Tag:Lockout
Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:02 am
 

Report: It's going to be a full-house Saturday

By Matt Moore 

With the player's union bitterly divided over how much to surrender in order to get a season, rumor and allegations flying rampant, Saturday's meeting beween the NBPA and NBA was going to be drama-filled to begin with (as much as a bunch of guys in suits sitting around a hotel boardroom can be). But the Boston Herald brings news it's going to go to the next step. 
According to sources, the session will be much larger than the recent talks in terms of participation.Players beyond the executive committee are expected to attend, and there could be greater participation on the owners’ side, as well, as they try to end the lockout and reach a new collective bargaining agreement.

This may be an effort to make things more transparent in response to inside questions about the directions the two leaderships have been taking. It could also be a show of solidarity from each side amid reports of fractures.One source said he has no idea what to expect from the expanded session.

“It could be that everyone gets together and cooler heads rule the day,” he said. “Or it could be one of those battle royales from wrestling. We could see players and owners being thrown over the top rope and out the hotel windows.”
via BostonHerald.com - Blogs: Celtics Insider» Blog Archive » More players, owners to get involved in NBA talks Saturday.

Based on how the last week has gone, I would bring a Lucha Libre mask and some tights, if I were you.

This is actually spectacularly bad news for anyone paying attention. Progress has only been made in talks in small groups. Getting the larger contingents involved when thing weren't so volatile was bad enough, and lead to multiple breakdowns in talks. But throwing in the drama of the past week along with owners who no doubt smell blood means that this meeting could be very Hobbes-ian: nasty, brutish, and short. It could turn into a Quentin Tarantino flick: lots of blood and everyone dies in the end.

There's a perfect storm of elements coming to play that could spell the end of the NBA. Not for a season. For good.  
Posted on: November 3, 2011 9:49 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 2:58 am
 

NBPA members meet with decertification attorneys

By Matt Moore nba-lockout

Update 2:49 a.m.: Two separate lists of players involved in the calls came out late Thursday night. Yahoo! Sports reported Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jason Kidd, Al Horford, and Tyson Chandler, while ESPN reported Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, along with Ray Allen and Dwight Howard. That makes leaders from six different teams, including six current or future All-Stars. Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett have not been formally connected to the talks, but considering Pierce's involvement, it could be assumed they were in support of the movement. That's a lot of players with a lot of pull.

We're in dark waters, here, kids. 

Yahoo Sports and the New York Times are reporting that 50 members of the National Basketball Players Association held two separate conference calls this week with an antitrust attorneys to discuss decertification and subsequent lawsuits... without the knowledge of NBPA executive board members. 

So, that's fun.

Yahoo reports that meetings were spurred by players, including multiple All-Stars, who refuse to go below the 52 percent of Basketball-Related Income already offered in negotiations with the NBA. These players reportedly feel too many concessions have been made. This directly contrasts multiple reports and statements from other players indicating that a 51 or 50 percent compromise would be considered reasonable in pursuit of a deal. This new set of reports indicates that not only is the union divided, it is divided bitterly.

A move to decertify is thought to equate to the end of Billy Hunter's tenure as executive director of the NBPA. It would also kickstart a scorched earth policy by taking the sport to the courts, one that could take literally years to resolve. The union would require 30 percent of its membership to sign a petition to raise a vote for decertification, then a simple majority of its membership to formally approve it. In other words, the 50-player contingent would need to bring on over roughly 150 additional players in order to reach that threshold. 

The reports come from multiple sources within 48 hours of a scheduled meeting on Saturday between the NBA and NBPA, which raises suspicions of the intent of the purposeful leak. The question is why and to what end. 

After talks broke down a week ago, it was predicted that things would get uglier.

They certanly have.
Posted on: November 3, 2011 11:51 am
 

Report: NBA, NBPA to resume negotiations Saturday

By Matt Moore

From the Boston Herald, they're headed back to the table once more: 

 
After breaking off talks last Friday, the NBA and players’ union are expected to resume face to face negotiations this Saturday in New York, according to involved sources.

We’re still awaiting confirmation from the league office, but sources say the plan is pretty much set.

The sides have been working within their own groups for the most part in these last days, setting their positions and deciding whether they will move from their most recent offers — and, if so, by how much.
via BostonHerald.com - Blogs: Celtics Insider» Blog Archive » League, players to resume talks Saturday.

It will have been one week and a day since labor talks last broke down on Friday. There was speculation the two sides would meeet this week but apparently they couldn't stand the sight of each other after the long talks that went into the wee hours of the morning last week yielded no deal.

