Blog Entry

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

Posted on: May 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 7:04 pm
MIAMI – Driven by record TV ratings in the conference finals and worldwide interest in the Miami Heat’s quest for a championship, the NBA will embark Tuesday on a heavily anticipated NBA Finals. It should be good, and it better be. This could be the last competitive NBA event for a long time.

The Heat vs. the Mavericks promises the kind of drama that can cement a sport in the nation’s consciousness for years. And yet the league continues to face the very real possibility of a work stoppage, with the negotiating clock at T-minus 30 days and counting.

Publicly, the signals have been decidedly mixed since All-Star weekend in Los Angeles about whether a lockout – presumed inevitable for at least a year – can be averted. The rhetoric was significantly softened at All-Star weekend in February, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver made the most optimistic comments to date at the draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J., earlier this month, saying the “throttle is down” on efforts to hammer out a deal before the current one expires June 30.

But those olive branches subsequently were snapped in two by National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, who has described the owners’ revised proposal – in which they offered the non-offer of phasing in their draconian changes over several years – as worse than the original one. Last week, the NBPA filed an unfair labor practices charge against the NBA with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging, among other things, that owners have not negotiated in good faith or provided suitable financial proof of their claims that the league is losing hundreds of millions a year under the current system.

So where are we? Thirty days out from what would be a debilitating and foolish display of stubbornness by both sides, sources familiar with the negotiating climate say it isn’t time to panic – but that time is coming soon.

“If there’s going to be a deal, I would say there are tipping points," one person familiar with the negotiations told "One tipping point is June 30. Once you get past June 30, people are inclined to sit around until the next tipping point, which is September.”

While the two sides remain far apart on the issues of a hard cap, reduced player salaries and an eventual elimination of guaranteed contracts, they at least are in agreement that they are farther along in negotiations than they were prior to the 1998-99 lockout, which resulted in a 50-game season. But one of the people familiar with the talks said there has been less progress at this point than there was in 2005, when noxious lockout fumes were in the air and catastrophe was averted with a surprise agreement during the NBA Finals. The owners, clearly, are no longer celebrating that victory, since they are trying to detonate most aspects of the deal that was ratified at that time.

Representatives for the owners and players met for a small bargaining session last week in New York, and a larger session is scheduled when the Finals shift to Dallas for the middle three games next week. Despite immense differences, the dialogue has been consistent for weeks – proof that neither side likes its chances if the dispute follows the NFL path to the courts.

“I think everybody is taking every opportunity right now to see if something can be done without a whole lot of distractions and rhetoric,” a person familiar with the negotiations said.

Developments in the NFL lockout have affected the NBA talks in significant ways. The NFL players’ initial victory in having their decertification validated in court, followed by the owners’ victory in temporarily preventing the lockout from being lifted, has only underscored the notion that commissioner David Stern and Hunter do not want this negotiation taken out of their hands and into the hands of politically appointed judges they don’t know. In some ways, both understand they’ll get a better deal through negotiation between now and July 1 than they’ll get in a courtroom after months of negative publicity and venom.

A ruling on the NBPA’s unfair labor practices charge isn’t expected for 6-8 weeks, sources say, which means the owners may have to decide to impose a lockout without knowing the outcome of the ruling. But the NLRB charge, sources say, has more to do with leverage than outcome. By putting their complaints in writing, the players have put the onus on both sides to hold good-faith negotiations and exchange legitimate proposals until the current deal expires.

“It puts the onus on both sides not to stall,” said another person familiar with the bargaining talks.

Of more importance is a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the validity of the NFL lockout. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard June 3, with a ruling possible before the NBA lockout begins. If the appeals court upholds the portion of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that proclaimed the NFL lockout of a decertified union illegal, leverage in the NBA negotiations would swing significantly toward the players. At that point, the proverbial throttle would be pushed even harder toward a negotiated deal; why would NBA owners want to follow the same futile path through the courts that foiled their NFL counterparts?

A ruling in favor of the owners in the Eighth Circuit would shift the leverage to the NBA owners, and raise the chances of a lockout to a near certainty.

