Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 6:55 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The National Basketbal Association and the National Basketball Players Association met for more than four hours in New York City on Tuesday, in what had been hailed as the most important day of negotiations to date, and emerged aroung 5:30 p.m. without an agreement.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that NBPA president Derek Fisher announced: "Intense discussions today ... today was not the day for us to get this done."
NBA commissioner David Stern said that the league's 2011-2012 schedule will be affected by the lack of progress in the negotiations: "Today we will be announcing the cancellation of the rest of the exhibition season and by Monday we will have no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the season."
Fisher said no further meetings have yet been scheduled. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said it could be "a month or two months" before the next round of meetings.
Fisher said that the players offered to reduce their share of Basketball-Relate Income from 57 percent to 53 percent but were still unable to negotiate a deal that was "fair and amenable" to the players, as the owners reportedly offered only to increase their offer to the players from 46 percent to 47 percent. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said the players' concessions amounted to more than $200 million per year.
"We are employees and the NBA are the employers," Fisher said. "And they hold the key to when the lockout will be over."
Hunter said that, given the circumstances, the NBPA would reconsider the idea of decertification: "Clearly that's something we may have to give some thought to." While the players wait, NBA.com reports that Hunter says the NBPA will set up and fund workout centers in Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles that will remain open until a labor agreement is reached.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Boston Celtics forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, and NBPA board members Matt Bonner, Maurice Evans, Keyon Dooling, Theo Ratliff, and Roger Mason, Jr. were all in attendance at the press conference Tuesday.
This post will update with the latest on the NBA lockout.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:00 am
Edited on: October 4, 2011 1:07 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The back and forth between the National Basketball Players Association and a group of powerful player agents continues.
On Monday, a group of six agents sent a letter to their clients urging them to hold a hard line on several key bargaining issues and to avoid being railroaded into a rushed labor deal by the NBA's owners.
Late Monday night, the Associated Press published a response letter from NBPA president Derek Fisher, which directly addressed the letter sent earlier by the agents.
Fisher also made a point to defend the NBPA's unity on the key issues.
Everyone in the regional meetings, Friday's player meeting, and throughout this process has been in support of the position the NBPA has taken. We go into tomorrow's meeting strong, remaining steadfast on the issues we will not be able to move away from. Anyone saying different is not privy to the meetings and is uninformed.Fisher's response is clear, fair and straightforward, but the fact that he is spending precious time trying to keep his union members in line in the hours leading up to what both sides agree is the most important day of negotiations is not a good sign. A truly united front from the players is necessary to reach the best possible deal with the owners. As of right now, segments of the players appear to be on different pages, with agents threatening to push to decertify the union and SI.com reporting that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter could come under fire.
This correspondence is another volley in a war of words that has gone on between Fisher and these agents for nearly a month. Back in September, Fisher pointedly rebuked the agents in another letter sent to all NBA players.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:00 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Note (1:57 a.m.): This post has been updated to reflect new information.
Kaboom. The agents are at it again.
In the latest signal that the NBA labor negotiations are doomed, at least in the short term, six influential agents have issued a letter to their clients on Monday advising them not to agree to any labor deal that requires the players to take cuts in compensation.
ESPN.com reported that the agents are advising players to hold a firm line on the issue of the Basketball-Related Income split.
ESPN.com believed the letter advocated no movement past the current 57 percent BRI split for the players. Later Monday, SI.com also obtained the letter (read it here) and reported that it advises players not to accept any reduction past the 52 percent level that has been negotiated in talks that have been ongoing for months.
Back in September, NBPA president Derek Fisher sent a letter to all players urging unity and specifically called out these agents. Here's his reward. Anarchy at the worst possible time.
The agents are saying to their players, in effect: "We know your interests better than the union does." This letter undercuts the strength of Fisher and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter by revealing a clear rift. As mentioned on Saturday night, October comes down to one word on the players' side: resolve. Just two days later, we are presented with a blatant signal that powerful factions of the NBPA are not on the same page. At all.