The two sides are said to be "95 percent" done according to the New York Times but are bitterly divided over the remaining items on the agenda, the largest of which is the split of Basketball-Related Income. The owners have refused to accept less than 50 percent after getting only 43 percent in the previous agreement, while union officials have held firm at 52 percent (after saying they were holding firm at 53 percent... you see where this is going). The union has been rocked by allegations and indications from its members that there is a growing interest in finding a deal at 50 percent, while some members remain decisively behind holding the line at 52. 

It's difficult to see how these talks will generate anything positive, but talking is better than not talking, in most cases.

Saturday will be day 128 of the NBA Lockout.  
Posted on: November 2, 2011 10:38 am
 

The lockout has become brain damaged

By Matt Moore

There have been a lot of ridiculous stories during this lockout. JaVale McGee denying a quote given to reporters with a half dozen recording devices in his face is a personal favorite. There's Ken Berger's 50/50 cake. We've had "enormous consequences," 3 a.m. press conferences, and of course, "How u?." 

Tuesday night saw some pretty freaking ridiculous stories. 

It started with a column from FoxSports.com's Jason Whitlock,  who has written literally hundreds dozens four posts on the NBA lockout, asserting that Derek Fisher wanted to go 50/50 and Billy Hunter wouldn't let him. The piece pretty much painted Fisher as a sellout over his head. Point!

Then later in the day Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a column painting Hunter as the destabilizing force. Woj's assertion is that the union has lost confidence in Hunter's leadership, and would like a vote on a 50/50 BRI-split deal brought to the union for a vote. Counter-point!

If you're looking to read into this, you've got sources inside the union telling two different columnists two different things. Can you feel the stand-united-ness? 

Now, the appropriate action would be to not respond to reports, to continue on with leading the players. Make some phone calls to players who are particularly vocal. Sending a letter isn't going to help because then that just gets out to the media and it looks like you're squabbling and desperate for damage control. 

So naturally, the union sent letters. Lots of letters. 

Billy Hunter tossed aside discussions of a rift with Fisher and tried to get the horse under control, so to speak, by taking aim at the league. When in doubt, slam the side that's costing your constituents money. But wait, they're not through! Derek Fisher released his own statement threatening legal action against FoxSports.com concerning the allegations. The theme is clear. "Everything is fine! We are good! No problems, here! It's the NBA's fault and we won't back down!"

Problem is, that's not how it comes off. It comes off as a fractured leadership trying to undergo damage control. Multiple media outlets after the breakdown in talks last week said that this would be when things got "uglier." 

This is about as ugly as it can get. 

This is why the NBA is so forceful with keeping owners away from the media, why they are levying fines against their own owners for innocuous, common sense tweets that anyone can figure out. Micky Arison was fined half-a-million dollars for saying that he wasn't behind a move to prevent the season and restructure the deal some more. Anyone paying half-attention could have figured that out. But the league knows the more that is said, the more things get out of control, which means the more they have to respond to in the press, which means less time staying focused on getting what they want. 

There's been a lot of talk, some of it from me, about how flawed and nearly insane the league's stance has been. But if their position is out of whack, their execution has been flawless. The union's requests are reasonable, undersatandable: a deal where they don't lose their soul, their hat, and everything with it. Bu their execution of their defense has been sorely lacking. This situation is a clear example of that. 

In totally unrelated news, no talks are scheduled between the NBA and NBPA. 

Today is day 125 of the NBA lockout. 
 
Posted on: October 28, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 10:59 am
 

NBA Lockout: A striking distance primer

By Matt Moore

There is a perfect storm of circumstancial information brewing Friday to suggest that the NBPA and NBA are on the verge of completing a labor agreement to end the 2011 lockout and being the 2011-2012 NBA season.

Here's where we're at as Friday's meetings get underway:

The New York Times is reporting that the league has contacted arenas to urge them to hold April arena dates. In short, they're working to secure an 82-game schedule as discussed Thursday, by extending the season and filling in games.
League officials, anticipating a resolution, are quietly preparing for an 82-game season. The N.B.A. has begun calling arenas across the league, asking them to keep dates open in late April, according to arena officials.