But while there is no disputing the communication and momentum, there are a few problems with comparing the NBA’s current situation to the NFL’s – or even the NBA’s in 1998 and 2005. As for the NFL comparison, legal experts believe the NBA owners would have a better case in the courts because they are claiming to be losing millions under the current system – and have provided audited financial statements and tax returns to prove it. NFL owners don’t claim to be losing money; they just want to make more.

As for comparing this to the NBA’s ’98 or ’05 negotiations, the NBA is in a different place than it was then. In ’98, salaries were out of control and the game was about to embark on the uncertain journey of life without Michael Jordan. In ’05, owners were looking for tweaks to the ’99 agreement. Now, they are looking to permanently and dramatically alter the landscape of the sport.

Which they most certainly will do with a prolonged lockout. They will forfeit the lofty place in the sports world that the NBA finally has attained after the golden era of Magic and Bird and the golden goose that was Jordan. The Finals begin in about 24 hours, but it’s T-minus 30 days and counting to the showdown that matters a lot more.

Since: Jan 8, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:56 pm

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

Personally I am rooting for the lockout/strike/call it whatever.
The NBA is boring, the only thing that is shown are slam dunks, posturing and the "come strong or don't come at all" BS
Give me the NCAA anyday of the week.  March Madness has it all over the NBA playoffs.  The NBA season is almost pointless.  There are too many teams that really do not have a chance at making the playoffs at all.  This season has had two tag lines.  Will Miami win the championship and will Dallas remove their tag as a good season team but playoff inept.
The NBA is 2 for 2 on this one.
Here is another group of professional athletes that if it were not for being able to play basketball they would not even get hired as a fast food assistant restaurant manager, even with the degree from Wherever U.  For the reality is that they can barely speak the English language, but sure do know how to speak "street" which is where many of them would be if it were not for the value that the fan has placed on being able to play basketball.
Hopefully the fan will be the one to strike, along with the NFL season I hope that the FAN will decide that these idiots, owners and players alike do not deserve YOUR DOLLAR.

Since: Mar 19, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:00 pm

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

The pending lockout has nothing to do with money.  Every NBA owner's worth has significantly increased since they purchased their team.  Look at Cuban for instance, he purchased the Mavs for $260M in 2000 and today they are worth $460M.  Not a bad 10 year return< almost Mirrors Madoff numbers. 

The lockout is about limiting player movement and scrapping guaranteed contracts.  The Miami Heat is what the owners are trying to keep from popping up in 4 or 5 NBA cities.  Under the owner's most recent proposal, the Heat, Celtics, Knicks, Lakers, and Magic would have to shed at least one of their key players just to be able to be under the cap.  Then what?  They expect to force good lower 1st teir to high 2nd teir players to be anchors for franchises where they don't want to be?  Look, not too many urban youth have any desire to play in Utah, Mil, or Minn. Not many fans are interested in the NBA in Ind, Philly, NJ, and Charlotte.  Some other teams have just pretty much forefitted their right to have a team (Clippers).  The real answer to creating parity is to contract 4-8 teams and have an expansion draft to fill the remaining teams with real quality players, there by improving the overall product and increasing parity.  Imagine Blake Griffin playing with Chris Paul, Danny Granger, and Ben Gordon.  Or Tyler Hansboro backing up Amare in NY, or DJ Augstine backing up Billups.  This would also enable an expanded and more fluid NBDL.  That league could be a true farm club for the NBA team.  So Players can truly develop, and has the full interest and investment of the NBA and their owners.

This is, of course a pipe dream.  The blame will likely be put on the players, and we will either have limited change or a long lock out. 

Since: Oct 5, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 1:26 pm

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

I would love a full year lockout in the NBA.

One less year the Cheatles can win a title.

The Cavaliers would be in the lottery again with the second best chance at getting the number 1 pick.

Would absolutely love the NBA shooting itself in the foot.

Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:01 pm

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

Dang it!  I thought this was the NFL making progress on a CBA.   Oh well.. I couldn't care less if these over-paid, underacheaving thug-basketball players ever step foot on a court again.    Use replacement players out of college, run the league better, cut ticket prices and we will never have to hear the idiots of the NBA world ever again.. Bye bye .. James, Bryant, Garrnet, Howard, and all the rest. 

