Tag:BIlly Hunter
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:27 am
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Sports law expert: NBA season can still be saved

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association sent the NBA a disclaimer of interest, folding up the union and turning the keys over to lawyers. It was a move that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter admitted would lead to a "high probability" that the 2011-2012 season, and NBA commissioner David Stern replied to the action by saying that the league was headed for a "nuclear winter."

But all hope is not lost.

Sports law expert and Tulane professor Gabe Feldman told the Orlando Sentinel that the legal process the NBPA is heading for could be wrapped up quickly enough to save at least some portion of the 2011-2012 regular season, which has already seen its first six weeks canceled.
OS: So is the ultimate upshot here that a season is now much less likely after today’s events?

I don’t know that it’s “much less likely.” I just think that the upshot here is that the players have taken a significant step to try to gain leverage at the bargaining table and the upshot is that the season will certainly not start as quickly as it would have without the disclaimer.

But it doesn’t mean that the season won’t happen. I think a much more shortened season is an inevitability at this point. But the litigation process could take place quickly enough to allow the players and the owners to determine how much leverage they have. It wouldn’t mean an entire antitrust lawsuit is litigated because that could take years. But the preliminary fights could take place in a manner of weeks and could be resolved in time to save part of the regular season.

Folks have discussed this as the “nuclear option,” and David Stern himself has said we’re in for a “nuclear winter.” It’s not irreparable harm here. They can put the pieces back together in time to save the season.
NBA commissioner David Stern labeled the disclaimer a "negotiating tactic" in his Monday morning address, so everyone seems to agree that it's a move with legal as well as posturing implications.

But when will the legal stuff start playing out? That remains an open question.

David Boies, new counsel for the NBA players, said Monday that no official lawsuit had yet been filed and seemed to imply, in a question and answer session with ESPN.com, that there might not be one forthcoming.
If -- and I say if because first of all, we haven't filed a lawsuit -- a lawsuit were filed, but if a lawsuit were filed and if there was an interest in settling that lawsuit, then as Jeffrey says, what would happen is the lawyers for the players would meet the lawyers for the owners and we would try to come up with some kind of settlement. 

That settlement would be something that would open up the league to play. But you would not have a collective bargaining solution. 
In other words, we all sit and wait until the players make this thing official. Our lockout purgatory is now in a purgatory of its own. Exponential legal purgatory is about as far from basketball as one can imagine and as deflating as it gets.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:13 pm
 

Billy Hunter explains NBPA disclaimer in letter

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Hours after Billy Hunter declared the National Basketball Players Association dead, he sent a letter to the NBPA's membership explaining why.

Following a Monday morning meeting of the NBPA executive board and player representatives in New York City, Hunter said that he had moved to file a disclaimer of interest which would dissolve the players union, a necessary step so that the players could pursue antitrust litigation against the NBA. 

"The collective bargaining process has completely broken down," Hunter said. "As a result, within the last hour, we served a notice of disclaimer on commissioner Stern and the NBA."

Monday evening, Hunter sent a letter to NBPA members, obtained by ESPN.com, explaining the move.

"We will now function as a trade association to assist and support NBA players, but we will no longer engage in collective bargaining with the NBA owners," the letter read. "The Players Association will instead dedicate itself to supporting individual NBA players in the assertion of your non-labor rights to be free of any illegal restrictions on competition for your services." 

Hunter's letter went on to express hope that the move would lead the NBA to nd the ongoing lockout.

"With no labor union in place, it is our sincere hope that the NBA will immediately end its now illegal boycott and finally open the 2011-12 season," the letter said. "Individual teams are free to negotiate with free agents for your services. If the owners choose to continue their present course of action, it is our view that they subject themselves to significant antitrust liability." 

The letter reiterated that the NBPA can no longer engage in collective bargaining negotiations with the league. It also said that the NBPA has to withdraw its unfair labor practice charge that was submitted to the National Labor Relations Board. 

The players will now be represented by union lawyers Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies. 
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.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:04 pm
 

League publishes YouTube presentation of offer

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
 

NBA says it could void all existing contracts

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 13, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 2:28 am
 

Report: Hunter says player reps to vote Monday

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Representative democracy has arrived to the NBA lockout. Sort of.

National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter told SI.com on Saturday that the NBPA's player representatives will vote on a modified version of the NBA's most recent proposal to the players during a meeting scheduled for Monday morning.
When reached on Saturday night, however, Hunter told SI.com that his intention was to have the player representatives vote on a revised version of the NBA's latest proposal before moving forward.

"We will vote on the NBA's proposal," Hunter wrote in a text message. "The proposal will be presented with some proposed amendments."

