Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:04 pm
By Matt Moore
The NBA, pursuant to the mighty victory it envisions over the players this week, and certain that if they apply enough pressure the union will crack, not only held its Twitterview Sunday night, but released a video. As USA Today obtained a copy of the formal proposal from the league in regards to the deal on the table, the NBA followed up with a YouTube video which reviews the relevant talking points of the proposal and paints the offer in a "this is a good thing, really!" light.
This actually did a much better job than the Twitterview did in explaining the league's position and pointing out relevant elements. It's not going to sway the players, but it continues the league's assault through the media on the union's presumptive rejection of the deal. The league's message it's trying to send is clear: if there's no season, it's not our fault, we gave a fair offer.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 10:57 pm
By Matt Moore
There's been a quiet response to all the decertification talk this weekend, and in a fairly embarrassing Twitterview, the NBA presented it front and center Sunday night. The league has given the players a choice between a proposal they obviously find unacceptable, and even worse deal which will be the owners' new starting point for negotiations should the players reject the current offer. In response, the players have pushed even closer to decertification or potentially a disclaim of interest to dissolve the union and pursue antitrust lawsuits against the league. The league has answered every move the players have tried to make. So their response to the threat of decertification?
They will pursue voiding all existing contracts.
It's not as simple as just saying "your contracts are void," there's a legal process. It involves the suit currently filed by the league against the players which they filed months ago, and even if that didn't go through, they'd file again post-decertification in pursuit of the same goal. It's a complex, and messy situation that could take years to resolve if it came to that. But much like decertification, it works better as a threat than as a legitimate weapon.
If you're a max player, say, Carlos Boozer, and you just landed that last big contract to set you up guaranteed for the next four seasons, and the league says it can nullify that contract and set you back, how do you consider the proposal tomorrow as player reps meet in New York? If you're Joe Johnson, and you know there's no freaking way you get the deal you got in 2010 in a wide-open free agency, how do you respond? Every player earning more than he probably would in an open market would pause. Yes, you have your Derrick Rose's, your Blake Griffins, but there are far more players playing on longer-term contracts with considerable value than there are young players bucking for an open market.
And the threat works both ways for the owners. If you're Donald Sterling, how do you feel about the idea that Blake Griffin could be a free agent? Or Clay Bennett with Kevin Durant? How about Ted Leonsis and John Wall? But still, much like the CBA debate itself, it's not about the stars, it's about the rank and file guys, and those guys would be devasteated financially to lose their current contracts, especially if they also lose the ability to negotiate a guaranteed contract in the next agreement.
It's a hefty threat, the kind of nuclear weapon for the owners that decertification is for the players. Both sides continue to get closer to the button and there appears to be no cooler head to walk things back.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:02 pm
By Matt Moore
David Stern denied that the offer presented to the players on Thursday night was the league's "last, best offer" to Howard Beck of the New York Times. Beck attempted to follow up, because, well, if the players reject the offer and the league follows through with its threat to revert back to the so-called "cap reset" offer (47 percent BRI, a flex-cap, dragons, a dungeon, no cupcakes, etc.), they're not taking it, as Beck said, but Stern again dodged it. That was the point of this approach. The league's not threatening to cut off talks (they can't for fear of a lack-of-good-faith-barganing charge). This puts the onus on the players. "We're not giving you the worst offer, we're giving you a better offer than the worst offer. So you should take it, otherwise we'll only offer the worst offer." And they try and pass this off as benevolent.
But the reality is that this is their last, best offer. The players can't accept 47 percent with a flex-cap, not without a court fight. They'll take that deal when the battle is truly lost, as opposed to mostly lost, which it is now. Consider that the players are surrendering $3 billion in their position which was extremely close to what the owners have proposed in the last week, but it's the systemic changes that continue to hamper the odds of a deal. The players have given so much, and the league wants just a little more. And at some point it's either surrender or fight. Talking is over. Deal or no deal.
