Posted on: June 21, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 12:17 pm

Owners want a guarantee to profitability?

Posted by Royce Young

If you listen to, well, everyone, today is a massive day for NBA labor negotiations. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports the players will submit a new formal proposal, and the owners are expecting it to represent enough of a shift in their position to warrant further negotiation.

Good news. I think.

David Stern called Tuesday a "very important day for these negotiations."

Some of that is certainly posturing. But it's mostly real. The clock is ticking toward midnight and when it strikes on June 30, the league could be headed for its first summer work stoppage since 1998. That's a bad mark to put on a league that's built an incredible amount of momentum in the past season. To slap fans in the face with a lockout and conjure up conversations that go, "It's billionaires arguing with millionaires over money," isn't good for anyone. Owners, players, the league -- not anyone.

Will they advance along? It's probably unlikely. Giving in now doesn't put any stress on either side. Don't forget, both sides want something. And that something is money meaning this won't come easy. This isn't trading baseball cards with your friends. This is a labor negotiations and those can get ugly.

Whatever happens today, both sides will likely say, "Nope, not good enough" even if it's close. With a week to go until the CBA expires, there's still time to try and wring out a little more from the other side. The owners backed off guaranteed contracts and players have moved away a bit from taking in 57 percent of the league's basketball revenue. So there is some movement. There's progress, even if as Berger noted, the sides are "hundreds of millions" apart.

ESPN.com reported that the owners are making pretty hardline demands, putting the players in a tough position to negotiate.
"The owners are asking for a give that puts them in a place where they've never been, which is guaranteed profitability," said a source familiar with the dynamics of this particular negotiation and past labor talks. "The biggest problem is that it is unreasonable for owners to even ask for $400 million when they say they are losing $300 million, and thus far they are nowhere near lowering their demands down to the $400 million range. So it's a question of when will they get to a number that is reasonable?"
The owners want to guarantee profitability. Of course they do. Makes sense to me. Who wants to lose money? Owning an NBA franchise used to be more of a hobby thing, but it's a business now. Owners want to make money. It's not about having a real life fantasy team anymore.

But if you're negotiating to make absolutely certain you make money? That's where things get hung up. There's a fine line between guaranteeing profitabilty and guaranteeing profit. All they deserve is a system that presents a solid opportunity to make money, not one that makes it a rite of passage. You still have to be a good businessman. You still have to spend wisely. Just giving owners an erasable blank canvas that they can scribble all over and start anew when a bad $6 million contract goes awry (hello, Travis Outlaw) is just ridiculous.

Capitalism provides opportunity, not guarantees. If the latter is the mindset the owners have going into Tuesday's supposed D-Day talks, I don't see anyone getting anywhere. The system needs some fixing. Even the players understand that. They've made concessions already and will have to make some more eventually. The owners though like their money and think the players get way too much of it. That's probably true, but that's life as the check-signer.

The players get to make their money because they are the employees. At any company -- Microsoft, Wal-Mart, the small-time appliance store around the corner -- owners have to manage a payroll, expenses and everything else correctly and if they do, they'll make the biggest profit of all. Owners are in a system where they can't do that now. So that has to be fixed. But the only guarantee they need is the opportunity to do so.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:44 am

Report: Hard cap proposal delayed in new offer

Posted by Royce Young

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:21 pm

Stern comments on small markets and rule changes

David Stern comments to a Miami radio show on a number of issues. 
Posted by Matt Moore

David Stern joined 790 The Ticket in Miami to talk about, well, quite a bit, actually. Sports Radio Interviews caught it and shares with us. So we're going to break down the finer points of what Stern decided to touch on. 
If he believes this year’s NBA regular season was one of the best ever:

“You know, I think so. But there have been so many that back in the day, the Celtics, the 76ers, the Lakers, and everybody else, that it’s hard to say. But I think it’s up there, it’s in the top three of the most interesting in probably the last 30 years or so, and really the introduction of so many new young stars.”
I think you have to make the argument this was the best for a much simpler reason. Access. Not only do you have star-studded teams in Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, but you have so much more access to them now than you did back in the league's hayday.  League Pass, League Pass Mobile, local television deals, national broadcasts split across two network families,  great blogs (like, oh, this one), new stats, replays on NBATV, there's about a million ways to experience the NBA.  Compare that with the "catch the occasional game on tape delay, go to it live, or else you're just reading box scores in the paper" of the 1980's, and the league has been able not only to capitalize on the biggest stars, but to make those big moments even bigger.  Chris Paul plays in New Orleans, Dwight Howard in Orlando, Blake Griffin for the lowly Clippers, and still those are household names. It makes you wonder why so many players think you need to go to a big city to get attention. Speaking of desperate needs for attention...
Did he secretly pump his first in delight that LeBron, Wade and Bosh were uniting as he thought about the kind of ‘jolt’ the trio would bring to the league:

