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Tag:2011 NBA Lockout
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:38 pm
 

Federal mediator Cohen will not continue with NBA

By Matt Moore

The FMCS released a statement on behalf of federal mediator George Cohen indicating that the two sides in the NBA-NBPA dispute are so far apart it does not warrant further mediation by the FMCS. 

Here is the statement.

NEW YORK, NY — “As a follow up to the NBA’s and NBA Players Association agreeing to my invitation to conduct negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS, three days of mediation have taken place.  During this period, a wide variety of issues were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner, consistent with what one would expect to take place in a constructive collective bargaining setting.

Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement, nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held, competing positions that separated them on core issues.

NBA LOCKOUT

In these circumstances, after carefully reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered judgment of myself and Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, who has been engaged with me throughout this process, that no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time.  For our part, the Agency has advised the parties that we will be willing and prepared to continue to facilitate any future discussions upon their mutual request.”
Posted on: October 20, 2011 7:39 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:40 pm
 

NBA Lockout talks break down

By Matt Moore

In short, nearly the worst kind of news. The NBA and NBPA met for another long mediated session Thursday. The result? At around 7:35 EST Adam Silver and Peter Holt held a press conference to announce that talks have broken down and no further meetings are scheduled. 

Silver would not confirm any further cancelations of games, but the mood is extremely grim.

NBA LOCKOUT

Silver did confirm that the issue that lead to the breakdown between the owners and union was back to BRI. There had been a significant amount of talk about the issues being systemic issues, particularly the luxury tax and revenue sharing. Silver revealed that the union had lowered its offer to 52.5 percent of BRI, with the owners holding the line at 50/50, still.

Ken Berger reported Monday that the owners' 50/50 offer was back to a 49-51 range.  The question is whether the concessions made in the systemic issues pushed the players back to a flat 50/50. Silver also said that the two sides were "far apart" on systemic issues.

Silver told reporters that the players in essence wanted a trade-off. In essence, if the players were conceding on BRI, they wanted more from the systemic issues.



Spurs owner Peter Holt said that at this point, both sides felt "stuck" and that both sides had been "negotiating a long time." Holt said that one reason for the talks to end was due to fatigue, saying "both sides have been negotiating for a long time." 

With the gap down to 1.5 percent, $100 million as estimated by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger for the 2010-2011, you would think that splitting the difference now more than ever would be a likelihood, particularly with mediation from George Cohen. But Silver revealed that the NBA is looking for a 10-year deal, which would make the 1.5 differential $1 billion. Silver and Holt both reiterated that 50 percent is the absolute figure they're willing to go "today" in the words of Holt.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Report: NLRB could block NBPA decertification



There have been reports for the past month about the powerful agents of some NBPA members circling the union authority like vultures, wanting to undermine Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher and push for decertification, followed by a barrage of lawsuits against the NBA and its owners. Today NBA.com's David Aldridge reports that a lawyer for the union doesn't believe that the NLRB would allow the union's decertification until after the NBPA's complaint with the National Labor Relations Board is complete. From NBA.com:
"They would block any decertification petition," he said.

The decert talk has cooled in recent weeks, but if union members decided they wanted to dissolve the union, they would need 30 percent of their members to sign a petition declaring they want an election to decertify. The NLRB would then hold a hearing to determine if an election was warranted. If it approved, the election would proceed, and a simple majority of union voters voting yes would decertify the union. A tie would also mean decertification, because the union would not have received a majority of votes.

Yet Katz says the unions pending complaint against the NBA would make decertifying an impossibility.

"The vote on decertification is a vote controlled and run by the NLRB," he said. "In my opinion, they could not process the petition for a vote because of the pending petition."
via Competitive balance? NBA has always been about dynasties | NBA.com.

This could explain why the agents have gone quiet recently and why there's been more support for the union. The court process will be used as a weapon by the NBPA, it's their last weapon, the nuclear option. But it won't be on the agent's timeline, it'll be on the NBPA's. 

The NLRB's regional ruling has been filed and the national board is in the process of reviewing the complaint. There's no timeline for that decision, but rest assured the NLRB will drag its heels as much as possible to wait for both sides to reach a settlement through negotiation. Avoiding precedent is a pretty big deal in this case and the NLRB will want to dodge the buck as long as possible. 

The NBA's suit agains the NBPA seeking to block decertification is set to begin opening proceedings on November 2nd, the day after the regular season was initially intended to begin. But really, what would you rather see, the opener of the NBA season or a court battle?

