Tag:Derek Fisher
Posted on: September 19, 2011 9:40 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 10:19 am

Hunter: Stars ready to loan union lockout money

By Matt Moore

The whole point of the actual lockout is to pressure the players into submitting to the owners' demands, or at least to gain as much leverage as possible for the owners in the dispute. And as much as the players will talk about just wanting to play, the money is what matters here.

A phrase that's been used a lot in discussions is "the lockout doesn't start until the players miss a paycheck." The idea is that once the players start missing regular paychecks, no matter how much they say they've prepared for a long lockout, they'll start to get anxious, apply pressure to their union, and the result will be a deal even more amicable to the owners than what is expected (which is a pretty pro-owner deal to begin with).

But in an interview with the L.A. Times last week in Las Vegas, union head Billy Hunter mentioned something that could have a big impact on the players' ability to hold out through the financial siege. From the Times:
What role will NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James play as this moves forward?"

"They've been deeply involved in the meetings we've had. I know Kobe is intimately involved in interfacing with colleagues and sharing in a pool of revenue to help the others get through this. Kobe has volunteered to do that in the event others need, he and others are prepared to loan money if necessary."
via Monday Q&A: NBA players union executive director Billy Hunter - latimes.com

There's been talk of a potential pool for a whle, but this is concrete talk from a union head on the matter. It's a sign of how deeply, at least on the surface, the players are in surviving this lockout to get at least some of what they want from the negotiations. Think of it this way. If you were involved in a labor dispute at your job, would you offer to give money so that workers who aren't as good at their job as you are can continue to live comfortably?

At the same time, Bryant has more than enough career earnings to survive the lockout, as most of the stars do. It's also a two-way street. In helping the lower-paid players, the stars decrease the chances that those players will circumvent what the star players want in order to get a deal. The role players watch the stars' backs in negotiations, the stars help out with the roleplayers' finances. It sounds pretty noble until you start to factor just how much moeny we're talking about in terms of "living comfortably." 

The players have also started receiving their escrow checks from multiple sources, and that's just icing on the cake. But this is still September. The union will have to show this resolve into November and potentially beyond in order to force the owners off the hard line, if the owners don't get their house in order and put the moderates back in charge of talks first. 

Posted on: September 17, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 12:27 pm

Overseas option still open for Kobe Bryant

Posted by Ben Golliverkobe-bryant-china

Summer has turned to fall without an NBA labor deal, but the story hasn't changed for Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant

The Associated Press reports that Bryant is still saying he could play overseas if the ongoing NBA lockout results in a work stoppage.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a youth basketball clinic in Singapore that he didn't know if there will be a 2011-12 season and hasn't ruled out playing abroad.

"I could," Bryant said Saturday. "I'm playing abroad right now.''

Bryant said he may join informal workouts with Lakers teammates in the future, but that no such sessions have been scheduled yet.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times caught upwith National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher, who said he is in regular communication with Bryant regarding the negotiations with NBA and its owners.
"I talk to him regularly," said Fisher.

And, don't tell me, Bryant wants you to grind your teeth and bite your tie and bully the owners into submission?

"That would be a fair assessment," said Fisher.
That's no surprise, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Bryant addressed a group of players in August, preaching solidarity. 

We're inching closer to the date when the NBA preseason schedule will be compromised and, by extension, the date when every player who floated the possibility of playing overseas, including Bryant, will have his bluff called. It still makes zero sense for Bryant to risk injury and the future guaranteed dollars on his contract by competing professionally overseas. To sum this up, we're probably no closer to the day Bryant does suit up for an international team, but we might be getting closer to the day Bryant, and other NBA players in his situation, stop mentioning the possibility.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 7:58 pm

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

Posted by Ben Gollivernbpa-stand

LAS VEGAS -- Yards away from the Vdara Hotel's lobby, where an endless line of tourists stood patiently waiting to check into their hotel room, a large group of NBA players sat in a conference room on Thursday morning, getting briefed on the latest news from ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations by National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, NBPA president Derek Fisher and other NBPA executive committee members.

The immediate message from the NBPA executive committee after the meeting closed approximated the sentiment expressed in a letter sent Wednesday from Fisher to every NBA player: Player solidarity is important, there is a fundamental split among the owners, and decertification of the union is not imminent. 

To underscore that solidarity, the NBPA distributed gray t-shirts, featuring a silhouette image of basketball players above the word "STAND" in yellow block letters. More than 30 players wore the t-shirts and stood behind Hunter and Fisher as they addressed reporters in an adjacent press conference room.

