Blog Entry

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:19 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 2:35 am
NEW YORK -- The clock is stopped. Has the progress stopped, too?

After a 12-hour bargaining session that blew past an artificial deadline imposed by the league to reach a deal or pull its 50-50 proposal off the table, negotiators for the NBA and its players' association will convene again Thursday with what commissioner David Stern described as a "copious" list of issues to resolve.

"There are many other issues, many other issues of importance," Stern said early Thursday, referring to issues in addition to the handful of unresolved system points on which the two sides failed to make significant progress -- even after the players had signaled a willingness to meet the league on the economics of a 50-50 split of revenues.

"It just behooves us to make sure that all of those issues are put on the table, together with all of the system issues, together with the economic split, and see whether there can emerge from that rather lengthy list the ability to make a deal," Stern said. "Right now ... we're not failing and we're not succeeding."

Though union officials disputed the media's characterization of their economic stance, it was clear after Tuesday's players' meeting that the players were open to coming down from their previous offer in which they'd proposed receiving a 51 percent share of basketball-related income (BRI). Union president Derek Fisher had made clear that, in return for that willingness to negotiate further on the economics, it was expected that the league relax its position on several system-related deal points -- chiefly dealing with additional penalties for repeat offenders above the luxury tax, a prohibition of sign-and-trade transactions for tax teams, and the size, length and frequency of mid-level signings for tax teams.

But despite another dose of optimism in the agent and front-office community that the two sides were moving closer to a deal Wednesday, Fisher said there was "not as much (flexibiity) as we'd like" from league negotiators on the system issues.

"Obviously, we'd have a deal done if the right flexibiity was being shown," Fisher said. The bargaining session was arranged by Hunter and Stern after the players stared down the league's threat to replace its 50-50 offer with a 53-47 split in favor of the owners by 5 p.m. Wednesday. The so-called "reset" proposal also would revert to a hard salary cap and a rollback of existing contracts -- both elements of previous league proposals that had been negotiated away -- along with a litany of other draconian measures.

Stern said the league did not revert to that proposal Wednesday, but that it would happen whenever the current negotiating session came to an end if there was no deal.

"We weren't, in the middle of discussions, going to say, 'OK, we shouldn't have taken that break. Stop the clock, it's all over,'" Stern said. "We're trying to demonstrate our good faith and I think that the union is trying to demonstrate its good faith."

But the league's position Wednesday on the system elements the players have said they need in order to justify a 50-50 economic split -- which would shift $3 billion to the owners over 10 years and account for all $300 million in the league's stated annual losses -- was not one that siginified a give-and-take approach.

"They don't want to give," a person briefed on the talks said. "They just want to take."

The key point entering this latest round of talks -- perhaps the last round before either a deal is struck or the process is launched into the chaos of union decertification and anti-trust action -- was whether league negotiatiors would concede enough on the remaining system elements to create a deal that the union leadership can feel comfortabe presenting to its approximately 450 players for a vote.

But a comment from deputy commissioner Adam Silver painted a sobering portrait of defiance.

"The competitive issues are independent of the economic issues," Silver said. "Our goal is to have a system in which all 30 teams are competing for championships and, if well managed, they have an opportunity to break even or make a profit. We don't see the ability to break even or make a profit as a tradeoff for the ability to field a competitive team. All of those issues are still in place."

Since: May 10, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:09 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

Thanks for doing the math lee.  Excellent post! post.

Since: May 10, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:03 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

I am not usually one to Bash Berger... until now. The general idea behind journalism, from a laymans' POV is that it should be a neutral narrative of the facts of the situation.  The use of the term draconian measures is clearly a term of inflammatory rhetoric regarding issues of negotiations.  No doubt remains in my mind that Berger is sympathetic to the players association.  From the POV of a business person the owner of a NBA team has to ask himself if he could make more money with less effort by investing in bonds or real estate versus owning a professional sports team.  When the factors of personnel/benefits becomes uncontrollanble to the point that the question of economics is doubtful one has to make a change.  At this time the value of selling a franchise is diminished,  In order to recoup that value the cost of operations has to be reduced.  The overwhelmingly largest cost of operations is "wages and benefits".  All the arguments of publicly financed arenas and previously negotiated contracts are emotional and therefore not even relevant to the bott0om line known as "profit".  If you can't make a reasonable profit on an enormous investment then you might as well look elsewhere to invest your wealth.  It is a selfish POV when looked at from another POV but it is the reality of business.  The players have no problem holding out when they feel the need for more respect in the terms of CASH and they excuse themselves with their fanbase saying it is just business.  Well NBPA, don't take this as a matter of no respect for your "talents"  it is just business.

