Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: February 17, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:57 pm
 

Billy Hunter: Jeremy Lin to get NBPA post?

Billy Hunter sounds ready to add Jeremy Lin to an NBPA position. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver   

Let's just cut to the chase and make him President of the United States.

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American global sensation, has attracted attention from all corners: endorsers, marketers, promoters, media members, you name it.

Add National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter to that mix.

Bloomberg.com reports that Hunter is planning to meet with Lin during the 2012 All-Star Weekend to discuss a potential role for Lin, who holds an economics degree from Harvard, with the NBPA.

“At the least he’d be the player representative for the Knicks,” Hunter said in a telephone interview. “If not something higher.”

“First of all, it’s not every day that you get a kid from Harvard,” Hunter said. “He’s very bright.”

The NBPA's current president, Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, looks to be headed for retirement any year now, so a change at the very top will have to come sometime soon.

Fisher and Lin actually share a number of characteristics. Neither is a me-first guy, on or off the court. Both are effective, direct communicators who seem to favor consensus-building. Both are natural born leaders, comfortable with their teams under their control and confident with the game on the line. Both are polished, too.

The NBPA's executive board really is a thankless task that requires an inordinate amount of sacrifice. There's little glamour, but tons of responsibility. If things go well, there's no credit given because things were supposed to go well. If things go poorly, it's the board's fault. As we saw throughout 2011, coordinating a negotiating stance in this era of constant communication and social networks is a near impossible challenge. But we've learned over the last few weeks that Lin happens to excel at near impossible challenges.

A cynic might say that Hunter, who took months of flak for his handling of the last round of labor negotiations, is simply being opportunistic here and trying to get in on the Lin lovefest. That may be true. But a realist would counter that Hunter would be a fool not to reach out to Lin -- given his educational pedigree, leadership skills and personality -- immediately. It makes too much sense.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 8:41 pm
 

David Stern welcomes back fans in letter

By Matt Moore  

The lockout is over, the schedule has been announced, it's time to try and make it up to fans. There have been announcments of ticket deals and the league is in full-on recovery mode spinning as much attention towards the potential trades of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard (which is exactly the kind of thing the lockout was supposed to prevent, but whatever) as possible. And in the middle of it, NBA commissioner Howard Stern has elected to write a note to fans. From NBA.com:
Dear Fans,
On behalf of the entire NBA family, I want to thank you for your patience and support over the past several months. The new collective bargaining agreement is designed to provide more competitive balance for our league, reward strong performances by our players, and strengthen our game by improving its economics. We believe this agreement will benefit our teams, players, and most importantly, fans by making the NBA stronger.

In the days and weeks ahead, all of us hope you will enjoy the run-up to the start of the season: free agency, training camp, and preseason games. Each NBA team will be hosting special events for fans, so be sure to check your favorite team’s website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed for details. This season we look forward to bringing you more of everything you love about NBA basketball: incredible competition, tremendous excitement, and unending hard work and dedication by the world’s best athletes. Thank you for being an NBA fan. I hope you enjoy the season, which promises to be a most exciting one.

Sincerely, 

David Stern
There are two words notably missing in there: "sorry" and "apologize." There's no apology to fans for the 16 missed games, no regret over the millions of dollars for local economies lost. There is a key line there, "the world's best athletes." The same players the league drove for five months to crush the union of, they are now championing as the product. 

But still, it's another part of the healing process, and Stern could have stayed quiet. It's good to acknowledge the fans, to speak to them and try and get over the summer that wouldn't end and begin the next exciting chapter of the NBA. 

Just don't think people will forget the lessons learned.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:27 am
 

Hunter: League, NBPA to meet Friday to seal deal

By Matt Moore  

The lockout, technically, isn't over. The union reformed Thursday after a majority vote from its members. The deal has a "handshake agreement" but the finer points haven't been worked out. And to that end, Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBPA (again) informed players in a letter obtained by ESPN.com that they would meet with the league on Friday to iron out the details. 
The NBA and the reformed players union will resume negotiations on the remaining terms of their new labor agreement starting Friday at noon, according to a letter sent to union members Thursday night by NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter.

In the letter, obtained by ESPN.com, Hunter tells players that the owners and NBPA "still must negotiate numerous non-economic matters, including the anti-drug agreement, commissioner and team discipline, and workplace rules, together with relatively smaller economic and other contract issues."

