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Tag:2011 NBA Lockout
Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 11:18 am
 

The lockout damage is wider than most think

By Matt Moore

There's a growing movement that things aren't really that bad in this lockout. "The stadium workers are part-time," is part of the argument, without realizing the situation of so many of the actual jobs involved or how much of a percentage of income those jobs are. "The arenas will still be open for concerts" is another fun one, not factoring the 41 events a year that are now in jeopardy. But the real problem is all of the ways it filters down. Take television revenues, for instance. 

Each NBA team has a contract with a local TV provider for the games that usually includes pre- and post-game coverage. It's true the networks won't have to pay the teams for the games missed. But it also means those networks are having to replace the games with lesser content that won't sell high quality ad content. From the Los Angeles Times:  
While much of the attention on the lockouts impact on the media has focused on ESPN and TNT, much-harder hit will be local sports channels such as News Corp.s Fox Sports West, which carries the Los Angeles Lakers. Fox Sports and cable giant Comcast Corp. are two of the biggest operators of so-called regional sports networks.

"There is probably a lot more at stake at the regional sports network level than the national level," said Chris Bevilacqua, who heads Bevilacqua Media, a sports and media consulting firm.

While the networks are protected against a lengthy disruption of games, their ratings and ad revenue will be adversely affected and there will be a scramble to find programming to fill holes left by the loss of the NBA.

"We will air a mix of college sports, hockey, original programming and selective classic NBA games in the meantime," said a spokesman for Comcast, which has the local cable rights to seven NBA franchises, including the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
via NBA labor strife bad for ESPN, TNT and regional sports networks - latimes.com.

Some of the camera and production crews are likely on salary and will probably be kept by the local affiliates. But there are also countless part-time and contract workers that help in the production of a live sports broadcast. Those jobs? In danger. The impact will be felt throughout the community. Everything trickles down. The networks lose sponsor money. Sponsors lose a viable advertising source which impacts business even if they save the cost of advertising.

And there are other impacts, like bars and restaurants. From the AP:  
"I'm worried that my money situation is going to change — a lot," said waitress Zuly Molina, who works at a Hooters at the Bayside complex next to the Miami Heat's home arena. "It was a lot better last year. We had business before every game, during every game with people who couldn't get tickets watching in here, then after every game. Now it's gone, except for when they have a concert or something like that."
via Lockout's real pain felt beyond owners and players - Houston Chronicle.

You don't have to be a fan of Hooters to get where she's coming from. Waiters, waitresses, hosts, hostesses, bartenders, chefs, independent ticket vendors, independent merchandise retailers, the list goes on and on. The gap the two sides in the lockout are apart doesn't begin to hurt the parties involved on the level it impacts the people in the economies dependent on these games. They want to talk about how it's a business. Part of your responsibility in being a business that is publicly supported and in part funded through arenas is to be a responsible member of the local economy.

Truth is, we dont' know what the damage is going to be yet. We're just getting a taste. But hey, at least Micky Arison is eating well.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:44 pm
 

Decertification may be unavoidable at this point

By Matt Moore

Now the wolves come a-hunting. 

For nearly a year, one of the goals of both sides in the labor dispute has been to avoid sending it to the courts. The NBA saw the mess that became of the NFL lockout once decertification came through, the amount spent on lawyer's fees and research, the ugly impact on PR. And probably somewhere in there, he also saw that there was a possibility, no matter how remote, that the league could lose. After the NFL lost the first decision, there must have been a shiver down David Stern's spine, even if he was aware and confident that it would be overturned and then upheld in appeal. If the NBA owners haven't failed to bargain in good faith, they've certaintly took bad faith out for a spin in Daddy's car and held its hand for a while. 

Similarly, Billy Hunter knew that decertification could cost his side everything. Yes, personally, he could lose his job and that's a pretty strong motivating factor for anyone, should he not return as head under the new union.  But it could also mean essentially getting the courts to affirm the league's power and advantage. The players would also have to afford court fees and the public scrutiny that would come with such a move, not to mention the fact that the players would look like "Lord of the Flies," lopping off their own head to dance around in anger around an owner effigy pyre. Hunter knew that the threat of decertification was more powerful than actually moving the debate into the court.