"We had a very colorful and engaging meeting today," Fisher began. "We are together. We are unified. There is not a fracture and a separation amongst our group that in some ways has been reported. We want to continue to reiterate that point."

Despite some players expressing frustration at the lack of progress in the ongoing negotiations between the NBA and NBPA, Hunter said that frustration didn't rear its head in Thursday's meeting.

"I don't get the kind of negative feedback that I get from some of the articles that you guys write," Hunter said.

Roughly 35 NBA players attended the meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and was expected to last at least 75 minutes, adjourned around 1:30 p.m. Attendance estimates presented earlier in the week were nearly double the number of players who actually showed up.

"There's no disappointment in the number," Fisher said, noting that 90 percent of the players who are competing in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series attended Thursday's meeting.

Those who did attend were greeted by a presentation from National Football League Players Association negotiator DeMaurice Smith, who was reportedly invited by Fisher. Smith hurriedly left the meeting at 11:30 a.m. and refused to comment to the media assembled, citing another engagement. Hunter said Smith provided some thoughts on his experience handling the NFL's labor dispute and noted that he cautioned the NBA players that decertification of the union is not a "silver bullet" and that the "real key is solidarity." 

Hunter also wanted to make one point crystal clear: "We did not talk about decertification as a strategy." He did say the NBPA presented "a full disclosure" of the facts and circumstances surrounding a potential decertification but that it was simply a part of the education process and not a tactic or plan.

Fisher maintained that any player agents who were hoping to push the decertification issue or undermine the union's executive committee will not succeed.

"Any statements or agendas that are being pushed by groups, they don't have a way in as long as we stand shoulder to shoulder," Fisher said.

With decertification apparently tabled, at best, the so-called "blood issues" for the players remain unchanged.

"We've been clear on a few main points which are, in a sense, nonnegotiable," Fisher told reporters after the main press conference adjourned. "We're not going to sign a deal if they include a hard salary cap, if they include a limitation on exceptions and guaranteed contracts, those are things we just cannot and will not sign off on."

Asked whether he thought the 30 NBA owners were united in a willingness to sacrifice a season in general and to sacrifice a season over the institution of a hard cap, Fisher was clear.

"No. Not even close. Nowhere near 30 teams and 30 owners. [Less than half], in my opinion. Obviously, I'm not in the room when they take votes but in my opinion there are not as many teams and owners as people would think that are interested in throwing away a season over a hard cap issue. I think [deputy commissioner] Adam Silver and commissioner [David] Stern have even said it themselves. If we can find a way to find some common ground on economics, they don't see throwing away a season over the system. And so that's the way we've attacked the matter. If we can get into a range where the economics are acceptable for both sides, the system will stay where it is."

As far as a timeline, Fisher would not confirm specific next step plans but said he hoped talks with the owners would begin next week, noting that the players are ready to continue the process. Hunter also noted that he expects to hear back from the National Labor Relations Board regarding the union's complaint that the NBA is not negotiating in good faith "within the next three weeks or so." 

Until then, the message is simple: keep negotiating whenever possible, and wait.

"The resolve is strong," Hunter concluded. "This is still early in the game, nobody has lost any paychecks. That doesn't happen until November 16. There's still time to get a deal."

Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 1:23 pm

Fisher sent letter to players asking for unity

Posted by Royce Young

Thursday is a big day for NBA players. About 70 will convene in Las Vegas for a meeting to discuss how to handle the labor negotiations going forward. A new strategy could be part of it, whether or not they're willing to compromise, what it would take for an agreement and all that. It's important and union president Derek Fisher knows it.

That's why he sent out a long, detailed letter to the players pretty much begging for unity. SI.com obtained the letter and here are a few choice samples.

After the latest round of meetings, I thought it would be best to update you personally as to where the leadership of the National Basketball Players Association stands, where the negotiations stand where we are headed and the reasons why.

Without a doubt, someone will be leaking this. I know it. The moment you read this you will know it. So, I say all with the fullest transparency.

That Derek Fisher is perceptive.

The most recent meetings in New York were effective. What you have been told by your agents, representatives and the media is probably speculative and inaccurate.

What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides. The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners.

So it is our hope that today, Thursday, at the owners meeting in Dallas that they work out their differences, come up with a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams and are then ready to come together and sign off on the agreement we as a smaller group deemed reasonable.

Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I'd like to address it. I've read yesterday's stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I've answered their questions, I've been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I'm working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don't make a commission, I don't make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.

