Tag:NBA Lockout
Posted on: November 20, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 1:45 pm

Paul Pierce says the next step is 'on the owners'

By Matt Moore 

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Paul Pierce says that the next step in the process is on the owners, despite the players having removed the possibility of collective bargaining by dissolving their union: 
Q: Do the players or owners have to take the next step to renew labor talks?

Pierce: “I think the owners have to take the step. We have taken a lot of steps. I think we have taken as many steps as we can take, which is why we are at where we are at. We feel like we’ve taken the most steps. That’s why we are going to court now.”
via Paul Pierce: Players needed to make stand - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

It's interesting because while the league said, through David Stern, that "collective bargaining is over," the players were the ones who declined to offer a counter-proposal to the owners and instead disclaimed interest, dissolving the union. The last proposal on the table was the league's, the 50/50 split the players rejected. So to say it's on the owners is a bit strange. 

But on the flip side, the players may consider their decision to file suit a response in and of itself. Basically "we don't want your deal, here's our counter-proposal, you guys deal with a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit, how about them apples?" So if the league wants a response, that's the response. Unfortunately, it's going to take the league making its first real step back from the full-court press they've applied for five months for them to offer another proposal, or even a bargaining session. 

So, yeah, things are going great, you guys!
Posted on: November 18, 2011 7:02 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 9:19 pm

Granger: Blame David Stern for damage to NBA

Posted by Ben Golliverdanny-granger-small

We're well into the fifth month of the the NBA lockout with no end in sight. If you're not blaming NBA commissioner David Stern by now, either your name is Adam Silver or you just don't care about American professional basketball.

You can add Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger to the long, long, long list of people who believe Stern is responsible for causing harm to his own league by mishandling the ongoing labor negotiations.

In an interview with NBC SportsTalk, Granger, formerly the Pacers' player representative to the union, points the finger squarely at Stern.
"Definitely let a little upset about it. David Stern, to his credit, he has grown the NBA. But as far as with the negotiations and where they have went in the last six or eight months, I don't think he's done a good job of conveying to the owners what's the most important thing for an NBA team, for an NBA season. And, for the NBA as a whole organization, the lockout has really damaged the game. How much, I don't think we know yet, but we'll find out. As commissioner, I just don't think he should have let it get that far, to the point where it is right now." 
As commissioner, Stern is paid to take these lumps. Granger's criticism is more than fair, and it represents a sentiment that's surely shared by thousands of fans across the country. Stern is the boss, this is going down on his watch, and the buck stops with him. He is expected to be the answer, not part of the problem. 

Granger makes a key assumption though. His statements imply that Stern had the power and influence over a majority of the league's owners to save a full 82-game season if he simply put his mind to it or thought that approach was prudent. We would all assume, from a distance, that a league's commissioner would want his league to play its scheduled games, but the more we learn about the hard-line ownership contingent the more we realize that overhauling the league's financial system is a much higher priority than saving an 82-game season and, potentially, even playing a season at all this year.  

It's quite possible that Stern wants games just as badly as Granger. It's quite possible that he fears the potential damage to the league even more than Granger does. So if we are going to blame Stern, let's blame him for the right reasons. 

Let's blame him for reportedly making promises of profitability to owners that recently bought into the league. Let's blame him for agreeing to the last collective bargaining agreement which allegedly created a league that couldn't produce profits despite record revenues. Let's blame him for being unable to build and hold a consensus among his owners. Let's blame him for still failing to communicate the league's revenue sharing goals and philosophies clearly. Let's blame him for ratcheting up the ugly rhetoric. Let's blame him for waging a personal war of words with union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler. Let's blame him for delaying the beginning of true negotiations until way too late in the game. Let's blame him for calling in sick earlier this fall on a day when negotiations blew up. Let's blame him for each and every ultimatum and threat he's made. Let's blame him for making offers and then taking them off the table. Let's blame him for trying to shift the blame to agents. Let's blame him for repeatedly talking down to the players.

