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As the NBA lockout continues to drag into November, ultimatums and hardline tactics have been tossed around left and right by both owners and the players. However, the one man who seems to have stuck by his word (for better or worse) has seen commissioner David J. Stern.
SB Nation's own Mike Prada took an account of the latest musings from the NBA commissioner:
On the deadline: "We think there's a great offer on table, and we told the players, 'It's getting late.' The only rational thing is to make that deal b/c given what is going on in our business and our industry, it will get worse from there. We told the players ... an offer of 47% will become operative w/ hard cap in effect [if they don't accept."
On decertification: "I don't think it would affect it particularly much. The reality is that decertification route was tried by the NFL players and the court of appeals for 8th Circuit soundly rejected the attempt. I don't know what they're thinking."
On the owners being unified: "They're unified in their willingness to make this deal through Wednesday, then they'll be unified in willingness to negotiate the 47 percent proposal that goes on table at close of business Wednesday." In other words, they're unified because I said so.
On the cancellation of more games: "I don't want to say when we'll call off the season, because clearly we're not there yet and I don't want to make an idle threat."
Telling words from the man who works for the owners, should NBA fans cross their fingers to Wednesday being the day the madness ends? It seems that even Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski thinks so:
@WojYahooNBA Adrian WojnarowskiThe NBA and NBPA are seriously discussing setting up a meeting for Tuesday to try and reach agreement on a labor deal, league source tells Y!
Let's keep hope alive people, at least for another 48 hours.
For more news from the NBA, check out the SB Nation NBA hub page.
After a solid week of meetings in-between NBA FInals games, since it would be too convenient to just play them all in a few days, the players and owners have emerged from the bargaining table. They came out of the sessions with a clear accord that will lead to a new CBA…no, wait, what actually happened was that absolutely nothing changed. NBAPA president Derek Fisher essentially said as much:
"There’s no hiding the fact that the main components of what we originally received in their proposal has not changed at all," said Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association….
"Our owners are thoroughly united in the need for change and also completely behind our various proposals as we seek to compromise with the players," Stern said Wednesday.
Welp, looks like this won’t be changing anytime soon. How will Americans function without two of the three major sports? My guess is we’ll all grow to love college football just a little bit more next season.
The players and owners have been meeting early and often during the NBA Finals, and today was supposedly when one of their biggest bartering sessions yet would take place. Unsurprisingly, it looks like the players are the ones who are willing to give a little first, as according to David Aldridge they have expressed interest in giving up some money now for future assurances:
According to sources, the players have expressed a willingness to at least look at some meaningful reductions in overall salaries. But in exchange, the union wants mechanisms that would allow players to recoup some of their losses if the NBA continues on its upward track. One possible way would be to split any future monies above and beyond the current $4.3 billion in annual revenues at something approaching the current 57-43 take in the players’ favor. For example, if revenues grew over the course of a new five-year CBA to, say, $5 billion, the union would get 57 percent of the new $700 million created. Such a system would incentivize both sides to grow the pot and create more cheddar for everyone. But it’s not known how receptive the league was to the idea.
If this goes anything like the NFL’s version of Labor Chicken, the owners will stand stone-faced by their original offer. Perhaps, just maybe, that situation will not be lost on the NBA owners and we’ll see them okay further negotiations around that starting point.
But at this point, there’s really not much of a reason to be optimistic about it.
With the NBA and NBAPA far away from a resolution that will keep basketball going beyond July 1st, David Stern took the podium for a pre-Finals press conference to assure us that the league is doing all it can to get a deal done. Uh huh. Goodell used that line before.
Stern did admit that it would be a challenge to get a deal done before a lockout would occur. Perhaps because a lockout would be to the owner’s benefit.
The NBA Commissioner acknowledged Tuesday it will be "a challenge" to reach a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires in a month.
"The question is whether the owners and the players will be bold enough to do what has to be done here to keep this sport on the track that it is on now, which is straight up," Stern said during his annual news conference before Game 1 of the NBA finals.
Both sides have scheduled more talks that will likely be unproductive, and then the ego slaps and public shaming should begin, followed by preliminary court proceedings, injunctions, and appeals. Look for the process to wrap up some time around November and for the fans to not actually care who wins as they just want to watch some basketball.
I know, I know. It’s shocking. The NBAPA filed a grievance to the National Labor Relations Board to report that the NBA wasn’t negotiating in good faith. Mostly because, well, they aren’t. The proposal that the NBA has sent to the NBAPA included idaas like “drastic pay cuts,” “hard salary caps,” and “player givebacks.”
