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Tag:CBA
Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:54 pm
 

Cuban would support Seattle return

NEW YORK -- Mark Cuban always holds court with the media when his Mavericks make their annual visit to Madison Square Garden. On Sunday, he said he'd support Seattle's efforts to return to the NBA.

"As long as it’s not an expansion team, yes," Cuban said. "... I voted against the move because I thought it was wrong to leave Seattle. I’d be all for a team going back to Seattle. But it would have to be a team that moves. I’d be against any type of expansion."

Plans for a $490 million arena aimed at attracting an NBA and NHL team to Seattle were unveiled this week, with a $290 million commitment from investors led by Seattle native and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen. The balance of the funds would come from tax revenues generated by the building and rent paid by the teams, according to the plan.

But with the NBA already in a state of overexpansion, the irony for Seattle is that its path back to the NBA would have to entail doing what Oklahoma City did to Seattle in 2008: luring a team from somewhere else. The likely suspects are Sacramento and New Orleans, where both NBA teams are facing uncertain arena situations.

"Teams go in cycles," Cuban said. "When you're at the top of the cycle, like Sacramento when they were winning, they were selling out every game and it was one of the hardest places to play. But it’s really how the market supports the team when you suck."

A vote by the Sacramento City Council is expected by the end of the month on a funding plan for a new downtown arena for the Kings. Sources say the NBA has narrowed its list of potential buyers for the league-owned Hornets to a handful of groups -- possibly two -- that would keep the team in Louisiana. The announcement of a purchase agreement could come soon after All-Star weekend, pending the resolution of talks between the league, Gov. Bobby Jindal's office and the Louisiana legislature on a new arena lease.

"We continue to work with the Hornets to reach a long-term leasing agreement," Frank Collins, Jindal's press secretary, said in a statement provided to CBSSports.com.

Cuban also weighed in on the new collective bargaining agreement, which he helped negotiate as a member of the owners' labor relations committee. Asked when it will be known whether the owners got a good deal or a bad deal, Cuban said, "We'll find out over the next three or four years. We’ll see what happens when we have a chance to opt out of it in six years.

Asked what criteria should be used to evaluate the new CBA, Cuban said, "Are all the teams making money? ... If all the teams have a chance to compete, then you have a better chance of making money. If you have a better chance of retaining your star players, you have a better chance of making money. So they all go hand in hand."
Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 6:32 pm
 

How the Knicks can keep Lin

On the phone with a basketball executive Tuesday to go over the mechanics of how the Knicks could keep Jeremy Lin beyond this season, the notion of how surreal the conversation was came up more than once.

But in answer to your question, Knicks fans: Yes, if Lin continues to perform at anything close to the level he's displayed so far, New York will have the means and the inclination to retain him for next year -- and most likely, beyond.

Here's the deal: By virtue of the Golden State Warriors signing Lin to a two-year contract before waiving him in December, Lin becomes a restricted free agent after this season. Under typical circumstances, Lin would be eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the Knicks worth approximately $1.1 million.

These, obviously, are not typical circumstances. Several factors are at play, including a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows players who achieve certain playing-time benchmarks (dealing with games started and minutes) to be eligible for a higher qualifying offer. In Lin's case, the maximum qualifying offer he could get under these new rules would be about $2.7 million -- the equivalent offer for the 21st pick in the 2008 draft.

Given Lin's absurd level of production so far, chances are this provision won't matter. Even if Lin's productivity drops off, as is widely expected, he's still shown enough to warrant multi-year offer sheets from rival teams.

"He's had five games that LeBron James would be jealous of," one NBA general manager told me Tuesday. "So he's outplaying his time in the D-League right now. It’s happened, but it’s pretty rare for a guy to play better in the pros than in the minor leagues. It's also rare for someone who's had a five-game stretch like this not to turn out to be an All Star."

Even if Lin settles somewhere in between All-Star and rotation player, the Knicks can expect the offer sheets to roll in. But due to the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule -- instituted in the 2005 CBA to prevent teams from being outbid for their own restricted free agents with two or fewer years in the league -- the Knicks will be insulated from such potential poachers.