The unions hope, according to Hunter, is that the deal tentatively agreed to in the early hours of last Saturday morning will be fully negotiated and ready to present to the union membership at a general meeting next Wednesday in New York City. The meeting will be mandatory for team player representatives but open to all players.
via NBA, players association to discuss remaining terms of new labor deal Friday, according to Billy Hunter - ESPN Dallas.

Among the details to be considered are the stipulations regarding the D-League, the NBA draft age limit, drug testing, and other smaller issues. Multiple reports have indicated that the age minimum is expected to stay at 19 for the time being though a longer-term change is being contemplated. An ESPN.com report earlier in the month caused panic with a proposal involving the D-League and teams being able to assign players for the first five years of their career and pro-rate their salary at $75,000 per year. This is a pretty obvious non-starter, but never say never with these owners.

So there's one more day to be concerned about a breakdown, but it's widely expected that none of the details left on the table would override the agreement in place. If you want to be really nervous, more concerning might be that Hunter's letter indicates the players are planning to vote on the deal on December 8th, just a day before training camps are scheduled to open next Friday. 

The beurocracy goes on.  
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:50 am
 

NBA returns players to NBA.com, NBATV

By Matt Moore  

Five months after removing any and all references or images of NBA players from its websites and television entity NBATV, the NBA Friday morning brought the players back. NBATV kicked off its programming at 1 a.m. EST with a replay of Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Mavericks and the Heat. NBA.com was in the process of being rebuilt, but in the meantime, the following image greeted visitors:

 


Player images also returned to individual team pages along with stats.

The NBA is back, players and all, even as final details of the CBA are still being completed. After months of bullying and pressuring the players, the league has embraced its players and are asking the fans to do the same.  
Posted on: December 1, 2011 5:14 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Players union re-forms; to ratify CBA next

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter-small

Back like they never left!

The National Basketball Players Association announced in a statement on Thursday that it has received the necessary signatures authorizing it to re-form as a union after it was dissolved on Nov. 14 so that it could pursue antitrust litigation against the NBA.
The National Basketball Players Association (“NBPA”) announced today it has been informed by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) that a majority of NBA players have authorized the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to serve as their collective bargaining representative. In less than forty eight hours more than 300 players submitted authorization cards to the AAA, which has been collecting and verifying the cards.  Pursuant to this authorization and recognition from the NBA, the NBPA and NBA can now move forward towards the completion of negotiations for a new a collective bargaining agreement, with players expected to hold an in-person vote on whether to ratify the agreement by the end of next week.

On behalf of the NBPA, we thank fans worldwide for their patience as we work quickly to get professional basketball back on the court.

Now that the union is put back together, the players are able to vote to approve the tentative collective bargaining agreement taht was reached with the league early Saturda morning.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter sent a letter on Monday, obtained by SI.com, in which he recommended the deal: "We support this settlement of the antitrust case. We appreciate your trust and solidarity and look forward to working through the process described above in the very near future so we can get back to doing what we all want to do: play basketball."

NBA training camp and preseason are scheduled to open on Dec. 9 and the 2011-2012 regular season is scheduled to begin on Dec. 25, assuming both sides formally approve the deal, which is expected next week, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Reports: Players begin vote on union reformation

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The next major step towards recovering the 2011-2012 NBA season is reportedly under way.

On Nov. 14, the National Basketball Players Association filed a disclaimer of interest, formally disbanding as a union so that the players could file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA. On Saturday morning, representatives of the NBA and its players reached a tentative agreement to settle the litigation, end the ongoing NBA lockout and salvage a 66-game regular season.

Both sides must formally approve of the deal, though, and there's an extra hurdle on the players' side because of the antitrust lawsuit. To formally approve of the new collective bargaining agreement, the union must re-form and conduct a vote of its members.

SI.com reports on Tuesday that the NBPA "sent out authorization forms to its players requiring signatures to reinstate the union."

NBA.com reported soon after that the voting process to re-form is currently under way. 
NBA players have been mailed cards that will begin the process of re-forming their union, according to a source.

Players must indicate their preference to either re-form the National Basketball Players Association as their representative for collective bargaining purposes, or to reject the re-formation of the union. After they indicate their preference and sign the card, they are to scan the card and e-mail it to a neutral observer from the American Arbitration Association, who is acting as an election monitor and overseeing the process. The original card is to be mailed back to the offices of what was (and will likely be again) the Players Association in New York. A simple majority of voting players, those who return the cards with the "yes" vote, would allow the union to re-form.
Once the union is put back together, the players will then vote to approve the tentative agreement that has been recommended to them by NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. 

