Blog Entry

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

Posted on: February 12, 2010 8:20 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2010 10:18 pm
DALLAS -- In a stunning development, 10 All-Stars including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony joined the collective bargaining talks Friday, standing in defiance of commissioner David Stern and the owners' negotiating committee during what was described as a "contentious" and "heated" bargaining session. The owners, according to union chief Billy Hunter, agreed to pull their current proposal off the table, relinquishing ground after hitting the union with demands for a hard salary cap and drastically reduced salaries.

Overreaching with a hard-line initial proposal submitted to the union on Jan. 29 may have backfired on the owners, whose demands for reducing the players' share of revenue, eliminating Larry Bird exceptions, reducing the length of contracts, and virtually eliminating guarantees got the attention of the league's stars. The murderer's row joining Hunter and the players' executive committee also included Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups and Al Horford. The players skipped their obligations at the NBA's annual All-Star "day of service" charity events to stand with Hunter and send a message to the owners.

"The players came in there and said, 'We don't want a fight,'" Hunter said. "'But if we're not given any other choice, we won't run from a fight.'"

Calling the owners' proposal "shock and awe" and a "non-starter," Hunter said the players would submit their own proposal in the "near future," but did not provide a date. He described the league as "eager" to get a deal in place by July 1, which marks the beginning of the biggest free-agent signing period in NBA history. The economics behind that impending bonanza are now seriously clouded with the owners and players back to square one in their negotiations.

The current deal, ratified in 2005, expires after the 2010-11 season. The owners, citing massive financial losses they have documented to the union over the past few months, already have notified the players that they will not exercise their option to extend the current deal through the 2011-12 season.

Adam Silver, the NBA's deputy commissioner, issued a statement late Friday disputing Hunter's account.

"While we do not agree with the Players' Association's characterization of today's meeting or the status of the NBA's bargaining proposal, David will address the subject of collective bargaining during his media availability prior to All-Star Saturday night," Silver said.

A year ago at All-Star weekend in Phoenix, Hunter joined Stern for a joint address as an indication of unity heading into the bargaining process. On Friday, Hunter said he had not received a similar invitation for this year and didn't believe one would be forthcoming.

In his first public comments on the owners' proposal, Hunter cited a Jan. 29 story by in which a source detailed the owners' strategy to drastically reduce the length and amount of max contracts in the new CBA. The report, in which a team executive with knowledge of the bargaining process detailed the owners' belief that the players "need us more than we need them," only served to "inflame" the players, Hunter said. A particular quote from the article was read to the owners' negotiating committee and Stern during Friday's negotiating session at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas.

“If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” said the team executive, who spoke to on condition of anonymity for the Jan. 29 article. “Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.”

The article, and others written on the topic by other media outlets, was circulated to the players -- resulting in the 10 All-Stars going directly from All-Star media day interviews to join the bargaining session across town.

"What it really did was, it really inflamed a lot of the players," Hunter said.

The owners "sensed that this thing had gotten out of control a little bit because of the nature of the proposal that was sent, sort of like when you go for the jugular," Hunter said. "And then when we read stuff ... that they’re going to decimate the union and they’re going to do all these things, I kind of read that back to them and said, 'These are the kind of things that inflamed the players. You can't talk about how you’re going to destroy the union, you’re going to impose the same system that happened in the NHL. And the players came in and said, 'We don’t want to go that way.'"

Hunter said the owners "maybe underestimated the response, the blowback they were going to get from the proposal."

New details of the owners' proposal and their posture -- including their desire to agree to a deal before free agency begins July 1 -- emerged from Hunter's press conference, where he was joined by executive committee members Derek Fisher (president), Adonal Foyle, Theo Ratliff, Roger Mason, Maurice Evans, and Keyon Dooling. Committee member Chris Paul, on crutches as he recovers from knee surgery, attended the bargaining session but not the press conference.

The owners sought to reduce the players' current share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to a figure estimated by union sources to be 37 percent. This would be derived by deducting $1 billion of expenses from the $3.7 billion in annual revenue and then dividing it 50-50 between owners and players. The result, sources said, would be a loss of $750 million for the players in the first year of the new CBA.

The maximum length of contracts would be reduced to four years if a player re-signs with his current team and three years for other free agents from the current length of six years and five years, respectively. Annual raises would be reduced to 2-3 percent, down from 8 percent and 10.5 percent, depending on the contract.

Salary cap exceptions -- such as the Larry Bird exception, which allows teams to go over the cap to retain its own free agents -- would be eliminated. Guaranteed contracts would be dramatically curtailed, allowing only 50 percent of the first $8 million and 25 percent of the rest to be guaranteed, sources said. Contracts would be retro-fitted to conform to the new deal. On balance, the changes would cut roughly in half the maximum salary a top-shelf free agent like James or Wade would be able to receive. Hunter said such a deal would create a system where only two players per team make max money and the rest of the roster would be filled out by minimum-salary players.

"Pretty much everything that they could ever think of, at least in the 15 years I've been here, was in that proposal," Hunter said. "And so our position that it was a non-starter. That was the posture we took from the moment we arrived."

Since: Jul 27, 2009
Posted on: March 10, 2010 11:25 am

The owners *WILL NOT* Lower Ticket Prices!!!EOS

Fans are delusional to think that - the owners are determined to break the players, most of whom live high on their hog, and make more money, and not the players.  I think the owners were living high on their hog too, spending money like water for a bunch of average to below average players. The only good thing is eliminating the length and amount of guaranteed contracts. 