But now, after having the first twenty games cancelled, with paychecks that would be coming now not in a few weeks, with the league's image tarnished by greed, both sides are aware.

The wolves will be back, now. And this time the gates may not hold them out.

If ever there was a time for the agents who had been pushing for decertification and undermining the efforts of the union to say "They had their chance, now it's ours," that time is now. And Hunter may be at the point where it's better to join the barbarians at the gate than keep rallying the Roman Senators while they're stealing from each other's pocketbooks.  Hunter washing his hands of negotiation and aiming to take the owners down to the players' level might be the only way to truly put the fear of God back into Stern and his constituents in order to get movement towards compromise. There may be no other option. The players's side has been adamant that losing games doesn't scare them. You know who says things like that loudly? People who are scared of losing games.  The players know the score even if they won't admit it. They have little leverage, and the more paychecks that are missed, the worse it will get. The escrow money, sponsorship money, the overseas money won't last forever, won't cover the missing income forever, and at that point, things turn.

Not everyone thinks that this thing will rocket towards legal briefs, however. From Sports Illustrated:  
Lastly, you’ll hear lots of talk now about the union decertifying and filing an antitrust suit against the league. Some hard-line agents have pushed for this, and there is the perception that the NFL union’s move to decertify created a bit of temporary leverage, since any successful antitrust suit could wring billions in damages from the owners.

Unfortunately, the process would take at least a year to play out in full, and possibly longer. Court decisions, including those in the NFL’s case, leaned more toward the ownership/league side, and the timing of the NFL union’s decertification was much different than would be the case here. The NFL players union decertified much earlier, before their CBA had even expired, and they did so precisely because that soon-to-expire CBA included a deadline by which the union had to decertify.

The NBA union is already much later in the game. Its CBA expired more than 100 days ago, on July 1, and the players stand to lose so much salary over via a canceled season as to make it borderline worthless to pursue a strategy that basically guarantees that cancellation. It could still happen as a means of gaining some temporary “Holy crap!” leverage, but it would be a surprising move, even now.
via The Point Forward » Posts Key points as full season falls by the wayside «.

Unfortunately, that assumes that both sides are thinking strategicall, rationally, logically. Consider the following from long-time basketball scribe Jan Hubbard:  
As the percentages each side said were required for a deal haven gotten closer and closer, writers covering negotiations have been more and more dumbfounded that a middle point could not be found. By not playing basketball games in the preseason and now cancelling the first two weeks of the regular season, each side has sacrificed more than it would lose with the other side’s deal. So why not compromise?

And therein lies the problem – the assumption that logic applies; the belief that it is common sense to believe both sides to have common sense.

That has been incorrect, which leads to an obvious conclusion. This financial contest is not about dividing revenues fairly.

It’s about winning.
via Players Beware: It’s a Coldblooded Financial World | Sports Righting.
 
And that just about does it. It's true that both sides are so close to a deal, or at least close enough that it's closer than what a court decision would bring in terms of time. But that assumes that either side is interested in compromise. The players feel they've compromised enough, because they believe that the previous deal is a precedent that should be in play, despite this being a new agreement and not an extension or renegotiation. The owners believe they've compromised enough, because they took their demands from "Oh My God, are you out of your mind?!" to "You can't be serious... wait, you're serious?!" territory.

Neither side wants compromise. They want to win. 

And decertification and subsequent court battles may be the only way they can see to win outright. Who would want to compromise when you can win?

Oh, that's right. The fans. But they don't get a say.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 10:18 am
 

The Lockout List for Monday's talks

By Matt Moore

The league and players met for five hours Sunday and nada, zip, zero, zilch. Not a deal, not a framework, not a conceptual agreement, not a tentative agreement, not even "progress." We're just guessing here, but we have this image of them each sitting there like it's study hall, passing notes to their friends and not really talking about anything of substance. Apparently BRI never even came up

That's right. The biggest issue remaining on the table, and they didn't even touch it.

So what has to happen for a dea on a new CBA to happen today and to avoid the loss of regular season games as David Stern promised there would be without a deal Monday? Here's what it looks like.