Decertification sounds great when pitched by an agent, I'm sure, but the realities are pretty dark for that course of action. It only really works as a leveraging tactic, considering that with the appeals process and the likely drag from the courts in proceedings as they would want this to be settled outside of their courtrooms and would encourage the parties to do just that, it would take years to complete. But if your options are that or lay down to be stepped on, a lot of players, especially stars with money in the bank, will opt for just that.
And so, like I said, this is the league's last, best offer. Or maybe its "last, not-nearly-as-sucky-as-what-comes-n
ext" offer. So what exactly does it entail and where do we go from here? Here's the rundown of where the sticking points of a deal stand Friday morning according to reports.
Everything in the proposal is based on a 50/50 revenue split which the players have finally conceded to if they feel the systemic changes are swallowable (indications are that they don't, but we'll get to that). It winds up costing the players close to $3 billion over the length of the deal compared to the prior deal which gave them 57 percent. That's a heck of a give-back, and yet still not enough for the owners.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the owners have "agreed to increase the mid-level exception for luxury tax-paying teams to three-year deals starting at $3 million. The exception, which was for two years starting at $2.5 million under the previous proposal, would be available every year for teams above the tax threshold." But there's a catch.
(T)he league's proposal would restrict teams from using a full mid-level exception -- four-year deals starting at $5 million -- if the signing itself pushed the team over the tax. Union negotiators want the mid-level restriction to kick in only if the team already is above the tax line before it uses the exception. The league's version is the one that is in the current proposal, according to a person who has seen it.via Stern offers 72-game season, few alternatives - CBSSports.com.
So they've settled how much the MLE will be, but not whether you have to be over the tax already to be barred from using the full version, or if you would be barred from using it if using it would put you into the tax. If this sounds like an obnoxiously small detail, it is, but it also affects a great deal of teams and in particular serves as a disincentive from teams spending more to win, which obviously the players don't want for multiple reasons.
Super-Tax and Repeater tax
The luxury tax is being revamped as the "super-tax," in order to serve as a spending deterrent, either for restriction of player movement, cost reduction, or competitive balance purposes, depending on what side you're on. The previous structure was a simple dollar-for-dollar tax. So if you were $5 million over the luxury tax threshold, you paid $5 million in luxury tax.
The league's latest offer proposes an increase of .50 cents on the dollar for the first $5 million over, then increasing penalties. Here's the breakdown, courtesy of Berger:
First $5 million in salary spent over luxury tax threshold: $1.50 tax on every dollar.
Second $5 million: $1.75 on every dollar.
Third $5 million: $2.50 on every dollar.
Fourth $5 million and above: $3.25 on every dollar.
It's not know at this time if the union has accepted this rate, though it's clear they're not happy with that idea (or any of these, really).
Then there's what's being called the "recidivist tax" or "repeater tax." The idea is that if a team spends above the luxury tax threshold in three out of a five-year span, it needs to be taxed additionally. The league has proposed the following structure:
First $5 million in salary spent over luxury tax threshold (including standard tax listed above): $2.50
Second $5 million: $2.75
Third $5 million: $3.50
Fourth $5 million: $4.25
That's an incredibly steep tax for repeat offenders. To put this in perspective, Storyteller's Contracts shares this information: in the past ten years, the Knicks, Lakers, Mavericks, Celtics, Cavaliers, Suns, and Pacers all paid the tax in at least three consecutive years. Due to no tax being collected in 2005, another five teams (the Timberwolves, the Blazers, the Nets, the Sixers and the Raptors) would have narrowly ducked it. That's a huge percentage of teams this would have impacted, and the corresponding impact on spending would have been significant.
That's why the union wants the following structure:
First $5 million: $2.00
Second $5 million: $2.00
Third $5 million: $3.50
Fourth $5 million: $3.50
That's a huge gap, considering in the last "stanchion" (as David Aldridge of NBATV described it Thursday night) would make for over a $9 million differential if the team spent all the way to $20 million over the tax threshold (the Lakers, for example, were $30 million over the threshold last season and would have been in the repeater tax. Close to $10 million from one team on just one level. That's a lot of dough.