But let's stop short of blaming him alone for the damage that is being done to the NBA. For sure, there is blood on his hands, lots of it. But this has spun out of his control; he can't solve this by himself. In the end, let's settle for blaming him for not swallowing his immense pride right now so that he can proactively do his part to fashion a solution. There's still time, after all, to make the damage done to the league a thing of the past.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 4:38 pm

Time for one-on-one negotiating, Wes vs. Jerry

By Matt Moore

Billy Hunter has had his turn at the wheel, and drove the players off a cliff. David Stern put the owners into the high gear they wanted and now they're wedged on a fire hydrant. When they say "the collective bargaining process has broken down," what the mean is "we broke collective bargaining." 

It's time for someone else to take over.

Clearly Stern has lost the ability to keep his extremist elements in check. Michael Jordan, who helped draft Sean May and who decided a worthy investment was professional basketball in Charlotte after it had been burned? Dan Gilbert, the comic sans wiz who signed off on bringing superstar talent next to LeBron like Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, and Mo Williams?  Robert Sarver, who if you go out for dinner with you have to make sure he doesn't sell your entree for cash an a meal to be chosen later? These are the guys running the show? Stern's legacy will be dicatated by how this ends; it's already been impacted by how far it's come.

Hunter barely had a consensus. After months of players asking about decertification and why they weren't pursuing it sooner, he elects to disclaim interest at a meeting with three player reps missing entirely, most of the reps woefully unaware of what the deal meant, without the support of most of the agents, and without even allowing for the possibility of a vote. In short, union leadership lost sight of how to connect with and communicate issues to the players. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported this week that the union denied player reps a hard copy of the owners' proposal two weeks ago. They need someone who the players can trust. 

So forget Paul Allen sitting in with stone-faced breathing, forget Peter Holt trying to play the hardliner he's not really, and forget Dan Gilbert and the gut he wants them to trust. Forget Derek Fisher who really has only been saddled with an impossible game to win, forget "Money Mase" Roger Mason and his accidental tweets, forget Kevin Garnett and his spittle. Let's get some guys in that represent both factions to get a deal in place.

On a podcast with Bill Simmons, Ric Bucher and Stein were wondering about who could take over that would truly represent either side. Bucher briefly suggested Jerry Colangelo. And in short, that's genius.

Colangelo has owned the Suns, the Diamondbacks, the Mercury, and the Rattlers of the AFL. His tenures weren't always great and were sometimes disastrous, but he also has built teams with success, worked with superstars, and has been in the league forever. He's current head of USA Basketball. He's able to put the power of the game first while also representing ownership. He has the players' respect and can communicate with them, while also working with the lunatics running the NBA asylum currently. 

You want an endorsement? How about the President of the United States, told Colangelo (via the Arizona Republic):
"He looked over to me, held out his hand and said, 'Jerry, you've got to help solve this lockout. We've got to get hoops going again.'

"I told him, 'I'm as close as a telephone.' "
via President Barack Obama wants his basketball

But who's he going to negotiate with? Who can possibly represent the players, given that no one player has the background or political strength to do it? Shane Battier certainly has the mind, but not the support. Kevin Garnett has the support but if they have the idea to send him into a bargaining room as lead negotiatior someone needs to tranq him or we're not having basketball this decade. So who on earth could do it?

We need to go Worldwide. 

William Wesley, power broker to the stars. Firmly in LeBron's camp? Sure. But he's also in with Rip Hamilton, Ron Artest, well, ok, really nearly every player in the league. He's about brand expansion and the power of the athlete. He brings with him clout from connections with the shoe companies, a history with Michael Jordan, and a savvy about himself that few possess. Wesley doesn't have to be an economist or an expert in labor relations, he's got Kessler the pit bull and the now-defunct union's economist to help. All he needs to do is weild power and leverage. He has the clout that Hunter does not. 

The agents will, of course, go berserk on this idea. But it's the players that matter, and the majority of those players have a positive regard for Wes. They will be represented, they will be informed, they will have a voice they believe in. 