If we take the 57 percent reading as accurate, the agents are telling their clients not to approve concessions already made by the NBA in negotiations, totally cutting the legs out from under the NBPA leadership. If we take the 52 percent reading as accurate, Fisher and Hunter are left with no room to further negotiate with the NBA owners, who, up to this point, have made it clear that 52 percent is "miles" away from getting a deal done. That reading still turns the letter into an attempt to transform the NBPA's most recent offer into its final offer. That's still serious undercutting, although clearly not as bad as if the demand is at 57 percent as was previously reported. How, exactly, are NBPA officials supposed to enter the most important day of negotiations with one hand tied behind their backs?
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports quoted one agent on Monday: "We're not just walking off the cliff with (Billy Hunter). We're ready to take the next step and decertify. We're not going to let the league set up tomorrow's meeting as a way to trap us into a bad deal."
Whether or not the actual advice in this letter is heeded, the mere fact that it was sent represents a step backwards in the negotiation process, and it comes at the worst possible time. The NBA and NBPA will continue talks in New York City on Tuesday in what could be the last session before regular season games are canceled. If the union does not have both the desire and authority to make significant concessions, and it appears that it has neither, a delayed start to the regular season is unavoidable.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 1:56 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 1:32 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Saturday essentially represented the eleventh hour if ongoing labor negotiations were going to progress enough to save the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season, and the league's owners responded with all the urgency other people their age bring to planning a 2 p.m. nap. The owners wanted to save the season so badly that they agreed not to even discuss the money issue because it was so clearly a waste of time. The owners were so committed to avoiding a true work stoppage that they used the oldest trick in the book, "working late" on Saturday as an excuse to take off Sunday.
The lasting scene from the last two fruitless days of labor negotiations is not Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade standing up to commissioner David Stern on Friday. No, the image that will endure is billionaire Heat owner Micky Arison cracking a joke about the exchange and then treating himself to a New York steak on Saturday night.
Sure, imagining Wade sticking it to basketball's bellicose bully is a great picture, but if you zoom out you can clearly see the league's owners yawning, or perhaps even chuckling, at Wade's confident petulance, knowing that his outburst stems from a growing sense of outrage and frustration at the lack of progress in the talks. "If the superstars are getting this upset," you can almost hear the owners thinking, "just imagine how mad the mid-level players must be."
Once the natural sense of satisfaction and vindication caused by Wade's confrontation with Stern wears off among the league's rank and file, they will soon realize that the exchange of words and, really, the entire appearance of stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at Friday's talks in New York was nothing more than a sideshow, a distraction from the fact that the owners have not meaningfully moved on the only topic that matters: the split of basketball-related income. Expecting Wade, James and Anthony to influence the mindset of owners dead set on a financial system overhaul is as ridiculous as the costume Cleveland Cavaliers guard Baron Davis wore to the proceedings. It didn't make any difference. The superstars, it turns out, are not a panacea. So, what next?
Aside from praying for a favorable ruling by the National Labor Relations Board and the longshot, that-ship-has-sailed option of decertification, the National Basketball Players Association is running fresh out of ideas. Patience has been the order of the day up to this point but panic seems like a more apt description of what should come next, given how unblinking the owners were this weekend. As a group, the owners have shown no real cracks and they even offered up a generous, expanded revenue sharing program to the surprise of many. Sure, they are getting killed for jeopardizing the future of their league and for being profit-hungry, and they deserve every word of it, but damned if they aren't unified in their questionable course of action. They are driving this season off the cliff in tandem. Thirty motorcycles will crash into the ravine simultaneously.
And that's why the month of October in these negotiations will be defined by the resolve of the other side, which already seems a touch shaky. NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter, despite their best efforts and tireless work, have struggled to maintain order and interest among their ranks. Only a few dozen players bothered to show up at a recent regional meeting in Las Vegas and the league's star players were virtually absent during this process until their brief cameo on Friday. The NBA's most popular player, Kobe Bryant, couldn't be bothered to break off from his overseas obligations. The NBA's MVP, Derrick Rose, has been seen fighting bullfighters in sneaker commercials but hasn't stepped into the labor ring. LeBron James, the league's biggest talent, is reportedly among a group of stars ready to dig in and take a hard line at 53 percent of the BRI, regardless of the consequences, but that's easy for him to say because he's made more money in a season, multiple times, than the average player will make in a career. He has copious, global endorsement opportunities to help ease the pain, too.
