Tag:lockout
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 4:38 pm
 

Time for one-on-one negotiating, Wes vs. Jerry



By Matt Moore
 

Billy Hunter has had his turn at the wheel, and drove the players off a cliff. David Stern put the owners into the high gear they wanted and now they're wedged on a fire hydrant. When they say "the collective bargaining process has broken down," what the mean is "we broke collective bargaining." 

It's time for someone else to take over.

Clearly Stern has lost the ability to keep his extremist elements in check. Michael Jordan, who helped draft Sean May and who decided a worthy investment was professional basketball in Charlotte after it had been burned? Dan Gilbert, the comic sans wiz who signed off on bringing superstar talent next to LeBron like Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, and Mo Williams?  Robert Sarver, who if you go out for dinner with you have to make sure he doesn't sell your entree for cash an a meal to be chosen later? These are the guys running the show? Stern's legacy will be dicatated by how this ends; it's already been impacted by how far it's come.

Hunter barely had a consensus. After months of players asking about decertification and why they weren't pursuing it sooner, he elects to disclaim interest at a meeting with three player reps missing entirely, most of the reps woefully unaware of what the deal meant, without the support of most of the agents, and without even allowing for the possibility of a vote. In short, union leadership lost sight of how to connect with and communicate issues to the players. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported this week that the union denied player reps a hard copy of the owners' proposal two weeks ago. They need someone who the players can trust. 

So forget Paul Allen sitting in with stone-faced breathing, forget Peter Holt trying to play the hardliner he's not really, and forget Dan Gilbert and the gut he wants them to trust. Forget Derek Fisher who really has only been saddled with an impossible game to win, forget "Money Mase" Roger Mason and his accidental tweets, forget Kevin Garnett and his spittle. Let's get some guys in that represent both factions to get a deal in place.

On a podcast with Bill Simmons, Ric Bucher and Stein were wondering about who could take over that would truly represent either side. Bucher briefly suggested Jerry Colangelo. And in short, that's genius.

Colangelo has owned the Suns, the Diamondbacks, the Mercury, and the Rattlers of the AFL. His tenures weren't always great and were sometimes disastrous, but he also has built teams with success, worked with superstars, and has been in the league forever. He's current head of USA Basketball. He's able to put the power of the game first while also representing ownership. He has the players' respect and can communicate with them, while also working with the lunatics running the NBA asylum currently. 

You want an endorsement? How about the President of the United States, told Colangelo (via the Arizona Republic):
"He looked over to me, held out his hand and said, 'Jerry, you've got to help solve this lockout. We've got to get hoops going again.'

"I told him, 'I'm as close as a telephone.' "
via President Barack Obama wants his basketball

But who's he going to negotiate with? Who can possibly represent the players, given that no one player has the background or political strength to do it? Shane Battier certainly has the mind, but not the support. Kevin Garnett has the support but if they have the idea to send him into a bargaining room as lead negotiatior someone needs to tranq him or we're not having basketball this decade. So who on earth could do it?

We need to go Worldwide. 

William Wesley, power broker to the stars. Firmly in LeBron's camp? Sure. But he's also in with Rip Hamilton, Ron Artest, well, ok, really nearly every player in the league. He's about brand expansion and the power of the athlete. He brings with him clout from connections with the shoe companies, a history with Michael Jordan, and a savvy about himself that few possess. Wesley doesn't have to be an economist or an expert in labor relations, he's got Kessler the pit bull and the now-defunct union's economist to help. All he needs to do is weild power and leverage. He has the clout that Hunter does not. 

The agents will, of course, go berserk on this idea. But it's the players that matter, and the majority of those players have a positive regard for Wes. They will be represented, they will be informed, they will have a voice they believe in. 

Maybe those two can find a way around the road blocks that are holding up the season. Hunter and Stern can keep lobbing back ultimatums, insults, and law suits while Colangelo and Wesley try and find a way out of this mess. One thing's for sure. 

They can't do any worse. 


Posted on: November 17, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Andreychuk: NBA players should cave

By Matt Moore 

Always good to have the support and solidarity of your peers. 