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:47 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

What's lost in all this is how will all of this wheeling and dealing improve the product put on the floor? And will it somehow make it less costly for fans to attend games?

If these aren't part of the improvements, then the fans will not attend any more than they have in the past. Of course, the NBA doesn't seem to worry much about what the fans want anyway, so I guess nothing will change anyway.

Since: Nov 3, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:40 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

It is very dificult to determine who is going to win the battle but lose the war. The players are not united and the owners are divided between hard liners. It is a mess! Money is the rule of all evil. Let's get back to the basic of sports and realize the values of the game. So what if the BRI favors one or the other. 50/50 should be suffecient for both parties. They all need to stop this dog and pony show and man up and get a deal done.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:11 pm

'Not failing means still looking

Not succeeding is not the end. Thomas Edison has over 1,100 failures in trying to invent the light-bulb before he got it right. The NBA has hundreds of hours of negotiating with a brick wall but is still trying - bless them. How do they get through to the union? One way is to let them decertify which means they are without Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher. Then they will deal with Jeffrey Kessler. Piece of cake! The players have not given back $3B in these negotiations. Just like the Federal government they spin everything downstream as if the economy will suddenly grow at 5% again. In their dreams. In going from 57% to 50% the reduction is $266M against a $300M loss. You have to compare apples with apples. The BRI is $3.8B. Until that actually grows it is the standard for measure. 7% of $3.8B = $266M. You can do the math. I can do the math. Berger cannot do the math. Let the players vote! The union and Kessler (racist comments and all) are damaging the game and the league and risking their future for what? Ego? That is what they are saying - they want respect. Well the country does not respect either side that prevents games and seasons from being played. At present the owners are offering economics that still lose them money. The players better get right on this a take the deal. The owners who actually want a chance to earn a profit will likely prevail beyond this point.

Since: Oct 28, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 6:36 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

I blame the owners for not caring about the players by not giving them what they want because all 30 teams need money to spend on players that want to play for them, so that teams can compete for championships.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 5:14 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

The NBPA demands are unreasonable...and un-achievable. They need to take THAT back to the players for a vote. 

Why should owners be expected to willingly lose money ? It's dillusional.

DO you know any business that is willing to pay $2.25 Billion in salaries and maintain a $400 million franchise, TO LOSE $100 million a year ? I don't...but THAT is where the players "negotiation" limit is, so far. It's why the lockout continues. 

Where does the NBPA expect the "give and take"  to be in a $300 million loss ?  The players have to GIVE, and the owners have to TAKE back, ALL $300 million a year JUST TO BREAK EVEN.

Players don't understand the simple "line in the sand" is the profit margin ??

Owners WILL NOT sign up for any more agreements of guaranteed salary to players if they come with a GUARANTEED LOSS for the franchises. The ultimatum is- players need to give back another $100 million a year (about $300 K per player) if they want to go back to work.  

They can't do better anywhere else, but they still refuse to take an average of a 6% pay cut making $5 million a year. That means the average salary goes down to "only" $4.7 million a year...they can't live on THAT ?? 

These simple facts don't take 12 hours to matter HOW stupid the audience is... The players are attempting an armed robbery with the gun pointed at their own heads. It's time the owners told them to go ahead and shoot.

A fool and his money are lucky to have ever gotten together in the first place.

Cancel the season. Cancel next year's season, too... Let the players start shelling out millions for lawyers without drawing a paycheck...chasing a settlement they can't win...and in the end, they'll finally understand how the owners felt running the NBA that way since the last CBA.

Since: Apr 14, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:12 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

I agree that people should stop banging on Berger.  The man is just doing his job, reporting about any movement in these negotiations.  Unfortunately, it looks like they will close a deal and there will be NBA.  I would prefer that the owners and players detonate the season, but we can't always get people to do the right thing.

Since: Nov 29, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:02 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

Owners Using Good Cop Bad Cop Negotiation Strategy

Looks like the owners are spinning it  that there are hard line owners (bad cops) who want the players to take 47%  so the players should negotiate with Stern and the moderate owners (good cops) who would settle for a 50-50 split.

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:00 pm

'Not failing, not succeeding' ... and not dealing

Everybody should stop hating on Berger.  Can you imagine having to write about the NBA everyday?  It's not his fault this league is a snooze fest.  Maybe he could write about curling, the Olympic kind, not the cool kind like they play in Ireland.  Anything would be better than this nonsense.

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