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Tag:David Stern
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.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:15 am
 

Donald Sterling didn't know who Elgin Baylor was

Clippers owner Donald Sterling testifies he did not know of Baylor's career when he hired him. Seriously.
Posted by Matt Moore

Donald Sterling is such a lovable, popular guy these days. In the same day that it was revealed his organization refused to help cover an assisant coach's prostate surgery following th revelation of cancer, Sterling testified in Elgin Baylor's wrongful termination suit against him that he had no knowledge of the NBA legend's career when he hired him.

Yeah.

From the Los Angeles Times
You didn't know about his basketball career?" Baylor attorney Carl Douglas asked Sterling in his first day on the stand as Baylor's wrongful termination civil lawsuit against the team continued at a Los Angeles courthouse. "His accomplishments? The Hall of Fame?"

"No," Sterling answered. "... I didn't know that. I hired him for $3,000 a month. I didn't really know what his role was.... He was working in a mail-order company back then."
via Clippers owner Donald Sterling testifies he knew little of Elgin Baylor's career when he hired him - latimes.com.

Los Angeles Lakers' owner Jerry Buss is known to have introduced Sterling to the prospect of buying the Clippers and moving them from San Diego to L.A.. Based on that fact, it's reaching the point where a tax may need to be put in place on Buss for him to pay back the amount of blown potential revenue for the league had anyone else owned the Clippers. 

How can you possibly own an NBA team and not know who Elgin Baylor is? What kind of gap in common knowledge has to stand between you and everyone else in your field to be ignorant of a legend in the endeavor you've taken on? 

Sterling continues to embarrass the NBA at every turn, and David Stern continues to stand idly by and watch.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 10:56 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 11:02 pm
 

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

A letter sent by Billy Hunter to every NBA player strikes a pessimistic tone following the All-Star Weekend meeting with NBA owners. Posted by Benbilly-hunter Golliver.

Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association and a collection of NBA owners met in Los Angeles during the 2011 All-Star Weekend to discuss the league's upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Following the meeting, NBA commissioner David Stern said the talks were productive and that the two sides understood each other's position, while also admitting that there was still significant work to be done.

On Friday, NBAConfidential.com obtained a letter, dated March 3, sent by NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter to all NBA players. The letter, which is three pages in length, includes Hunter's take on the All-Star Weekend bargaining session. 

While the language isn't particularly surprising, it does take on a noticeably pessimistic and cautionary tone. The letter calls the owners' position "extreme" and notes that the owners' proposal would require "the players' compensation, job security and freedoms [to] recede." King also writes that the players "have quite a fight ahead of us" and that, overall, the All-Star Weekend meeting "accomplished little."

Here is Hunter's overarching summary.
"One point has become clear, and the owners did not shy away from this reality at our meeting; their extreme proposal is not just intended to wipe out their alleged losses. Instead, by their own admission, the owners are seeking in this negotiation to guarantee themselves a significant profit each year. As they made clear at the meeting, they would be making the same demands even if they were not claiming to be losing money. If the owners have their way in this negotiation, regardless of how effective a franchise is managed, each other will be able to use a new 'idiot proof' system to ensure that in addition to the appreciating return on his investment, he will reap millions in profits each year, while the players' compensation, job security and freedoms recede.
"If it hasn't already become clear, we have quite a fight ahead of us. Our meeting at All-Star Weekend accomplished little, but we did agree to continue meeting in good faith in the hope that we can find common ground. I can assure you that we will do everything in our power to reach a fair and equitable deal, and will not rest until the task is accomplished."
One particular sticking point, Hunter writes, is the owners' apparent insistence on instituting a hard salary cap.
"We relayed how their hard cap proposal strikes at the heart of our nearly 30-year history of guaranteed contracts, and how we cannot watch that longstanding culture disappear on our watch. As expected, the owners one again refused to budge. They repeated their claims of heavy losses and claimed that our 57% of Basketball Related Income (BRI) is too high. They insist that the current soft cap system is 'broken' and they need a new system that will create 'more competition' and fan interest."
Given that the meeting in Los Angeles was more an exchange of ideas rather than a formal bargaining session, the fact that there were no immediate concerns is to be expected. But, in his address on the meetings, Stern chose to focus on the fact that the two sides understood each other, while Hunter's letter here makes it clear that, while that may be true, that doesn't necessarily mean the two sides are in the same ballpark on some of the most basic bargaining issues. 

While no one wants to play the role of Chicken Little, it's difficult to read this letter and come away thinking anything but that the two sides are still at the very beginning stages of what is sure to be a protracted and potentially ugly bargaining session. That's not good, because the clock is already ticking.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 11, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 9:48 pm
 

Van Gundy gets stern shush

Posted by Royce Young

It was only a matter of time before the gavel came down on Stan Van Gundy. You mess with The Stern, you get the horns.

