the single most troubling thing that NBA fans can hear. Agreements can only be reached after negotiations, and negotiations can only happen at meetings. No meetings, no agreement, no basketball.

More than a month ago, NBA fans were promised meetings. They deserve a transparent update from the league on what happened to the goal of "continued communication."
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 10:18 pm

Players Association wants to end 'one and done'

Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, says the players are in favor of ending "one and done". Posted by Benbilly-hunter Golliver.

On Tuesday, we took a look at the increasing rhetoric from the players' side of the NBA's labor negotiations. Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, disputed financial information presented by NBA commissioner David Stern, dug in against some of the loftier proposals from the owners and let the world know that the players are ready for a work stoppage if it comes to that.

On Wednesday, further details of the players' desires came out, and a number directly contradicted positions believed to be held by the owners. For example, ESPN.com reports that Hunter called the idea of contraction "posturing" and said that he's ready to fight against a hard cap. Neither of those is a huge surprise as both issues -- jobs and the large guaranteed contracts that go with a soft cap -- are near and dear to the players' hearts.

But another issue of contention was also discussed: the NBA's "one and done" rule that mandates players can't enter the NBA until a year after their high school class graduates.
The union favors eliminating the current CBA's ban on players straight from high-school, but says that the issue has not yet been a big factor. Hunter explains the union's proposal: "I don't know if there has been much discussion. Our position is that players should be incentivized to stay in school if that's what they want. Let's reduce the duration of the rookie scale. For every year a guy stays in school, a year comes off the rookie scale. So if a kid decides to stay for four years, he'd come in, maybe spend a year in the league, then he'd be an unrestricted free agent."
Now, see, that's a problem, because the owners not only love the one and done system, they wouldn't mind expanding it to multiple mandatory years in college. The logic is simple: The more years that players are forced to stay in college, the less risky they are as draft prospects and the readier they are for the NBA lifestyle. 

Debating this rule isn't agenda item No. 1 for either side, to be sure, but it does represent another fundamental disagreement. To make matters worse, the owners generally feel like the protections afforded by rookie scale contracts -- slotted salaries, restricted free agency at the end of it -- are one of the best aspects of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. To compromise or change the structure of rookie contracts in any way (other than reducing the starting salary figure for top-end picks) is the exact opposite of what the owners have in mind. 

The "one and done" rule has been one of the thorniest issues in the NBA for years now. Today's problem isn't determining whether or not forcing a young player to attend college for a year is just or legal. Today's problem is that the issue is just another one of many that the two sides don't see eye-to-eye on. Gulp.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:47 pm

Billy Hunter: NBA players ready for work stoppage

NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter says NBA players "won't cave" and are prepared for a work stoppage. Posted by Ben Golliver. billy-hunter

Surveying the last year or so of headlines concerning the NBA's ongoing labor dispute, it's striking how one-sided the discussion is. NBA commissioner David Stern has dominated the public discourse, with NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter and NBA Players Association President Derek Fisher speaking only occasionally and almost always with a vague optimism and commitment to the process.

That pattern seems to be shifting this week, as Hunter has shown a more forceful, combative side.

In an ESPN.com interview, Hunter disputed Stern's statements that the two sides have agreed on the owners' financial situation. Why is that a big deal? Because that was the biggest headline coming out of Stern's All-Star Weekend address, a statement that would provide hope because it would allow the negotiating process to begin. The two sides can't truly negotiate unless they see eye-to-eye.   

Almost as important as that statement of fundamental difference is that Hunter also made it clear that the players were ready for a long battle.
Hunter dismissed the idea that players are unprepared to weather a work stoppage.
"That's the belief," he said. "That was put to rest and proven false in [the lockout of] 1998. And I can assure you that if the owners continue to push for the deal they've been pushing for for the last two years now, that the players will take a stand. They won't cave. And they'll ride through this lockout." Hunter said he does not yet know what's driving the league's tough stand.
"We're trying to determine whether it's all rhetoric, or if it's real," Hunter said. "We'll only know in time. We're not in a position right now to say. David [Stern] hasn't given me any indication for me to conclude that it's rhetoric. He seems pretty strident, and pretty much dug in in terms of where he is.
In a Yahoo! Sports report, Hunter also seemingly dismissed many of the owners' desired changes in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by pointing out those changes were already proposed and rejected in previous bargaining sessions dating back years.
“Ironically, a lot of the same things that David and the owners are demanding now are identical to what they were demanding in ’98. He said, ‘I think every one of my owners should have a guaranteed $10 million profit per year. I said, ‘Bull… . ‘What they have is predicated on how they manage their teams. Nobody forces them to sign anyone.
“It’s the same argument: ‘We’ve got these guys who got six-year deals and I’ve got to pay this guy …’ Well, [expletive] it. Why did you give it to him? Nobody put a gun to your head.”
Without question, that's the sound of heels being dug into the ground. For those hoping for a quick, painless resolution to the labor negotiations this summer, those words read like nails on a chalkboard.

The players and their labor executives are entitled to their bargaining position and the public restraint they've showed simply couldn't last forever. A one-sided media presentation of the dispute is certainly not in their best interests. 

Something to watch closely here will be Stern's response (or lack of a response) to Hunter's direct challenges. By disputing Stern's major All-Star Weekend statement, by implying that he believes the owners could be "all rhetoric" and by upping the intensity of his side's rhetoric Hunter is calling Stern to the carpet a bit here. 

One thing is for sure: If Stern gives Hunter the Stan Van Gundy treatment, we could be in for a long fall and winter.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com