Maybe those two can find a way around the road blocks that are holding up the season. Hunter and Stern can keep lobbing back ultimatums, insults, and law suits while Colangelo and Wesley try and find a way out of this mess. One thing's for sure. 

They can't do any worse. 

Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:08 am
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:28 am

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Thump.

That's the sound of the bus backing up and rolling over Billy Hunter.

On Monday, Hunter, as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, announced that the players union would be disbanding so that the players could file multiple antitrust lawsuits against the NBA. That bold move, which came as a surprise to many and potentially could lead to the cancellation of the entire 2011-2012 season, has brought his predecessor out of the woodwork.

In an interview with USA Today on Thursday, Charles Grantham, the executive director of the NBPA from 1988-1995, said that the NBA players should be playing games right now and not chasing the possibility of legal victories while missing paychecks.
"Today, we spend too much time in the court, with too many lawyers. … Instead of having 10 lawyers and an economist you should probably have 10 CPAs or forensic accountants and two lawyers," said Grantham, a guest lecturer on professional sports negotiations at Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business. "In this case, (the players are) looking to use the law to gain leverage, to get a better business deal, when, in fact, the negotiations that should be taking place is with regard to how you divide that (every) $100."

"My philosophy was to keep the guys working, because they lose income that's not recoverable," he said. "They're employees. They're not partners. … Let's not get this twisted, (players) don't sit in the boardroom."
You can just see NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver opening up their newspaper on Friday morning and breaking out into a synchronized Dougie. The reverse equivalent of these comments would be if a former NBA commissioner held a press conference to call the hard-line owners greedy while admitting that their goal of improving competitive balance is a total crock and is actually just a poor excuse for drastically limiting free agency. 

Disagreeing with the controversial decision to disclaim the union is one thing, but to suggest that the players should have taken whatever deal they could get to save their paychecks -- even the extremely owner-friendly one presented to them last week -- is another thing entirely. Grantham clearly advocates both stances here. This is Bruce Bowen-esque undercutting we are witnessing right now. Watch your ankles, Billy!

The key word in Grantham's comments is "philosophy", and it's easy to see the many places where he likely would have departed from the path Hunter has chosen. Hunter, remember, admitted early on that the possibility of losing part or all of a season was very likely, given how steep the league's demands were. If the players' goal had simply been to negotiate and then accept the best possible deal with the express purpose of not missing any games this season, the last three or four years would have unfolded quite differently. 

The union would have met Stern's demands for a financial overhaul with capitulation, rather than threats of decertification, early in the process. That would likely have meant sacrificing the Basketball Related Income issue, the most important one to hard-line owners, to focus on the system issues they felt were most in need of preservation. Then, the union would have acted with much greater haste in scheduling meetings throughout 2011, looking to chip away at whatever minor victories they might have been able to salvage while publicly preaching that they were operating for the good of the sport. The union would have publicly sided with the league in decrying any individual agents who dissented from the approach or tried to exert influence on the negotiating process. There would have been no months taken off this summer, no bombastic rhetoric about plantation overseers, no need for a federal mediator, and certainly no preemptive legal filings to set the table for later lawsuits.

The final deal produced by that path would have been, without question, a landslide for the owners, an even worse deal than the most recent offer that the players rejected this week. But, no one can dispute that it would have been better than nothing, which is what the players are stuck with right now.

That said, the only way to judge whether Grantham's approach would have been better is to compare the final deal the players agree to, less the salaries lost during the fight, to the hypothetical deal that we've just laid out. If the two sides resume negotiations and are able to save a portion of the 2011-2012 season, there's a good chance that will mean that the league agreed to additional concessions along the way. That could mean Hunter's brass tacks approach won out. If the season is lost entirely, though, there's virtually no argument to be made that Grantham's save-the-paychecks-no-matter-what approach would have produced a worse situation for the players once all those lost salaries are gone for good. The only Hail Mary possibility there: a major victory in court for the players, but that seems awfully improbable.