Dozens of fringe players have already bailed to play basketball overseas and, with the cancelation of regular season games just around the corner, middle of the road guys who had been weighing their options are likely to follow suit. Those who don't go will only get antsier and antsier, louder and louder, once this weekend's non-action sinks in and the missed paychecks become a reality rather than a threat. When that clamoring starts to pick up, we know where the owners will be: laid back with their feet kicked up, holding onto the same demands they've held since the beginning of the process, laughing all the way to the bank.
The owners are the perfect villians: rich beyond our wildest dreams and determined to squeeze out every possible penny, regardless of the collateral damage. The scary part is that they don't care how they appear to the public, the media or, even, to Wade. The terrifying part is that it's still not totally clear the players understand what they are up against yet.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 7:00 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association met for the second straight day in New York City on Saturday, but the talks failed to produce an agreement or even much progress.
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the talks will not continue on Sunday as expected and that the two sides will be "back at it" on Monday in smaller groups.
Talks lasted for more than seven hours on Saturday following a lengthy negotiating session on Friday that featured some tense moments and cameos by superstars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony.
Representatives for both sides addressed the media afterwards.
Berger reports that NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler said that the two sides did not discuss the most contentious issue, the division of Basketball-Related Income, and instead talked about system issues. NBPA president Derek Fisher, meanwhile, acknowledged that there were "still huge gaps" between the two sides, who decided to switch the discussion to individual system issues.
"Break down the mountain into separate pieces and tackle it one step at a time," Fisher explained. "We weren't going to be able to make major, sweeping progress on the entire economic and system at the same time. Maybe if we split them up and try to go at them one at a time ... we can at least get some momentum and some progress going."
USA Today reported that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said the two sides were still "miles apart."
Berger reported that Hunter believes the owners are still pushing for a system that resembles a hard cap rather than the soft cap that the players prefer. "If you gave them everything they're asking for, you'd ultimately have a hard cap," Hunter said.
On the other side of the table, Berger reported that NBA commissioner David Stern said that the two days of negotiations were "long and in some ways exhausting" and that the two sides were "not near anything." However, Stern noted: "We're closer than we were before."
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver painted the discussions as a clear exchange of ideas: "The owners certainly heard the passion from the players, and right back at them from the owners."
NBPA vice president Matt Bonner told MySanAntonio.com that both sides were "a little burned out" and only made "minor progress" on Saturday. His fellow NBPA vice president Roger Mason, Jr. tweeted: "Finished another long day of meetings. Unfortunatey nothing new to report. We are still very far from a deal."
Berger also reports that Stern acknowledged that he exchanged words with Wade on Friday. "There was a heated exchange of some kind."
The next steps for the NBA will be to announce the cancelation of the rest of the preseason schedule. On Sept. 23, the NBA announced the cancelation of the first half of the preseason. Once the entire preseason slate is wiped, a delayed start to the regular season, which is currently slated for Nov. 1, is essentially inevitable. Berger reports that Stern no announcement will be made on Monday but that the decision will be a "day to day" matter after that.
This post will update with the latest NBA lockout news.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 7:02 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 7:46 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports from New York City that labor talks between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have wrapped up after more than four hours of negotiations.
Both sides addressed the media, with the NBPA going first.
Berger reports that NBPA president Derek Fisher said during a Friday afternoon press conference that although the meetings were "engaging" the two sides "did not come out of here with a deal today, but we will be back here at 10 a.m."
Talks are expected to continue on Saturday and Sunday.
Asked if a deal will be reached this weekend, Fisher said: "I can't answer that."
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Fisher said that "no formal proposals [were] exchanged" on Friday and that talks were "contentious" at times. The paper also noted that Fisher said that the NBA did not threaten to cancel the entire 2011-2012 NBA season if no deal was reached this weekend.
NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver addressed the media following the NBPA press conference.
"There's no bad news," Stern said according to Berger. "Both sides expressed a willingness to make a deal."
Berger reports that Stern, who acknowledged that no formal proposals were exchanged, said that both the NBA and NBPA "agreed that once regular season games lost, both sides harden."