In a letter to all players sent on Monday, obtained by SI.com, Hunter wrote: "We support this settlement of the antitrust case. We appreciate your trust and solidarity and look forward to working through the process described above in the very near future so we can get back to doing what we all want to do: play basketball. We expect the authorization, recognition, and negotiation process will wrap up in the next several days so we can present you a new CBA for player ratification."
Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 11:49 am
 

What you need to know about 2011-2012

By Matt Moore 

The season is saved, long live the season. With that, we thought we'd give you a run down on where everything is at with regards to the season that will most likely be. 

How did we get here?

Do you mean how did the season get saved or how did we lose so much of it in the first place? The answer to the latter is a simple "greed." The owners wanted not only to make up for their losses, but to make a point to the players about who's in charge of this league and control the players' ability to team up and form "super teams." They accomplished their goal for the most part.

As to how the season was saved, David Stern got the owners to move back on a half-dozen issues systemically while gifting the players an extra 1.2 percent of BRI. That differential was enough for the players' leadership, who saw an opportunity to save some face after getting clocked for five months on the financial, litigous, and PR fronts.

That lead toa handshake deal that has lead everyone to believe there will be a 2011-2012 season.

Next steps

As we outlined in the FAQ, there's still a very small chance this thing falls through. Currently the league and the players' reps are negotiating what have been termed the "B-issues." If any of those B-issues suddenly become A-issues, one side or the other could walk away from the handshake deal. Those issues include the age limit, the use of the D-League, and drug testing policies. These are not issues that the players are apathetic towards. They're simply not nearly as important as the money and system issues already resolved.

It's expected that the issues will be resolved through negotiation sometime between Monday and Wednesday. Then the NBPA will reform as a union, which to do so all they have to do is say they are. Then they'll vote on the deal. The league will take its offer to the Board of Governors' Labor Relations Committee, who has driven this horse, and get their approval. From there the vote goes to the entire Board of Governors, where a simple majority is needed to approve. The league only needs 15 owners to approve the deal, as New Orleans will likely either abstain or be counted with the majority.

The reality is that this deal would not have been agreed to by either side if there was a legitimate chance of it failing in a vote, but it is unlikely there will be unanimous votes on either side.

The schedule

Well, we're having one, so that's nice. It's going to be a 66 game season, with 48 in-conference games and 16 out-of-conference games. It's going to be rushed, it's going to be super compact, it's going to be ugly. The league is pushing the end of the regular season (and subsequently the start of the playoffs) by two weeks. There will be back-to-back-to-back games. Yikes. For more on the schedule, check out our post on the leaked details. Training camp will start December 9th, then there will be two preseason games and then the season opens on Christmas Day. 

Free agency and roster upgrades

For starters, check out our top 40 free agents, that'll give you a good idea of who's available. The Pacers, Nets, and Rockets look to be big spenders in a weak class, but there are some interesting wrinkles. The New York Times reports that teams could be hesitant to use their amnesty clauses this season. Those that do however, will be putting big contracts up for grabs. Teams can claim all or part of the contract from the original team, but only if they are under the cap. So if the Kings feel like they just have to have Baron Davis... but it's unlikely.

The major changes to the salary and tax structure don't take place until 2013, so your favorite big-market teams will still have an opportunity to add to their rosters using the Mid-Level Exception.

Teams will be hording space for 2012, though, in what will be the dominant story of the year... next year's free agency class which features Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul. It should be noted the new CBA does allow for extend-and-trades so those players could force their way out sooner, but the extend-and-trade can only be for three years, not the full five years allowed for Bird rights. The only way around this would be to agree to a trade six months prior to the date the player could be traded, in which case the original team could extend the player for the full five years, then trade him six months later. That's never, ever going to happen due to the number of things that could occur in that span of time.

The European Connection

There are a number of players playing overseas during the lockout. Those players have already started to come back, with Deron Williams among others already flying back. Others will not be joining us. Marginal players like Acie Law, Joey Dorsey, and others have no opt-out clause in their contract and will finish the season overseas, barring a release. There is much speculation that Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and Kenyon Martin will have to finish their seasons in China due to the ban on opt-out clauses by the CBA. But the most likely scenario is those players simply being released and making their way back to the states. Do you really think any of those players is missing out on NBA money? Martin may stay, as his NBA career is nearly at its end. 

Some reminders

Andrew Bynum will miss the first five games of the season due to suspsension for jacking J.J. Barea.

Charlie Villanueva is also suspended four games for a fight at the end of last season.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 1:55 pm
 

NBA lockout's winners and losers

Posted by Ben Golliver

lockout-over
It's over. The 2011 NBA lockout is finally, mercifully over. Let's hail the victors and pity the vanquished in this rundown of the NBA lockout's winners and losers.