The maximum that another team could offer in the first year of a multi-year offer sheet will be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $5 million. The second year of the offer sheet would be subject to the 4.5 percent raise for non-Bird free agents. After that, the offer sheets can be back-loaded up to the max -- 25 percent of the cap -- but the Knicks would be able to match under league salary rules. In any event, it likely will cost them their mid-level exception for next season.

The Knicks could use up to their full mid-level ($5 million) to match any rival offers. Under the new rules with different mid-level thresholds for tax-payers, non-tax payers and teams with room, the Knicks would not, under the new rules, be able to exceed the cap to sign another free agent and then use the full mid-level to retain Lin. In that case, they'd be relegated to the room exception ($2.5 million).

So basically, Lin, who was in danger of getting waived again before he unleashed this five-game tirade in conjunction with his non-guaranteed contract (worth a lockout-prorated $613,474 this season) becoming guaranteed, has a big pay day ahead of him. And the Knicks need not worry about him finding a new team for the foreseeable future.

And Lin, who was sleeping on his brother's couch on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when all of this took off, will be able to afford all the couches he wants. Not to mention an apartment of his own.
Posted on: December 25, 2011 4:05 pm
 

'Relieved' Stern vows new CBA will work

DALLAS -- While admitting that he was "a little bit relieved" to be presiding over an opening day that almost didn't happen, NBA commisssioner David Stern vowed Sunday that the new labor agreement reached last month is "going to work over time" to create a competitively balanced league.

"We think we're going to come out of this pretty well," Stern said before his first opening-day stop, the NBA Finals rematch between the Heat and Mavericks. Afterward, Stern was set to make his way to Oklahoma City to watch the Magic and Thunder.

"We're beginning to see shorter contacts already under the collective bargaining agreement as teams cast a wary eye on two years from now, when the enhanced tax gets to be considerably higher and you have to be mindful of that," Stern said.

Of course, this being the NBA -- which has endured a rocky transition to the start of a 66-game season after a contentious, five-month labor fight -- some unresolved issues remain.

First, Stern addressed the fact that the owners of the two teams he was about to watch, Miami's Micky Arison and Dallas' Mark Cuban, were among the five who voted against the new labor deal. Arison has acknowledged that his no-vote was registered in protest, presumably over elements of the revenue-sharing plan that was a major sticking point for owners.

"That doesn't send any signal whatsoever," Stern said of the formal disapproval registered by Arison and Cuban, saying the revenue-sharing plan will amount to close to $200 million by the third year of the CBA -- giving "all teams the opportunity to compete," he said.

"The shorter contracts will make more free agents available on the market, and the enhanced tax system will make it more difficult for teams to use their resources simply to get a competitive advantage," Stern said.

But while Stern said the new agreement continues to embrace the concept of free agency, he solicited suggestions from the media audience as to how to address a more burning issue: the practice of players who are not yet free agents trying to force their way to the team of their choice, as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have done, and as Dwight Howard is in the process of doing.

"I'm an avid reader of many of your rants ... so what would you suggest?" Stern said to me when I asked him about the topic

"For example, a franchise tag," I said.

Stern pointed to a new measure in the CBA that allows a team to extend a star player by paying him 30 percent of the salary cap, as the Bulls recently did to retain reigning MVP Derrick Rose.

"After that, when a player has played a number of years in the league -- seven or eight -- and says, 'I don't want to re-sign in this particular city, I have a different choice,' it doesnt concern us at all that he has that option," Stern said. "This league has embraced free agency ... and has for decades. And that's fine."

Stern also pointed out that if a team decides to call an impending free agent's bluff and "try to persuade him" to stay after the season, there is a "strong incentive" in the form of the five-year contract with 7.5 percent raises that the home team can offer as opposed to a four-year deal with 4.5 percent raises that other suitors have available, he said.

"The difference at the max end is going to approach $30 million," Stern said. "So we'll be watching some interesting situations play out, whether players will forgo that difference."

Stern said the concept of players pushing to be traded to a team of his choice "goes back to Wilt (Chamberlain) and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar). It's well-grounded in all sports, actually. And in fact, the NFL hasn't had to use its franchise player designation a lot. Either the player wants to stay or he doesn't want to stay, so I don't think we need it."