Don't answer that.  
Posted on: October 15, 2011 4:06 pm
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Posted on: October 15, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Report: Garnett, Pierce, Kobe intervened in talks

By Matt Moore

Imagine there's a U.N. debate. It's a discussion on global economics, centered around a few key and pivotal points, and a compromise must be reached in some form. The ramifications of this meeting are monumental dependent on the outcome (I know, it's the U.N., use your imagination). Both sides began on polar opposite sides of the issues. But as things have gone on, there have been more and more concessions from both sides, though clearly one side is expressing its overwhelming leverage from a position of strength, arguably to an excessive degree. 

To close this deal, with so much on the line, do you send in your experienced diplomat, the man who has the know-how and demeanor to establish guidelines, work to squirrel away as much as can be reasonably established,  and ensure that the lines of communication stay open? Or do you send in your slightly off-balance general who too often resorts to screaming and who considers everything to be a battlefield?

The owners sent in the warrior, and that at least partially contributed to the disaster of losing games so close to a deal.

Dual independent reports from ESPN today tell of the meeting that could have saved the season, and of the reported 50/50 deal that fell apart (which both sides claim came from the other side). And the conclusion came not with Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher dealing with the union, but with Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant... and Kevin Garnett marching in to tell the owner's what what.

The first report came from Bill Simmons in his column yesterday at Grantland 
During one of the single biggest meetings (last week, on Tuesday), Hunter had Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Garnett (combined years spent in college: three) negotiate directly with Stern in some sort of misguided "Look how resolved we are, you're not gonna intimidate us!" ploy that backfired so badly that one of their teams' owners was summoned into the meeting specifically to calm his player down and undo some of the damage. (I'll let you guess the player. It's not hard.) And this helped the situation … how? And we thought this was going to work … why?
via Bill Simmons Avoids a Few Subjects Before Making His Week 6 NFL Picks - Grantland.

OK, a vague report which doesn't name the particular player that went nuts. We can pass that asi...oh. From TrueHoop:
As Stern has recounted a dozen times since, not long after what was supposed to have been the hallway conversation that saved the season, something odd and wholly unexpected happened. There was a knock on the door where Stern was selling his owners on the idea. The players wanted to talk.

When they convened, instead of the union's head, Hunter, or their negotiating committee of Maurice Evans, Matt Bonner, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas and Chris Paul, representing the players were Fisher, Kessler, and three superstars who had been to very few of the meetings at all: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant.

A bad sign: Pierce was still wearing his backpack.

The players had two pieces of news that shocked the league: 50/50 was not good enough. And there was nothing further to discuss.

...

And players who hadn't even been in the talks, and who seemed not to be on the same page with the crew that had endured more than 40 meetings, had been the ones to reject the best offer the league was likely to have, and to end the best day of negotiations prematurely.

What in the hell was going on? How had they so misread the situation? And where was Billy Hunter? Who spoke for the union? Should the league have been negotiating with Kevin Garnett all along?
via TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

Ooh, ooh! I'll answer it! Me! Me! Me!

No.

Under no circumstances should Kevin Garnett be in charge of negotiating anything but an entry pass from Rajon Rondo on the left block. That's it. Not only should Garnett not be heading the conversations, Garnett shouldn't be allowed inside the building. He, Dan Gilbert, and Robert Sarver should be barred from the building, through court orders, if necessary. This whole disgusting charade has gone on long enough with ego, dramatics, and nonsense running the show. This is a business negotiation, and even if both sides want to approach it from the ruthless, cutthroat perspective, let it be done with the pen, not with petty shows of strength that only manage to detonate critical talks at a critical time. 

Garnett's going to get the most blame for this based off of his reported behavior. But Pierce and Kobe were both in the room, and should share the blame. The goal was to show the owners they won't back down. What they managed to do was weaken the union's position by making them look out of their league, which was reinforced on Friday with JaVale McGee's "folding" disaster. It's admirable that the players wanted to make a show of strength. But this wasn't the way to do it. Calmly standing behind Billy Hunter and reasserting their stand at 53 percent? Okay, not really helping the whole situation, but it's a reasonable position. 

Going solo with or without Hunter's permission and winding up in a screaming match with the owners?

That's not a reasonable approach. That's making a bad situation worse.