After popping off about David Stern, essentially comparing the NBA commissioner to a dictator, Van Gundy said he has been told he can no longer comment on the Stern issue. This is a day after Stern backhanded Van Gundy in an interview with ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd, saying, "I would venture a guess that we're not going to be hearing from him the rest of the season."

Stern did not take Fredo fishing at Lake Tahoe, though. Didn't even fine him! He just put a muzzle on him.

Van Gundy was mainly complaining about what he sees as hypocritical officiating with Dwight Howard. Van Gundy quoted a stat he attributed to Elias saying Howard had been hit above the head 593 times. This came after Howard reacted against the Bulls by swinging his elbows and picking up his 16th technical, which led to a one-game suspension.

Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:59 pm
 

David Stern blasts Magic coach Stan Van Gundy

NBA commissioner David Stern responds harshly to critical comments from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Posted by Ben Golliver. david-stern

You knew this was coming.

Back on Monday, we noted that Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was quite upset with his center Dwight Howard being suspended after receiving his 16th technical foul of the season, as Van Gundy believes Howard is a target of hard fouls and that the NBA referees are too quick with the whistle in handling Howard's responses. In the process, Van Gundy made a comment that he "certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinions or free speech or anything." Van Gundy later clarified that he wasn't comparing Stern to any particular dictators, but the damage was done.

During an ESPN radio interview on Thursday (audio here), Stern shot back, and he shot back hard, implying that he was taking action against Van Gundy by speaking with his Magic superiors and that Van Gundy's frustration is borne out of his team's struggles. 

Here are some of Stern's comments via the Orlando Sentinel.
“I’m going to engage in a private discussions at this point with his franchise,” Stern said. “I actually am not going to talk to Stan Van Gundy. I’m going to talk to the ownership of the team.
“I see somebody whose team isn’t performing, whose star player is suspended, who seems to be fraying.

“I would venture a guess that we’re not going to be hearing from him for the rest of the season,” Stern said. “I think when he stops and reads what he said, realizes what he did, he will say no more. … I have a feeling some modicum of self-restraint will cause Stan, and the team for which he works, to rein in his aberrant behavior.”
Van Gundy's frustration is legitimate and has accumulated over the years, as Howard's issues with technicals are nothing new. While his criticism of Stern is factually true -- Stern has made it clear through statements and heavy fines that he does not want any public comments about his league's officiating and its policies -- it wasn't prudent and it was certain to anger the commissioner given the timing in relation to significant world affairs. 

Van Gundy either popped off without thinking (a distinct possibility) or he was ready to take a stand on this battlefield and suffer whatever repercussions would come his way. I tend to lean towards the former explanation, as Van Gundy did attempt to clarify that his remarks were not meant to compare Stern to leaders in Egypt and Libya. 

Stern doesn't often come across petty but his personal, direct attack on Van Gundy and the Magic was way too much, and it was absolutely beneath him as the league's commissioner. When cooler heads prevail, it seems fair to conclude that both sides will wish they could take back their most heated comments.

The worst part: the real thrust of Van Gundy's message, that Howard needs to be protected better even if he's one of the biggest and strongest players in the league, got totally lost in the shouting match.
Posted on: February 20, 2011 3:14 am
 

Stern acknowledges Kings have discussed Anaheim

David Stern acknowledges talks between Anaheim and Kings
Posted by Matt Moore

In his comments to the press Saturday night before the All-Star activities, commisioner David Stern acknowledged that the Kings are in discussions with Anaheim officials to relocate the team. The comments from Stern confirmed an earlier report from KFBK in Sacramento that Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli had offered a $100 million loan for the Maloof in exchange for the Kings' relocation. At the time, the interest was thought to be primarily from Samueli.

But ESPN later reported Saturday night that the Maloofs are "seriously considering" applying for relocation on March 1st. That, in essence, would be the ballgame. 

The city of Sacramento has failed in about ten different ways to approve funding for a new arena to replace Arco Arena, which is considered more of a tomb than an arena at this point. It's a struggling economy in a small market, and mayor Kevin Johnson is at his wits' end trying to come up with a solution to keep the Kings in Sactown. If the Maloofs decide to file for relocation in eight days, it's over. No more initiatives, no more discussions. The NBA owners will approve, the Kings will take the money and run.

This is a huge moment for the league in terms of its future in market relations. Big name players are abandoning their teams for brighter lights and bigger payrolls.  Small market teams are bleeding money.  Revenue sharing is the key debate in the union-owners talks. And Sacramento, home to one fo the most passionate fanbases in the NBA, may lose its team. If something isn't done, soon, the league's not going to have any small markets left. 

Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:20 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 10:33 pm
 

NBA Commissioner David Stern All-Star comments

NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the media in a press conference on Saturday at NBA All-Star Weekend. Posted by Ben Golliver.
david-stern-asw


NBA commissioner David Stern lauded the current health of his league on Saturday at All-Star Weekend and spoke positively of developments in collective bargaining agreement negotations between the league and the players union, but acknowledged that there is still significant work that needs to be done.

"My lead is, the game is in great shape. It's never been better," Stern said. "I think it's fair to say that we and the players have each made proposals to the other. We have each expressed to the other our dissatisfication with each other's proposals. And at yesterday's meeting, 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 agrement in effect, and that's our intention, to work as hard as possible to cause that to occur."

Stern said that "hopefully" a work stoppage could be avoided but that "it's possible" one will occur.

Later, Stern was asked to compare the distance between the owners and players during this negotiation to the labor negotiation in 1999, which ended in a lockout and partial work stoppage. "We had a huge gap back then and we have a huge gap now. But you work hard to close it. And I think we have the capacity to do it."

Multiple times, Stern noted that his goal is a league with better competitive balance. "We want a sustainable business model that enables 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship that fairly compensates our union members who are currently the best-paid union members in the world, and after the agreement that we hope to consummate, they will remain the best-paid union members in the world in a league that is more competitive and hopefully profitable."

Stern was asked whether he would reduce his salary to $1 if the two sides could not reach a labor agreement, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has pledged recently. Stern said: "Last time, I ddin't take any salary. I think a dollar would be too high in the event of a work stoppage."

Here's a summary of the key talking points presented during the question and answer portion of Stern's remarks.
  • Nature of labor negotiations: Stern said that the two sides have reached a consensus that Stern and players association president Billy Hunter fully understand where each other are coming from. "IF the owners asked Billy to represent us, he could do it; and if the players asked me to represent them, I could do it."
  • Progress of labor talks:  Stern noted that the union "agreed to talk about some things that they said were nonnegotiable" and that both sides agreed during Friday's meeting that they were "willing to talk about everything."
  • Agreement on losses: Stern said that the players union now generally agrees on the financial losses presented by the league's owners. "There's no disagreement about the numbers. There's a little intramural disagreement about certain items." Those items include interest and amortization. Union president Billy Hunter issued the following statement on Saturday night following the press conference's conclusion. "There has been ongoing debate and disageement regarding the numbers, and we do not agree that the stated loss figures reflect an accurate portrayal of the financial health of the league."
  • Revenue sharing: Stern said he expects a "robust revenue sharing plan" to emerge "at the same time as we make a new Collective Bargaining Agreement." He noted that "our teams are in broad general agreement that there has to be more robust revenue sharing."
  • Stars teaming up in big markets: Stern said re-iterated his goal to create a business model that would support all 30 teams being able to compete for a title. Stern said that teams shouldn't have to spend into the luxury tax to compete for a title in the new system. "We don't think your ability to pay taxes to have a roster should be a part of the competitive landscape."
  • Franchise tag: Stern said that it "wouldn't surprise" him if a franchise player designation, which would help keep star players in their original market, emerges during CBA negotiations but that "it has not yet been put on the table."
  • Contraction: Stern said that contraction, or eliminating current franchises to improve the financial state of the league as a whole, was "not currently on the table." However, he said a push for contraction is popular among a portion of the league's owners. "That sentiment is out there. It's not a majority sentiment."
  • Expansion: Asked if there would be additional teams added to the league, Stern said: "There is not going to be expansion at this time or frankly in the foreseeable future."
  • Donaghy Scandal: Stern was asked to discuss the latest revelations regarding disgraced referee Tim Donaghy, which raise the question of whether Donaghy fixed games. Stern said the league would continue to review any new allegations but didn't have any new information to discuss this weekend.
  • Sacramento Kings: Stern said the league would continue to allow the Kings to determine their future after the league's attempts to help the team secure a new building did not result as hoped.
  • New Orleans:  Stern said the NBA and the New Orleans Hornets are "doing very well with the expressed and real support that Mayor Landrieu and Governor Jindal are giving us ... and we expect it to propel the club to success." Stern said he felt confident in the team's future in New Orleans.
  • Detroit Pistons sale: Stern said he would meet with prospective buyer Tom Gores and that he expected a resolution to the ongoing negotiation "within the next week." He also noted that "every indication is that there will be a deal."
  • Kansas City : Stern said there has been "some dialogue" about using AEG's NBA-ready stadium in Kansas City but that "there doesn't seem to be an ownership group for that city."
 
 
 
 
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