  1. Resolve revenue sharing. SI reports that revenue sharing remains the biggest systemic, non-BRI issue on the table. This is tricky territory, as it's not something the NBA even wants to be talking about. They don't even want it on the table. But apparently they've let it on and both sides are squabbling over what it will look like. The biggest hangup is likely that the players' best friend in the BRI and cap issues, the large market owners, are the ones that will pump the brakes on revenue sharing. The players want an extensive system, because the more money is redistributed on the owners' side, the less money they'll have to contribute to recovering losses, hypothetically. 
  2. The 12-foot, sabretoothed, hulking monster in the room that is BRI. The owners aren't budging on 50/50. The players won't move off 53 percent. Either one side's going to have to bend, or they'll have to find some sort of compromise in-between. Maybe it's the owners taking 52 to get the player down a percent. Maybe they split the difference. But neither side is even open to that possibility. If talks turn to this issue on Monday afternoon and neither side is willing to move at all on their number, it's going to be a real short meeting. 
  3. Get a framework, then get the votes. Even if the smaller parties can get a conceptual framework in place, complete with BRI and everything else, they still have to get approval from their constituents for a vote. Say the owners talk the players down to 51 percent. All it takes is one leaked quote from an owner about how they knew the players would cave, and then Kevin Garnett turns that into a rallying cry, and then the agents hit the roof and start calling for decertification again and the whole thing blows up. Say the players get the owner sup to 53 percent through concessions, but one of them turns out to be a sticking point for one of the owners and the rest of the league sticks with their guy who says he can't do it. There are a million ways this blows up once the reasaonable grown-ups negotiating the deal now get done. 
  4. Get a vote, get a timeline, get the paperwork done, start the offseason. 
All of this within the next 21 days. 

So as you can see, we're kind of up against it here.  
Posted on: October 6, 2011 11:40 am
 

Deron Williams is struggling in Europe

By Matt Moore

Sounds like a great vacation, right? See the sights, try local food, experience a new culture. And hey, play some basketball with guys who aren't even in your league. You can drop 40 a game if you really want to, but you won't, because you're a guest in their country. 

Turns out it's not quite that easy for Deron Williams with Besiktas in Turkey. From ProBasketballTalk.com:  
Williams led Besiktas into the EuroCup last week, which is a second tier tournament that took place in Belgium, and he had 7 points on 3 of 13 shooting with 6 turnovers. The man who should dominate at this level watched his team get eliminated fast.

Days before that in D-Will’s debut for Besiktas he was 3 for 15 shooting.
via Deron Williams not impressing anyone in Europe so far | ProBasketballTalk.

Williams told the New York Times that he's getting bumped around so much, it's difficult for him to adjust. So to review, he can't hit shots, and the guy who's less than four months removed from wrist surgery is getting lots of contact without an NBA training staff around. 

That sound you hear is Mikhail Prokhorov saying "No, really, 52 percent BRI is fine!"  
Posted on: October 5, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 11:22 am
 

The NBPA is up three, it's time to foul

By Matt Moore

We're right there. I mean it. Right freaking there. This thing's within arm's reach, if there can just be a few more inches of movement. From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, a hefty blockquote to get the full perspective on where we stand:
In that group, the league -- sensing the opportunity for a deal was there -- proposed essentially a 50-50 split with no additional expense reductions over a seven-year proposal, with each side having the ability to opt out after the sixth year, two of the people said. This was the offer Stern described in his news conference Tuesday evening, one he and Silver thought would be enough to finally close the enormous gap between the two sides.

The league's offer, according to four people familiar with it, came in a range of 49-51 -- with 49 percent guaranteed and a cap of 51 percent, the sources said.

"There was a real opportunity to make progress," Stern said.

Stern told the players and Kessler that he was bringing this proposal to his owners in an attempt to sell it, making no bones about the fact that he would. In fact, Stern said in the news conference, he did sell it; the owners were prepared to sign off on this 49-51 percent band. With many of the most polarizing system issues resolved -- the league previously had relented on its the most severe version of its hard team salary cap, agreed to drop its pursuit of rollbacks on existing contracts and offered to retain the basic structure of max contracts -- the framework of a deal was in sight."

