Tag:Matt Moore
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:35 am
Edited on: August 2, 2011 5:42 pm

NBA files suit against NBPA

By Matt Moore
 and Ben Golliver.

The NBA today announced it is filing suit against the NBPA for "unfair labor practices" with the National Labor Relations Board, countering the same move from the NBPA last month, and a federal suit to pre-emptively cut off any potential civil actions pertaining to antitrust law violations. 

From the NBA's release:

NEW YORK, August 2, 2011 – The NBA filed two claims today against the National Basketball Players Association: an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board, and a lawsuit in federal district court in New York. The unfair labor practice charge asserts that the Players Association has failed to bargain in good faith by virtue of its unlawful threats to commence a sham “decertification” and an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA’s lockout. The federal lawsuit seeks to establish, among other things, that the NBA's lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws and that if the Players Association's “decertification” were found to be lawful, all existing player contracts would become void and unenforceable.

“These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties’ ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver. “For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith.”
The Associated Press reports that news of the legal moves elicited reactions from both sides on Tuesday.
Players' attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who also represented the NFL players, was named in the NBA's lawsuit for his use of what the league called an "impermissible pressure tactic" that has had a "direct, immediate and harmful" effect on CBA talks.

"For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith," Adam Silver, the NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, said in a statement released by the league.

Kessler, said the players are frustrated because they believe it's the owners whose negotiating efforts have been in bad faith. "The NBA Players Association has made no decision to decertify. They talk about the fact that this is something the players have considered for 30 years, and that's true. And they haven't done it for 30 years," Kessler said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "So there's no decision made. There may be no decision made. We view this as an example of their bad-faith bargaining. They don't want to be at the table."

NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, in a statement released by the union, said the players will seek to dismiss the lawsuit, which he called "totally without merit." Said Hunter: "We urge the NBA to engage with us at the bargaining table and to use more productively the short time we have left before the 2011-12 season is seriously jeopardized."
Click here to read Hunter's full statement.

You may remember these moves from "NFL Lockout 2011" and "What The League Said It Didn't Want To Do." This is essentially a pre-emptive strike to cut off the union's legal maneuverability at the knees. Whether this indicates that the NBPA threatened decertification in Monday's meeting after reports of an agent mutiny pushing for legal moves last week is unclear. What is clear is that the NBA is not kidding around about winning this lockout using any and all available means. For months, the league and the union have both said they wanted to avoid taking this dispute into the courts because of how bitter and drawn out it can become. Then in a month and a day, we now have three different legal charges from the two sides including a federal lawsuit. 

Don't say Ken Berger of CBSSports.com didn't warn you when he predicted this precise scenario last week. The NFL used the exact same description of the decertification approach in their legal battles, calling the NFLPA's decertification a "sham." Stern's comments after Monday's bargaining session seem like premonition at this point. Ken Berger notes that this is as much about setting the venue as the federal court as it is about anything else. It's a move by the NBA to get the ball in the court they want it, so to speak. 

We've hit a new level and all-out legal warfare is now in play.  

Oh, fun.
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 2, 2011 11:27 am

Report: Knicks to interview Woodson for defense

By Matt Moore

The Knicks have decided to hire a defensive specialist as an assistant coach to see if he can manage to stop the bleeding of the Knicks' defense while they keep the parry and thrust of the offense going with Mike D'Antoni's work. The plan is to have a "defensive coordinator" type guy on staff to provide insight into that end so that D'Antoni can do what he does best, focus on socring tons of points. The Knicks are taking interviews, and it looks like former Hawks head coach Mike Woodson is on the list, via the New York Post

Woodson would be an excellent fit at the position. He knows how to coach both stars and role players, he's a former player, he was drafted by the Knicks and he can balance a line between discipline and support. The Knicks would do well to hire Woodson. 

At the same time, there's only so much an asssistant coach can do. What the Knicks really need is better personnel, particularly at the rim. Trading Timofey Mozgov in the Melo trade was particularly harmful. Yes, he's most known for getting dunked on by Blake Griffin and has a long way to go in every area of his game, but Mozgov showed a willingness to attack defensively at the rim, the Knicks' softest spot. Woodson can improve the talent he's got, but he can't make miracles. Maybe most interesting is what he can do with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the two biggest minute guys on the Knicks and two guys who need to improve their defense immediately. 