The Deal

Winners: NBA Owners

Over the next six years, the owners succeeded in shifting more than 1 billion dollars into their pockets by negotiating their share of the Basketball-Related Income split from 43 percent in the old deal to a 49 percent to 51 percent band in the new deal. That number could grow to more than 2 billion if both parties agree to continue the deal through to its full 10-year length.

In addition to the players' 10-figure financial give-back, the owners received major concessions on virtually every important issue governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Contract lengths are getting shorter from a maximum of six years to a maximum of five years for players who are re-signing and four years for other free agents, meaningfully reducing the level of financial security players feel while also reducing the burden of bad contracts on a team. The mid-level exception system is shrinking, which hits the middle class free agents hardest while helping to keep owners from overpaying for mediocre talent. The luxury tax system is getting tougher, which limits the very highest-spending teams’ ability to compete and/or set the market for free agents while theoretically creating a slightly more level playing field between large and small market teams.

Whether or not you agree with the logic behind these major changes, their collective impact combined with the clear financial victory makes this negotiation a strong-arm highway robbery. And all it cost: less than 20 percent of the games in one season (and some hurt feelings among die-hard fans).

Losers: NBA Players

Any time you leave a negotiation thinking, “Well, this is bad, but it could have been worse,” you lost that negotiation. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter even admitted that a recent NBA offer was “not the greatest proposal in the world", yet he and the players tentatively agreed to a deal very similar to the one he bashed publicly. This happened because the players never had real leverage or good alternatives. They were squeezed and had no escape route.

But, it could have been worse. The mid-level system in the agreement provides more spending power for teams (and thus more money for free agents) than in previous proposals. The luxury tax system is significantly tougher than the one in the previous CBA, but not as draconian as a hard cap – something that the owners maintained that they wanted for the longest time – and not as punitive as earlier reports indicated it might be.  The NBA also increased its spending floor for all of its teams, providing additional suitors for free agents and theoretically helping to prevent players from getting stuck on teams that totally slash-and-burn their rosters with no intention of actually competing.

America's Team

Winners: Miami Heat

Miami’s biggest concerns heading into the lockout: the new CBA would require the Heat to break up the Big 3 and/or the full 2011-2012 season would be cancelled, costing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh a year of their primes. With a season now salvaged, the Big 3 can get back to their redemption work. And, while the tougher luxury tax system and reduced mid-level exception for luxury tax payers will eventually make it more difficult to add big-name free agents, the tax system won’t kick in for two years, meaning Miami doesn’t need to make any major roster cuts for quite a while. Bosh, who many thought last season might need to be traded so that Miami could conform to a hard cap system, appears safe for at least two years, if not the duration of his deal. Forward Mike Miller, as ESPN.com notes, could very likely be spared because the Heat will have a full mid-level exception based on their current salary cap number this year, too.

Losers: Miami Heat

Despite the salary cap good news, the Heat are also short-term losers. The 2011-2012 season now officially bears the historical taint associated with an abridged schedule. The 2012 Finals winner, no matter who it is, will bear the asterisk of being “lockout champions.” That’s fine if you are the Dallas Mavericks defending your 2011 title or the Los Angeles Lakers adding to your stockpile, but if you’re James, Wade, Bosh and company, your first title needs to be clean or critics will mercilessly work to invalidate it. Winning in 2012 will require Miami to win future titles to prove that their triumph wasn’t a short season fluke. In other words, James and company will carry a burden into the 2012-2013 season even if he finally wins his first ring.

NBA Players Abroad

Winners: Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez

Until a recent minor knee tweak by Fernandez, all four NBA players made it through their international excursions in good health. No NBA player made more money playing hoops during the lockout than Williams, who took a risk in broadening his family’s horizons and staying active that paid off in game checks and lack of boredom. Parker and Batum returned home to France, garnering a hero’s welcome, while Fernandez did the same in Spain, where he is extraordinarily popular. All three put up big numbers and gave their fans a chance to see them during their peak years rather just a victory lap when their NBA careers are through. That’s got to be an incredibly fulfilling feeling.

Losers: Anyone that gets stuck in China

The Chinese Basketball Association insisted on preventing NBA opt-out provisions in its contracts, theoretically tying any player who signed with a team in that league through March, when the regular season ends. Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Yi Jianlian, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills and others agreed to play in China and now their future is uncertain. Best case: their Chinese team agrees to release them so they can return to the United States. Worst case: they remain stuck until March, when finding a good NBA landing spot, not to mention salary number, could be significantly more difficult. The major consolation here is that Chinese teams were reportedly offering seven-figure deals, so guys that are trapped until March won’t be leaving empty-handed.

