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Tag:All-Star Weekend
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:56 pm
 

Stern anoints Silver as successor

ORLANDO, Fla. – David Stern proclaimed Saturday night what has long been assumed but never confirmed: He will recommend deputy commissioner Adam Silver to succeed him as commissioner when he retires.

“One of the things that a good CEO does -- and I try to be a good CEO -- is provide his board with a spectacular choice for his successor,” Stern said during his annual All-Star news conference. “And I have done that. And that's Adam.”

Stern, 69, reiterated what he said after the collective bargaining agreement saving a 66-game season after a 149-day lockout was finalized: He will not be commissioner when both sides have the opportunity to opt out of the deal in 2017. Beyond that, he placed no timetable on his departure, but said he would have the discussion with owners “very soon.”

Silver has been deputy commissioner and chief operating office since 2006 after serving for more than eight years as president and COO of NBA Entertainment. He has played a key role in negotiating the league’s last two broadcast rights agreements and the last four collective bargaining agreements with the National Basketball Players Association – and also created NBA China as a stand-alone entity. Silver, who also played a key role in delivering the league’s public message to the media during the lockout, was asked during Stern’s news conference how prepared he is for the job. He smiled and slid the microphone in front of Stern.

“He’s a first-rate, top-of-the-class executive,” Stern said.

Stern's recommendation of Silver would have to be approved by the league's Board of Governors.

Among the other news Stern made Saturday night:

• Negotiations in Orlando involving the league, city of Sacramento and the Maloof family on achieving a funding plan for a new arena before a March 1 deadline has “several remaining points that may or not be bridged,” Stern said. The talks will continue Sunday, and Stern said the issue is coming up with additional funding necessary to pay for the project. “Life is a negotiation,” he said. “… It’s getting there, but it’s just not there yet. And we’re looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap.”

• He confirmed that there is a leading candidate to purchase the New Orleans Hornets and that the league is “optimistic that we will make a deal” in the next “week or 10 days.” There is a second group that is “in sort of second place,” Stern said, “waiting to see how we do with group one.” Both groups would keep the team in New Orleans, where the city is continuing to negotiate an arena lease extension upon which the ownership deal is contingent.

• Stern confirmed that he has spoken with Seattle investor Chris Hansen, who is spearheading support for an arena to attract a team and replace the Supersonics, who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. “It sounded OK to us,” Stern said of Hansen’s plan. “Go for it. That’s all.” But Stern acknowledged that the plan would require that “we have a team that we could put there.” As arena funding talks with Sacramento and the Malodors continue, one might view Stern’s enthusiasm about the prospect of a return to Seattle as a leverage point in that negotiation.

• Stern alluded to increased attendance, TV ratings and sales, but didn’t give specifics. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said earlier in the day that Stern has told him attendance and merchandise sales are up, and that Silver told him in a recent meeting that league revenues are expected to increase more than pre-lockout projections. “Everything is good,” Stern said.

• Asked whether the NBA would consider aiding teams that lose superstars to free agency, such as host city Orlando is facing with Dwight Howard, Stern said, and “No. Why should we? … We have a system that has a draft that basically tells a player where he’s going to play in this league when he’s drafted, and a further system that has a huge advantage to the team that has him. Our players could play for seven years for a team they didn’t choose. And we think that’s a system, but not a prison. ... I'm sure Dwight will make a good and wise decision for him."

• Stern shot down the notion of adding expansion teams in North America (as if there aren’t too many teams already). But he wouldn’t rule out overseas expansion in the next 10 years, deferring the topic to silver, who said, “We’ll see.”

• Stern took issue when asked to evaluate his decision, when acting in his capacity as the owner of the Hornets, to disallow the trade that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. “There’s no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says, ‘Go ahead with it.’ And in the case of New Orleans, the representative of the owner said, ‘That’s not a trade we’re going to make.’” “But that representative was you?” Stern was asked. “Correct,” he said. “And was that the right move to make?” “Buy a ticket and see,” Stern said. “We’ll see how it works out.”

• Asked about reports that shoe companies are trying to steer their star clients to bigger markets – a reference to Adidas’ relationship with Howard – Silver said the league does not have jurisdiction over shoe companies. “But we have looked into it, and we have been assured by the two major shoe companies in the league that the incentives they build into contracts are based on winning as opposed to market size,” Silver said.