In sum: it's still too soon to authoritatively second-guess Hunter. But the time for that is coming very quickly, possibly in as few as six weeks. Grantham, though, isn't bothering to wait. He sounds happy to get on the record with his doubts and philosophical differences right now, when things look bleakest. That's a bad sign for Hunter, the players and this process as a whole.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 9:24 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter-small

On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association disbanded so that it could file antritrust lawsuits against the NBA, charging the league with an illegal boycott. By Wednesday, its executive director, Billy Hunter, was publicly raising the possibility that the players could form their own professional basketball league independent of the NBA.

Writer Toure reports that Hunter addressed the possibility during a panel discussion.
Billy Hunter: "The season is not yet on life support. There's still time to put on an abbreviated season... The players decision to blow up the union [decertify] was unanimous. They were high-fiving, sayin let's get it on! ... The owners are scared of Lebron style movement and want to keep players wedded to franchises.... Maybe we can start our own league. There are facilities where we can do that. Can't play at MSG but can play at St John's... There’s talk of getting a TV deal and creating a new league but it’d have to be with a network that’s unafraid to cross the NBA."
Not to overuse legal phrases because we're stuck in this quagmire of lawyers, but the burden of proof is on the players -- whether that's as individuals, a group, a union or a trade association -- to show that they can organize -- not to mention profit from -- anything besides one-off exhibition games. Since the lockout went into effect in July, the NBA's biggest stars have criss-crossed the country for charity and drawn crowds of varying sizes along the way. When big draws like LeBron James and Kevin Durant were involved, there was hardly an empty seat.

But when the players have attempted to put together anything larger in scale, it hasn't worked from an economics perspective. There was the entertaining Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas, which drew dozens of players for two weeks of competitive 5-on-5 action. It also drew dozens of fans, literally, and never came close to selling out a gym that seats 500 people. There was also a globetrotting world tour that was expected to feature every big name star imaginable; that fizzled completely before the first stop, a visit to nearby Puerto Rico, could get off the ground.

Forming their own league -- however loosely you want to define that term -- is much more difficult than it sounds. The personnel infrastructure to support it, the buildings to house it, the sponsors to help pay for it, the television network to broadcast it: all of those are major, difficult questions that would need to be answered. Those answers would take precious time too.

A players' league is not impossible but it's also not particularly probable. The players would wind up playing, and risking injury, for a small fraction of their NBA salaries.

Hunter likely floats the idea here because he must appear totally serious about the players' antitrust lawsuits against the league. Even though most expect the lawsuits to lead to more negotiations rather than a years-long legal battle, Hunter has to at least pay lip service to the possibility of an alternative professional basketball reality without the NBA. Unfortunately, much like the decision to issue the disclaimer of interest, forming a league is something that he should have been planning carefully months ago if he felt a protracted legal battle was a real possibility. There's no reason that NBA All-Stars shouldn't be putting on a 10-city goodwill tour throughout December, entertaining fans and applying pressure on the negotiations along the way.

Instead, more players are heading overseas and Hunter continues to talk about future possibilities that will likely never come to fruition. Everybody loses. 

Hat tip: Slam Online 
Posted on: November 17, 2011 12:27 pm

Report: Aaron Brooks signs in China

Posted by Royce Young

It hasn't exactly been a mass exodus overseas for players since negotiations blew up, but you can add Aaron Brooks to the list. According to Yahoo! Sports, Brooks has signed for one year with Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Now I'm sure you remember that China has a no NBA opt-out rule in effect right now, so Brooks is obligated to play the entire season with the Southern Tigers, which starts this weekend and runs through February.

Brooks has a little bit of name recognition in China as he spent a few seasons playing with Yao Ming in Houston. He's been rumored to be heading far east for a few months but finally decided to take the plunge when the NBA season exploded. Brooks will reportedly make $2 million playing this season in China.