The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Dave Andreychuk, former NHL player and current Tampa Bay Lightning executive about the NHL lockout that busted an entire season with the owners getting the same kind of reset the NBA owners are now aiming for. Andreychuk says that standing up for your profession just isn't worth it. Because you'll lose anyway. 
"If players think its better to sit out the season, let me tell you, its not. Its just not," Andreychuk says. "In the end, it will be worse."

"As the pressure built — after a month, two months, three months — it started to sink in," recalls Andreychuk, now a team executive with the Lightning. "Guys were saying to themselves, Im 25 years old and hockey is how I make my living. We need to get a deal done. "

"The deal got worse by us sitting out," Andreychuk admits. "At the end, we were so willing to sign, we had to agree to what the owners wanted. We gave back a tremendous amount just to get a deal done so we could go back to work."
via NBA Lockout: Former NHL player Dave Andreychuk tells current NBA players: Sitting out the season will only make it worse - OrlandoSentinel.com.

Pretty uncool statements from one former player to another. But his point that the players are going to lose anyway, that's the reason so many people were urging the players to at least return the offer with modifications instead of disclaiming interest or decertifying. The players have put themselves in a position where if they don't win a court decision, several of them consecutively, actually, or if the threat thereof does not spook the owners, they'll lose everything. They'll have their collective bargaining heads caved in when they recertify to approve the deal.

But still, you'd think that a player that has been down that road that has fought that battle would at least publicly support another professional athlete. Maybe  Maybe he and Michael Jordan can go bowling and talk about what it's like to bail on your former colleagues. 

It's not that Andreychuk's wrong. He's not wrong. He's right. He just shouldn't say it. Then again, apparently no one else is talking straight to the players about what their situation is. 

(HT: SI.com
Posted on: November 16, 2011 12:08 pm
 

After disclaiming, players on sticky territory

By Matt Moore 

The NBPA is dead. Long live the NBPA. But now that the union has disclaimed interest and decided to pursue litigation independently as players and not a union, what does that actually mean? We spoke with labor relations and litigation expert Steve Luckner of Coughlin Duffy to try and make sense of all this dissolving nonsense. 

What did the NBPA need to do to dissolve the union by disclaiming interest versus decertifying? 

In short, Luckner says, say so.  "The primary benefit is speed," Luckner says, "When you have a decertification the players have to vote and it takes place before the NLRB it's a time thing. By disclaiming, they just need to get the player reps to vote to do so, then notify the league." The remnants of the NBPA will also have to file with the Department of Labor and the IRS, but those elements do not have to be completed prior to gaining status as having disclaimed. They said they were disclaiming interest, and there they have. 

Avoiding the 45-day waiting period in-between now and an NLRB rulling which would have been necessary for the players under decertification allows them to pursue litigation faster, which is their primary objective. A fast resolution through the courts or the bargaining table is key for this now-non-collective that doesn't have unlimited funds to survive with the loss of paychecks.

What are the impacts of disclaiming interest?

We touched on the litigation aspect in detail on Tuesday. But Luckner adds that there are some tertiary elements of the dissolution. The organization formerly known as the NBPA no longer has the abilty to regulate agents, and it cannot file grievances on behalf of players.  The assumption with disclaiming is that you intend to do so for as long as you want, but the common thought is that once the lockout ends, the union will reform for precisely these functions. If they were not to do so, they would be unable to file such grievances as their case on behalf of Latrell Sprewell, Ron Artest, or Gilbert Arenas. That's not a power the players want to lose, most likely. 

SI.com notes that the agents angle is interesting because player poaching could become an issue in this new wild, wild west the players find themselves in. There's no governing body ruling over player or agent matters, and as such, anything goes. 

What's the "sham" argument?

 So the NBPA has decertified, washed its hands of itself. It no longer represents the players. And yet Billy Hunter is on the legal team along with David Boies, filing suit on behalf of Carmelo Anthony, Leon Powe, Kevin Durant, and others, all on different teams. Furthermore, every legal expert CBSSports.com has spoken with has regarded this move as a negotiating tactic, with Boies even telling reporters including Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the goal is to settle this in negotiation. At that point, most everyone assumes that just like the NFLPA, the NBPA will reform. 