Each team would lose about 12 to 15 games with a Dec. 1 start. But they could reclaim a half-dozen or so games by extending the season through the end of April, two weeks past its usual conclusion. The rest of the games could be made up by adding an extra two to three games per month.
via For the N.B.A., Negotiations Are Taking ‘Baby Steps’ - NYTimes.com

Trust us, we'll have a lot more to say about the merits and detriments of trying to force in an 82-game season after missing a month if we get a season. But the bigger story right now is that the league isn't dragging its feet on setting up for the future. It's getting out ahead in anticipation of a deal being struck. This is the new reality after this week's meetings. As Billy Hunter put it Thursday night, the two sides are "within striking distance." 

Meanwhile, the breakthrough that has lead to all this goodwill going into Friday's talks? From Sports Illustrated:
Perhaps more important as a sign of progress: The source told SI.com the league has indeed come off its proposal to triple and quadruple penalties for annual taxpayers. It still wants to punish such teams somehow, and it has proposed doing so via increasing the tax rates by a set dollar amount rather than a multiplier. Both sides are mum on the precise details, but the effect would be to limit penalties in the highest tax bracket to something like $4 to $5 for ever $1 over a certain threshold. That’s still quite high — the Lakers last season could have paid as much as $60 million in tax, rather than $20 million, under such a system — but it represents a step down from the harsher system, where ratios could have hit 10-to-1 and beyond for repeat payers.

Also, the league has agreed that even teams who pay the tax should share in the revenue the tax generates, a source said. Under the old system, if a team went even $1 over the tax threshold, it forfeited its right to a share of the total tax pot — a check that can range from $2 million to $3 million in a typical season. The two sides are still working out the details, but that represents an important concession to the union.
via The Point Forward » Posts Deal is near as players, owners return to table «

To boil this down: the players were concerned that a punitive tax system which essentially discourages all spending over the cap would significantly limit players' earning potential. And that's a big deal for them. So the fact that the league has come off it and is working to keep the spending down without lowering a concrete ceiling is huge. Yahoo! Sports reported Friday morning that the "the tax isn't the issue" according to a source, that the debate has come down to the exceptions. Those are things which can be finagled and managed. 

So what's the deal with the exceptions? SBNation's Tom Ziller does a great job breaking it down:
But the creation of a second cap at the luxury tax line opens up a whole new zone of negotiation. Should the new collective bargaining agreement contain clauses that allow teams over the actual salary cap to do certain things (like use the sign-and-trade and mid-level exception) but don't allow teams over the luxury tax line to use those tools, the luxury tax line will become a huge deal. Flexibility is king in the NBA, and by creating separate sets of rules for teams over the cap and over the tax line, you do more to tamp down payrolls than any sort of graduated tax could.

It's no wonder that the players' union is fighting the last battles of the system negotiations along these lines. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the hang-ups on system issues at this point revolve around rules for using the mid-level and bi-annual exception, as the owners want to limit the use of those for tax-paying teams and the players want to keep the exception open to everyone. This is why the battle has settled here: threatening high-spending teams with limitations to their flexibility is more powerful than making them pay a 200 percent tax.
via NBA Lockout On Verge Of Deal Creating Two Salary Caps - SBNation.com

In essence, the system that's starting to take shape doesn't prevent teams from being able to spend a ton of money, which is what the players want, but punishes them by removing their ability to make moves after spending that much, which is what the owners wanted. It disincentivizes teams from spending unless they absolutely should. Which is what everyone wants in the first place. It's almost like... a compromise! So glad it only took us two years and a month of canceled games to get here. 

ESPN's TrueHoop brought in a buried lede that has significant impacts in figuring out the dynamics of what's going on with the negotiation. Paul Allen was reportedly the hard-hand brought in to bust the union in last week's doomsday Thursday meetings which broke down. But...(from TrueHoop):
NBA sources, however, say it was nothing of the sort. In fact, they say, he was there at the invitation of the NBA's negotiators to watch Kessler. Allen was one of several owners who thought Stern and Silver had made players an overly generous offer of 50 percent of basketball-related income. The league's lead negotiators essentially replied: go see for yourself. You think you can get Kessler to go for 47 percent? Good luck to you.

In the ongoing dance between Hunter and NBA agents -- many of whom feel Hunter is soft, risk-averse, or ineffective -- Kessler has been seen as something of a shield for Hunter. If a tough lawyer like that will go for Hunter's deal, who are the agents to complain?

But that shield has been out of action and not, sources insist, because he is in the doghouse.
via Three reasons for the new mood - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

Kessler stands as the leverage for the players, proof that while the union membership may be weak and fractured, the leadership is not. That's a monumental game changer, considering that days after that meeting of disaster, we're here, again, "within striking distance" of a deal. 