Among the other topics Stern addressed on opening day in Dallas before heading to Oklahoma City:

* On the trend set by the Heat with the formation of their Big Three last summer: "I don't think it's a slippery slope at all. I think the fact that players are able to move from team to team, having played under their contracts -- their rookie extension, whatever it is -- and find a team that is managed well enough so they are under the cap and they can acquire more than one player, we think that's fine. The ultimate for the league will be whether that's an interesting and fun team, and the Heat are an interesting and fun team."

* On the rising cost of stockpiling stars: "I don't think that free agency should be looked askance at because that's what players are entitled to do. It will get expensive over time for teams to acquire players with increasing contracts and the like, but it will have a way of working itself out. And I would say to you that this is going to be a system that is more likely than not to be here 10 years from now."

* On his role in the Chris Paul trade debacle: "I don't think it affected the integrity of the league. But I do think I could have done a better communications job."

* On the new CBA's impact on small-market teams: "A team that goes into the tax for a $20 million player in Year Three is going to pay $45M in tax money. We'll see who does that. And the way this is going to help the small team is that there will be more free agents available over time, playing out their four-year contracts and shorter -- because contracts are getting shorter. ... I hate to use the term 'small market,' because three of the smallest markets in our league are Oklahoma City, New Orleans and San Antonio. Don't cry for any of them, but they're small markets."

* On how and why the labor deal finally got done: "This process got speeded up because we sat down with the players and we agreed that Christmas Day was a wonderful magnet. If we were going to be able to play 66 games -- a 20 percent reduction, a 20 percent reduction in pay, etc. -- let's do it this weekend or we'll see you whenever. And whenever was going to be a very contentious whenever."

* On Cuban's criticism of Stern vetoing Paul's trade to the Lakers: "In the middle of this criticism of me throwing him under the bus, he managed to pick up Lamar Odom. Not bad."

* On what would've happened if the league had not taken over the Hornets: "We thought the team was gone. That would've been it. We wanted to give the team a chance in New Orleans, and we thought they could succeed there."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Players, owners approve CBA

NEW YORK -- NBA players and owners on Thursday approved a new collective bargaining agreement, formally ending the five-month lockout and paving the way for training camps and an already rampaging free-agency period to open.

The players voted via email from 6 p.m. ET Wednesday until 4 p.m. Thursday and the deal was approved by 86 percent of the more than 200 players who participated -- less than half the union membership. The owners' Board of Governors, with representatives from all 30 teams, approved the deal at a meeting Thursday in Manhattan by a vote of 25-5, commissioner David Stern said.

As a result, the lockout will be lifted, training camps will open as scheduled, and the free-agent and trading period officially will begin at 2 p.m. ET, sources said. The league will begin a 66-game regular season, the second season shortened due to a labor dispute in NBA history, on Christmas Day.

Also on Thursday, owners finalized their new revenue sharing plan by which big-market teams -- particularly the Knicks and Lakers -- are expected to kick in a substantial portion of what will be at least a quadrupling of the previous revenue-sharing pool. According to executives familiar with the details of the plan before it was finalized, the league was expected to incorporate some new sources of revenue that would be shared. Of paramount importance to small- and mid-market teams, market size was expected to be considered as much as or more than a team's financial performance in a given year, sources said.

Posted on: December 7, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 7:00 pm
 

NBPA urges ratification in letter detailing deal

NEW YORK -- Union executive director Billy Hunter urged NBA players to ratify the next collective bargaining agreement in a letter detailing terms of the deal -- some of which were revealed publicly for the first time Wednesday.

"The NBPA Executive Committee recommends that the players vote to ratify the proposed CBA," Hunter wrote in the letter, obtained by CBSSports.com and other outlets. "Although the players made significant financial concessions, including taking a reduced share of Basketball-Related Income, collective salaries will nonetheless increase over the course of the CBA. The players retained important system issues and achieved gains on non-economic issues."