Due to these circumstances, one area the league will attempt to attack the players' litigation is by claiming this is a "sham" disclaimer of interest. In short, they're still acting like a union, they're still planning on being a union, they're just saying they're not a union right now.

There has not been a clear precedent on whether a. intent is a matter to consider when regarding decertification or disclaimer of interest, nor b. whether disclaim of interest/decertification is a "light switch" you can flip on and off. Luckner says it's unlikely the court will argue with the first element. 

"I don't see the court necessarily attacking the players' motivation," Luckner says, but he adds "while holding them to the letter of the law."

Holding them to the letter of the law means the union cannot act as a regulator on behalf of the players. They've washed their hands, so they have to be fine if the players get their hands dirty. One possible ramification of the the disclaimer of interest is that players and the league can negotiate independently. Technically speaking, the players or owners could make a deal with the other side, just to sign themselves. That's obviously not going to happen, on either side. But as paychecks dwindle, Luckner notes that players could get desperate to regain their paychecks or in pursuit of playing in their short career window.  

The trick here becomes when the National Basketball Trade Association, or whatever loose organization that is coordinating the players' legal efforts attempt to corral those players. In that case, if discovered, the court would hold the liable parties in violation of the disclaimer. In short, if you're going to say you're not a union, you can't act like one. The league's response will be to challenge the disclaimer of interest itself, saying it doesn't matter if the union says it's not a union if it's still acting like a union.

These are just a handful of issues facing the players and the league with this course of action. It's messy, and complicated, and issues and rebuttals and motions will stack on top of each other and take months to sort out. Meanwhile more games are canceled and we continue to wait to see if reason enters anywhere into this conversation. 
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:55 am
 

What's it about, Herb Kohl?

By Matt Moore 

Herb Kohl is one of the owners who has pushed for the proposals that have resulted in the ongoing NBA lockout, according to multiple reports. The popular narrative goes as follows: small-market owners are tired fo being doormats and losing money on their teams so they want a system that guarantees profitability and levels the playing field for them to compete with the Lakers and Celtics of the world. There's a lot of variation in that depending on who you talk to (for example, Ted Leonsis who owns the Washington D.C. Wizards is one such "small-market" owner), but that's the basic storyline being told by many of the reports. 

If Kohl is on that side of the fence, though, it's a stunning reversal from public statements he's made in the past regarding what it means to own the Bucks. From Bucks blog Bucksketball:
“I’m not in this business to make any annual profits,” Kohl said after dismissing General Manager Larry Harris in 2008. “The value of the asset fortunately has appreciated over the years. On an annual basis, it’s a money-losing proposition. I’m in it because I love the sport, I love the competition and I love winning.”

At what point does our current reality, the reality that has connected Kohl with a group of owners now looking to tip the basketball related income scales heavily in their favor while making other radical system changes, contrast with Kohl’s traditional motives that don’t involve making money, rather just competing and keeping the team he loves in Milwaukee?
via Herb Kohl’s actions may be betraying his words |.

Bucksketball notes that in the past, Kohl has been a staunch supporter of an increase in revenue sharing, citing MLB's model.  So you can more easily understand this position than the caricature image of billionaire owners' gigantic maws trying to devour everything in existance. It's not unreasonable to want to be able to compete when you are at a disadvantage. You can argue the merits of whether or not good teams in big markets that make huge profits should have to share with their brethren, but this is at least something fans can agree with.

But then, as always, there's the money.

In that above quote, Kohl says he's not in this business to make any annual profits. And that's right decent of him. Having owners that just want to win for themselves and the fans really should be what professional sports, and in particular the NBA, is about. If you're trying to make a lot of money by owning an NBA team, to borrow a phrase, you're doing it wrong. That's not the path. So why then the revenue split tactics? Why shake the players down for 50/50 BRI or lower?

Furthermore, why isn't this an internal issue with the league? If you're looking to change the system, change the system. The players at any point after, say, August would happily have granted systemic changes in exchange for the BRI cut back. And a better revenue sharing system, a legitimate one that actually accounts for the unfathomable riches that come with each team's independent television deal, would more than have at least started the teams on the way back to profitability.