Posted on: August 1, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 3:51 pm

Kobe Bryant 81 points NBA 2k11 simulation video

By Matt Moore

It was one of the greatest games we've ever seen in the NBA. An 81-point explosion that remains to this day the shining star in the offensive prowess crown of Kobe Bryant. Only once before has a player scored more points, and that was in a radically different era. 

On January 21st, 2006, Kobe Bryant took to the floor in Los Angeles against the Toronto Raptors and made history. And in a pretty sweet video, someone has sim'd every made shot for Bryan in that game in the video game NBA 2k11. Check it out.


It's pretty stunning in terms of how close it is. It speaks to how far games have come, and how much time some people have on their hands. If you're wanting to compare, here's both the simulation and the actual video of Bryant going nova side by side. 



(Via Forum Blue and Gold on Twitter)
Posted on: August 1, 2011 2:47 pm

Did Al Jefferson cause the lockout?

By Matt Moore

When Carlos Boozer's time with the Utah Jazz mercifully came to an end last summer, the Jazz had a number of options with what they wanted to do. They could pursue some free agents to fill in the blanks and plan for the future. They could hoard the cash and wait for a rainy day. Or they could make a trade to acquire a quality player.

The Jazz gambled on the latter, acquiring Al Jefferson for pieces to pair with Deron Williams. The Jazz started off lookings pretty solid, a near-guaranteed playoff team. They beat the Heat!

Then the wheels fell off. Then the bottom dropped out. Then the wagon caught fire and flew off a cliff and everyone died. And that's how we got a lockout.

The end.

Okay, not really. Let me explain, though. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
The No. 11 highest paying team on the planet, according to Harris? The Jazz, who shelled out an average of $5.8 million per player and had a total payroll of about $75 million.

“The fact that the Jazz are 11 is … kind of counterintuitive,” Harris said.

The Jazz declined to comment for this story. But Chief Executive Officer Greg Miller acknowledged in April that Utah rolled the dice during 2010-11 and lost “quite a bit” of money, while General Manager Kevin O’Connor has often praised the Miller family’s willingness to spend what it takes to compete in the modern NBA.
via Utah Jazz nearly topped the world in average payroll | The Salt Lake Tribune

So the Jazz pumped more money into the Jazz than the season prior. Sure, but it was only $3 million more. (The Jazz paid out $71.9 million in 2009-2010.) That couldn't have made that much of a difference, could it? 

Well, when a move goes awry like that, the effects start to trickle down.  During the season, interest dwindles (along with folks not coming out of principled loyalty to Jerry Sloan),which affects ticket sales, sponsorship money, merchandising, and all other sources of revenue (many if not all of which are included in the BRI-- Basketball Related Income --  the split of which is being debated in these CBA talks). The Jazz failed to make the playoffs, which meant the Jazz lost all the revenue from their playoff participation, which they obviously had to be counting on. All of this in an ongoing recession which sees everyone evaluating where their money is going. So now you've got the crux of the issue. 

Of course Al Jefferson didn't create the lockout. But the Jazz' situation around their decision to invest in Jefferson (right as it seemed at the time) speaks to the complex elements in play that go beyond "the system's broken." It's not teams that spend a lot which is hurting the league outright. It's teams that spend a lot and don't create enough revenue to cover its investment. It's also in part teams which don't spend a lot and then lose a lot. But what's the biggest factor, there? Teams which make certain decisions which either don't pan out off of huge investments, or don't create revenue because there has been no real drive to do so. You can't just cut spending while still losing income and expect to profit. That's not really a salient business model for these times. 

So when we talk about how the system is "broken," we're really talking about how the system creates catastrophic endings for perilous decision making. This doesn't mean that the entire model is flawed, it means that two things need to simultaneously occur: teams ability to hold onto more revenue in the split needs to be assured (which the NBPA has been amiable to), and teams need to exercise better business practices to increase revenue and not put themselves in a position to fail, then complain when they fail. Al Jefferson seemed like a great move at the time, but it wound up not working out. That's part of business. But if Jefferson gets more in sync with the system and flourishes next to Devin Harris and the next wave of Jazz players, it could wind up being good in the long run. And in those years, the Jazz will cover their losses and pull profit. 

