Blog Entry

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:31 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 9:58 am
NEW YORK – A few thoughts on a very important day for the NBA:

• What does it mean that commissioner David Stern is giving mediator George Cohen one day to solve all the league’s problems before breaking away for two days of Board of Governors meetings? On one hand, it’s unrealistic that Cohen and his colleague, Scot Beckenbaugh, could do in one day what Stern and Billy Hunter haven’t been able to do in two years. On the other, it creates a sense of urgency – without which nothing ever gets done in negotiations. “That’s David’s style,” one league executive said. “He likes deadlines.”

• There are rumblings in the agent community and among team executives that the hawkish position of the players’ association – its line in the sand at 53 percent and inflexibility over competitive aspects of the system – is a recipe for doom. “Sad to say, but I think (the owners) just want to sit the season out,” one prominent personnel man said. The involvement of superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the negotiations two weeks ago shook some team executives who believed the two sides were on their way to a deal. “It baffles me that a union of 400 guys is fighting for one or two guys, whereas hundreds of guys are the ones taking the loss,” another team executive told

• Several executives fear that Hunter and union president Derek Fisher have been swayed by star players and their agents into taking a hard-line position that could be devastating to hundreds of rank-and-file players if the season were lost. “The thing that they’re fighting for right now is not the middle-of-the-road guy, and that's who you would think the union would be fighting for,” one of the executives said. “They’re fighting for the max guys right now or the max-to-be guys.”

• Longtime agent Steve Kauffman, a player agent during the 1998-99 lockout who now represents coaches and management executives, agrees that not enough time has been spent examining how much money and system flexibility could be freed up by reducing max contracts. “The deal is there to be made,” Kauffman said. “It's ridiculous. The main thing is, tell me what the max salaries are going to be. Because if you want to really help your union, who does the union represent? Whose interests are they protecting? If it's supposed to be everybody, then you've got to strike a balance.”

• Among the negotiating points that the league has said it’s conceded is the initial goal of curtailing the size and length of max contracts. Kauffman believes that’s gotten in the way of getting a deal. “You can make the argument that the stars deserve to be paid 75 or 80 percent of the payroll,” Kauffman said. “But if the max got a 15 percent cut, there would be more room to do those contracts that (the agents) are complaining they can't do. … The superstars are always going to get theirs through endorsements and other avenues.”

• Does this point about max salaries bear out in the math? A 15 percent reduction in future max salaries would represent only 1 percent of BRI annually – about $54 million based on the 21 players who currently make $15 million or more. But over a six-year deal, that’s roughly $325 million – the difference between a players’ share of 52 percent, which sources indicate the union would accept, and 51 percent, a figure that owners likely also would agree to. If the league’s biggest stars took a pay cut, or at least agreed that future max contracts would be reduced by 15 percent, the difference could easily be made up by giving those players a bigger share of licensing money, which currently is divided equally among the players regardless of whether you’re Kobe with millions in jersey sales or Sasha Vujacic, whose only jersey sale likely was transacted by his finance, Maria Sharapova.


• Some small-market executives are fearful that the amnesty provision being negotiated will turn out to be only another advantage for big-market teams. The provision would allow teams to release an underperforming player and spread the money left on his contract over twice the years remaining, plus one, for cap purposes. One small-market GM envisions this provision being used by big-market teams to collect players cast off by small-market teams. "It's a great idea until Baron Davis goes to Miami," the GM said.

• Do not underestimate the owners' obsession with creating a competitive system that mimics the NFL, through whatever vehicle gets them there. 
"In the NFL, every team has a chance," one team executive said. "That's what makes it great, and we don't have that. We're like Euro League. Until we have revenue sharing and a hard cap, we not going to be a fair league." 

• One final note on the two weeks of games that have been canceled so far. Given reports that league scheduling guru Matt Winick is working on a host of contingency plans, including an 82-game schedule that would begin Dec. 1, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that those games are lost forever. Of importance Tuesday in the mediation session with Cohen is that those games could enter the equation as a valuable bargaining chip. If the two sides reach another impasse on the BRI split, they could be enticed to move closer by getting back the $200 million each side “lost” when those games were canceled.


Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:41 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

I am all for what the owners want to do. The players don't need guaranteed contracts. They should learn that to get paid, you need to perform. What a concept! One that us normal people face everyday in our lives.

That way, you don't have deadweight on your ballclub like Luke Walton on the Lakers, and these other stiffs around the league. I'm a Laker fan and I know the new system doesn't favor the Lakers and I'm allright with it because it's hard to feel like your team is really the champs when you have an unfair advantage in revenue over 3/4 of the league.

That is one reason why I don't understand Yankee fans.

By making things equal, this will force my beloved Lakers to have to really know how to draft and that will force them to get the dead weight of Mitch Kupchek out of the front office.

The Owners will tank this season and that will break the players union and that way they can fix the NBA in the same way the NHL did to the players in that league.

So, don't expect any basketball this season. But when it comes back, it will be better then ever. 