So clearly this remains a big dividing point.
Berger reports that the league may have softened on the limitations on teams in the tax using the sign-and-trade, but there is still some sort of structure in the current offer that deals with it. For the players, this was a big issue, and it's surprising the league didn't just concede on this considering it has been used just three times in the past decade by teams in the tax. But then, the league isn't conceding something. What else is new?
ESPN.com reports that the owners have relented on the issue and that teams in the tax will be able to sign-and-trade players. That had to have been a concession for the big-market owners as well as playrs.
Player contract length
This issue has been agreed upon. Previous limits were five years without Bird rights and six years with. The new proposal which the players have agreed to is four years for non-Bird and five years with Bird. So it's a minor win for the players that they only lost a year, really.
Via SI.com, the league wants the escrow pushed to 10 percent, where it was five years ago, up from 8 percent last year and the last few prior years. The players want an 8-10 percent band.
The salary floor under the previous deal was set at 75 percent. The owners have agreed to raise it to 85 percent, according to multiple reports.
Length of CBA deal
The league has granted a concession to the players to allow them to opt-out of the proposed deal after the sixth year, which is notable for its coincidance with the end of the NBA television deals.
The amnesty clause, "stretch" exception," and length of time a team can match an offer in restricted free agency for a player have all been agreed to.
There's more to discuss, including Bird rights, age limit, etc. Some are huge issues, some are small. But the reality is that while the two sides appear very close together, in reality, the players consider themselves very far apart. Reports flooded in Thursday night and Friday morning about upset agents and players, livid with the deal, saying nothing was granted of substance. If that proves to be the mood of the entire union, it's unlikely a vote will even see the light of day, much less an acceptance of the deal. That means decertification, that means lawsuits, and that means the loss of the entire 2011-2012 season.
There's no more room to give, and it would appear the gap is still too wide.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:06 am
By Matt Moore
Following the eleven-hour meeting between the NBPA and NBA Thursday, we entered a new phase. The owners have presented an offer they won't describe as their "last, best offer," but with the threat of the "cap reset" offer looming as David Stern says the owners would revert to that proposal without acceptance of the current offer, it's effectively do or die time for the NBA season and the labor negotiations. And during his comments to the press afterwards, David Stern presented details on what the season would look like if the current deal is accepted by the union. From our recap of comments from both sides:
"I would not presume to project or predict what the union will do. I can hope, and my hope is that the events of next week will lead us to a 72-game schedule, starting on December 15."via Community - CBSSports.com.
This little nugget provides three very important elements.
The first is that this is a very concerted effort on the part of Stern to put the onus and pressure back on the union. By dropping this information into the presser, fans will only see the idea of losing just ten games after over a month and a half of lost time. They'll react strongly with the carrot in front of them of a 72-game season. It allows for most of a season, makes ticket holders and league-pass-watchers happy.
Second, it's a carrot for the players as well. They're paid a prorated amount this year depending on how many games are lost. Only losing ten games means quite a bit of money for the players. Those players that are thinking short-term, who are hurting for cash with paychecks lost, are likely to isolate that bit of information as important and it may push them towards voting to accept the deal, if a vote is held.
And finally, it's not a bad plan. It doesn't cram too many games into a limited space, especially with both the playoffs and Finals moved a week back. It gets the fans, players, teams most of the games, it controls the damage from the lockout. It coincides with the most games won in NBA history, and it's a symbol that the two sides are so close to a deal, it's painful.
It's up to the players to decide if it's time to end the fight and accept the loss they've taken in a brutal series of negotiations they were handicapped from the start in, or if the choice is to detonate the remaining 72-games on the table.
As always, we continue to wait.