Brooks joins Yi Jianlian, Fred Jones and Lester Hudson on the Southern Tigers. I know absolutely nothing about Chinese basketball, but I'm assuming the Southern Tigers will be pretty good this year.
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 17, 2011 12:24 pm

Andreychuk: NBA players should cave

By Matt Moore 

Always good to have the support and solidarity of your peers. 

The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Dave Andreychuk, former NHL player and current Tampa Bay Lightning executive about the NHL lockout that busted an entire season with the owners getting the same kind of reset the NBA owners are now aiming for. Andreychuk says that standing up for your profession just isn't worth it. Because you'll lose anyway. 
"If players think its better to sit out the season, let me tell you, its not. Its just not," Andreychuk says. "In the end, it will be worse."

"As the pressure built — after a month, two months, three months — it started to sink in," recalls Andreychuk, now a team executive with the Lightning. "Guys were saying to themselves, Im 25 years old and hockey is how I make my living. We need to get a deal done. "

"The deal got worse by us sitting out," Andreychuk admits. "At the end, we were so willing to sign, we had to agree to what the owners wanted. We gave back a tremendous amount just to get a deal done so we could go back to work."
via NBA Lockout: Former NHL player Dave Andreychuk tells current NBA players: Sitting out the season will only make it worse - OrlandoSentinel.com.

Pretty uncool statements from one former player to another. But his point that the players are going to lose anyway, that's the reason so many people were urging the players to at least return the offer with modifications instead of disclaiming interest or decertifying. The players have put themselves in a position where if they don't win a court decision, several of them consecutively, actually, or if the threat thereof does not spook the owners, they'll lose everything. They'll have their collective bargaining heads caved in when they recertify to approve the deal.

But still, you'd think that a player that has been down that road that has fought that battle would at least publicly support another professional athlete. Maybe  Maybe he and Michael Jordan can go bowling and talk about what it's like to bail on your former colleagues. 

It's not that Andreychuk's wrong. He's not wrong. He's right. He just shouldn't say it. Then again, apparently no one else is talking straight to the players about what their situation is. 

(HT: SI.com
Posted on: November 16, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 12:05 am

Report: NBA owners to talk strategy on Thursday

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

OK, they sued us. Now what?

Yahoo Sports reports that the NBA's owners are ready to start planning their response to the disbanding of the National Basketball Players Association and two subsequent antritrust lawsuits filed by the players against the league earlier this week.
After lawyers for NBA players filed antitrust suits against the league in California and Minnesota, commissioner David Stern has a conference call set with owners on Thursday to discuss their next steps in the lockout, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The NBA’s labor relations committee, which is responsible for negotiations with the players, scheduled the call earlier in the week, sources said.
One goal of the antitrust lawsuits was to create leverage for the players by bringing in the possibility of massive legal damages. The idea was that the legal filings might compel the owners to return to the bargaining table, this time negotiating with the players' new lawyers, with a more open mind and a willingness to offer concessions. 

With the players missing their first paychecks on Tuesday and a January drop-dead date for saving a season, though, time will be the major factor in the owners' decision-making process, at least in the short-term.

Having essentially achieved $3 billion in revenue concessions and a host of system changes that are expected to ensure profitability, the owners would be foolish to walk away from the bargaining table for the foreseeable future simply because of the legal maneuverings the players made this week. Talks should, and almost certainly will, continue in some form prior to the NBA being forced to shut down its season. 

The question for the owners becomes: When is the best time to get back to negotiating? After the players miss one paycheck? After they miss two paychecks? After the league is forced to cancel Christmas games so that the panic level and reality of the situation sets in? For the hard-line contingent, there's no rush. For the owners who want to play, getting the ball rolling in the short term would make sense. Remember, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said "30 to 40" additional B-list issues still need to be agreed upon even if the two sides can reach a compromise on the revenue split and the outstanding system issues that led to this week's breakdown.

There are hours of talks ahead for these two sides. Thursday's meeting could provide an answer as to when those talks will begin taking place.
Category: NBA
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