Since: Sep 29, 2009
Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:58 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

  I would say the one group of people that make pro athlets sympathetic is pro sports owners.  Players get paid what the market bears, one that is actually artificially limited by the CBA, why exactly are owners entitled to anything?  Few of them pay for the arena the event is held in even if they do they get public financing to help pay for it.  Something tells me if more teams were run like the Packers we wouldn't be having this problem but instead we have a league that is being torn down by a couple of clowns who want to run their teams like the Bengals because they paid their money to belong to the club.

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:42 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

This all centers around one thing Greed. And its stupid pointless greed at that. They are crying because they wanna get paid more for playing a GAME. Guess what happens to the world is Lebron or Kobe disappear? NOTHING. Their is always someone waiting to take your place. I agree that sports as a whole make alot of money and offer alot of people jobs who might not have one otherwise in these times. But the selfish me me me greed from all sides of all leagues of sports has to stop. Doctors make alot of money and they save lives yet they dont earn like a Sports figure. Cops. Firemen, The Us Army  i mean i can go on all day of more deserving people yet people wanna sympathize with an athlete who is still making money because he has a deal with Nike.  And lost in all this are rookies and benchwarmers who  still make plenty to live a comfortable life on but are being shunned by the PA of these sporting leagues. I dont feel bad for any professional sport because at the end of the day its a game and you choose to enter into that field and play a game. Stop trying to win my sympathies and my pity all you get from me is a big middle finger. My life aint so bad when i look at how all your life does is center around money and complaining about it. 

Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:32 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

Intersting thought you should also consider that the owners decided to overpay mediocre talent with over the top salaries so to say that they are good business men may be a bit off. You could arue that NBA owners and GM's are the worst business owner in all of sports. I could easily find 300 million in bad contracts that NBA owners signed player too. Just sayin

Since: Sep 29, 2009
Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:31 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

"Players need to shut up and go back to work, and start to show some appreciation for what they have, or just go away.   "

Are you kidding?  NBA-players=worthless.  Have you seen an NBADL game? Lebron and KG and Co make twice as much money outside the game as they do inside that is why they are telling the owners to take a hike.  More than half the NBA teams are leveraged that is why the owners are crying about a deal they designed.  The NBA players have more cash on hand than most of the owners.  Sure players might not make money but most have made a plenty and knew this was coming for 2 years how about owning a 350 milllion dollar worthless asset that you owe 325 million on?

Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:31 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

 The NBA LOST $300 million, and the owners are educated, experienced managers of a multi-billion dollar industry, which begs the question, who is really stupid here ?
Well the players agreed to come down from 57% to 53% of the BRI. That's over a BILLION dollars they just put in the owners pockets....which is way more than enough to offset the "supposed" $200-$300 million that the NBA lost last year. I find it hard to believe that the NBA is losing that amount of money when television ratings were the highest in league history last season. Fan interest was at an all time high and now they want to tear it down?

Since: Jun 5, 2009
Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:53 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

Best comment I've seen, Redsfan!

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:24 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

The NBA players made over $2 BILLION just in salaries last year. That's about $5 million per player on average...or $50,000 per IQ point. The NBA LOST $300 million, and the owners are educated, experienced managers of a multi-billion dollar industry, which begs the question, who is really stupid here ?  The 2 dozen players that are holding all this up already have made enough money to last a family of 30 forever, and owners can go back to whatever made them billionaires before they made a bad investment in the NBA...

The people that are really in trouble here are taxpayers that paid for arenas, employees of the franchise and spinoff businesses, advertisers that have paid LeBron and Kobe millions for shoes that aren't selling, ticket holders, scalpers. and the uneducated, immature, players that made $5 million last year, but have a $12 Million mortgage and $6 million worth of cars that aren't paid for and 5 bimbos that want their $1 mil back child support, and are being represented by a players union that aren't looking out for them or the NBA- they're only pimping for the NBA's top 20 endorsement recipients. 

  95% of players couldn't make a fraction of the NBA salary in Europe, China or by going back to bartenders school... much less in a league they finance and "run" themselves. They'll be willing to go back to work for half what they make in a year, and would still be grossly overpaid. The NBA has been patient far too long. They need to break this off in the NBPA's arse, and make business good for business again. At least they employ more people than an agent, a lawyer and a pool boy. 

Owners need to redraw they agreement, and open camps. Pay any outstanding contractual obligations, give players 10 days to report, and issue a 5 year suspension if they don't. Let them go on strike. I doubt LeBron's going to make a house payment for any of them. The NCAA has a whole new crop of future millionaires waiting for those disqaulifying grades. Most players would hustle back to the NBA faster than they ever did on defense.

Players need to shut up and go back to work, and start to show some appreciation for what they have, or just go away.   

Since: Sep 17, 2011
Posted on: October 18, 2011 3:31 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

It isn't just the price of a shoe or a basketball jersey that matters. It's the price of a game-day ticket. The price of a ticket for those who attend games needs to be brought in line with what the average fan can afford to pay. The quality of play on court simply doesn't justify current prices. All parties involved in these negotiations--players, owners, commissioner's office, even coaches--need to do some serious soul-searching as to where the league stands today and where it is headed.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:59 pm

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

i wonder if either side thinks of all the small and medium sized companies they will hurt and potential lead to Chapter 11.  i'm in the import/export business and I know a lot of the companies I'm talking about.  No this will not hurt as much as football but it will hurt

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