This entire scenario is reflective of the simplest terms of the lockout. The owners have been intransigent, manipulative, hypocritcal, and self-contradictory. They've pushed 50/50 as a compromise, when in reality it's a cave-in by the players to what the owner want. They've extorted and back the players into a corner. It's nearly shameful the power grab that's gone on throughout the course of these negotiations, dating back two years. 

And the players?

They're in that corner, and they can't stop themselves from running into the walls.

God save the NBA.  
Posted on: October 15, 2011 12:00 am
 

EOB Roundtable: Lockout Winners and Losers



By Matt Moore


Matt Moore:So who, individually is winning and losing the lockout? My brief list. 
Winners: David West, Greg Oden (rehab). Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (age). Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade (image). 
Losers: Rookies (obv.). DeAndre Jordan ($$$$$). 
Royce Young: Derek Fisher. I think he's increased his image as the statesman of the NBA. I don't know how good a job he's really doing, but he always comes across as measured, professional and calm. The guy's in the twilight of his NBA career, but his performance as president of the union is going to net him a pretty sweet gig after he retires, I think. Front office exec? Coach? The next Billy Hunter? I could see basically anything for Fisher. 

Ben Golliver: I hate to say it but I think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are big winners here. No one entered the offseason with more motivation to bring their A-game to the 2011-2012 season after that jenga collapse in the Finals. As the lockout dragged on, the usual motivating factors for the average player disappeared. Watching these guys workout, play in exhibition games, etc. it's clear they will be ready to go from day one. They will blitz some people hard out of the gate and should stack up enough victories early to get the rest they wanted before last year's playoffs. Same thing, to a lesser extent, goes for Kevin Durant, who has just been a maniac.

Of the younger guys, I like what John Wall and Brandon Jennings did to increase their exposure. Whether that counts for anything long-term is anyone's guess. Both elevated their profile for sure. I still like what Deron Williams and Ty Lawson did, accepting the challenge of a different lifestyle and continuing to play in competitive leagues. Williams took a significantly bigger risk, but as long as he comes home without injury he will be a winner in my eyes. Zigging when everyone zags deserves some kudos. Props to Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas and the other rookies that went back to school. We get on people for jumping too early but never give the round of applause for guys who get back on the diploma track.

They are bigger picture winners.

Eddy Curry is the biggest loser of the lockout and, really, of life. Scratching from exhibition games is really the bottom of the barrel. Same thing goes for Michael Beasley and Matt Barnes and their idiotic antics. Nobody needs any of that. Beasley caught a break when Rick Adelman got hired. He is about to get a great coach. Let's see if he embraces or squelches this opportunity. Take a guess at which is more likely. 
Matt Moore: I'd argue Deron's a loser. He made the money but admitted it's been hard on the family and they're not winning and the attendance is terrible. As the biggest star to go he was under pressure to convert that opportunity into success. Making the money, which is always dicey overseas, doesn't make up for the other problems and the lack of impact. 

Ben Golliver: If it was that bad he would have left. He's said its brought his family closer together and has been a one-in-a-lifetime experience. I think we can take him at his word about that.

Royce Young:I definitely agree with that, Matt. Deron messed up, in my mind. The Besiktas deal really didn't turn out to be all that lucrative and instead of pimping his profile here in the charity pro-am games, he's toiling away in Turkey in front of half empty arenas. What's so great about that?  If it was just intended to be a family vacation, good for him, but I don't know why you can't just go to Turkey. Why sign to play for Besiktas? He got less than other superstars because he signed so early and I don't think he's really gained a whole lot out of it otherwise. 

Matt Moore: Also, if we're talking bigger picture winners, no player is a winner because they lost a bazillion dollars between negotiations and lost paychecks.

Ben Golliver: Name one player who made more money playing basketball during the lockout than Deron Williams.

Royce Young: I don't think that's the point though. He didn't make all that much in relative terms, plus hasn't benefitted as much as some other players that stayed here. Williams is a star player. And he's the only star that signed overseas. Don't you think that's a little weird? 

