At the conclusion of the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings last week in Las Vegas, in addition to announcing a few minor rule changes, David Stern said that the anti-flopping rules that were in place for last season will continue without alteration.
“There was a report on our flopping rules and the competition committee thought they were working well and didn’t recommend any changes to them,” Stern said.
Just how well they’re working is certainly debatable. But the fact that the league has a policy in place for disciplining its players that wasn’t collectively bargained with the National Basketball Players Association (i.e., the union) may be cause for legal action.
From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
“We are now in the process of scheduling a case with our arbitrator to determine whether the NBA is allowed to unilaterally impose discipline in an area that exceeds the commissioner’s authority without the consent of the union,” NBPA interim executive director Ron Klempner told CBSSports.com on Tuesday. “It’s a subject they need to bargain with us, and we hope that the arbitrator will find that any type of discipline must be collectively bargained.”
When the league imposed the new flopping penalties, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said: “Our adoption of an anti-flopping rule is fully consistent with our rights and obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and the law.”
It’s a complicated situation legally speaking, even though it seems like from a practical standpoint that the league should be able to implement something like this without much resistance.
The fines associated with flopping don’t even start until a player’s second offense of the regular season, and are so minimal in relation to an NBA salary that the financial component has yet to prove to be a deterrent to the behavior, and likely won’t impact it anytime soon.
The public shaming of players who receive warnings is honestly more likely to curtail the behavior, although with a game or a playoff series on the line, don’t think for a second that players will hesitate to try to sell a call to an official in order to help their team gain a momentary advantage.
Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.
Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.
But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.
LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.
LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.
However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.
For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.
Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.