“No, I thought it would be a great jolt for Miami. If I’m remembering correctly, I mean, did they sign Chris (Bosh) before? The day before? I just remember thinking boy, this is going to be great for the fans of Miami, and not so great for the fans of Cleveland and Toronto. You know, I’ve got lots of franchises here, lots of charges. So I worry about them all.”
Well that's partially true, anyway. But considering the hands-off approach he took to discussion of collusion, and the fact that small markets continue to struggle to remain competitive (don't let Hornets-Lakers fool you), not like the priorities are equal. The Commish took a much bigger interest in New York being off the map rather than Cleveland's plummet into disaster. On the flip side, Stern has repeatedly and consistently spoke of the need for an improved revenue sharing plan in the future, without undermining the ownership group's efforts to keep that to a separate discussion. Stern's not oblivious or hard-hearted to the plight of smaller markets. But you can still bet the revenues the Heat brought into the gate brought a grin. 
After being asked about fining Cavs owner Dan Gilbert for his actions after LeBron left Cleveland, Stern was asked about not fining Clippers owner Donald Sterling for heckling his own players:
“Oh, he’s just a fan at that point, and he promised he wouldn’t do it again.” 
  But there was a conversation with Sterling about it, right? 
“Yes, there’s always a conversation with everybody. You know, the best way to describe it is to say that how you deal with something that has passed you, is that you say ‘I assume you didn’t do it, if you did it it was an accident, that you didn’t mean to do it, and if you did do it, you’re not going to do it again. Right?’ Right, okay. Let’s move on.”

Stern has to have had that conversation with Sterling so many times he's actually just running a digital recording of the questions at this point. Maybe it's an automated 1-800 number they set up just for Sterling. "If you made another racially insensitve comment, press '1' now. If you failed to make your team competitive for the fifth season in a row despite every advantage in terms of market and profit-margin, press '2' now." 
What’s the most radical change the league is considering:

“Well I’m going to urge the owners — and it’s not very radical but we were talking about it for awhile — to adopt the international rule on basket interference. That is to say, once the ball hits the rim it’s in play. Because I think that it’s too hard to call. I think that we don’t want to stop the game every time to see if it’s the right call, but the camera that looks down on the basket can tell the story if the refs have gotten it right. And it’s just impossible to call to make whether the ball’s touching the rim, on the rim, off the rim or the like.  And I think that would make the game faster, better, and less controversial. And I think we’re going to be putting in more — I forget the exact number — just more replay opportunities because we really want to get it right. So those are the biggest things. I also think we’re going to be talking about cutting out a timeout or two to move the game along. The last period, even in a close game, shouldn’t begin to approach an hour.”
Big stuff here, including a discussion of the "in the cylinder" rule that narrowly avoided costing the Nuggets a game early in their series with OKC. The D-League has already adopted this league as an exploratory measure, but it's having some issues with it as well. The last point, though, about making that last quarter faster? Everyone, players, fans, media, everyone will probably be on board with that one. 


Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 3:52 pm

NBA: 22 teams in the red, $300 million loss

Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver comment on league's finances and CBA negotiations, as an owner tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that some progress was made at NBA Board of Governors meeting. 
Posted by Matt Moore

During the press conference following the NBA Board of Governor's meeting, NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver commented on the ongoing CBA process. Stern said they expected $300 million in losses this season, which is a rise in revenue from last year's $340 million loss, but still "nothing to be proud of" Silver said. That's still, you know, $340 million in losses. Silver told reporters in response to a question from our own Ken Berger that most of the loss came from non-gate revenue, as gate receipt numbers were actually up this season. 

Most striking was Silver's comment that 22 of the 30 NBA teams posted a loss this year, with only eight making a profit. I'll let you figure out which teams are those eight.  (Hint: Look at the big cities on the map.)

An owner told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that there was "progress" on revenue sharing and their stance towards the NBPA, but of course, no plan in place. "It's early" as the old chestnut goes. Stern also made mention of the progress on revenue sharing and revealed that the owners would, in the next few weeks, finally send the players' association a counter proposal, which they have not done since late 2010. The owners refused to respond to the NBPA's last proposal with one of their own until now, though discussions have been held regarding the players' proposal in meetings. Silver commented that the league felt there are "other ways to reach the same goal" in regards to the counter-proposal. 

The lockout situation looks better today than it did yesterday, the Kings' staying in Sacramento looks better, and the Pistons sale will be approved in the next few months. Maybe doomsday isn't around the corner after all. 
Posted on: April 14, 2011 1:51 pm

Report: Phil Jackson and Lakers both fined $75K

Posted by Royce Young

The NBA has fined Phil Jackson $75,000 for comments on the collective bargaining agreement, and $75,000 to the Lakers too, according to reports from Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.

The comment evidently was one made in Portland to traveling Laker writers about next season in which Jackson reportedly said it would be wiped out entirely. Jackson even went as far to say that it factored into his decision to retire.

"It was really about the fact that there's going to be a lockout," Jackson reportedly said. "It's the perfect time to help the organization cover a gap if there's a lockout. My staff, all those guys who work with me. All those things played into it. I felt like an obligation."

"Who knows what the NBA is going to look like next year?" Jackson continued. "It's going to take on a whole different proportion. How long is it going to last? I think there are some people who are pretty convinced there's not going to be a year next year."