Ben Golliver: Not at all. He was in a unique situation with his contract extension coming up, with an open mind, a desire to see the world and make money, and a team that would give him a max contract even if he broke both his legs because they already mortgaged the franchise for him. Why single someone out for criticism because he made a unique choice that will prove to be in his best interests as long as he doesn't get hurt (and could still be in his best interests even if he does)? This was a great way to get back in shape after an injury, it took guts, he's getting rewarded and he is living life on his own terms, not those of the NBA owners. He's not begging fans to let him play on Twitter, he proactively sought a deal that will pay him more than any other player during the down time and will be ready to go when the NBA is back. It wasn't a decision many stars could make but there were good reasons behind it and he showed courage. That makes him a winner to me. 
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Wolves PF discusses NBA Lockout on Twitter

By Matt Moore

If you'd asked me yesterday afternoon about NBA players and their use of Twitter during the lockout, I would have said two things. One, they are almost entirely unapproachable, preferring to answer only elements of positive support or comments from other players. And two, their knowledge of how to use Twitter to express their views about the lockout have been woefully inadequate. Most notably, the #standunited and #letusplay hashtags were terribly conceived. You know what happens if you tell the public to ask the owners to let them play without any context as to the issue or your real position? You look stupid. And incapable of harnessing social media. And did I mention stupid? 

If you're the union and want to use Twitter correctly, you can hold the line on the players' side of negotiations  while actually being honest with fans. Sure, a lot of casual fans aren't aware of the nuances of the lockout. But those same individuals are unlikely to be swayed by a hashtag. There's more information than ever available for interested fans to learn about BRI, revenue sharing, all of it. Whether they agree with you or not, it's better to level with them and seem reasonable than to simply blindly shout at the owners and beseech the fans to support the players without understanding their side of the dispute. Shouting hasn't gotten us anywhere in the lockout, on either side. 

Which is why Anthony Tolliver's appearance on Twitter Thursday night was such a surprise. I found Tolliver taking questions from fans with actual substance regarding the lockout. Our brief exchange, while he also discussed the dispute with other fans was both mature and insightful. This from a player who worked his way up from the D-League into a reserve role with the Wolves last season. Tolliver is at once the kind of player who needs the lockout over most based on his salary and the kind of player that the lockout is being waged over, the non-stars who feel they need long-term stability.

It began with Tolliver commenting "If the owners want competative balance lets have no cap! #letsjustplaybasketball." I responded to another comment from him regarding how baseball has competitive balance (on the surface, considering the small market teams that regularly appear in the World Series; timely given the Championship Series of St. Louis-Milwaukee), asking about how the Yankees still enjoy a distinct advantage due to their payroll. It was then that Tolliver began to engage in an actual dialogue, the kind the union should have been having its players participate in with fans or media or whoever they'd like instead of participating in the Twitter version of holding a sign while yelling into a megaphone. What follows are pieces of that conversation. Tweets have been edited to make reading it easier. It's hard to hold a conversation in 140 characters at a time.

Tolliver: Smart management is what creates competitive balance more than anything....not caps. 

Tolliver: The Yanks have had success but what im saying is that the owners think they can "fix" the balance with a cap.

Moore: Well, that's what they're saying. I've gotten to where I don't believe they care about the balance at all. Just the profit. 

Tolliver: I agree...lol. At the end of the day if they all can line their pockets with more cash they wont care about balance.

Moore: Do you guys care about competitive balance or is it one where you think it will just work itself out, i.e. survival of fittest? 

Tolliver: I played on the worst team in the league and im not asking for help! we have enough talent to improve and compete. 

Moore: So you think with... different approaches by management (trying to keep you out of trouble) the Wolves can compete with LA?

Tolliver: It is tougher for small market teams but it always will be

Moore: Right, but the ability to abuse the lux tax by large markets helps. There's a balance to be struck there, right? 

Tolliver: With great draft choices and strategic trades i believe that ANY team can be very competitive. 

Moore: (I) (d)on't mind shortening the gap with (revenue) sharing or some systemic change. (I) mind owners bullying you and squabbling over who offered 50/50 first.

Tolliver: Oh and the revenue sharing for the NBA is by far the lowest of all professional sports so yeah...that needs to increase fa sho.

Moore:  If you're keeping guaranteed contracts (which you should), is shortening them a reasonable compromise? Just how much is (the question)?

Tolliver: I think shortening them is fair...and even compromising on other issues is fair as long as its compromising on both ends.

Tolliver: I believe there needs to be some changes as well. i just want a fair deal so i can play the game that i love.

Moore: Problem is that when you guys say you want to play, fans get insulted because you want to play for what you feel is a fair deal. You guys would do better if you didn't say you just wanted to play, but wanted to play when you're not bullied. Most of the smart people know the owners have driven the lockout, but the "we just want to play" approach is patronizing.

Tolliver: Why is that patronizing? We all just want to play ball BUT with a fair deal. I guess its all relative.