• On Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American whose sudden emergence with the Knicks has spawned intense global interest, Stern said, “I just think it’s the universal story of the underdog stepping forward.”
Posted on: February 24, 2012 6:25 pm
 

NBA to make 13-man rosters permanent

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NBA’s competition committee voted Friday to make the transition rule allowing teams to dress and play 13 players permanent and to shorten and streamline the waiver period, said Stu Jackson, the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

The roster rule was approved unanimously by the committee consisting of league and team executives and will be recommended to the Board of Governors for formal adoption pending approval by the players’ union. The waiver period, currently 48 business hours during the season and seven days from the end of the season until August 15, would be changed to 48 hours year-round, including weekends.

The long-held practice of the league maintaining three daily waiver reporting times – 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET – would be replaced by a single daily reporting time of 5 p.m. ET, Jackson said. The changes could take effect as soon as this summer.

The roster rule initially was employed with the intention of allowing teams to dress 13 players but only play 12. It was subsequently decided that all 13 who dressed would be able to play. The committee voted Friday to recommend making the rule permanent.

“It just makes more sense for our teams,” Jackson said.

One team representative made what Jackson characterized as a “somewhat humorous” proposal that actually might achieve the league’s goal of shortening games: Penalize players for moving around the lane area and slapping fives after free throws. The committee didn’t pass that proposal, but adopted an informal recommendation that in extreme cases – such as a player walking to half court to high-five after a free throw – the team should be assessed a delay-of-game warning.

“It’s more of a referee interpretation,” Jackson said.

Jackson made the usual presentation on the quality of play, including the fact that scoring is down -- from 99.3 points per team per game at this point last season to 95.0. About half the difference can be attributed to fewer fouls, fewer free-throw attempts and lower free-throw percentage, Jackson said. Free-throw attempts are down 2.3 per team per game, fouls are down 2.7 per game and points from free throws are down 2.1 per game.

“Possessions are down very slightly, we’re not shooting the ball as well and then there’s the cumulative effect of what happened before the season,” Jackson said. “You had a shortened preseason, you don’t have as much time to prepare, and teams are going deeper into their bench and playing the 10th, 11th and 12th guy more.”

The committee also viewed a presentation on player tracking, a technology that digitally illustrates every movement a player makes during a game -- such as how high they jump when getting a rebound and how much space is between the shooter and defender, and how shooting percentage varies with that space. About 10 teams currently use a version of this technology to evaluate players, and the committee discussed the idea of someday providing it at the league level to all teams.

“That won’t happen for quite a while, but it’s certainly worth monitoring,” Jackson said.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:20 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 2:25 am
 

Stern offers 72-game season, few alternatives

NEW YORK -- The NBA made its last offer that will contain a 50 percent revenue share for the players Thursday night, and commissioner David Stern shifted the pressure to the union by tantalizingly attaching the possibility of a 72-game season starting Dec. 15.

"There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating, and we are," Stern said.

The players, expressing disappointment that the league did not respond with more system compromises after they'd signaled their willingness to accept a 50-50 revenue split, will bring the proposal to their player reps Monday or Tuesday to see if they will recommend the proposal to the union membership for a vote.

"The idea ... is to sit down with them and say, ‘You sent us out to get something, here’s what we’re coming back with,'" said Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. "'Now let’s sit down and decide what our next option is, what are we going to do.'"

The players' options are few, and none of them particularly appealing. They can put the deal to a vote, and if passed, they would be locked into a proposal that is an unmitigated victory for the owners -- one that shifts $3 billion over 10 years from the players to the owners and also dramatically restricts the rules governing team payrolls, player contracts and player movement. If the player reps tell the union leadership they want to reject the proposal, then Stern said the league's negotiating position will revert to a 47 percent share of revenues for the players along with a hard team salary cap and rollbacks of existing contracts -- the so-called "reset" proposal whose introduction at 5 p.m. Wednesday was delayed while the two parties bargained for 23 hours over the past two days.

"We have made our revised proposal," Stern said, "and we're not planning to make another one."  