Sources have told ESPN.com that the players were so infuriated by the owners’ latest proposal, which seeks a nearly 40 percent rollback in existing contracts over three years and a hard salary cap, that the union would refuse to present a formal counterproposal
In a statement, the union said the unfair practices included failure to bargain in good faith, demanding huge financial takeaways from prior contracts without offering concessions in return, bypassing the Union to deal directly with players and threatening an unlawful lockout.
You’re not going to believe this one either, but the NBA doesn’t think it’s being unfair at all. The NBA issued an official press release essentially calling the NBAPA’s grievance a joke:
"There is no merit to the charge filed today by the Players Association with the National Labor Relations Board, as we have complied and will continue to comply — with all of our obligations under the federal labor laws," the NBA said in the statement. "It will not distract us from our efforts to negotiate in good faith a new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association.
So lets see, no NFL, no NBA…looks like we’re going to be talking about college football a lot more this fall.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver noted before the lottery that the NBA and NBAPA are scheduled to have discussions about an agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in whichever city hosts the Western Conference Finals. But the way the two sides are going, it seems almost inevitable that this will wind up exactly like the NFL Lockout did.
While the NBA has some very profitable teams, it also has some very unprofitable teams. Instead of creating a revenue sharing system or something along those lines to keep the league healthy, the NBA is instead trying to pass that price on to it’s players. Their first proposal to the players, which was found when a Billy Hunter memo leaked out to the media, included a $45 million hard salary cap. Not only would that hurt the players by removing the ability for teams to go over the cap, but it’d also cut the current salary cap by 25%.
In other words, it’s likely to be seen as an unfeasible proposal. Given the tone and the distance between the two sides, they can talk about negotiating all they want, but this has all the makings of another NFL situation.
Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated did some ace reporting and managed to dig up some good news and some bad news about the NBA’s new proposal to the NBAPA. The good news it that the definition of a franchise tag has been muted substantially, and that it doesn’t look like it would be quite as unfair as it is in the NFL, since the player would also have to agree to it:
The system the league has presented would not work this way, according to sources. Instead, a team would be allowed to designate one player for preferential contractual treatment, including more overall money, more guaranteed money and at least one extra year on his contract. A player would have to agree to such a designation. It is designed to work as an incentive to get a player to remain with his team rather than as a roadblock to free agency, the sources said.
That doesn’t seem too unreasonable. In fact, it’s a failsafe that probably should have been worked into the 1999 Collective Bargaining Agreement. It would be a way to truly pay up to the level that a superstar player is worth. Although owners would probably abuse it to hand out more contracts like Joe Johnson’s, it would be good for the real superstars of the game.
Of course, it likely doesn’t matter as long as the NBA keeps going on with ideas like the non-guaranteed contract scenario they presented the union with. But their version of a franchise tag doesn’t seem so bad. At least based on what is being reported.
While some of the most exciting NBA Playoff games we’ve had in a while are taking place, all the under the table talk continues to be about how the NBA will likely follow the NFL’s lead and lock it’s players out at the start of their next league year on July 1st.
NBAPA union president Derek Fisher tore the new offer to shreds, and given that union head Billy Hunter has said that there is a 99% chance of a lockout if the offer he originally received stayed the same, well, the writing is pretty much on the wall there, isn’t it?
“Unfortunately, the proposal is very similar to the proposal the league submitted over a year ago,” union president Derek Fisher told ESPN.com. “This last proposal doesn’t look close to what we were expecting.”
“We are taking a close look at each piece of the proposal, and I along with my players and executive committee will be determining what next steps best move this process forward,” Fisher said. “I continue to work on this daily, take this very seriously, and have a responsibility to my players to try and get a deal done.”
It looks more and more likely that we’re headed towards a similar bloodbath with the NBA as we are with the NFL. The NBAPA will likely follow the same precedent used by the NFLPA if this scenario continues, leading to less time on the basketball court and more time in regular courts.
While the NFL landscape is still altering itself after Monday’s injunction against the NFL Lockout that was handed down by Judge Susan Nelson, one underlooked element of the decision might be the precedent set by the case for a potential NBA union decertification. In case you’ve had your head in the sand about a second major sport in a year that is likely to go on a lockout, know that while the situation is different, the NBAPA has no qualms about using decertification as a tool either:
“But before we even get to that there are a whole lot of negotiations to do, and that would only sort a last ditched effort, if it came to that,” Hunter said following a press conference All-Star weekend. “We’re going to do everything to avoid that. We don’t have the expectation nor the desire to decertify the union.
“But if we’re pushed a year-long lockout, that may be one of the options we have to consider.”