Saving The Season

Winner: Kobe Bryant

We’ve been saying for months and months that no player needs a 2011-2012 season more than Kobe Bryant. At 33, losing a year of his career would have been a disaster, and not just because he would have lost more than $25 million in salary. Bryant is embarking on dual epic quests: passing Michael Jordan in total number of championships and passing Michael Jordan on the all-time points list. Salvaging a season gives him a much better chance at both goals.

Older vets like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are similarly winners in that they save a twilight year from being extinguished.

Loser: Greg Oden

The Portland Trail Blazers center has not appeared in an NBA game since Dec. 2009 and is now a full year removed from his most recent microfracture surgery. Even so, The Oregonian reports that Oden still doesn't have a firm timetable on an expected return to the court and hasn't yet been cleared for basketball activities. Oden is a restricted free agent and now must enter contract negotiations without the ability to prove he can play again. Contract aside, a lost season would have helped delay the return of the enormous pressure he faces as a former No. 1 overall pick; now, Oden will likely come back to Portland, where expectations are still gigantic, after hiding out for most of the lockout, only to face another round of jokes and barbs about his health.

Public Relations

Winners: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Brandon Jennings and other charity game workhorses

The best way for a player to improve his standing with basketball die-hards is to show off his own unrequited love of the game. James, Durant and Jennings stood above the crowd in their dedication to playing in organized events across the country, connecting directly with fans and providing hope even when the lockout turned ugliest. Twitter and savvy sneaker campaigns – “Basketball Never Stops” and “Are You From Here?” – helped keep the positive momentum going. There’s no question all three guys made lifelong fans with their actions over the last six months.  

Loser: Michael Beasley

Beasley got busted for marijuana, threw an "All-Star Classic" charity game in which all the All-Stars bailed, shoved a fan in the face during a New York City exhibition, and sued his former agent and AAU coach – his surrogate father during high school – alleging major NCAA rules violations. He also hired and was then dropped by a PR firm that was working to help improve his image. To top it all off, he spoke out against his players union, saying that it was "kind of retarded" for the players to be fighting over a few BRI percentage points. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves now bring to camp the No. 2 overall draft pick, Derrick Williams, who will be an instant fan favorite and figures to compete for his minutes.

JaVale McGee was another memorable face of player cluelessness, leaving one important NBPA meeting early to tell the media that the players insider were "ready to fold." He quickly denied that he made that comment only to have multiple reporters post audio of his statements instantly. Not his finest hour, to be sure.

Salary Cap Nuances

Winners: Young superstars like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook

SBNation.com notes that players who excel during their rookie deals -- such as 2011 MVP Derrick Rose and 2011 All-Star Russell Westbrook -- stand to gain millions of extra dollars in attainable salary thanks to new rules that will reward players who produce at an all-NBA level while on subsidized rookie contracts. Elite players have way outperformed rookie contracts for years and deserved this extra financial incentive.

Losers: Small-market teams clinging to superstars

As the Arizona Republic notes, the rule that would have banned players from signing extend-and-trade contracts a la Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks last season was not included in the final CBA. So superstars who are impending free agents like Orlando's Dwight Howard and New Orleans' Chris Paul still have the opportunity to force their way out of town, should they choose to do so. You can hear the rumor mill doing extra laps around the track and stomach crunches to whip itself into midseason form.

Internet

Winners: Basketball Video Mix Websites

HoopMixTape.com and other highlight-reel videographers saw major upticks in traffic and interest during the summer pro-am and fall charity league circuits. Their ability to take high quality, professional footage and cut it together seamlessly in a matter of hours feeding the hoops need for basketball's year-round global audience in nearly real-time.  

Losers: NBA Online

The NBA’s decision to strip its websites of references to players and to start a Twitter account to aggressively push its labor message to media members, and even players, came off petty, heavy-handed and way too Big Brother in an arena that is supposed to be about fun, not business. The league has some serious fence-mending to do, especially with its core audience. It’s unclear whether the league knows that or not.

Negotiators

Winners: David Stern and Billy Hunter 

NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter are begrudgingly buried here at the end. After months of cringe-inducing public statements, snail-slow negotiations, legal threats, condescending comments and all the rest, these two old adversaries actually struck a deal, which not only saves the league they serve but also manages to protect their own legacies from irreparable damage.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com