Another outcome likely will begin to unfold Friday before the union even decides whether to accept the proposal -- and would continue to progress regardless of the outcome of next week's player rep meeting: Agents dissatisfied with the deal the union has negotiated and the intransigence of league negotiators already have more than 200 signatures on decertification petitions which are ready to be submitted to the National Labor Relations Board requesting a vote to dissolve the union, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Such a move would threaten to torpedo whatever support there is among the union membership to approve the owners' offer, and if it resulted in the players deciding not to vote on the proposal or voting it down, could throw the 2 1-2 year negotiations into the chaos of an anti-trust lawsuit -- virtually guaranteeing that the 2011-12 season would be lost.

If the player reps recommend that the rank-and-file vote on the owners' offer, that process could be accomplished within a matter of days -- as could approval by the owners' Board of Governors. A decertification vote would not be scheduled by the NLRB for about 45-60 days -- if the agency authorizes the vote at all. Typically, it does not do so when there is a pending unfair labor practices charge filed by employees.

Ultimately, the purpose of a decertification effort is securing an injunction or temporary restraining order from a federal judge as the result of an anti-trust lawsuit, which also would subject the league to the possibility of treble damages -- triple the players' economic losses resulting from the lockout. A faster route to the same outcome would be if union leaders stepped down via a disclaimer of interest, but that method faces a more difficult legal test in court.

If the owners' proposal passed, a new 72-game schedule would be drawn up -- deputy commissioner Adam Silver said those logistics already have been handled -- and a breakneck, one- or two-week free agency period would ensue along with shortened training camps and a limited preseason schedule. The marquee Christmas Day games would be preserved, and All-Star weekend would occur as scheduled Feb. 24-26 in Orlando.

"I'm hoping personally that's where we are now and we can get back to playing," Silver said. "But I understand from the union's standpoint it's a difficult pill to swallow right now. But that, once again, over time, we'll be proven right and this will be a better league for the players, the teams and the fans."

Union president Derek Fisher, sitting next to Hunter with several forlorn committee members standing behind him, seemed to hold out hope for a replay of what transpired over the past few days -- when the players successfully stopped the clock on Stern's Wednesday ultimatum to accept his previous proposal. After meeting with the reps, Fisher said the plan would be "either continue to negotiate currently from where we are or realize that maybe the NBA, this is their last, best offer and we’ll have to make decisions accordingly at that point."

Stern, who spoke with reporters after Fisher and Hunter, made it clear that the only choice was the one behind curtain No. 2.

"The negotiations are over," Stern said. "The negotiations on this proposal are over." 

Like most moves the league has made in the negotiations, which hit Day No. 133 Thursday since the lockout was imposed July 1, the characterization of this proposal as "revised" was a stretch, according to multiple people familiar with it. Among the tweaks to the unresolved system issues entering the past two days of talks, the owners agreed to increase the mid-level exception for luxury tax-paying teams to three-year deals starting at $3 million. The exception, which was for two years starting at $2.5 million under the previous proposal, would be available every other year for teams above the tax threshold.

Though full details of the owners' revisions weren't crystallized Thursday night, it is believed that they agreed to make sign-and-trade transactions available to tax-paying teams with certain restrictions and make other minor revisions to issues the players indicated they needed changed in return for their economic concession from 51 percent of BRI to 50: the luxury tax "cliff" that affects teams that wade into the tax and the repeater tax for teams that stay above the tax threshold for a third time in five years.

Given that teams have only remained over the tax that long seven times since the luxury tax was introduced in 2005, according to NBA TV, the issue wasn't one of substantial concern Thursday, according to sources in the negotiating room.

However, some new issues came to the forefront that concerned the players' negotiators when it became clear that the league's proposal would restrict teams from using a full mid-level exception -- four-year deals starting at $5 million -- if the signing itself pushed the team over the tax. Union negotiators want the mid-level restriction to kick in only if the team already is above the tax line before it uses the exception. The league's version is the one that is in the current proposal, according to a person who has seen it.

Nonetheless, Stern characterized the league's movement -- with the backing of labor relations committee chairman Peter Holt and the full committee, which was consulted via phone Thursday night -- as "several well-intentioned efforts to move to them on a variety of concerns."

But it is clear that chaos would ensue, not to mention catastrophic economic damage to both owners and players, if the proposal is rejected. As a result, Stern and Silver will have to consider whether their owners pushed too hard and tried to extract too thorough a victory -- one that would quickly be transformed into a loss for all sides if the deal is not one that can be sold to the players and agents who already are prepared to blow up the union.