Moore: We live in a smarter world with messaging. So saying "just want to play" when there are caveats seems disingenuous, even if not.

Tolliver: Thats way too much to say lol...I'll stick with I JUST WANT TO PLAY. LOL.

Moore: Hey, that's easier. I'm just telling you the reactions the media gets from fans, a lot of whom have supported the union.

Tolliver: I gotcha...when players say that they dont want to offend the fans. we know the fans MAKE us who we are.. #fanappreciation

Moore: Do you think the anger and resentment from the players side at the owners antics is a good thing or a bad thing?

Tolliver: I'm not sure if the emotions the players are showing hurt or help our cause..all i know is guys LOVE this game and want to play.

Moore: Amar'e, Blake, Kobe, Steve seem pretty reasonable, but some of your guys are downright pissed. Hurt or help?

Tolliver: Some guys dont (know) all the details of whats going on..all they (know) is that the owners are locking us out & that makes them mad.

Moore: How much of it do you follow?

Tolliver: I follow every word, every article, every news story...this is my livelyhood for hopefully the next 10 years!

Moore: Has the lockout been one of the few instances where the players don't feel like the media is out to get them?

Tolliver: Media is ALWAYS out to get us! They are EVIL!!! LOL

Moore: You realize now I have to write a post tomorrow that says "WOLVES PF BELIEVES IN OCCULT" right? It's in my contract. #notreally

Tolliver: LOL aight...i dont want u to lose ur job. LOL. 

Tolliver also took questions and comments from a number of fans and writers on Twitter, giving what at least appeared to be honest opinions about the state of negotiations.

His insight is a nice peek beneath the rhetoric. Tolliver acknowledges the need for change and compromise, while holding to his colleagues' stances on various issues including competitive balance. He doesn't dodge questions about players' reactions to the dispute, but also doesn't try and speak for them or against him. It's this kind of reasonable, honest dialogue that should be the backbone of the negotiations, not the players' discussions with fans and media on Twitter. But at least it shows us that the middle class of NBA players, who have become the dividing line in the negotiations headed intow next week's mediation session, have a working knowledge of the dispute, the issues involved, and a recognition of how the lockout is hurting the fans. They're willing to listen. If only both sides guiding the dispute would. 

Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 11:51 am
 

Stoudemire chimes in on an independent league

By Matt Moore

The players truly believe that they are the league. Not the franchises, logos, stadiums, coaches, management, or the game itself. And no, not the fans, though they do believe the fans are vital, obviously. No, they think the National Basketball Association is made up of players and it is the players who are the product. That's where the belief that they are entitled to more than 50 percent of the BRI comes from. And it's not bad logic, truth be told. It's debatable, but a sound starting place.

To that end, there have been discussions that, basically, if the owners are going to take away their league, the players will just start another. And lookee here, Amar'e Stoudemire's right on time promoting his new shoe (and throwing teammates under the deoderant bus, apparently) to chime in with where he sees things going if the lockout isn't resolved. From the New York Post: 
Amar'e Stoudemire said last night if the NBA lockout wipes out the season, he believes the players will form their own league instead of trying to catch on in Europe.

"If we dont go to Europe, we're going to start our own league, thats how I see it," the Knicks forward said. "It's very serious. It's a matter of us strategically coming up with a plan, a blueprint and putting it together. So we'll see how this lockout goes. If it goes one or two years, we've got to start our own league."
via Knicks Stoudemire says players will start own league - NYPOST.com.

 Setting aside the outright horror of that phrase "one or two years," it's not surprising that Stoudemire would go this route. He's an idealist, a dreamer (but he's not the only one). The players harnessing their own value and starting their own league sounds like a great idea. And it would be, if they had a consultant group to handle the entire process and a two year window just to get things operational. 

The big X-factors in this discussion are two entities. Nike and ESPN. Both companies have enough invested in the NBA and its players to create a paradox for themselves. They could benefit tremendously from putting the players, particularly those in the Nike stable, on a massive stage they themselves create, and have the industry connections to create a functioning league. They simply have the resources. At the same time, both enjoy a relationship with the NBA, one that they'll have to maintain after the lockout ends. They can't help the players here because they need the league and they can't help the league because they need the players.

Stoudemire did go on to say that he believes the lockout will end after the two weeks are lost, which is a nice thought. But after the events of the last week, it's hard to see either of Amar'e's dreams becoming a reality.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com