Asked if he can see a framework of a deal, Stern said, "We leave that to the bloggers." If no deal is reached this weekend, Silver said that talks between the two sides would "of course" continue.
NBA.com reported that Stern made public some details of the league's new revenue sharing plan for the first time. Under the proposal presented by Stern, revenue sharing among owners would quadruple within three yeras after tripling in the first two years.
Finally, Stern said that a report that the season could be canceled if a deal wasn't reached this weekend was "ludicrous."
During the NBPA's press conference, Fisher was flanked by a cadre of NBA All-Stars including Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Heat guard Dwyane Wade and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. Other players present, Berger reports, include Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, Philadelphia 76ers forwards Elton Brant and Andre Iguodala, and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Baron Davis.
Berger also reports that Heat forward Udonis Haslem left the meeting saying that he was "very encouraged" and that "you can see that everybody really wants to make a deal."
This post will update with the latest NBA lockout news.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 9:06 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 9:09 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
As a society, we owe The Wire and Breaking Bad many things, but high on our list of debts is gratitude for their poignant, repeated reminder that the lawyers always, always, get paid. Maurice Levy and Saul Goodman would surely react with a knowing grin and a tip of the cap to the lawyers who are beaucoup Bucks off of the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Playes Association.
AmLawDaily reports that the NBPA has paid millions of dollars for legal representation since 2005, and those numbers don't even take into account expenses incurred during the ongoing lockout, which are not yet public.
With neither party in the habit of discussing such matters, a definitive answer is almost impossible to determine. A review of documents filed with the U.S. Department of Labor by the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) between 2005 and 2010 offers some insight into how much the union, at least, spent on legal fees for the last round of labor negotiations—and a taste of how much it could end up spending on lawyers in connection with the current talks.Figures for the NBA side aren't disclosed in the report but it seems reasonable to assume that they are spending in a similar ballpark and that both sides have had to ramp up spending in 2011 in preparation for the lockout, which went into effect on July 1, and the actual collective bargaining negotiations, which still have no end in sight.
The report notes that the union's most highly-paid lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, earned $1.1 million during the 5-year period. Penciling that out to an annual salary of $220,000, you will be relieved to find out that he banked less than the rookie minimum.
Hat tip: Zach Lowe on Twitter
Posted on: September 26, 2011 7:16 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
I don't know anyone else under the age of 80 that writes more letters than Los Angeles Lakers guard and National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher.
In his latest missive, sent just a few weeks after he penned one attacking agents in advance of a NBPA regional meeting in Las Vegas, Fisher asserts that the players "drive this game" and repeats his earlier statements that the league's owners have a number of "internal issues" that need to be resolved before a deal can be struck.
ESPN.com obtained the letter. Here are a few excerpts.
Fisher's goal in raising these splinter issues is to provide an explanation for why he needs more time, potentially a lot more time, to get a new deal done and get the players back to work. Waiting just to wait doesn't do the players any good, and that will lead to restlessness. But waiting makes a lot more sense if the payoff is that the NBA owners are more willing to deal. Conventional wisdom and the size of their respective checking accounts suggest that time is on the owners' side; here, Fisher tries to flip that idea on its head to reclaim some leverage and bolster internal confidence.
The problem with this tactic is that it will continue to read like empty rhetoic until the owners make a proposal that moves anywhere in the vicinity of a deal. Up to this point, preaching patience hasn't accomplished much for Fisher and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. Relying on the owners to set the pace of these negotiations isn't ideal. Push is coming to shove for the players before our eyes and there is a finite number of times that Fisher will be able to go back to the "patience" card. He hasn't exhausted those opportunities but I'm sure he would much rather be selling progress than patience after this week's meetings.
Be sure not to read over the phrase "unless you, the group we represent, tell us otherwise" with regard to the hard cap. That reads an awful lot like hedging. Up to this point, the idea of a hard cap has been a "blood issue" that was not suitable for negotiation. But that clause seems totally unnecessary if the players had truly agreed that the hard cap was to be a "blood issue". Therefore this almost reads like a door being cracked open or an innocent invitation to the rank and file: "Just tell us to cave and we'll cave!" Maybe that's too cynical.
Given the deliberate pace of negotiations, it's hard to be anything but too cynical.