Blog Entry

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

Posted on: June 8, 2011 8:08 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 10:13 pm
DALLAS – Doom and gloom descended on the NBA’s labor negotiations Wednesday, with union officials revealing that the owners’ original insistence on a hard-cap system with shorter and non-guaranteed contracts has not changed during the 18 months since the bombshell proposal was made.

“There’s no hiding the fact that the main components of what we originally received in their proposal has not changed at all,” said Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association.

That proposal, submitted to the players in January 2010, called for nearly a 40 percent salary rollback derived from a hard-cap system that would eliminate guaranteed contracts, shorten contract length and cut annual raises by as much as two thirds. Despite counterproposals by each side since then and three bargaining sessions during the Finals – including nine hours in the past two days – there has been “little or no movement on the part of the owners,” said Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBPA.

Asked if the owners or their negotiators have directly informed players that they will be locked out July 1 if they do not accept these changes, Fisher said, “Yes they have. That’s the best way I can put it. It’s very clear that if we don’t agree to what we’ve been offered so far, we’re probably facing a lockout.”

The gloomy comments from union officials came a day after NBA commissioner David Stern stated that he was “optimistic” a deal could be achieved before the current agreement expires June 30. But given the negotiating details revealed by the players, it would appear clear that this optimism relates to Stern’s belief that the players will cave – not that a compromise will be reached.

So apparently, Stern misspoke when he said Tuesday the owners and players were continuing to negotiate in hopes of achieving a "breakthrough" in the talks. What he really meant was a breakdown in the players' insistence on keeping the system largely the way it is.

"Our owners are thoroughly united in the need for change and also completely behind our various proposals as we seek to compromise with the players," Stern said Wednesday.

But compromise on what? The date and time of the players' surrender?

Given that the players have filed an unfair labor practices charge against the owners, accusing them of not negotiating in good faith, NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler openly questioned whether the owners simply repeating their demands amounts to negotiation.

“We just are discouraged because there’s been so little movement from their side, which makes us wonder what their real intentions are,” Kessler said.

Stern tempered his optimism Wednesday, saying the two sides remain “very far apart. … Both sides have moved, but we’re not anywhere close to a deal.”

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s bargaining session, Hunter said one owner stated that he was pessimistic that a deal would be reached by the end of the month – a possibility that would result in a lockout, and presumably an anti-trust lawsuit from the players seeking to adopt the strategy implemented by NFL players, which is pending on appeal with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“I’m forced to share that sentiment,” Hunter said. “It’s going to be a difficult struggle.”

A formal counterproposal made by the players last week in Miami was countered by the owners this week – though each side agreed to put these verbal proposals in writing before meeting twice more next week. The first meeting will be Tuesday, in Miami if the NBA Finals requires seven games, or in New York if it doesn’t. Another session is scheduled for Friday in New York.

“As long as there’s negotiation, I’m optimistic,” Stern said. “If we were at a point where it didn’t pay to have negotiations, we wouldn’t be planning meetings for Tuesday and Friday of next week. Neither side is posturing.”

Knicks guard Roger Mason, a member of the players’ executive committee, emerged from Wednesday’s four-hour session and said, “This is going to be a scenario where the players are going to have to sacrifice. I think at the end of the day, owners are probably going to have to sacrifice as well.”

It hasn’t happened yet, and the clock is ticking toward labor Armageddon for a sport that is enjoying a new zenith of popularity and international interest. Shortly after union officials finished addressing the media at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, the NBA distributed a news release with the latest astronomical TV ratings for the NBA Finals – which through four games are averaging 15.5 million viewers, the most-watched Finals since 2004.

“The owners say that they don’t want their own game if the players won’t agree to radically change the system,” said Kessler, who also is litigating the NFL labor dispute, which is bogged down in the federal courts. “It’s an odd position when the game is the best it’s ever been, when the ratings are the highest they’ve ever been, when the excitement is the greatest it’s ever been. It’s sort of odd to see the owners say, ‘We’re going to destroy this game unless you change this whole system.’”

Since their initial proposal, the owners have proposed phasing in their draconian changes, a concession that was not viewed as such by the players, since a hard-cap system would by definition require grandfathering in existing contracts that do not fit under the $45 million hard cap proposed by the owners. Stern's negotiators have proposed a two-year phase-in of their new system on a 10-year CBA. The players are not only adamantly opposed to a hard cap and 10-year deal, but also reluctant to accept what sources described as an 8 percent giveback in Year 1, a 13 percent giveback in Year 2, and a 39 percent reduction in salaries thereafter under the phase-in compromise.

While sources say owners have yet to clearly explain their insistence on using a hard cap to bridge the approximately $750-$800 million gap between the two sides, the players have proposed what appear to be little more than incremental changes that would leave most of the existing soft-cap/luxury tax system in place. The players' most recent proposal to accept a reduction in their 57 percent share of basketball-related income as revenues rise was described this week by Stern as "tiny" and insufficient to get a deal done.