   You make way, way , way to much money, and you know it!

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:11 am

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

Biggie31,  Ticket prices are not related to playes salaries, if salaries go down the ticket prices will not go down.   You could get a ticket to a Washington Wizards game for $15 on a Wednesday with Student ID, because they were in last place and the seats woud be otherwise empty. 

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:07 am

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

While the two sides remain far apart on the issues of a hard cap, reduced player salaries and an eventual elimination of guaranteed contracts,  If these are the issues then we will be waiting for a while to get this done and less these issues make the NFL issues sound really small where I agree the owners are just greedy and believe they made a bad deal last time.

The real problem, mentioned later in the article is that each year there are about 6 teams that have a real chance for the NBA finals, about 20 teams with a chance for the playoffs, for 16 spots, and teams like Minnesota, Clippers, Wizards, 76ers, and a few others that have been really bad for a long time and it takes to long to get good.    I never blame a players for taking less money to move to a winning city in the NBA or MLB, the system is setup for that and it really must change so like the NFL any team is less than a fews away from potentially winning it all, even the Bengals went to the playoffs two years ago and lost a home game.

As a apathetic Wizards fan, I hope they can follow the NFL model of Hard Cap, shorter contracts (5 year max for supestars 3 year for everyone else) If they are that short then be guaranteed.   If every team is just a few years away from getting the next big free agent and player knows they can win then I suspect they will play in any city.   If people believe players go to the Lakers, Heat, Bulls because the city is nice remember top shelf free agents do not go to the Clippers, they do go the Green Bay Packers.   They did not go Chicago without Jordan or Rose.  

Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:44 am

The NBA Needs A Lockout To Survive

There's a fundamental difference between the NFL lockout and the upcoming NBA lockout.  Namely, the NFL lockout is purely about the greed of the owners.  The NFL is the richest sport in the United States, as well as the most popular.  In the NBA, however, the lockout will be a result of the players greed.  If you don't think the NBA's business model is currently irreparably flawed, consider this: the 2010-2011 season, by all accounts, has been the biggest and best single year the NBA has enjoyed since the Michael Jordan era.  That is unarguable. Yet for all the great TV ratings and national interest in the league this season, the NBA still lost a collective $300 million and 24 of 30 teams lost money.  As a huge fan of the NHL, I can tell you firsthand that the NBA needs a lockout to save the league.  It might sound crazy, but it's absolutely true.  The NHL took a major hit 7 years ago when they missed an entire season due to a lockout.  The league took that hit because they knew their business model would eventually lead to the ruin of the league.  Ever since they re-structured their business model, the NHL is thriving: attendance beats the NBA, very few teams are losing money, and the league itself is making a profit.  In fact, David Stern and the owners actually want to copy the NHL's business plan by installing a hard salary cap.  The NBA might be exciting to watch, but looking at it from a business perspective, it's dreadfully awful.  The lack of parity is as bad in the NBA as it is in any other pro sports league in the entire world.  The problems have nothing to do with lazy, spoiled athletes.  Nor does it have anything to do with terrible officials (even though this is the top argument among anti-NBA people).  The problem is that 3/4 of the league's franchises operate at a competitive disadvantage. 

Since: May 30, 2011
Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:51 pm
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Since: May 30, 2011
Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:40 pm
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Since: Mar 31, 2011
Posted on: May 30, 2011 10:06 pm

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

At some point players and owners need to start giving back to the fans. When it cost $250/seat for 12th row at a RAPTORS game something is wrong!! My wife and I paid over $1000 to watch 2 games in Toronto. The players and the owners are making way too much money while the average fan has to dish out half of their cheque if they want to go watch a game. Seriously does anyone need over $5 million/ season???!!! And lets not just blame the players, the NBA is charging a fortune for all merchandise and exploiting all of their players for HUGE profit. $120 for a Swingman jersey??? These owners and players need to think about the fans (who makes them all their money) and quit thinking about themselves!! GO DALLAS!!!

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