And finally, a word of caution. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that while progress has been made, the two sides are closer than ever, the tone has shifted, and beams of sunlight are creeping in, we're still in the dark, and with both sides expected to tackle BRI first on Friday, the whole thing could collapse at any moment. From Berger:
But while Hunter said the two sides are "within striking distance of getting a deal" on the system issues and moving on to BRI, Silver cautioned that the two sides are "apart on both" the system and the split. Asked about the gap on the system issues, Stern said, "We are not close enough right now. But I expect with a good night’s sleep, we’ll both come in with resolve to get closer."

But team executives who've heard this twice before, only to see the talks blow up -- on Oct. 4 over the BRI split and Oct. 10 over the system -- remained cautiously optimistic Thursday. One executive confided that his gut tells him "this will blow up one more time." "

"There’s no guarantees we’ll get it done," Stern said. "But we’re going to give it one heck of a shot (Friday)."
via Stern on labor deal: Friday's the day - CBSSports.com.

The momentum boat has never had more speed for shore. The two sides have never been so laughy and smiley with one another, to their faces. The league is planning for a deal to be had. The union's description of the talks has altered dramatically, from "concepts" and "ideas" to "the deal" and "within striking distance." 

Friday's not the last day, and we've seen this process go awry too often to feel safe. But there's light at the end of the tunnel for the first time since July 1st, and for once, it's not a train.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 4:29 am
 

Five takeaways from Wednesday's marathon meeting

By Matt Moore

With the NBA and NBPA having met for 15 hours Wednesday-into-Thursday, the two sides were understandably brief and frazzled at 4AM EST when press conferences were held. But from those pressers, we have enough to give you some takeaways on what to expect.


1. It's RIGHT THERE.

Derek Fisher was adamant about expressing that the idea that there was a deal to be had is a "reach," while David Stern chose to simply communicate that both sides had agreed not to talk about it. But if you want the best indication of where things stand, it comes from a throwaway line from a sleep-deprived Billy Hunter amid a sea of reports of optimism.

By itself, Hunter referring to what the two sides have in front of them as "the deal" is nothing more than a slip of the tongue on national television, a poor phrasing. But combined with all the other indicators that there's hope and progress that was made on Wednesday, it's and indication of this: it's no longer about "ideas" and "concepts." There's a framework, or something resembling a framework being hatched. It may have gigantic holes in it, it may not be able to support itself if you put it up on its end, but there's structure to what the two sides are discussing.

Which means that they can see it.

2. Both sides think BRI is solvable.

If BRI wasn't solvable, they wouldn't have gone 15 hours. It remains the number one thing that can detonate this entire process. The union could be thinking the league has to be willing to budge on 50/50 with all the system concessions, while the league is staying where it's at. "They know where we stand" Adam Silver said. Conversely, the league could assume that the players know they won't budge on 50/50 and this is all adjustments with that understanding, even if it wasn't a precondition.

But that's not what it sounds like. The two sides didn't touch BRI Wednesday, a mind-boggling element considering the two sides met for 15 freaking hours. But there's simply no way all the smiles and talk of a "positive energy" would have rang out if both sides were aware that BRI wasn't going anywhere. They're not staying in a room for 15 hours again knowing that any progress is pointless since they're still going to war over that three percent that separates them.

BRI may not be solvable, but both sides think it is.

3. The things that remain are still big.

The list of things that they could still be working on include the tax structure (though it would seem that's the biggest issue and there were huge gains there, most likely), the length of contract, the mid-level exception, and the length of the deal. Clearly there had to have been some movement on some combination of those issues to warrant the optimism of an 82-game seaosn being played with a deal done by Monday a possibility all of a sudden.

But that doesn't mean that one side or the other is assuming that a big issue will be small. Interpretation of the other side can get muddled in the intensity and if one side or the other takes a vicious stand over something small, like a two year gap in the length of contracts for max players, all of a sudden things could spiral. Quickly.

They have not "solved" anything. They just have enough ideas to support more talks and the idea of a deal is being entertained.

4. The biggest problem for both sides is their constituents.

Stern referenced the fact that any deal that is agreed upon must be ratified by vote by both the union and the Board of Governors. Which means that all this good news and positive vibes can be set on fire tomorrow once Dan Gilbert, Robert Sarver, Ted Leonsis, Peter Holt, or any combination of agents or players are notified of what was agreed upon Wednesday/Thursday.

Fisher confirmed that no additional members would be brought in for the talks, in fact the union is losing an advisor to a conflict Thursday. But that's their best hope for a deal. PUsh through without the owners or players, get a deal they think represents both sides' interests, and then try and ram it through with the promise of a season.