But again, we ask. What's this about, profitability or competitive balance? The league wants to maintain that it's about both. But in reality, what the NBA really needs is for its owners to decide a vision for their own ownership and stick with it.  
Posted on: November 15, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Hunter:Players to file antitrust suit against NBA

By Matt Moore 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the players' legal proceedings against the league will begin:



This comes as no surprise based on what we've already reported. Players' attorney David Boies told reporters the suit will challenge the lockout as an "illegal boycott." The players signed as plaintiffs in the case will be Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe, and Kawhi Leonard. Boies joked the case will be filed in Northern California due to a "fondness for Oakland" from Billy Hunter, then followed by saying it was because it's expected to help with expediency, and in reality, because the district is known to be union-favorable. You can expect the league to file to move the case to the 2nd circuit in New York, where they filed their original suit against the players pre-emptively. 

Boies also told reporters that they would not be asking for an injunction, but a summary judgement instead. Boies said the collective bargaining process "absolutely had ended" which is more coverage against the league's assertion that the disclaimer of interest filed by the NBPA is a "sham" used as a tactic in negotiations. The players are asking for treble damages, which would mean triple the amount of whatever monetary amount the players ascertain they are owed due to the lockout.

Boies said it is possible to get a summary judgment before the cancelation of the season, but also said that the goal is to resolve it out of court. Which you have to wonder how that's going to affect the sham argument. 

Players also filed suit in Minnesota, the same district that the NFL case was fought in, according to Boies, with more possible. Plaintiffs included Ben Gordon, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams and Caron Butler. The Minnesota complaint can be read in its entirety online here. It's a barrage of lawsuits, essentially. Boies said that the California suit will include David Stern's ultimatum regarding a reversion to a more conservative offer from the league if the 50/50 proposal was rejected. Boies said "That's not collective bargaining."
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 6:12 pm
 

NBA Lockout: Games

By Matt Moore 

We never thought it would come this. We always knew it would come to this.

It became pretty apparent during the lockout that this was not two geniuses of chess eying each other over a board and carefully maneuvering their pieces in a symphony of strategy. No, this was drunken toddlers flinging chess pieces across the room while they swung their hands down. And each game the owners would win, they'd smash the board and scream "MOAR! MOAR WINS!" And each time the players would lose they'd cry and kick and smash the boar dand scream "No fair!" as if their daddy was going to come in and rescue them.

But surely they couldn't be stupid enough to let it come to this, right?

Of course they were stupid enough to let it come to this.

The owners backed the players into a corner. They bullied and shoved and strong-armed their way into getting nearly everything they could reasonably expect to win. Then they demanded more. They put the players in a terrible position, forced against the wall, no escape, with only one round in their chamber.

And the players summarily blew their own head off.

It is an opera, really. A dramatic interpretation of two clowns trying so hard to fight one another they knock themselves out. Only no one's laughing. It would be funny, if there weren't lost jobs, careers forever altered, and an outright disgust for both sides and their inability to corral their extremist contingents. At some point you have to tell the children in the room to sit down, shut up, and behave. Instead, both sides said "Oh, are you upset? Here, why don't you drive the car. No, we don't have insurance, why do you ask?"

The reason smart analysts like Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Chris Sheridan, and other continued to say "no, the season won't be canceled, they'll get a deal" is they were so close, it wasn't worth blowing everything up over it. At least one side will come to their senses, was the thought. But it never happened. The players had the opportunity, knowing the deal was close enough to being swallowable, no matter how bad it tasted, to meet on it. So did they vote? No. Did they send the proposal back, approved, with a series of contingent amendments, to put the pressure back on the league and keep the process going? No. Did they ignore the threat and continue to say they were ready to negotiate? No. Any of those actions would have meant the players had a handle on themselves and understood the whole board, understood that they weren't going to see a better deal than this regardless of their action. But that's not what they did.

Instead, they opted for a disclaimer of interest. Not the decertification the union proposed, but this route. Faster, riskier, in pursuit of a summary judgment that is unlikely to come. They decided they'd had enough of this bully and it was time to fight back!

Except this isn't junior high. And they're still going to lose.

