Posted on: November 15, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:22 pm
By Matt Moore
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the players' legal proceedings against the league will begin:
This comes as no surprise based on what we've already reported. Players' attorney David Boies told reporters the suit will challenge the lockout as an "illegal boycott." The players signed as plaintiffs in the case will be Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe, and Kawhi Leonard. Boies joked the case will be filed in Northern California due to a "fondness for Oakland" from Billy Hunter, then followed by saying it was because it's expected to help with expediency, and in reality, because the district is known to be union-favorable. You can expect the league to file to move the case to the 2nd circuit in New York, where they filed their original suit against the players pre-emptively.
Boies also told reporters that they would not be asking for an injunction, but a summary judgement instead. Boies said the collective bargaining process "absolutely had ended" which is more coverage against the league's assertion that the disclaimer of interest filed by the NBPA is a "sham" used as a tactic in negotiations. The players are asking for treble damages, which would mean triple the amount of whatever monetary amount the players ascertain they are owed due to the lockout.
Boies said it is possible to get a summary judgment before the cancelation of the season, but also said that the goal is to resolve it out of court. Which you have to wonder how that's going to affect the sham argument.
Players also filed suit in Minnesota, the same district that the NFL case was fought in, according to Boies, with more possible. Plaintiffs included Ben Gordon, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams and Caron Butler. The Minnesota complaint can be read in its entirety online here. It's a barrage of lawsuits, essentially. Boies said that the California suit will include David Stern's ultimatum regarding a reversion to a more conservative offer from the league if the 50/50 proposal was rejected. Boies said "That's not collective bargaining."
Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:21 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:35 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The news was implied, assumed and the announcement, given recent events, is a formality. Nevertheless, the NBA officially cut another portion off its 2011-2012 regular season schedule on Tuesday.
Yahoo Sports reports that the league "informed late this afternoon [Tuesday] games through December 15th have been cancelled, a front office executive says."
103 games will be lost during this span.
NBA commissioner David Stern had targeted Dec. 15 as the start date for a 72-game regular season in the league's most recent proposal to the National Basketball Players Association, delivered last Thursday. Stern has made regular reference to "the calendar" determining the cancellation schedule and has stated that the league needs one month from the date an agreeement is reached to have sufficient time to begin its season. The NBPA rejected the NBA's proposal and issued a disclaimer of interest, disbanding the union and threatening to take the labor impasse to court.
The New York Post reported last weekend that the NBA had modified the schedules on its website to remove all games from Dec. 1 through Dec. 14.
Tuesday's cancellation represents the third cancellation of games in two-week increments. The NBA has now canceled a total of 324 regular season games. On Oct. 28, Stern announced the cancellation of all games from Nov. 15 to Nov. 30. On Oct. 10, Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the NBA regular season, spanning from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15. On Oct. 4, Stern cancelled the NBA's preseason.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 6:12 pm
By Matt Moore
We never thought it would come this. We always knew it would come to this.
It became pretty apparent during the lockout that this was not two geniuses of chess eying each other over a board and carefully maneuvering their pieces in a symphony of strategy. No, this was drunken toddlers flinging chess pieces across the room while they swung their hands down. And each game the owners would win, they'd smash the board and scream "MOAR! MOAR WINS!" And each time the players would lose they'd cry and kick and smash the boar dand scream "No fair!" as if their daddy was going to come in and rescue them.
But surely they couldn't be stupid enough to let it come to this, right?
Of course they were stupid enough to let it come to this.
The owners backed the players into a corner. They bullied and shoved and strong-armed their way into getting nearly everything they could reasonably expect to win. Then they demanded more. They put the players in a terrible position, forced against the wall, no escape, with only one round in their chamber.
And the players summarily blew their own head off.
It is an opera, really. A dramatic interpretation of two clowns trying so hard to fight one another they knock themselves out. Only no one's laughing. It would be funny, if there weren't lost jobs, careers forever altered, and an outright disgust for both sides and their inability to corral their extremist contingents. At some point you have to tell the children in the room to sit down, shut up, and behave. Instead, both sides said "Oh, are you upset? Here, why don't you drive the car. No, we don't have insurance, why do you ask?"