Adam and I felt comfortable and confident that we would be able to report to the players that we could move to the next subject, because the split had been accomplished," Stern said.

While the owners were caucusing, a member of the players group returned with a counterproposal -- effectively 52 percent of basketball-related income BRI for the players with no additional expenses deducted. The players' counterproposal followed the format presented by the owners -- a 51-53 percent band, though sources gave different accounts of whether the players offer included a guarantee at 51 percent and a cap at 53.

So while Hunter and Stern remained publicly entrenched in the economic positions of their most recent formal proposals -- with the players asking for 53 percent and the league offering effectively 47 -- the reality is this: the gap has closed to 2 percentage points of BRI, the difference between the midpoint of the two offers, or stated differently, the value of one Gilbert Arenas.
via With nearly all of $8 billion gap closed, season can be saved - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball

NBA Labor
The union sent a letter to the players last night according to ESPN, another in a long series of missives to keep the troops together, to keep them updated, and keep the agents out of the conversation. In that letter, they said that a 50/50 split is "not a fair deal." Now, getting beside the base-level hilarity of that statement, they're probably on target. But anything, and I mean anything north of 50/50? That's a huge win for the players. 

Since the lockout began, the players knew they had no leverage. They've sought it. From European contracts to legal recourse, the union only has so much it can do. The owners still hold the biggest advantage. They sign the checks. The players make the product and have shown that they're more than willing to lose the year to get a deal they find acceptable. But this? This is painfully close to a win on all fronts. 

Hard cap? Off the table. 

Rollbacks? Gone. 

Sweeping systemic changes? Limited to a few acceptable shifts. 

And the BRI which last week was at 46 percent, an insulting, ridiculous figure indicative of the owners' approach throughout this process, has been raised to 49 with a 51 percent ceiling, conceivably. The players don't want to fall to that, and that's understandable. But the second, the very second the average hits above 50 percent, they need to jump on it. This is as good a deal as they're going to get. Their figures will not improve once checks are missed. This is not some owners-supporting propoganda, it's reality. With the strength of the league, the odds of the revenues hitting above that 51 percent mark are pretty likely. But if they want to hold out for that extra percent or two, fine. But here's the reality. The players are at 52 percent, bottom offer. The owners are at 51 percent, top offer. Yes, 51.5 percent is probably the best compromise but that's not the point. It's right there. 

The players have to take this deal the second that percentage ticks up, and it will this week. The owners, after two years of bullying and absurdly insulting proposals, have gotten serious and offered real proposals which the union can take. They get back a lot of what they want, set the table for further wins in the next CBA, and get the "reset" they've been pushing towards. The players and owners both save face. The players just have to know their position and take the win. 

That's what this is. A win. A big ol' win that represents the players dodging a catastrophic possibility of being forced into a hard cap, a sub-50 BRI percentage, and the loss of any and all flexibility. Theyv'e done it. They've held together long enough to get things where they need them to be. They still can get a 50+ cut of the BRI, and have gotten the hard cap off the table. 

This situation the players are in? They're up three points, and the opponent has the ball. The players can foul, lose the points (the drop from 53 where they wanted to stay), and take the win (avoiding complete pillage), or they can try and defend the perimeter. But in this case, the opponent is trotting out a lineup of five Ray Allens. 

For the first time, the players are in control. They get to make the decision on a reasonable deal. They can save the season, save the jobs, save the damage to the game, save their own paychecks, their own careers. The owners have moved, finally. 

Give the points. 

Take the win. 

Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:34 pm
 
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:46 pm
 

NBA lawsuit oral arguments scheduled for Nov.2

By Matt Moore

Update: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
In hearing today in U.S. District Court, oral arguments were set for Nov. 2 in @TheNBPA's motion to dismiss #NBA lawsuit, court says.
via Twitter / @KBergCBS: In hearing today in U.S. D ...

The NBA season, if you are unaware, is scheduled to begin the regular season on November 1st. So, really, good news all around! Sigh.

Original report: The NBA and NBPA have been trying to settle their differences inside the boardroom, not the courtroom, to avoid a prolonged battle that would get even uglier than the talks have been. But with "Detonation Tuesday" upon us, both sides are making preparations for the legal fight which could get started as early as this week. 

Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports that a meeting occurred early Tuesday between representatives of both sides and a judge overseeing the NBA's lawsuit seeking to block the NBPA from decertification and subsequent antitrust lawsuits.  
Another ominous sign: source says both sides meeting w/ 2nd circuit judge today in regards 2 league's lawsuit & NBPA's motion to dismiss. That would be stage-setter 4 decertification fight, with league's preemptive suit looking for ruling that it's illegal and NBPA disagreeing.
via Sam Amick (sam_amick) on Twitter.

There are multiple interpretations here. It could be that the two sides are looking to get some sense of where this thing is headed, because if the NBPA is cut off at the head from decertification, that essentially lops out the push from the agents and means that the players have to get a deal. More likely it's simply a general check-in on where things stand and what the process is from here on out.

But regardless, it does mean there's starting to be an eye on the legal front. Which means the focus is shifting away from a resolution. Which means the prospect of losing games looms ever larger.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:10 am
 

NBA Lockout: The night before

By Matt Moore

We've told you that previous meetings were relevant, were important, were key. And each one has yielded the same result: both sides sayng they were still too far apart, talks will resume tomorrow or in a few days. So forgive me for over-emphasizing this.

Tuesday's the day

Monday night, each set of parties will go to sleep in preparation of Tuesday's NBA lockout negotiations, which are expected to decide whether games will be lost and likely how many. The players will sleep comfortably. They'll have a measure of anxiety for their livelihoods and their careers, sure. But they'll be resting on 500 count sheets, unperturbed by any real consequences. Losing a few games just means an unpaid vacation. The game will be there when they get back. The agents will sleep the sleep of wolves. Knowing you're the thing that goes bump in the night has its advantages. The owners may be coming for their money, but this is a challenge to be thwarted, as is their perception that Billy Hunter has lost control of the fight. (The agents who are not part of the plot are just along for the ride, unfortunately.)

And the owners? The owners sleep the sleep of babes.

Maybe there really is a healthy conversation being held in the owners' meetings. Maybe they arrived at their hardened stance after hours and days of tense and lively debate over the best way to rectify the economic lapses in the system they signed off on. It's possible that they've really been down every road, listened to every argument, embraced every alternative until they were left with nothing but this, the scorched court policy.

But it doesn't seem that way, feel that way, or sound that way.

Every indication is that the owners go to sleep Monday night fully aware that they are likely setting the league back by upwars of a decade, that they are crushing something that bring joy to millions, that they are stomping on the legacy they inherited when they plunked down their change for the right to courtside seats and a number of player headaches. They are aware that their decision will cost people jobs they need, part-time money they need, diversions that make life more fun, and boost local economies. They are aware that there's no decent compromise they're seeking, only total and complete conquest in this dispute.

And every indication is that they could not care less. You have to look out for yourself in this world, apparently.

David Stern goes to sleep with the knowledge that Tuesday will bring with it a judgment upon his term as commissioner of a professional sports league. Failure to bring the owners off the fortress walls or to somehow shakedown the players into what will be a crushing deal for them would represent a phenomenal failure for Stern in his duties to, you know, run the NBA. He will have done his job in protecting the interests of his board and in doing so sacrificed the good the NBA brings with it. Not just from a sports perspective, or economic, but from the lost charity work, the goodwill, the positive influence on young people and every other impact. He will have watched over the league as it costs a year in the careers of promising young athletes like Blake Griffin and John Wall, as it robs history of one of the final years of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

Big king-sized beds for men of wealth and fame, all.

Tuesday the sun comes up, the gloves come off and the lockout will sort them out. Odds are we're headed towards regular season games missed, maybe months, maybe the entire year, along with a lengthy court battle, ugly internal strife in the union, and no professional basketball. It's difficult to see any other result coming out of the boardroom tomorrow in New York. Even the optimists like Ken Berger are staring down the barrel of missed games. Cooler heads have not prevailed. Reason has not won out. It's Lord of the Flies time in the NBA Lockout and we're about to find out how ugly it will get. 

Rome is burning but the Roman Senate sleeps soundly.  
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com