Maybe the owners really will fear the awesome might of a lawsuit which, in order to have any effectiveness, would take two to three years to finish through the appeals system and which most legal experts don't think they have a great chance of winning. A chance? Sure. A good one? Eeehh, future is hazy, check back later. Maybe the court really will side with them, and then have whateve result comes out last during the appeals process, and then win the appeal, setting the precedent in a case with far-reaching implications in a matter over professional sports. And if that happens, this will have turned out to have been... well, still a phenomenally stupid move, but they'll have treble damages to play with while the league burns to the ground.

But the more likely scenario is that they've blown up a season, cost themselves that money, blown their chance at BRI above 50 percent, blown their chance at avoiding a hard cap or flex cap and only managed to put more money in the hands of their lawyers. I'm not a legal expert, that's just the impression I've been given by them. There are ways out of this. But considering how complex they are and the two sides' inability to solve simple issues, it doesn't look good.

Don't be confused into thinking this is some sort of sole finger-pointing at the players. They didn't start this fire. They didn't lock themselves out. They didn't make outrageous demands. And they're right that they've made concession after concession. The owners will say they've made concessions, but their original position was never reasonable. Conceding insanity in order to justify advocating for foolishness doesn't make you any less nuts. The owners did this. The players just responded to short-sighted idiocy with more short-sighted idiocy.

And on, and on.

There was no vote yesterday, no consideration of the deal which a lot of rank-and-file players would have accepted. Those 30 reps didn't speak with with all the players they were meant to. And something happened to scare the living bejeezus out of them into voting "unanimously" to disclaim interest. Maybe it was Jeffrey Kessler, who seems to be getting an awful lot of publicity out of this whole ordeal he wouldn't have gotten if there was a deal. Maybe it was Billy Hunter, trying to steer the conversation away from this abject failure in leadership during these negotiations in order to reaffirm his position and save his salary once this ends. Maybe it was the agents, though that's unlikely given their reaction to yesterday's debacle.

But instead there was the grenade pin pulled in the alleyway knife fight, and now everybody dies. The union is dead, the lawyers are running the show, the league's not backing down because they don't have to, and the players aren't entirely sure of what they just did.

And as always, you, the fans, lose.

We never thought it would come to this.

We always knew it would come to this.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Stern appeals to players to take deal in memo

By Matt Moore 

David Stern is not being subtle. After the Twitterview Sunday night, followed by their YouTube explanation of the proposal, the NBA posted a memo from David Stern to the players, with an attached copy of the proposal itself. Any player that got it had time to review the deal without it being couched in terms by the executive committee or their player rep. It's an interesting tactic of educating the players on what the actual terms of the deal are. Now, how those elements are interpreted, especially in the body of Stern's email, obviously is subject to the lens the league wants the deal to be viewed through. But it's direct and it puts the deal before the players plainly. Might want have wanted to do that on Friday versus hours before the meeting, but whatever. The complete text of Stern's memo:
MEMO TO: NBA PLAYERS
FROM: COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN
DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2011
RE: COLLECTIVE BARGAINING\


After further collective bargaining negotiations last week, the NBA on Friday presented a revised proposal to the Players Association that contained several improvements for the players over the NBA’s previous proposal. We informed Billy, Derek, and the other Players Association negotiators that this is the best proposal the NBA is able to make, and they informed us that it would be considered for a vote by the NBPA Executive Committee and Player Representatives early this week.

Since then, there has been a great deal of inaccurate information published about the NBA’s proposal in the press and over social media. While we recognize the right of any player to disagree with the proposal, there should be no confusion over its actual terms -- so we have attached it here for your review.

Under the NBA’s proposal, the players would be guaranteed to receive 50% of Basketball Related Income each year, and average player compensation is projected to grow to close to $8 million. In addition, the proposal is structured so as to create an active market for free agents, while enhancing the opportunities for all teams and players to compete for a championship.