The reason smart analysts like Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Chris Sheridan, and other continued to say "no, the season won't be canceled, they'll get a deal" is they were so close, it wasn't worth blowing everything up over it. At least one side will come to their senses, was the thought. But it never happened. The players had the opportunity, knowing the deal was close enough to being swallowable, no matter how bad it tasted, to meet on it. So did they vote? No. Did they send the proposal back, approved, with a series of contingent amendments, to put the pressure back on the league and keep the process going? No. Did they ignore the threat and continue to say they were ready to negotiate? No. Any of those actions would have meant the players had a handle on themselves and understood the whole board, understood that they weren't going to see a better deal than this regardless of their action. But that's not what they did.
Instead, they opted for a disclaimer of interest. Not the decertification the union proposed, but this route. Faster, riskier, in pursuit of a summary judgment that is unlikely to come. They decided they'd had enough of this bully and it was time to fight back!
Except this isn't junior high. And they're still going to lose.
Maybe the owners really will fear the awesome might of a lawsuit which, in order to have any effectiveness, would take two to three years to finish through the appeals system and which most legal experts don't think they have a great chance of winning. A chance? Sure. A good one? Eeehh, future is hazy, check back later. Maybe the court really will side with them, and then have whateve result comes out last during the appeals process, and then win the appeal, setting the precedent in a case with far-reaching implications in a matter over professional sports. And if that happens, this will have turned out to have been... well, still a phenomenally stupid move, but they'll have treble damages to play with while the league burns to the ground.
But the more likely scenario is that they've blown up a season, cost themselves that money, blown their chance at BRI above 50 percent, blown their chance at avoiding a hard cap or flex cap and only managed to put more money in the hands of their lawyers. I'm not a legal expert, that's just the impression I've been given by them. There are ways out of this. But considering how complex they are and the two sides' inability to solve simple issues, it doesn't look good.
Don't be confused into thinking this is some sort of sole finger-pointing at the players. They didn't start this fire. They didn't lock themselves out. They didn't make outrageous demands. And they're right that they've made concession after concession. The owners will say they've made concessions, but their original position was never reasonable. Conceding insanity in order to justify advocating for foolishness doesn't make you any less nuts. The owners did this. The players just responded to short-sighted idiocy with more short-sighted idiocy.
And on, and on.
There was no vote yesterday, no consideration of the deal which a lot of rank-and-file players would have accepted. Those 30 reps didn't speak with with all the players they were meant to. And something happened to scare the living bejeezus out of them into voting "unanimously" to disclaim interest. Maybe it was Jeffrey Kessler, who seems to be getting an awful lot of publicity out of this whole ordeal he wouldn't have gotten if there was a deal. Maybe it was Billy Hunter, trying to steer the conversation away from this abject failure in leadership during these negotiations in order to reaffirm his position and save his salary once this ends. Maybe it was the agents, though that's unlikely given their reaction to yesterday's debacle.
But instead there was the grenade pin pulled in the alleyway knife fight, and now everybody dies. The union is dead, the lawyers are running the show, the league's not backing down because they don't have to, and the players aren't entirely sure of what they just did.
And as always, you, the fans, lose.
We never thought it would come to this.
We always knew it would come to this.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:27 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association sent the NBA a disclaimer of interest, folding up the union and turning the keys over to lawyers. It was a move that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter admitted would lead to a "high probability" that the 2011-2012 season, and NBA commissioner David Stern replied to the action by saying that the league was headed for a "nuclear winter."
But all hope is not lost.
Sports law expert and Tulane professor Gabe Feldman told the Orlando Sentinel that the legal process the NBPA is heading for could be wrapped up quickly enough to save at least some portion of the 2011-2012 regular season, which has already seen its first six weeks canceled.
OS: So is the ultimate upshot here that a season is now much less likely after today’s events?NBA commissioner David Stern labeled the disclaimer a "negotiating tactic" in his Monday morning address, so everyone seems to agree that it's a move with legal as well as posturing implications.
But when will the legal stuff start playing out? That remains an open question.
David Boies, new counsel for the NBA players, said Monday that no official lawsuit had yet been filed and seemed to imply, in a question and answer session with ESPN.com, that there might not be one forthcoming.