Any number of unstable elements who have already caused sessions to crash and burn could do the same to whatever progress was made in the past two days. The bridge to tomorrow has a number of trolls hiding under it.

5. The sides that don't want to miss games are in control at this point.

Both sides referenced the very real possibility of an 82-game season. That's a little bit insane considering the first two weeks are canceled and David Stern confirmed the likely loss of the next two weeks, losing an entire month. But the plan is there, as has been suggested before, if they can get a deal.

The word "window" has popped up repeatedly in the last two weeks, even with the disaster of last Thursday's meeting. There's a narrow gap between losing paychecks, the start of court proceedings, the opportunity for keeping an 82-game schedule pre-arranged by the league, and getting this mess behind everyone before the damage is irreparable. It's clear there are forces still pushing to sacrifice the entire season, but they're not the ones working now, and the ones working now have built enough to keep the number "82" alive, for now.

Thursday's big. Huge. Looking like a season? Not there yet. But we're closer than ever and things are more optimistic than ever.

Which of course means everything will plummet into despair Thursday afternoon. But we'll keep riding the rollercoaster we're handcuffed to.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:19 am
Edited on: October 26, 2011 11:40 am
 

Report: Owners are back off 50/50 precondition

By Matt Moore

When NBA talks broke down last Thursday, the sticking point was the owners' refusal to even hear proposals from the union without a precondition that the union accept a 50/50 Basketball Related Income split. It's like trying to negotiate for a car when the dealer says "we can negotiate anything you want as long as you accept full price first." If that doesn't sound much like a negotiation, then I'd like to welcome you to the 2011 NBA lockout circus. Please check your hats at the door, and be careful, someone will probably steal it by the night's end. 

But with talks resuming Wednesday in New York around noon eastern, it looks like, and I'm going to bold this for its importance, for the moment, the league has backed off the 50/50 precondition. Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com reports:
A source close to the talks tells SheridanHoops.com that the owners have dropped their insistance that players agree to a 50/50 split of revenues.

That precondition is what brought about last Thursday’s contentious breakup after the sides had met for more than 30 hours over three days.
via NBA TALKS TO RESUME WITHOUT PRECONDITIONS.

This opens the way for "outside-the-box" solutions to be offered. The players want to get concessions on either revenue or system. The owner want wins on both. If they can find a middle ground that manages to let both sides believe that, that is to say the league feels like the changes are enough to justify the split they gave up, or the union believes the changes are minimal enough to justify their BRI sacrifice, something could get done today. 

It won't, but it's a nice thought. Sorry, we're all out of hope here. Try the corner store down the street.

It should also be noted that the league could also be dancing with the conditions set about in the union's complaint to the NLRB concerning "good faith bargaining." (For more on the elements in play for the union and league in the NLRB process, check out our podcast this week with an expert in the matter.) By backing off the 50/50 precondition, then returning to it sporadically, the league can delay the process, forcing the players to miss checks, while keeping the appearance of good faith negotiations. But with the strength of the legal precedent on their side, there's no real need for that. Both sides have expressed a willingness to get a deal done. 

Now we'll just see if the moderates can keep everyone else out long enough for progress to be made. 

That sound you hear is us not holding our breath.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Report: NBA talking, but not meeting, with NBPA

By Matt Moore

The NBA is very busy doing everything except actually meeting with the union to resolve the NBA lockout. With the next two weeks of the NBA schedule expected to be canceled later on Tuesday, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that ownership is expected to be on a conference call today to discuss revenue sharing. Reports over the weekend suggested that Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck's proposal last week was confusing, so clearly the issue is still being worked out by the league. 

Meawhile, ESPN is reporting that while the NBA and NBPA had "lengthy talks" via the phone on Monday, no further talks are scheduled.  So just to be clear, the next two weeks of the regular season are being canceled today, the two sides spoke all day by phone, and yet they won't agree to get in a room and meet. 

It's almost hard to believe this process has failed so badly.

The union has been extremely forthcoming about its stance regarding negotiations, saying after the breakdown in talks last Thursday that they were ready to continue talking that day, and each day since. The league on the other hand seems very much committed to dragging its heels, which is bizarre considering the state of things, and at the same time completely predictable based on what appears to be a very real not just willingness, but desire to miss most of if not all of the season by the owners.

If this thing is going to get saved before it get substantially worse, something has to move soon. They're talking, which is great. They're not meeting, which is not.

Tuesday is day 117 of the NBA Lockout.  
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com