Contrary to media reports over the weekend, the NBA’s proposal would:
  • Increase, not reduce, the market for mid-level players. Under the NBA’s proposal, there are now three Mid-Level Exceptions, one more
  • than under the prior CBA: $5 million for Non-Taxpayers, $3 million for Taxpayers, and $2.5 million for Room teams. While the proposal would not permit Taxpayers to use the $5 million Mid-Level, that is not much of a change – since Taxpayers used the Mid-Level to sign only 9 players for $5 million or more during the prior CBA.
  • Permit unlimited use of the Bird Exception. The proposal allows all teams to re-sign their players through full use of the existing Bird exception.
  • Allow sign-and-trades by Non-Taxpayers. Under the proposal, NonTaxpayers can still acquire other teams’ free agents using the sign-and-trade. While Taxpayers cannot use sign-and-trade beginning in Year 3, this is not much of a change, since Taxpayers used the sign-and-trade to acquire only 4 players during the prior CBA.
  • Allow an active free agent market and greater player movement.
  • Under the proposal, contracts will be shorter and remaining payments under waived contracts signed under the new CBA will be “stretched” –both of which will give teams more money each year to sign free agents.
  • The proposal also requires teams to make higher Qualifying Offers and provides a shorter period to match Offer Sheets – thereby improving Restricted Free Agency for players. And the proposal contains a larger Trade Exception, which will foster more player movement.
I encourage you also to focus on the numerous compromises that were made to the NBA’s initial bargaining positions in these negotiations, including our move away from a “hard” salary cap, the withdrawal of our proposal to “roll back” salaries in existing player contracts, our agreement to continue to allow players to negotiate fully guaranteed contracts, and our agreement to a 50/50 split of BRI. While we understand fully that our proposal does not contain everything that the Players Association wanted in this negotiation, the same is true for the NBA.

It is now time to conclude our bargaining and make an agreement that can stop the ongoing damage to both sides and the countless others that rely on our game for their livelihoods and enjoyment. We urge you to study our proposal carefully, and to accept it as a fair compromise of the issues between us.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this memorandum.
The league has done nothing but apply pressure and make threats all week, and now on Sunday night they're trying to simultaneously put some sugar on the deal to make it go down. One thing is clear: the league wants the players to accept this deal. This is more of an effort to get them to sign off than we've seen. It may be their last, as well. 
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:29 pm
 

NBA Labor Buzz: Players meet to vote on deal

by EOB Staff

It could be a quiet day of deliberation. It could be nothing but fireworks and chaos. From decertification to a player vote to a league response, we'll be watching. Check back here for updates today as the NBA potentially fall down around itself.

On the scene coverage from CBSSports.com's Ken Berger

Monday 12:25 a.m.

NEW YORK -- A wise, level-headed agent has come up with a way for Billy Hunter to step out of the confines of the league's ultimatum and offer some things in order to get some things.

You know, negotiation. What a concept. I share the ideas here, because they're worth considering.

It seems that Hunter is not in a position to come out of today's meeting requesting more movement from the league without providing incentive. Given the way these negotiations have gone -- all in the direction of the owners -- that is far from fair. But it's the reality.

So Hunter can toss this back to the owners and attach the hot-button talking point of "competitive balance" to it. You want competiitive balance? The union should offer a proposal in which the distribution of draft picks is changed to give, say, the five worst teams in a given season an additional first-round pick.

If you're the Kings or the Timberwolves, would you rather have another $2.5 million or so in revenue-sharing money or tax receipts -- money that could be used to sign a veteran role player? Or would you rather have a first-round pick playing on a rookie salary, who could actually make you better and perhaps become a max player someday?

If the leaugue is really interested in competitive balance, this is one way to achieve it.

Riding shotgun with this proposal would be an offer to reduce the rookie scale even MORE than 12 percent. The level-headed agent suggested doubling that redution to 25 percent. By doing so, the escrow could return to the previous level of 8 percent, and the mechanism requiring additional withholding to account for an overage of the players' 50 percent share may not be necessary. In return, players would be eligible for their first post-rookie-deal contract after three years -- instead of being tied to the team that drafted them for five years. Players who develop into stars or valuable rotation players would be paid accordingly, and the stars who deserve it would have access to a max contract earlier.

With these two carrots, the union would then be in a position to insist that the league relax its stance on the so-called B-list issues, and also ask for movement on the A-list issue that is giving them the most trouble -- the sequencing mechanism requiring non-taxpayers to use their Bird exception first, and if it pushes them over the tax, forcing them to lose access to the full-mid-level.