If -- and I say if because first of all, we haven't filed a lawsuit -- a lawsuit were filed, but if a lawsuit were filed and if there was an interest in settling that lawsuit, then as Jeffrey says, what would happen is the lawyers for the players would meet the lawyers for the owners and we would try to come up with some kind of settlement.In other words, we all sit and wait until the players make this thing official. Our lockout purgatory is now in a purgatory of its own. Exponential legal purgatory is about as far from basketball as one can imagine and as deflating as it gets.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 6:27 am
Posted by Royce Young
Read Ken Berger of CBSSports.com on the players' choice to file a disclaimer suit
It didn't take long for David Stern to respond to the players' dynamite announcement that they plan to file a disclaimer to disband the union and file an antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Stern was on SportsCenter just 45 minutes after Billy Hunter said that the "collective bargaining process has completely blown up."
"Billy Hunter has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday," Stern said.
Stern had promised over the weekend that if the players did not accept the current proposal from the league that the "reset" offer would immediately go into effect that included a 47-53 revenue split and a harder "flex" cap like what's used in the NHL. Basically, a deal the players would never accept.
Billy Hunter said that the disclaimer would be filed "in a few days," presumably to give the league time to come to its senses and offer a realistic deal to the players. But everyone should've known that David Stern would not be bullied.
"That's not happening," Stern said.
Stern said that at a bargaining session in Feb. of 2007, the players' attorney Jeffrey Kessler said this could happen. "That threat has been ongoing until now, despite the NBA's good faith bargaining," Stern said.
Stern listed all the positives he saw in the new offer like guaranteed contracts and higher average salaries, but then said, "But apparently it was not to liking of the players. We anticipated this."
The theme from Stern was passing the buck to the players. "We were very close, and the players decided to blow it up," he said. Stern called this tactic "irresponsible at this late date" and even called the disclaimer a "charade."
"It's not going to work," Stern said. "If they were going to do it, they should've done it a long time ago ... they seem hell-bent on self-destruction."
As for when the next round of games is canceled, Stern simply said, "The calendar takes care of that by itself." Which is true.
Stern passed pretty much all blame to Hunter and the lawyers for persuading the players against the current proposal saying that they got the players "all hopped up" on this stuff.
"We're about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA," he said. "If I were one of the 450 players in the NBA, I would be wondering what Billy Hunter just did."
The NBA later released the following statement from Stern:
"At a bargaining session in February 2010, Jeffrey Kessler, counsel for the union, threatened that the players would abandon the collective bargaining process and start an antitrust lawsuit against our teams if they did not get a bargaining resolution that was acceptable to them.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:09 pm
By Matt Moore
David Stern is not being subtle. After the Twitterview Sunday night, followed by their YouTube explanation of the proposal, the NBA posted a memo from David Stern to the players, with an attached copy of the proposal itself. Any player that got it had time to review the deal without it being couched in terms by the executive committee or their player rep. It's an interesting tactic of educating the players on what the actual terms of the deal are. Now, how those elements are interpreted, especially in the body of Stern's email, obviously is subject to the lens the league wants the deal to be viewed through. But it's direct and it puts the deal before the players plainly. Might want have wanted to do that on Friday versus hours before the meeting, but whatever. The complete text of Stern's memo:
MEMO TO: NBA PLAYERSThe league has done nothing but apply pressure and make threats all week, and now on Sunday night they're trying to simultaneously put some sugar on the deal to make it go down. One thing is clear: the league wants the players to accept this deal. This is more of an effort to get them to sign off than we've seen. It may be their last, as well.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:29 pm
by EOB Staff
It could be a quiet day of deliberation. It could be nothing but fireworks and chaos. From decertification to a player vote to a league response, we'll be watching. Check back here for updates today as the NBA potentially fall down around itself.
On the scene coverage from CBSSports.com's Ken BergerMonday 12:25 a.m.
NEW YORK -- A wise, level-headed agent has come up with a way for Billy Hunter to step out of the confines of the league's ultimatum and offer some things in order to get some things.
You know, negotiation. What a concept. I share the ideas here, because they're worth considering.