NBA teams shouldn't face economic disaster whenever they make a bad signing or trade. And the Jazz should be encouraged as a small-market team that was willing to spend. But this is the cost of it being a free market, and allowing for competition. We don't want everyone assured of equal success. That provides no incentive for improvement or innovation. And the last thing we need is a fleet of Donald Sterlings walking around. 

Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:33 am

Kobe Bryant defends LeBron James

By Matt Moore

Kobe Bryant is definitely your newsmaker of the month. After reportedly telling those close to him that there is a "zero percent chance" that he plays for Besiktas in Turkey next year, then scoring a goal on a PK in a charity soccer game, the Black Mamba sat down with ESPN's SportCenter for an interview. He was asked about the ridiculous amount of attention that has been heaped on LeBron James, most of it negative. Here's what he had to say about most hated NBA player of his time, from IamaGM.com:
George Smith: There was a lot of venom towards the Heat and, in particular, towards LeBron James  What did you make of that?

Kobe Bryant: I think people need to lay off that kid.  That's what I think.  I've gotten to know him pretty well playing with the Olympic team.  I think people need to just back-off off him.  Just let him play.  Let him live his life.  Let him make his decisions.  Let him mature as a player.  It's tough to be under the microscope like that all the time.  So, I would like everybody to just kind of back-off off him and let him play.
via Kobe Bryant sticks-up for LeBron: "People need to just back-off off him" | IamaGM.com.

If anyone knows what it's like to have an absurd amount of criticism surround you because of your on-floor (and off-court) activities, it's Bryant. It's a nice departure from the public umbrage Bryant has taken with the claim of James usurping him without a single ring. James buries himself in his hole with his words and actions; he's a terrible manager of his public image despite having a team devoted to just that. But the level of vitriol surrounding James has become absolutely overwhelming and lost all perspective. 

Lakers fans are particularly effusive about their dislike of James out of a misguided sense of loyalty to Bryant, just as Chicago fans have come to hate James in comparing him to Rose, and so forth. It's unlikely Kobe's comment will somehow come as the word of the sports messiah and calm their bile, but it's a nice sentiment.

On the other hand, James has largely built this for himself. This is his empire of dirt, and until he begins to rehabilitate his image on the big stage (despite his numerous charity appearances this summer which no one will note), he'll have to keep its throne. 
Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Gates are open: FIBA grants NBA players clearance

By Matt Moore

Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of the low block. The European free agency market is officially open for business. 

FIBA announed today its decision regarding clearance for NBA players locked out and their availability in international competitions, and it's good news for those wanting to play basketball overseas. From the FIBA release:
FIBA has confirmed it will approve the transfer of players under contract with the NBA deciding to play for clubs of FIBA affiliated leagues during the on-going lockout.

During a lockout NBA players who continue to be under contract with an NBA team are free to play anywhere they want, whether for their national teams and/or for club teams.

If an NBA player requests to play for a club of a FIBA affiliated league, the NBA will not object but will state that the player will have to return to his NBA team as soon as the lockout ends. Consequently, FIBA will deliver a letter of clearance subject to the receipt of a declaration signed by the player, stating that he will return to his NBA team when the lockout is over.

“As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labour dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member, Patrick Baumann.
via PR N°15 - FIBA clears NBA players to play abroad during lockout | FIBA.COM.

NBA players headed overseas?
The ruling paves the way for what the NBPA hopes is a mass exodus of players overseas in an effort to show the NBA that its players can support themselves while the owners try and starve them out with the lockout. Deron Williams has already signed with Turkish team Besiktas, which also is meeting with Kobe Bryant on Saturday according to reports.

Whether or not players will actually pursue such opportunities is still hotly debated. Most think that players may sign, but never play abroad. Others think that the risks are too great for the players. Some think that the money makes sense, but not as much as the chance to expand their international brand, which can have far greater benefits than any salary they would pull from their team.

FIBA also stated in the release that "in spite of widespread doubts related to the lockout, National Teams competing in this summer’s Olympic Qualifiers will be able to count on the participation of most of their NBA stars." That may have been part of the agreement met when Baumann met with David Stern last week. 

Now we wait to see what the effect of this ruling will be, and if the players and European clubs take advantage of it.
Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 5:09 pm

VP of NBPA bails for Europe

By Matt Moore

What kind of message is Keyon Dooling trying to send here? Because outside of "Get Yours," I'm not really seeing much in the way of leadership in this latest turn of events. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Bucks guard Keyon Dooling is nearing agreement on a contract with Efes Istanbul, the Turkish team which recently signed New Jersey Nets guard Sasha Vujacic.