Today is day 133 of the NBA Lockout.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:19 am
Posted by EOB
Another eleven hours of meetings... another disappointing ending with both sides saying there is no reason to be optimistic. So glad they're productive in these things. You have to wonder just what they're doing in there. Do they just stare at each other for long periods of time? Do they keep getting distracted with the danish? Anyway, we'll keep you updated with the latest developments leading up to and during the meeting at noon today here.
For previous Buzz posts to see how this thing has unfolded over the past two days, click here and here.
Friday 12:04 a.m.
Thursday 10:49 p.m.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 9:01 pm
By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver
It's the latest "Judgment Day" in the NBA, and it looks like this one will actually have a substantial impact. To keep up with all the develoments, check back here. We'll have links to breaking content, updates on the "whip count" of players who say they want a deal, and updates from Ken Berger in New York at the meeting scheduled for today.
Nearly eight hours into the negotiations, we are getting our first indication at how Wednesday's meetings are going.
Wednesday 4:55 p.m.
Wednesday 3:15 p.m.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com emailed this in:
Wednesday 2:25 p.m.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 11:39 am
By Matt Moore
Yahoo! Sports reports that David Stern has the support of ownership in aggregate to make concessions on systemic issues in order to secure a deal with the NBPA today and end the lockout. From Yahoo!:
NBA commissioner David Stern has the authority to make minor system alterations to the owners’ latest labor offer to the players to try to complete a collective bargaining agreement and end the lockout, ownership sources told Yahoo! Sports.via Sources: Stern authorized to tweak offer - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.
What this means, essentially, is you as fans are being set up for another banana-in-the-tailpipe.
Each time we've had a situation that indicated one side would concede if the other side budged, and the other side was willing to budge, things have blown up. This is how simple this gets:
We've seen this time and time again. Sorry if you're looking for optimism, we're all sold-out here. The two sides have not exhibited rational approaches throughout this process. And the hard-line owners may be out-voted right now, but if the league goes to far with what it offers, they'll regain advantage and detonate a handshake deal. On the other end of it, if the players give up too much and the group lead by Paul Pierce react violently, they could decertify and blow up a handshake deal. So even if we get a deal, we may not get a deal.
That's where we're at. There's every reason to think the season will be saved by 5 p.m. today.
So naturally, it's time to abandon all hope, ye who enjoy the NBA.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:19 pm
By Matt Moore
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that players and league officials are close to arranging a meeting for Wednesday at 1 p.m. in New York, with a league-imposed deadline that could spell the end of the season looming at the end of the day. The meeting is reportedly only a small group, which has resulted in progress in the talks in other meetings.
Tuesday, the NBPA met and afterwards described the current offer from the league, which expires at the close of business in less than seven hours, as "unacceptable." After the close of business, the league's offer will revert back to a flex-cap offer that eliminates guaranteed contracts, takes years off of contract max-lengths and generally sends the players' strength back to the stone age. During the press conference after the NBPA meeting, Billy Hunter said he wanted to meet with the league. David Stern responded by saying he would always take Hunter's call, and would discuss it with the NBA's Labor Relations Committee, but would not commit to a meeting.
Hard-line owners don't necessarily want a meeting, feeling they have already surrendered too much in negotiations. Meanwhile, the players have intimated they're willing to drop to 50/50 if certain system concessions are granted. Unfortunately, the owners consider "concessions" to be defined by "letting the world have a proffessional basketball league" and "not going after the players' houses and personal possessions."
If a deal isn't made at the meeting, and the NBA decides to follow through on its threat, the NBPA is set to immediately file a petition to decertify (Paul Pierce has told Billy Hunter he has close to 200 signatures at this point), kicking off the legal process. That would pretty much destroy any chance of a season, though the two sides could continue to negotiate through the 45-day waiting period until the NLRB rules on the petition to set up a vote.
The onus is on the NBA to take a meeting and accept the concessions from the players while offering them some sort of bone to save the season. Otherwise they're electing to own a professional basketball league that doesn't actually play basketball for another year, possibly more.
No pressure, guys. Really. Take your time.