Since: Apr 8, 2007
Posted on: June 9, 2011 7:53 pm

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

Now I don't know all the legalities of contracts, but I see the biggest difference between the NFL lockout and the NBA (potential) lockout. The NBA players could possible head over seas if this situation happens. You don't really hear of the players going there, they are usually low tier unknowns, but If the lockout happens what's stopping a player like Lebron or Kobe from going there for a season or two?
 The NFL doesn't really have an established over seas compatriot. Wasn't before Lebron signed with the Heat supposedly a Russian basketball team owner was trying to get over to his team? I think The NFL players are having a harder time than NBA players if a lockout happens.

Actually while looking for the link I came across another saying about 15% of NBA players going over seas. here it is.

Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: June 9, 2011 1:46 pm

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

Some markets just can't support a professional franchise. It's not the league or an owner's responsibility to absorb millions in losses simply to have a team in a small market. Sure, it would stink if you lived there, but there's already plenty of small market that have no team. Does the NBA have an obligation to expand there too? The NBA & its owners want & are entitles to be able to make a profit. The NBA isn't a charity for players & fans.

Since: Mar 22, 2008
Posted on: June 9, 2011 1:23 pm

Pay players what they are worth!

Every job in life is a gamble. And so is the NBA. Right now all the risk is being assumed by the owners. With the current system a player is paid years after they are medically unable to do so. How many teams have had their short and even long term future go down the drain by an elite player coming up lame. I am totally fine with large salaries but there needs to be some way a team can strive to be competitive when their players can no longer perform at the level their contract is paying them for. I see nothing wrong with an upfront signing bonus and a non-guarenteed contract. If you can perform, you get the large contract with a signing bonus that protects you against the team just dumping you. Every team has players they wish they could shed. If they could, the team could be more competitive. Every player wants to re-negotiate when they are outplaying their contract. The owners should be given the same right when a player is not living up to the contract.

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 12:31 pm

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

I don't understand why so many players are so opposed to the non-guaranteed contract aspect of a hard-cap system. As seen in the NFL, players will get some sort of guaranteed bonus money up front. There will also be more turnover.

Simple. Some guaranteed money isn't the same as all guaranteed money. Sure, the stars will get some slack, but for most players, they're out the door the instant they have a year that doesn't live up to their contract status, and their next paycheck will be a 1-2 year deal at a fraction of the price. I mean if the Pistons could get out Charlie Villanueva's $8 million per year for three years deal right now they would, and the next team would probably only pay him backup money. Charlie V loses probably $16 million in that scenario over the next 3 years, minimum. And that's just one player. I'm not here to argue whether a hard-cap system would be good or bad for the league, merely to show why the players would be so against it.

The difference is, the NFL markets itself around its teams and the NBA markets itself around its star players. It doesn't do for NBA teams to have 35% roster turnover every single year like the NFL typically does. If you're going to have a cap at all, it should be a hard cap because that takes away one of the advantages that the big market teams are using to beat in the heads of the small market teams. The answer isn't contraction. No fan deserves to lose their team. The answer is to give the smaller market teams a way to actually keep a star player, or at least acquire quality complimentary pieces, so that the teams are competitive and viable in more cities.

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 12:21 pm

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

im all for no guaranteed contracts in the nba.  it would clean up the owners mistakes. a lot of players in the nba get a nice contract and are content to just jog up and down the court.  win or lose they, don't care.  just think if the players actually had to perform up to their contracts standard?  wow, there could be some good basketball played.  

another thing that would help this lousy sport is a change in the way stern markets the nba.  you can't focus on new york, boston, la, and miami forever. that's why the other teams are so alienated right now with marginal support. 

third, get rid of the organ music and recorded chants during the games.  that is so cheesy and distracting.    

Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:58 am

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

The owners will eventually win, because they'll have a more united perspective than the players. Yes there's some big-market versus small market owner disagreements, but the difference in perspective between the elite & journeyman players is much bigger.

I don't understand why so many players are so opposed to the non-guaranteed contract aspect of a hard-cap system. As seen in the NFL, players will get some sort of guaranteed bonus money up front. There will also be more turnover. The money will be available. If you perform well, some team will pay you. You may have to switch teams every 2 or 3 years, but you'll get paid. I think a hard-cap would be great for the NBA. A $45mil hard cap is just ridiculous though. Keeping the cap at $58-$60mil & just make it hard(er) is reasonible. Cutting it by about 25% & making it hard is crazy talk.