Kenge Stevenson, the Dallas-based agent for Dooling, said progress is being made and a deal with Efes could be completed in the next few days.

Dooling is the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association and has been active in the process to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. League owners imposed a lockout on July 1 when the previous CBA expired, and no real progress has been made since then.

Stevenson said Dooling would expect to play in Turkey next season even if the lockout ends and any opt-out clause would be for legal purposes. The veteran has one year and $2 million remaining on his contract with the Bucks, but Stevenson indicated he thought an agreement could be reached to allow Dooling to play in Europe in the event the lockout was settled.
via Dooling nears deal with Turkish team - JSOnline

Now, I'm of the belief that players pursuing employment overseas is the best thing that the NBPA can do. Proving to the owners they can make a living without the NBA removes the teeth from the lockout. There's still the jaws' vice grip, but no incisors. That's a crucial part of the union's strategy if they're going to get the owners off their hard line. 

NBA players headed overseas?
The problem is that this is the vice president of the union. Dooling is a player representative, yes, but under these circumstances, he has a responsbility to those duties in helping to end the lockout. Dooling's not going to make the difference with anything he does here, but he's not going to help matters by not being around for strategy sessions, bargaining meetings, discussion points, or any other business he would be involved with as VP. If this is some type of attempt at a higher profile defection, then why the lack of the opt-out clause? And if Dooling is playing in Turkey next year, no matter what, why is he still a member of the NBPA, much less the VP of the organization? Even if Dooling will still be participating via conference call in these meetings... have you ever tried having a real meeting with someone on a conference call? Have it go more than thirty minutes and it becomes pretty cumbersome. 

The players simply have not formulated a coheseive strategy. If this was done with the approval and support of the NBPA, it's a thoughtless maneuver that won't do anything to impact the owners. Not like they're losing sleep over Keyon Dooling not being available to put butts in seats. Dooling's a decent enough player, a quality role player in this league, but no one's going to be writing requiems for his departure. Meanwhile, it sends a message to the union that their leadership would rather go get paid than keep trying to get them paid. 

The only way this lockout ends, like it or not, is by wearing the other side down. Constant meetings to keep appealing to the rational owners who don't want to miss the entire year, constant talks to try and open up outside-the-box solutions. That's how you wear down the other side and get progress, save the season, and keep the players in the lifestyle to which they've come accustomed to. 

Having union leadership head for the hills (does Turkey have hills?) won't do anything but pad his pockets. You've got to lead by example, but this example doesn't lead the players anywhere. 

(HT: HoopsHype)
Posted on: July 28, 2011 12:20 pm

Rubio says he needs to buff up

By Matt Moore

As excited as people are to see Ricky Rubio play in the NBA, there are questions. In particular, Rubio's frame holds a lot of concern. He's a spindly kid, and though he's nearly 6-4 and still only 21, he just hasn't filled out enough for people to feel totally confident about how he'll handle the NBA's physicality. The good news is, Rubio's aware of it. From FIBA.com:
Rubio can expect the changes to be big, both on and off the court.

"I think it will be physically harder than Europe - I will need to do more weights," he said of the NBA's playing style.
via ESP - Rubio Ready For The Next Step | FIBA.COM.

Rubio's considered to be a quality defender off the bat, but against bigger guards like Deron Williams, Chauncey Billups, and Even Jason Kidd with his muscle, Rubio will be blown back in post situations and fighting through screens. You see so many young players really start to put on muscle after a few years in NBA weight training programs, and that kind of set up will do wonders for Rubio. Those slick passes and shifty moves need some umph. 

An awareness of this is a great sign for Wolves fans. It would be really easy for Rubio to play the "my game is good enough" card. We see it all the time in the NBA. But instead, Rubio's admitting to something that he needs to do to adjust. That self-awareness will help him isolate things to improve upon and not get wrapped up in himself (which has been a concern from those who have interacted with him). Additionally, knowing the NBA is going to be a challenge and he can't just waltz through it is what you want to hear from a star young player. Rubio's off to a great start with the Wolves, without having played a game, and without being able to even get inside the arena yet.  
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com