Of course that's in response on some power agents pushing for the union to decertify. Billy Hunter has said that it isn't on the table and Fisher is making it clear here that it shouldn't be part of their strategy. The players already have one lawsuit against the league claiming they didn't bargain in good faith before the lockout.

But it's encouraging he says the meetings were effective. And I would agree. Everyone came out saying doom and gloom, but as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com noted, the two sides are on the same planet in terms of money now. Which seems like it's pretty important. And Fisher said pretty point blank that the owners are divided. Which is fairly important.

Fisher continued on with the agents part:

It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives.

I work every day on these negotiations. I work so that each player from Blake Griffin to Tyler Hansbrough, Pau Gasol to De'Andre Jordan, Dwight Howard to Jrue Holiday, Taj Gibson to Danny Granger, Steve Nash to Luke Babbit and every single player get a fair and reasonable deal. Not just for this year, not just for next year but for years to come. So that the league that WE the players largely helped build, continues to grow and thrive.

So to address the agents that have decided to say their piece yesterday, I don't mind. Perhaps they are trying to make news. Perhaps they just want to show you, their clients, they are working hard. But what would be appreciated by the 400+ players would be the support of our agents and constructive ideas, suggestions and solutions that are in our best interests. Not the push for a drastic move that leaves their players without a union, without pensions, without health care. We just aren't there.

I will remain committed to finding resolution to this because I know how important this is. I ask you to remain united with me and your over 400 allies, friends, brothers and colleagues. We are a powerful group if we remain united and focused on the task at hand.

I urge every single one of you to call me, text me, email me with anything. An idea, a suggestion, a concern, a question. I represent you. I work for you.

So to each player, each fan, each agent, each media member who ends up reading this...I stand behind this message. It comes from me, a 15 year veteran of basketball, the game I dreamt of playing as a kid, the game I love so much. I'm a teammate, I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a husband, I'm a brother, but right now, the role I must work so hard to honor is the one as PA President. And I ask each of you to stand with me, stand by me and urge the league and the owners to come together and allow the game of basketball to continue to grow and thrive. We're ready.

Here's what i take out of it: 1) Fisher likes lists and short, punchy sentences. Cool writing style. I like that stuff too.

2) Fisher really wants the union to remain united. Those power agents are looking to take control of the situation and Fisher is worried that it's going to screw up everything. More than likely, Fisher and Hunter have had a plan all along and they're executing it. And these agents want to swoop in and mess it all up. So I understand the concern.

And 3) Fisher wants players to email or text him with any questions, concerns or ideas. Just be sure you specify it's a text and not a tweet. How u.
Category: NBA
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:50 pm

NBA lockout news sweeps through Las Vegas gym

Posted by Ben Golliver


LAS VEGAS -- A giant banner spans the entire baseline and rises some 20 feet into the air at Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series. In full color, it depicts a player holding a basketball and screams a simple message in all capital letters: "POWER TO THE PEOPLE."

Given the news out of New York City on Tuesday, a day that saw labor talks between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association go nowhere, the "people" in Las Vegas, the dozens of professional basketball players assembled here to train and go through organized, five-on-five scrimmages, felt fairly powerless.

The news from New York spread throughout the gym rapidly via text message and tweets shortly after the games began, and it was met with frustration, anger and nervousness from some of the players present. Others maintained appearances and downplayed the day's events, but word that no progess had been made and that there was no immediate next step in the talks definitely hit with a thud at Impact.

"It sucks," said free agent point guard Sebastian Telfair bluntly. "[I'm feeling] sadness and frustration. This is our lives, our livelihoods, this is how we make our living. Guys are not going to be able to play basketball. We all love to play basketball, we all like to compete. Everyone likes to go out there and try to play for the gold. Right now, we're not getting the opportunity to do that."

Telfair, who is 26 years old and played for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, heard about the news via text message from his agent just minutes after stepping off the court. He said Tuesday that he badly wants to catch on with a contender next season but knows that can't happen until the proper compromises are reached. "I was hoping for something," Telfair said. "At least move and agree on some things and then the things that the NBA and the Players Association don't agree on, then we can argue about that. But I think the first step for the lockout is for us to agree on something."

The worst part is that Telfair seems to feel a bit trapped. A natural communicator and ever vocal on the court, calling defensive assignments and yelling encouragement to himself, Telfair struggled for words when asked to lay out what he can do to prepare himself in the event that the lockout leads to a work stoppage.