It seems that Hunter is not in a position to come out of today's meeting requesting more movement from the league without providing incentive. Given the way these negotiations have gone -- all in the direction of the owners -- that is far from fair. But it's the reality.
So Hunter can toss this back to the owners and attach the hot-button talking point of "competitive balance" to it. You want competiitive balance? The union should offer a proposal in which the distribution of draft picks is changed to give, say, the five worst teams in a given season an additional first-round pick.
If you're the Kings or the Timberwolves, would you rather have another $2.5 million or so in revenue-sharing money or tax receipts -- money that could be used to sign a veteran role player? Or would you rather have a first-round pick playing on a rookie salary, who could actually make you better and perhaps become a max player someday?
If the leaugue is really interested in competitive balance, this is one way to achieve it.
Riding shotgun with this proposal would be an offer to reduce the rookie scale even MORE than 12 percent. The level-headed agent suggested doubling that redution to 25 percent. By doing so, the escrow could return to the previous level of 8 percent, and the mechanism requiring additional withholding to account for an overage of the players' 50 percent share may not be necessary. In return, players would be eligible for their first post-rookie-deal contract after three years -- instead of being tied to the team that drafted them for five years. Players who develop into stars or valuable rotation players would be paid accordingly, and the stars who deserve it would have access to a max contract earlier.
With these two carrots, the union would then be in a position to insist that the league relax its stance on the so-called B-list issues, and also ask for movement on the A-list issue that is giving them the most trouble -- the sequencing mechanism requiring non-taxpayers to use their Bird exception first, and if it pushes them over the tax, forcing them to lose access to the full-mid-level.
Gotta start somewhere. Again, nobody listens to me or other voices of reason, but these are ideas worth sharing.Monday 11:45 a.m.
NEW YORK -- So here I am at the players' meeting, and not that it matters -- or that anyone will listen to me -- I have some issues with several deal points the players are apparently vehemently opposed to.
Let's hit them one at a time:
* The 12 percent reduction in rookie scale and minimum deals. The players are calling this an onerous rollback, but there has to be some mechanism to conform with a new 50 percent system, and this is what the two sides came up with -- mainly, in my opinion, because max contracts were off the table for reductions. Reducing the players' salaries from 57 percent of BRI to 50 percent represents a 12 percent reduction. The league already has agreed to phase in certain system elements, such as extend-and-trades and sign-and-trades for tax teams -- for the first two years. But the difference between 57 percent and 50 percent has to come from somewhere. And if max contracts are sacred and there will be no rollbacks of existing contracts, this is the only place left to reduce. My solution, as I've stated several times, would have been modest decreases in max contracts, which would've generated more of a revenue shift than a larger decrease in rookie contracts and minimums would. (This money also could be made up to star players by giving them a larger cut of licensing money.) Also, a 12 percent reduction in rookie wages would mean that the No. 1 overall pick would go down from $4.4 million to $3,.9 million in his rookie season. The 10-year veteran's minimum would go fro $1.4 million to $1.2 million. This is what they're fighting about, folks.
* The escrow. This is the amount withheld from players' paychecks to account for a possible overage in their overall guaranteed percentage. It was 8 percent previously, and a 10 percent withholding has been proposed for the new deal. However, given no rollback of existing contracts, the league has proposed an additional mechanism to account for total salaries exceeding 50 percent -- which is likely in the first two years with no rollbacks. The only alternatives to increasing the escrow to account for this would be 1) rollbacks, or 2) not agreeing to a 50-50 split of BRI.
Latest lockout buzzMonday 12:15 p.m.
Monday 12:00 p.m.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:04 pm
By Matt Moore
The NBA, pursuant to the mighty victory it envisions over the players this week, and certain that if they apply enough pressure the union will crack, not only held its Twitterview Sunday night, but released a video. As USA Today obtained a copy of the formal proposal from the league in regards to the deal on the table, the NBA followed up with a YouTube video which reviews the relevant talking points of the proposal and paints the offer in a "this is a good thing, really!" light.
This actually did a much better job than the Twitterview did in explaining the league's position and pointing out relevant elements. It's not going to sway the players, but it continues the league's assault through the media on the union's presumptive rejection of the deal. The league's message it's trying to send is clear: if there's no season, it's not our fault, we gave a fair offer.