The term sheet emailed to players detailed previously publicized aspects of the deal, including a 51.15 percent share of BRI for the players in 2011-12 and a 50 percent share thereafter -- with the possibility of achieving a 51 percent share if revenues exceeded projections. Hunter's letter projected that player salaries and benefits would grow from $2.17 billion to more than $3 billion by the end of the 10-year agreement -- if neither side executes an opt-out clause after the sixth year of the deal.

The letter also revealed for the first time specifics of several key deal points and a litany of so-called B-list issues that union and league negotiators have hammered out over the past 11 days since the framework of the deal was tentatively agreed to Nov. 26. For example, the NBA must maintain a detailed revenue-sharing plan during the course of the agreement. (The Board of Governors is expected to formally approve the plan Thursday before voting on the CBA).

Also, clearing up some confusion among agents and team executives, the amnesty provision by which a team can waive a player and wipe the balance of his contract from the cap and tax, can only be used once per team during the course of the CBA -- and only on contracts initiated prior to the CBA. 

Among the other more interesting points:

* The minimum team salary will be 80 percent of the salary cap in 2011-12, 85 percent in '12-'13 and 90 percent in '13-'14.

* The international player buyout amount is increased from $500,000 to $525,000 this year, and by $25,000 each additional season.

* Player contracts can be renegotiated downward in extensions, as long as the player's salary does not decrease by more than 40 percent. Previously, renegotiations could only increase a player's salary, but extensions could decrease the salary. This provision closes that loophole to the extent that a player's salary cannot drop more than 40 percent in a renegotiation and extension.

* Minimum fee for player promotional appearances made on behalf of commercial sponsor set at $3,000 ($3,500 beginning in 2016-17). The fee is $4,000 for appearances beyond eight in a season.

* Players will have a minimum of 16 days off per season beginning in 2012-13. A joint NBA-NBPA committee will study further improvements to workplace conditions, focusing on such issues as back-to-back games and two-a-days during training camp.

* Draft eligibility age remains set at one year removed from high school, with a joint NBA-NBPA committee discussing future changes.

* Players with three or fewer years of service can receive unlimited assignments to the NBA Development League but will be paid their NBA salaries. Players with more than three years of service can be assigned to the D-League with their consent, for example, for injury rehab.

* Beginning in 2012-13, players can be tested a maximum of two times during the offseason for performance-enhancing drugs only. Previously, players were subject to four random drug screenings from Oct. 1-June 30. HGH testing is not included, but the joint NBA-NBPA committee will study its possible future inclusion if it is agreed that the tests would be scientifically reliable.

* For those who really enjoy the fine print, the player per diem is set at $120, training camp compensation is increased to $2,000 per week and housing reimbursement for traded players is increased to $4,500 for three months following the trade.


 
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Source: Howard hasn't told Magic what he wants

Dwight Howard has not yet indicated to Orlando management whether he wants to stay with the Magic, request a trade or play out the season and become a free agent, a person directly involved in the organization's planning told CBSSports.com Tuesday.

"Training camp opens the door to everything," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think that will happen very, very soon."

The soap opera of whether Howard stays in Orlando or seeks a trade to the Lakers already has begun in full force, however, and there already has been a casualty. Team executives were apprised via email Tuesday morning that CEO Bob Vander Weide has stepped down and will be replaced by team president Alex Martins. In replacing Vander Weide, 53, whose departure is being characterized as a retirement, Martin's first order of business will be to represent the Magic on the NBA's Board of Governors, which is scheduled to vote on the new collective bargaining agreement Thursday in an electronic ballot.

UPDATE: Whether Vander Weide's departure has anything to do with the owners' labor relations committee -- of which Vander Weide was a member -- signing off on a deal that could actually expedite Howard's departure from Orlando is a matter worthy of consideration. The Magic scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to address Vander Weide's departure, but Vander Weide admitted Tuesday that he did, in fact, call Howard at 1 a.m. earlier this week after "a couple of glasses of wine" -- a conversation in which the executive reportedly urged the star to stay in Orlando.

The person familiar with the Magic's strategy said Tuesday that, while Howard has yet to verbalize what he wants, the All-Star center has "deep roots here" and has previously expressed that "this is where he'd like to fulfill his career."