"We moved as far as we could move," Stern said.

Despite the losses incurred by the players, not the least of which is an average $300 million-a-year giveback that absolves all the losses the league said it was suffering, the union did preserve several system provisions that would evaporate if the league reverted to its 47 percent proposal next week. Among the most important items, the union fought off the league's attempt to impose a hard team salary cap and maintained the structure of max contracts. And although the players would give back $3 billion over 10 years, with a conservative estimate of 4.5 percent annual revenue growth, player salaries would grow to nearly $3 billion by the 10th year of the deal.

And while salaries and benefits would stay flat at approximately $2.17 billion for the first two years of the deal, that provision would allow the league to keep the salary cap ($58 million) and luxury-tax level ($70 million) unchanged until adjustments for the new system would take hold in the third year.

"It’s not the greatest proposal in the world ... but I have an obligation to at least present it to our membership," Hunter said. "And so that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve got members of our executive board standing behind us, and they all agreed that we needed to sit down and discuss it with all of the reps and collectively decide what it is we should do."

Even if the players agree to the framework of the deal, Hunter said there are at least 30-40 so-called B-list issues that need to be resolved -- among them, the age limit, drug testing, player disciplinary measures and work rules such as practice schedules and days off. In addition, some players and agents will resist the notion of player salaries this season being prorated to 72/82nds based on a reduced schedule that resulted from the owners imposing a lockout -- especially since the big revenue generators like Christmas Day games, All-Star weekend and playoffs will be preserved.


 
Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

As the superstar exodus to greener pastures and glitzier cities continues in the NBA, Reggie Miller rode to the rescue of the small market Tuesday. 

In TNT's pre-All-Star conference call, Miller said a franchise tag to curb player movement will be "tough" to implement in collective bargaining. But if that's what it takes to keep stars in small markets -- Miller played his entire 18-year career in Indiana -- he's all for it. 

"I was disappointed when LeBron left and went to Miami," Miller said. "I'm not faulting him, because obviously this is America and people change jobs and occupations and locations all the time. But for a guy that's been in a small market for 18 years, I just love when stars and superstars -- and you had the biggest superstars in our league in terms of name recognition in LeBron in a small market -- I didn’t think overall that helps the brand. Therefore, I hope Deron Williams stays in Utah and Chris Paul stays in New Orleans. It's good to have superstars in smaller markets because it helps the brand." 

Fellow Turner Sports broadcaster Kevin McHale, who famously traded Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2007, called the franchise tag an "interesting concept." Depending on how it's implemented, a franchise tag would either give teams cap relief to help them retain a star player, further restrict star players' movement, or both. 

"There's something to that," McHale said. "It gives the team that drafts a guy and develops a guy more of an opportunity to hold onto the player. I agree having the talent distributed throughout the whole NBA is much better for the game as whole. If you win, they'll want to play in different cities, no matter if it's Oklahoma City or New York City. If you're winning, they're going to want to go there and be part of it." 

Whether the owners can get such an onerous request past the union without a fight? Good luck. 

"They're going to have to get the players' association to buy into that," McHale said. 

The prospect of a franchise tag in a new CBA plays directly into the future of Carmelo Anthony, who is seeking a trade yet is concerned about losing money by passing on a three-year, $65 million extension that could be less lucrative in the new labor agreement. If the Nuggets decide to keep Anthony, part of their motivation would be having solid knowledge that they'd be in a position to retain Anthony with a franchise tag after the new deal is ratified. Anthony's countermove, obviously, would simply be to opt out of his $18.5 million contract for next season. That game of chess is likely to unfold all the way down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Posted on: February 12, 2010 12:26 am
Edited on: February 12, 2010 1:20 pm
 

Post-Ups: All-Star Edition

DALLAS – As league officials and executives scramble to make it to the snowed-in All-Star city Friday, they will be seeking two key ingredients that will get them through the next few days: snow shovels and answers. 

The shovels, I can’t help them with. But the answers will be readily available. Team executives who've been burning up their BlackBerrys proposing dozens of trade scenarios over the past week or so will need to come out of All-Star weekend with some idea of how the NBA's uncertain financial landscape will affect those deals. 