Since: Oct 15, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2010 9:28 am

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

Leave the NBA and do what SEC DOMINATES?

?  Lost me here bro.

Sure the NBA needs LeBron but LeBron needs the NBA just as equally.

Needed the NBA.  He has already established himself.  You realize he was offered over 50 million dollars to play over sea's?  Rightnow in his career the NBA needs him more than he needs them.  Im not stating opinion its just a fact.  Leagues around the world would pay an arm, and a leg to have Lebron play in their leagues, but why do that when you can play on the biggest stage in the world, and get your way?  Like i said, (and i think you dont realize it by your response) I DONT AGREE WITH IT, but it happens.

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2010 11:12 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

Leave the NBA and do what SEC DOMINATES?

Sure the NBA needs LeBron but LeBron needs the NBA just as equally.

Since: Jul 16, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2010 9:34 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

Dear NBA players, I know "you didn't ask to be role models," but you are nevertheless.

Since: Feb 13, 2010
Posted on: February 13, 2010 7:07 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

It's just business...

As a business owner myself, I know that there needs to be a salary structure with caps or the business will go bankrupt from ever increasing wages. Employers never make enough bottom line money (they take most of the risk and have to make the hard and necessary decisions so that everyone stays employed ) and employees never get paid enough (they could get hurt or shoot themselves  and never play again)...that is human want more.  Personally, I hope they go on strike and take that "off" time to rethink the league business model and the product they put on the floor ( go back to the original rules of basketball please). 

I would love to see the "stars" of the NBA start their own league and take all of the players that want to go with them...

When baseball went on strike I never returned as a fan ( I played for twenty years  )...

When football went on strike I found something else to do with my time and I loved football and to watch the Vikings...

Neither side will ever have what they want because they both want all of it...

So now they negotiate...I just wish they both would whine behind closed doors. Neither side will win anything by airing their differences to us "regular people". It is only entertainment.

I hope that you have the same indifference for rich (insert ethnicity here) guys as you do for rich white guys because they, most likely,  didn't earn their money through hard work and long hours either.

Since: Jan 17, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2010 5:51 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

not sure how many nba players have degrees but lets not overstate things here. fast food? well maybe some  but I think some could do sports stuff like coaching or working with kids in recreation or other careers in small or other business like many past players. I know some dont take education seriously  and some blow their money fast but some of them dont. a majority lack dcollege degrees ? any real stats on this? do 35% have degrees eventually? 22%?   64%. lets not prejudge and stereotype  here. yes, some of these guys are bb only , but that doesnt mean they couldnt find something else constructive to do . ok???? 

Since: Oct 15, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2010 5:41 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

Think about it carefully.  Anyone who owns an NBA team is a multi-millionaire in the first place, with wealth way beyond what the average person would attain in 100 lifetimes.

The majority of NBA players lack a college degree, and many would probably be working in the fast food industry if not for the fact that they can play basketball.

So to me, it's simple.  The owners don't need the players.  They will be just fine without them or the NBA itself.  They will still have millions upon millions of dollars, enough to last this lifetime and the next.

The players do need the owners.  Like I said, without basketball, half these guys would be on the street

Your talking personal life for the owners...even if the owner says screw it im getting out of here and sells his team, that team still exist, and the players still have leaverage.  Yes the owner doesnt need players to live their lives, but the NBA is a different story, and if you are an owner in the NBA you DO need the players that bring in the money.  The Lebrons, the Kobes, the Dirks, and so on are players that have a say in things that go on because of ticket sales, jersey sales, and any NBA merchandise with their name on it.  Im not saying its right, but thats just how it is.  If someone is bringing you in millions of dollars a year, you tend to cater to what makes them happy, or atleast try your best.   An owner can sell their team, and live their life any way they want, but that doesnt change anything that happens in the NBA.

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2010 5:11 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

Well put!!! I wish a larger  part of society made the same stand.  I haven't been to  an NBA game in 25 years.

Since: Jan 17, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2010 5:03 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

I like the hard cap idea and limiting the guaranteed years  for max contracts. too many teams are crippled by $20 million  end of contract years and they distort trades . maybe the big contracts could be reduced some and payment s  extended to the player for a afterplaying career annuity ( added to the present nba retirement program that I dont know much about but does exist) with medical care included. chris mullin can probably afford his own meds but did you see him limping in the celebrities game? ouch.  owners sign  big $ free agents to make $ from fans and win games. its not just a business to alot of us fans and players. but there are problems that both sides are going to have to compromise on. I have been a union member(not bb) since 71 and the players have to protect themselves-0 but the present contract system is unsustainable. and I for one would pay to see the 3- 10 players on each team play if the top 1-3 players went to Spain or wherever because I watch a TEAM play, ball hogs like soem oof these guys would have been kicked off the court where I grew up  on Indiana playgrounds. I think I can get 5   four million dollar players to play an entertaining game  and prefer that to the 22 illion dollar last yr guy(J O  ?) sandbaggin his team so he can finish out a $80 million deal. stlouispacer/stlouishawks

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2010 3:39 pm

LeBron, Wade join CBA talks; owners pull proposal

redhoff only mentioned the "white" owners about 3-4 times in his post. wonder what he thinks about this....when all else fails, play the race card. geez

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