My take is that if the NFL’s appeals fall on deaf ears, the NBAPA would be fools not to use the tactic in their own labor negotiations. NBA owners are obviously not as well off as the NFL owners are, but that doesn’t mean that there the situations are completely dissimilar. The owners will likely try a power grab, focusing on grabbing revenues from the players instead of figuring out a way to extend revenue sharing from the big market teams down. Whether the circumstances are different or not, it should surprise no one if decertification is a route the players union takes.
The NBA may be having one of it’s most exciting playoff rounds in quite a while, but that doesn’t mean that we can ignore the labor front as the owners and NBAPA prepare for a battle of their own. David Stern, speaking to the AP, gave some reason for optimism yesterday:
Stern believes football’s labor situation, which he called a “mess,” was worsened by a lack of urgency to get a deal done well before its collective bargaining agreement expired, something he wants to avoid as his league tries to negotiate a new deal with its players.
“It seemed that at the end of the bargaining between the NFL and the players, one got the sense that in the last day or two they had closed the gap,” Stern said Thursday. “I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but that’s what I read. And you wonder as an outsider whether it would have been a good thing to close that gap a few days earlier, a couple of weeks earlier so that you had the opportunity and the plan to do that.”
The NBA plans to soon send the union a revised proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, hoping it will trigger meaningful negotiations ahead of the June 30 expiration date.
Of course, even if they do get to the table by then, there is really no need for urgency by either side. The deadline before the NBA starts losing fans isn’t July 1st. It’s the start of the regular season.
The real question to be asked is whether the owners will stick to realistic goals, or if, like the NFL owners, a hardcore group of them stick firmly to crazy demands. Lets see what Kurt Helin over at Pro Basketball Talk has heard:
But the people I talk to (people tied to owners among them) say there is a hard-core group of owners who are hawks on some key revenue issues, and at the end of the day Stern works for the owners. Those owners want radical changes in the NBA’s financial structure (basically a healthy change in the Basketball Related Income number, where currently 57 percent goes to the players) and don’t think that can happen until players miss paychecks (and players don’t get their first check until Nov. 15). So, games would be missed.
I want to think that cooler heads will prevail. Stern and Hunter are cooler heads. Everyone talks about what is at stake. But know that some of the owners look a lot like the Heat Miser going into this.
Hmm, sounds pretty familiar. Looks like it’s a good time to have a niche sport in America while the big boys continue to slug it out over the money the fans put in their coffers. MLS? NASCAR? Anyone?
Are you ready for our latest edition of Posture Wars, where the owners and union of a sport can't reach a deal on how much money they should each get? Good, me neither. The NBA's latest contention is that 22 NBA teams lost money last season, for a total of $300 million. Why would they say this as the Kings are airlifted from Sacramento to Anaheim, where they can be ignored by millions of Los Angeles fans? Hmm. I wonder.
Deputy commissioner Adam Silver spearheaded the efforts this time, launching into some very familiar rhetoric:
"If we continue to pay 57 percent off the top to the players association, it would require such an enormous amount of additional revenue to reduce losses beyond where we are we are only going to make very small, incremental changes," Silver said.
"We need a new system," Silver said. "The current system is broken and unsustainable."
As usual, let me be the pro-union shill to point out that A) the owners are the ones approving ridiculous contracts, not the players, b) most Americans are free to work wherever they want, something that I'm positive won't be lost on the NBA owners as they propose a franchise tag to make sure "The Decision" doesn't happen again, and c) if this is such a crippling business, why are people so desperate to be NBA owners in the first place?
The answer, of course, is two-to-three weeks of post-NBA Finals lockout talk, followed by the lockout itself, and then David Stern seeing his shadow on August 1st, meaning six more weeks of negotiating in bad faith. Enjoy it!
In the latest sign that the NBA is heading towards a long lockout, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News is reporting that the NBA has cancelled it's annual summer league, which is often used to give draft picks, undrafted free agents, and journeymen an extended NBA tryout. They'll also get rid of their summer internship program:
In two more signs that the NBA is gearing up for a lockout starting July 1, the league has scrubbed its annual Las Vegas summer league and has also scuttled its annual summer internship program, according to league sources.
The Rockets often created awesome summer league teams, and it will be one less chance for newer Rockets like Hasheem Thabeet, Marcus Cousin, and Marqus Blakely to state their case for a roster spot next season. The Summer League is traditionally held in Las Vegas in mid-July, and is one of the best bargains for a hoops junkie looking for something to watch before the season starts. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and it's players will expire on July 1.
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