This isn't the first fine done for talking too much about the CBA negotiations, and it probably won't be the last. The NBA is very sensitive to it, you see. Of course this is a day after the league fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 for using a gay slur caught by television. Expensive week for the Lakers.
Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 2:01 pm

NBA not canceling Summer League? Updating...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outside the box of the event itself, however, the cancelation of Summer League, the internships, and the preseason games in Europe makes for a pretty bleak future. We're not talking just July here. The NBA is makig contingency plans for October, here. This is one-step shy of going ahead and planning for games not to be played. There's no surprise, but it does provide a sobering reality of just how long and painful this lockout will be. As the NBA heads into what many feel will be one of the best NBA postseasons ever, the dark clouds of the impending lockout continue to rain on our parade.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 9:09 pm

Players could hold charity games during lockout

Posted by Royce Young

If there's a lockout -- I like how we're all still saying "if" as if it's still not a sure thing -- players are going to want to play somewhere. Some have talked about taking their talents overseas, including Dirk, Kobe, Andrei Kirilenko and a few others.

Player union president Derek Fisher has an idea -- charity exhibition games. As told to NBA.com:

“I’d say it’s possible right now,” the Lakers guard said after Wednesday night’s game at Oracle Arena. “We’re so focused on trying not to be in that situation, so it’s tough to go into full-scale planning on those types of situations. But at the same time, we have a responsibility as a union and as an association to really keep options that are viable open for our guys.

“There’s so many challenges logistically, in terms of where you play, having the arenas, having officials, security – all the things that a lot of times we don’t have to deal with because the league is doing those things. But we looked into it before, we’ve looked into it a little bit now. Until we see that it’s something that we’re really going to have to look forward to doing, right now, it’s still just kind of floating out there.”

Definitely a pretty cool idea, especially because we're going to be dying for some hoops come November. God forbid if there isn't a plan yet to have games that count for something, a charity exhibition is better than nothing.

The main problem as Fisher said are the logistics of it, but I'm sure that can get settled if they're actually serious abou it. Where do you play? Who officiates? Who promotes it? How do you sell tickets? What happens if a player gets hurt? Is he contract voided?

All of that would need to be sorted out. I like how "charity" is tossed in there though. The owners are going to want to squeeze players that live paycheck-to-paycheck. That's the whole idea of a lockout. The players are "locked out" and therefore can't play, so therefore they can't get paid. Therefore they succumb because they need the cash. So maybe the "charity" Fisher speaks of is the Irresponsible NBA Player Foundation that will fund all the guys that can withstand a lockout.

If that were true, then this would pretty much be the best idea ever. I think Derek Fisher would need a presidential promotion.

Category: NBA
Posted on: March 11, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 9:00 pm

New CBA may force Heat to move Bosh

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that a hard cap may force the Heat to break up the Miami Triad and trade Chris Bosh
Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the upcoming CBA could lead to drastic changes to superteams, most notably the Miami Heat. Berger reports that some executives believe that should the NBPA cave to the owners' demands of a hard cap (which for them is approximate to worrying about gardening after a nuclear winter - if things reach that point everything's ruined anyway), the Heat would be in a position where their current structure built around the Triad would be untenable. Which would force them into a tough decision. Which of the three to keep?

Okay, so it's not a hard decision, as Berger points out: 
The most obvious candidate to be subtracted from the Big Three is Chris Bosh, who hasn’t been able to produce the kind of impact Miami could have gotten from 2-3 cheaper role players. Bosh also has complained recently about not getting the ball in the post enough. Whether or not he has a point, this sort of griping at a time when the Heat were in crisis mode won't make Riley any more eager to pay him $16 million next season -- especially if Miami falls far short of its championship goal in Year One.

Bosh is easily the most expendable of the three, not only from the perspective of Wade and James being superior players, but due to Bosh being a gangly stretch-four who struggles with rebounding and post-play, despite his impressive performance Thursday night against the Lakers. Bosh isn't necessarily expendable to the Heat considering his abilities, but should a team put together a sizable package of talented role players featuring rebounding and potentially a decent point guard (I know what you're thinking, sounds like Cleveland, let's just move on), would Pat Riley really ignore a phone call once the season is over, even before a new CBA? 

But then, there's the big issue. Who would want Bosh after this season? It's hard to place a team that would look at Bosh who has been revealed as a B-level superstar among his A-level teammates, who would be looking for a stretch four with a rail-like frame and a nice mid-range jumper, and who has shown to be mentally frail with a streak of egotism that may be the only area he rivals LeBron. That doesn't exactly paint a picture of the star you toss assets onto the outgoing wagon for, which means that should the Heat be forced to jettison Bosh under a new CBA, they may be in worse shape than they're in now. You know, worse than third-seed in the East with three of the ten best players in the National Basketball Association. Difficult life that they suffer with. 

Still, Bosh is a top-flight player and there will always be teams looking to add stars to their roster, especially those with cap room, and a desperate need for players to attract ticket holders. But should this doomsday scenario come to fruition, the Heat would be just one of several teams facing an inability to maintain the stacked rosters they've worked so hard to procure. Consider it the revenge of the abandoned, and yet another dramatic reformation of the roster landscape of the league. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com