Owners and general managers will convene for a series of critical meetings Friday, starting with the owners' annual Technology Summit and culminating with a scheduled face-to-face bargaining session between owners and the National Basketball Players Association. Weather permitting, it will be the first bargaining session since the owners delivered a roundhouse to the union in the form of a draconian initial bargaining proposal calling for a hard cap and drastically reduced player salaries. 

The public will get commissioner David Stern’s typically rosy state of the league address Saturday night, but the executives contemplating taking on tens of millions through pending trades don’t want the sanitized version. They want to know where they stand, and how the decisions they make between now and the Feb. 18 trade deadline will position their franchises for some rocky times ahead. 

"I think the uncertainty has slowed everybody's roll until they get the state of the union at the league meetings," one Western Conference executive said. "The one thing that makes this interesting is that there’s always buyers and sellers. The sellers are far more plentiful than the buyers, so buyers are going to be really deliberate when it comes to taking on future money."

For example: If the threat of a hard cap is real – with none of the current exceptions or luxury tax provisions that allow teams to exceed it – why would a team like the Cavs acquire Antawn Jamison, who will be on the books for $15.1 million in 2011-12, the first year of a new CBA? If there’s a hard cap of $50 million, Jamison would account for 30 percent of it. If the Cavs were able to retain LeBron James this summer, they’d have 60 percent of the cap tied up in two players in the first year of the new CBA. The situation would be so untenable that owners proposed retro-fitting existing contracts under the new rules, but that would be unprecedented – so much so, sources say, that it could result in a deal-breaker at best and an anti-trust lawsuit at worst. 

But those issues are a long way off. The Cavs are in win-now mode, and they’re eager to placate LeBron by acquiring Jamison, the stretch power forward they believe they need to dispense with Orlando, Boston, and Atlanta in the playoffs. But winning is one thing; financial folly is quite another. 

Owners, GMs, and agents – those able to make it here after two days of massive flight cancellations across the country – will want to know where the business model is headed before they go ahead with their deals. There’s no way to know for sure, but you have to at least ask the questions. 

Every trade that is made before the deadline will be done with all of this in mind. So with that, here’s the latest trade buzz as we head into a snowy All-Star weekend:

• The Cavs remain interested in the PacersTroy Murphy, but sources say they’re preoccupied with a couple of other deals they favor – one of which involves Jamison. The Wizards, as previously reported, aren’t seeking a straight salary dump; they’re looking for a legit rotation player with upside, such as J.J. Hickson. The Wizards are also looking to attach guard Mike James and his $6.6 million expiring contract to any deal to help them achieve luxury tax savings.

• Portland has joined San Antonio, Denver, Charlotte, and Sacramento in the pursuit of Tyrus Thomas, with one person familiar with the situation characterizing the Blazers as “close” to finding a workable scenario. Rival execs have contradicted that account, saying the Bulls are telling them they need to sweeten their offers. Chicago is seeking a quality draft pick in addition to cap relief. Denver and Charlotte have conditional 2010 second-round picks from previous trades, and Denver also could offer a second-round pick that can be swapped with the Clippers.

• Executives say Phoenix officials continue to tell them it’s unlikely that they’ll deal Amar’e Stoudemire. No proposals have been submitted to the Suns that would make them better this season. The exception to the Suns’ reluctant posture, sources say, would be a deal that would create a seductive opportunity to position them better next season and beyond than they’d be if they kept Stoudemire and played the opt-out game with him. While the Sixers continue to discuss internally whether Stoudemire makes sense for them long-term, sources describe Philly as a highly unlikely destination.

• Miami Heat president Pat Riley has been aggressive in his pursuit of Stoudemire, but sources say the Heat are one of the teams carefully weighing such a transaction against the uncertain backdrop of collective bargaining. At this stage, the Heat are the undisputed leaders of the impending 2010 free agent sweepstakes because they have one marquee potential free agent, Dwyane Wade, on the roster and enough cap space to sign another max player without making any further trades.

• In addition to peddling Kirk Hinrich, sources say the Bulls also are exploring interest in Luol Deng, who has four years and $51 million left after this season. Trading both of them – or packaging one of them with Thomas – would provide Chicago with enough cap space to score two max free agents this coming summer, effectively placing them on equal footing with the Heat in the 2010 chase.

• The Warriors continue to peddle Andris Biedrins (four years and $36 million left) to achieve cost-savings, while the Clippers are offering Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair for the same reason, sources say.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com