"He wants to win," the person said. "That's on his mind intensely."

While Howard has never publicly expressed a desire to leave Orlando, it has been known among people in his inner circle for months that his preference is to play for the Lakers. The only way he's getting to that L.A. team would be via a trade, and the Lakers -- with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom -- are one of the few teams in the league with enough assets to pull it off.

The new rules set to be approved by the players and owners this week have cut off some of the avenues for superstars looking to leave small markets for big markets -- but some of those rules actually increase the pressure on the home team to make a decision to trade such a player sooner than in the past. The extension Orlando can offer Howard -- same as New Orleans can offer Chris Paul -- falls short of what each could each get as an unrestricted free agent come July 1. And since they can no longer get maximum contract length and raises via a sign-and-trade, their teams don't have that avenue as a fallback option.

"I don't think he knows what he's going to do at this point," the person familiar with the Magic's strategy said. "I'm not sure anybody does. It's impossible to predict."

The overwhelming opinion in central Florida -- which in 1996 saw Shaquille O'Neal flee Orlando to sign with the Lakers as a free agent -- is for Howard to let his intentions be known sooner than later.

"Don't drag us out," the person said. "Tell us what you want, so we can react with facts, not theories and guesses."
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Progress on B-list; on-time vote expected

NEW YORK -- Negotiators have made significant progress on secondary issues that must be finalized before the new collective bargaining agreement can be ratified and are confident the process will be completed in time for both sides to vote on the deal this week, a person briefed on the process told CBSSports.com.

Lawyers for the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have pared the list of outstanding items to about 50, down from about 250 when the process began Friday, the person said. Among the more important B-list issues, it remains likely that the age limit for draft eligibility will be unchanged and is expected to be revisited at a later date when there is time for more thorough discussion. The two sides also are still negotiating the language on a new drug-testing policy and a provision by which teams will be able to shuttle players back and forth to the NBA Development League.

Player reps from all 30 teams will be in New York Wednesday to discuss details of the new deal. Players and the league's Board of Governors are scheduled to vote eletronically on Thursday, with training camps and free agency slated to open Friday.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:18 pm
 

Mediator? Stern, Hunter need to go 1-on-1

While sources confirmed Tuesday that the NBA and National Basketball Players Association are discussing the possibility of bringing federal mediator George Cohen back into the bargaining process, we already have learned that this is no cure-all for the lockout.

Cohen spent more than 24 hours over two days refereeing the talks last month, only to see them blow up over the contentious issue of the BRI split. The same thing happened without Cohen on Friday, and while sources believe union chief Billy Hunter wouldn't have been permitted to walk away from the table with a line in the sand drawn at a 52-48 split in favor of the players, it's not clear whether Cohen would've been able to elicit enough compromise to keep the talks going.

So while bringing the mediator back into the room couldn't hurt, I have a better idea. To borrow a phrase from commissioner David Stern: mediator, schmediator. Breaking the impasse and securing a handshake on a new CBA so the NBA can reopen for business really only requires two people to be in the room:

1) Stern, and 2) Hunter.

It's time for the two men whose job it is to secure a deal to get in a room together and figure it out. It's time for Stern to tell Hunter how much wiggle room he has on his owners' 50-50 proposal, provided Hunter is willing to compromise on the Big Three system issues that remain. It's time for Hunter to tell Stern exactly what he needs to be able to sell a 50-50 or 51-49 deal to his players.

It's time for Stern and Hunter to throw each other a life raft so they can both paddle ashore holding both fists aloft in the universal gesture of victory. (Although, to do that, they'd need someone else to paddle. So they can bring Cohen in to propel the boat during the victory parade.)

This is how the 1998-99 lockout ended. Stern and Hunter ended it. On the day Stern had set for the rest of the season to be canceled, the two deal-makers pulled an all-nighter, and emerged on the morning of Jan. 7 to shake hands and end the 204-day lockout.

This one has endured a little more than half that time, but there's no need for any more. There are two people who can end this, and each one needs to tell his constituents that he intends to do just that. Stern and Hunter have been negotiating against each other for 15 years. They don't need a mediator, just an empty room.


 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com