When the most recent negotiating session broke on Thursday night, NBPA president Derek Fisher said the proposal made by the NBA did not sufficiently address the NBPA's desires on system issues.

"We have a revised proposal from the NBA," Fisher said. "It does not meet us entirely on the system issues that we felt were extremely important to close this deal out."

The plan here, it seems, is to work in the desired system changes, secure enough votes to ensure that the players as a whole are reasonably happy, and then present the modified version of the league's offer back to the league for further negotiations and/or their approval.

(There's also the possibility that the proposal -- even an amended version -- is voted down. In that case, the process is stalled at the same place it is right now.)

It's a plan born of desperation. The NBPA realizes that if the players reject the NBA's current proposal outright the NBA is prepared to revert to a significantly worse proposal that they have said publicly will include a 47 percent revenue split and a flex camp system. But, if the players vote to accept the NBA's current proposal they will, well, be stuck with what Hunter admitted on Thursday was not a favorable deal. 

"It's not the greatest proposal in the world," Hunter said. "But I owe that, I have an obligation to at least present it to membership."

Based on recent public statements from both sides, it's likely the players will focus their amendment efforts, at least in part, on system issues that they believe will allow for freer player movement. Those line-item issues could include the luxury tax structure and penalty system as well as the mid-level exception.

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver specifically singled out the player movement issue as a point of "philosophical difference" between the owners and players. The owners believe a rigid luxury tax system and a restricted mid-level exception for luxury tax payers will increase competitive balance in the league, while the players believe that those changes would unnecessarily tie players to franchises and thereby limit their free agency options.

So how will this new plan of the union's br received? That will depend on the quantity and scope of their proposed amendments, of course. But NBA commissioner David Stern said in a Friday night interview that the league's most recent offer is effectively a final one.

"The owners have moved to wherever they are going to move to," Stern said. 

Still, if faced with the possibility of hitting a home run the revenue split by reducing the players' share from 57 percent to 50 percent, winning numerous, major concessions on system issues, entirely avoiding any potential court battles or union decertification, enjoying a 72-game schedule that starts in a little more than a month and getting the league back on track, Stern and the owners likely have a measure of motivation to make some final, minor concessions to close out this seemingly endless labor battle.

That would be logical. But logic, as we've learned recently, has no place here.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 2:33 pm
 

Rumor: Isiah Thomas wants to replace Billy Hunter

Posted by Ben Golliverisiah-thomas

Here's one of the dumber ideas you'll read all day.

The New York Post reports that Detroit Pistons Hall of Fame point guard and former New York Knicks executive Isiah Thomas has designs on taking over Billy Hunter's job as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.
How many of you would be startled to discover Isiah Thomas has been creepin’ round Billy Hunter’s back door to get his job? 

How many would be stunned to learn Florida International University’s current head coach is angling in due course to replace the executive director of the Players Association should its membership feel flogged (compromised following so many compromises) by David Stern upon the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement or if negotiations again break down and additional salary (games) get forfeited?

According to a pretty piped-in informant, skulking and stalking are exactly what Thomas has been doing as Hunter tries not to lose further frontage to one clearly identified Nor’easter after another.
The ongoing NBA lockout just keeps devolving. Its pathetic, demoralizing twists and turns are never-ending and it is starting to morph into a weird made-for-television serial drama where well-known characters keep getting reincarnated as new, more despicable versions of themselves. First, it was NBA commissioner David Stern, the great compromiser and champion of social equality, being recast as a "modern plantation overseer." Then, it was the Greatest Basketball Player Ever, Michael Jordan, flip-flopping from the ultimate vocal advocate for players' rights to a hard-line owner bent on vacuuming up the players' every last penny and shred of dignity.

Now, it's Thomas, arguably the worst salary cap manager of the modern era (he gave major dolars to Jared Jeffries and Jerome James and traded for Eddy Curry, Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury), sending in his audition tape to become the chief negotiator of the system that governs hundreds of player contracts and sets the rules that will help guide the economic development of a global, billion-dollar sport.

(It is definitely worth mentioning that Thomas' conduct as a front office executive included allegations of sexual harrassment which resulted in an out-of-court settlement and rule-ignoring scouting scandal which later cost the Knicks hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Then, in 2008, he reportedly overdosed on sleeping pills, but denied it was a suicide attempt.) 

So, yeah, great idea. Thomas, an emotional former executive with a sketchy track record and a terrible reputation for decision-making replacing Hunter, a life-long lawyer with decades of negotiating experience and high-profile cases to his name. Can't wait for that to happen.

Update: Surprise, surprise, Thomas has issued a denial of the report to the New York Post.

Hat tip: IAmAGM.com
 
 
 
 
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