Gotta start somewhere. Again, nobody listens to me or other voices of reason, but these are ideas worth sharing.

Monday 11:45 a.m.

NEW YORK -- So here I am at the players' meeting, and not that it matters -- or that anyone will listen to me -- I have some issues with several deal points the players are apparently vehemently opposed to.

Let's hit them one at a time:

* The 12 percent reduction in rookie scale and minimum deals. The players are calling this an onerous rollback, but there has to be some mechanism to conform with a new 50 percent system, and this is what the two sides came up with -- mainly, in my opinion, because max contracts were off the table for reductions. Reducing the players' salaries from 57 percent of BRI to 50 percent represents a 12 percent reduction. The league already has agreed to phase in certain system elements, such as extend-and-trades and sign-and-trades for tax teams -- for the first two years. But the difference between 57 percent and 50 percent has to come from somewhere. And if max contracts are sacred and there will be no rollbacks of existing contracts, this is the only place left to reduce. My solution, as I've stated several times, would have been modest decreases in max contracts, which would've generated more of a revenue shift than a larger decrease in rookie contracts and minimums would. (This money also could be made up to star players by giving them a larger cut of licensing money.) Also, a 12 percent reduction in rookie wages would mean that the No. 1 overall pick would go down from $4.4 million to $3,.9 million in his rookie season. The 10-year veteran's minimum would go fro $1.4 million to $1.2 million. This is what they're fighting about, folks.

* The escrow. This is the amount withheld from players' paychecks to account for a possible overage in their overall guaranteed percentage. It was 8 percent previously, and a 10 percent withholding has been proposed for the new deal. However, given no rollback of existing contracts, the league has proposed an additional mechanism to account for total salaries exceeding 50 percent -- which is likely in the first two years with no rollbacks. The only alternatives to increasing the escrow to account for this would be 1) rollbacks, or 2) not agreeing to a 50-50 split of BRI.

Latest lockout buzz

Monday 12:15 p.m.
  • Chris Duhon may have tweeted that the Orlando Magic will accept a deal, but Jason Richardon disagrees. He tweeted: "Read someone tweet saying Orlando Magic players wants 2 accept the deal. It doesn't speak for all of us I dont agree with accepting the deal."
  • Apparently union officials made players hand over their phones on the way into the room for the meeting to avoid leaks. Cellphones weren't popular or affordable enough when I was in school back in the 1880's, but I have to imagine that feels a little ridiculous. Then again, the amount of info that filter out during these meetings is also pretty ridiculous. So no "How U" today. 

Monday 12:00 p.m.

  • ESPN continues to stick with its D-League Doomsday report, saying that the league brought up the proposed five-year assignment period and $75,000 pro-rated salary for assignees element all the way back in June, and that it, along with year-round drug testing remain huge hitches in the proposal for the union. The league categorically denied the D-League component as part of the proposal, as did multiple media outlets Friday and over the weekend.
Monday 9:49 a.m.
  • Yahoo Sports reports that contraction is among the B-list issues still awaiting a deal even if the NBPA were to accept it. Most notably, Yahoo reports that the NBA wants to be able to contract teams without the approval of the union, and upon doing so, to be able to lower the players' revenue share accordingly. So even if the framework on the table gets accepted, things like this could detonate a deal, because the players would pretty much have to make "15 to 60 jobs per year over the next six years" their hill to die on. So that's fun.
Monday 10:50 a.m.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely brings up a nice case point of where the players are. One player he spoke to wasn't aware of the three-way breakdown of the MLE in the current proposal. These guys have a lot to be educated about in this meeting.
Monday 10:06 a.m.
  • ESPN's Chris Broussard notes that Kobe Bryant was one of the first to accept 50/50 and he might push others to do the deal. Bryant is the guy to watch. He carries the most with the players and in the absence of another major star besides Carmelo Anthony, there's likely to be a big look to him from the younger players, many of whom are player reps. At the same time, there's a big gap between being OK with 50/50 and being OK with this deal in particular.
Monday 9:37 a.m.
Monday 9:12 a.m.
  • Aldridge also reports Carmelo Anthony is in attendance. Strong star presence today. LeBron James is in London today on a promotional tour. Make your own joke here.
 
 
 
 
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