"There's not too many ways you can prepare yourself," Telfair said. "Either you can go take a job overseas or other than that… you sit and wait. I don't really have the other answers. Just stay in shape. Sit and wait. And when they do make an agreement, just be ready."

While he admitted that a work stoppage now seems like a "legit possibility," Telfair clearly would prefer a resolution sooner rather than later, calling the waiting game "brutal."

"We've got a lot of free agents, like myself, all that business is on hold right now," Telfair explained. "A lot of guys don't know what team they're going to be playing with or what. We need to get this thing jumping off fast."

Isaiah Thomas, a 22-year-old second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings who has yet to sign a contract officially, couldn't agree more. Thomas admitted that the lack of progress on Tuesday, which he heard about on Twitter, is starting to make him "a little bit" nervous. 

"I'm mad, angry, because it feels like I'm still in college right now," Thomas said. "I made that decision [to skip his senior season] and I got drafted but nothing has changed. I've got to just patiently wait. Keep it in God's hands and hopefully it works out. Time is ticking. I've been patiently waiting. Hopefully if the time comes, I can get an NBA paycheck and be able to play and put on an NBA uniform." 

Knowing what to expect from next season and having a contract in hand would seem to ease some of the frustration that Telfair and Thomas are describing. Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, for example, raised his voice and picked at his toes while discussing the league's ongoing labor talks, but was clear that he is not frustrated.

"We just riding under Billy Hunter right now," Allen said, expressing support for the Executive Director of the NBPA. "We're just hoping the league can negotiate with us and we can get this thing back going."

If not frustration, though, Allen, 29 and signed through next season and one more, did admit to feeling some "urgency."

"I know they need to get it done," Allen, a key member of a Grizzlies team that knocked off the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference playoffs, said. "I ain't here to say who is right and who is wrong but I am here to say, considering the run the Memphis Grizzlies had, I hope we get it back started soon. Keep our momentum going. We definitely put winning in our franchise this year, and having a lockout kind of put a dent in things. ... I understand commissioner David Stern and our player rep Billy Hunter both know what they want, but at the end of the day both sides have to agree to something. That's where we are at right now."

If only it were that simple. But there was one calm, steady voice among the group: Indiana Pacers forward and player representative Dahntay Jones.

With the media chatting and gossiping over the doom and gloom scenarios being floated in the wake of comments made by NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA president Derek Fisher, Jones kept a relaxed, straight face, and made it clear that the frustration was understandable, but not all that meaningful.

"It's a part of negotiations," Jones, 30, said. "Any negotiation is going to get frustrating... We're happy with our representation at the meetings. We're prepared for the situation. We're prepared for what could possibly happen. We've been ready for it. It's not [anything] new. We know what the worst and the best outcome could be. We're waiting patiently."

He dismissed the most hysterical reactions as an unavoidable byproduct of the attention given to these negotiations and the level of investment that so many people feel towards the league.

"That's the media in general," Jones explained. "You can't believe everything you hear. Everything is spun off. That's just what happens with word of mouth, when stories get shared between people, things get changed sometimes. No media is in the meetings so they really can't give us everything that's going on."

Jones said he would get a full, accurate rundown of the current state of the talks on Thursday, when the players are set to meet at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas. He said he expects that meeting, like previous meetings, to be an informational status report and nothing more.

"Business as usual," Jones said. "There's no need for emotion in a situation like this... Every time we have a meeting, it's a business meeting."

Business meeting or not, time is ticking and alternate plans are being made. Telfair said he is "bound to the USA" and will only go overseas as a very last resort. Thomas said he has enrolled in three classes at the University of Washington and will work out in Seattle if there's a prolonged lockout. Jones would only say that he would "evaluate" his options as the process continues. Allen, like Telfair, wants to stay stateside.

"My audible is just to stay over here," he said. "I love the American game. I been doing that for the last seven years. [The wait] ain't got boring. That's my job. I don't know who could get tired of playing, doing something they love. I love playing basketball, that's why I'm out here playing right now."

The love of the game was a common theme among all the players, but surely it's alright to love getting paid to play the game too, right?

"I don't play for the money, I play for the love," Allen declared, finally and forcefully, ice packs taped to his left knee and right ankle. "Whenever I start playing for the wrong reasons, I know that's when it's time to quit."

The rest of the NBA's players, at least those who haven't already bolted for overseas, would do well to adopt Allen's philosophy, at least for the time being. They might as well.

Because power comes from leverage which, in turn, comes from options. And the people just don't have many good ones right now.

Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:02 pm

Fisher denies text regarding possible season

By Matt Moore

On Sunday, reports surfaced that Derek Fisher had texted certain players to advise them to be in shape for a possible season, signaling optimism regarding a resolution to the lockout talks. It wasn't a monumentous development but it was something positive. 

So much for that.

On Monday, Fisher took to Twitter to deny the reports regarding his texts. The you from ten years ago has no idea what we're talking about here. From Fisher's Twitter account:
While the reports of my texts are false, I will say that I have & will continue to urge our players to stay ready for a season.
via Twitter / @derekfisher: While the reports of my te ....

Fisher followed up by Tweeting that the players "want to go back to work." Which is true but missing a caveat. A more accurate statement might have been "We want to go back to work (provided we don't have to surrender any more money than we feel we should have to)." Perhaps an even better one would be "We want to go back to work (for the exact same percentage of total BRI we had under the last deal before the global economic collapse," or "We are willing to go back to work if the deal works out for us." 

It's no surprise that Fisher denied the report. Standing by it gives the owners more leverage and each side is scraping for every inch they can control at this point. It's a denial and should be treated as such. If the report was false, Fisher would deny it and if the report were accurate, Fisher would deny it. For now, pay attention to how much Fisher in particular is trying to slow the roll on the upswing of optimism in the past week. Every public indication is that Fisher does not believe the two sides are any closer to a deal. The only real indication of that trend will come on Tuesday, should the owners elect to provide the players with a proposal. A decision not to provide a counter-proposal indicates no movement from the owners' original position, a steadfast maintenance of the hard line that lead to the lockout. Likewise, a proposal that moves at all towards compromise likely means a move towards the inevitable conclusion of this saga, in which the owners get a massive retrieval in terms of revenue and the players avoid getting completely routed. 

The fact that so much of this is occurring on Twitter is kind of amusing, if admittedly also a sign of the times.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 5:43 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 6:20 pm

Fisher sent text to players saying to be ready?

Posted by Royce Young

Players union vice president Roger Mason Jr. got some juices flowing with his non-tweet last week that said "Looking like a season." He claimed he was hacked but whatever the case, combine that with the growing sense of optimism and momentum surrounding the labor negotiations and it seems like there's reason to believe a season could be coming.

And did you know: Training camps would be starting in just about two weeks if a season were happening. A lot of players have spent their summer working out, playing streetball or doing something to stay sharp. But training camp really is sneaking up on everyone here, so Derek Fisher sent out a friendly reminder to players telling them to be prepared for a season. Via SI.com:
On the heels of Roger Mason's now-infamous tweet in which the NBPA vice president wrote, "Looking like a season. How u," but later claimed his account was hacked, one league source claims that union president Derek Fisher text-messaged numerous players last week indicating that some progress had been made and imploring them to be physically prepared just in case the season started on time.
Some progress certainly doesn't mean enough progress to guarantee a season. But all of this positive talk is much better than the mudslinging, negative rhetoric we were hearing over the summer.

It's common sense for Fisher to remind players to get ready, but if there weren't at least some kind of movement, he probably wouldn't see it necessary to put the message out. Both sides are trying to play all of this pretty close to the vest, but it's inevitable that some of it is going to leak out. But add this to that, to that and that and you have enough reason to really start believing the NBA could settle this labor mess. Fisher sending out texts is just the latest sign of good news.

Be still my heart. Looking like a season. How u.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:34 am

Report: Players, league to meet Wednesday

Posted by Royce Young

A week after a six-hour meeting that led to both sides agreeing to cut down on the public rhetoric, the players and owners will meet again Wednesday, according to ESPN.com. It was known a few days ago there would be a meeting this week, just not when.

This will be the third meeting since the lockout was installed on July 1. And with the NBA season rapidly approaching -- training camps would be start in three weeks -- there's a new sense of urgency.

Like last week's meeting, this one will only include some of the higher-ups. David Stern, Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt will be there to represent the league. Billy Hunter, counsel Ron Klempner and president Derek Fisher will represent the players.

There was some positive momentum from the last meeting. Not necessarily to a deal, but it was at least productive and both sides left with a plan to try and work towards the middle. The more of that we get, the better. If Wednesday's meeting goes south and it's back to the talk of nothing happening, training camps might be getting cut soon.

This will be the fourth meeting total since the lockout started, but second in the last 14 days. That's positive. Doesn't mean a deal's coming or anything, but it's better than the alternative.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com