Ultimately, the NBA needs contraction. Stars teaming up & big market teams in the playoffs are obviously great for ratings. So get rid of some of the unprofitable, small-market teams. Contract 4 teams, expand the roster size of the remaining teams (e.g. require a minimum of 13 players instead of 12), and add a portion of the money the contracted teams would have spent on players to the cap of the remaining teams. TV revenue is split into fewer pieces, only a few player jobs are lost, and everybody wins. Say the Hornets, Kings, Timberwolves & Bucks were contracted (not sure if they're the least profitable or not). Then through a dispersal draft (worst to first) in which teams need the cap room to absorb a player's existing contract, player's from those contract teams find their new home. Say Cleveland plucks Kevin Love (don't have cap space to fit Chris Paul) to pair with Kyrie Irving. Raptors grab Chris Paul, Wizards pair Bogut with Wall, Clippers scoop up Rubio to feed Griffin, Nets tab Gay to run the wing alongside Deron Williams, etc. Any players not picked up (because their salary is cost prohibitive) gets bought out by the league & becomes a free agent. All of a sudden, the quality of the game is that much better. There's parity along with multiple top players playing together. It's a Win-Win.

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:03 am

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

Some moron said that the NBA "dominates the winter sports scene". The winter period is Dec 21 - Feb 21. The NFL and NCAA bowl season are the prime attractions from Dec 21 all the way through the Super Bowl. That leaves three weeks of February, which is dominated by NCAA basketball through the end of February. And March is ALL college basketball. So please explain once again how the NBA "dominates" the winter. The NBA has woeful television ratings. Woeful. The NBA has a very defined segment of the viewing market, just like the WNBA.

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 9:29 am

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

The difference between this labor situation and that of the NFL is that the soft cap has allowed the players to get far more than their allotted share of the revenue, so there is a very legit reason for the owners to want some of it back.  The problem is asking to eliminate guaranteed contracts is simply telling the players that if we (the owners) make stupid decisions, we want the right to rescing them.

Basically all of the salary issue woes in the NBA are because the owners give ridiculous contracts to the likes of Ben Gordon, or one-side-of-the-court stars like Carmello Anthony, then want the players to pay for the owners' lack of responsibility.  How about instead of legislating this you (the owners) just stop acting so stupidly, and if an owner consistently shows he cannot manage a franchise he/she has to sell the team?

I am sure there are plenty of billionaires who could do a much better job than some of these clowns without causing a huge CBA rift.

Since: Apr 27, 2011
Posted on: June 9, 2011 12:35 am

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

The problem on both sides seems to be greed. The owners are making money off the talents of players, so naturally the players want as much money as possible. The owners as business men want to make as much profit as possible. Thus we have the greed and the big stand still. If the league is losing money, how can they afford thes big salaries? If they truly are losing money why arn't the players willing to take a pay cut in order to keep their jobs and avoid the work stoppage? None of it makes sense. Lost in all this is the fans. Have they considered that maybe they are losing money because no one can afford the rising ticket costs, higher parking, concessions? With rising gas and grocery prices, layoffs and the overall ecconomy many can't afford to go to games. Don't make it worse by having a lockout over small details. Learn from what's going on by the lockout in the NFL. Learn from what happened in baseball. After that strike many fans never came back. Don't forget the fans. Work it out. Don't let greed consume you. Less pay would not be the end of the world. Look what the rays did with a smaller payroll in baseball. For the Love of the game, and the fans, don't be greedy, work it out, compromise.

Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2011 9:18 pm

Players: 'No change at all' in owners' demands

I've long stated my since belief that the owners will not have the courage or guns to truly fight for a hard salary cap.  The alleged disintegration of today's labor talks is a great thing for NBA fans.  While a prolonged work stoppage would hurt the NBA, the league has the benefit of being permanently more popular than the NHL.  So, no matter how long a lockout would occur, the NBA will still dominate the winter sports scene.  What is also interesting about the hard cap talk is that David Stern finds himself in a bit of a catch-22.  Why?  Because Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, and Gary Bettman have much easier jobs.  They can wake up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror, and say honestly that the more parity their leagues have, the better their leagues are.  David Stern can't say that.  He has said for months that he wants all 30 NBA teams to have a chance to win a title.  Right now, that is not the case at all.  In fact, realistically, only about 1/4 of all NBA teams have any hope of winning a title.  But, since the NBA's business model is so heavily reliant on playoff TV ratings, Stern needs the most popular teams and the biggest stars to be the ones making deep playoff runs.  What this means is that increased parity could actually hurt the NBA.  The Spurs are proof of that.  The condundrum is: is Stern willing to fight for a hard cap for increased parity and better league-wide distribution of superstar players?  The plus is that it would help the league financially.  This year, despite how "great" the league was, 22 of 30 teams lost money.  The negative of more parity is that you may get unsexy, non-traditional teams (like the Spurs) making deep playoff runs and perhaps winning titles.   

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