Tag: hard salary cap

Padlock Arena AP

Reports: NBA will cancel two more weeks of NBA season Tuesday


The good news is that the league isn’t pushing back the start of the season indefinitely, it looks like just two more weeks. Of course the point of missing two more weeks is to make sure the players miss a paycheck and feel some real pain.

Well, maybe that’s not good news.

Multiple reports (the New York Daily News was first) now have the NBA officially canceling two more weeks of the season on Tuesday. All games through Nov. 28, the games through the weekend after Thanksgiving, will be called off.

The first two weeks of NBA games — 100 games in total through Nov. 14 — had already been canceled by the league after talks had stalled out previously. The new cancellations would mean that 202 total games (about 16 percent of the season) would be called off.

This second cancellation will hit the players in the pocket books. Players get paid on the 15th and 30th of the month during the season, which means their first paycheck was to be Nov. 15. There has been a faction of owners that from the start have wanted to drag this out and make the players miss paychecks and feel pain. The players know this and some countered in recent years by requiring their payments be spread out over a year. Still, this will hurt a lot of players.

NBA Commissioner David Stern had said a couple weeks back his gut was that if a deal wasn’t worked out with a federal mediator he thought there would be no games on Christmas. Those talks blew up in an ugly fashion last Thursday, and the two sides have not met since, nor are any meetings scheduled.

It’s far too early for the league to cancel Christmas games, which are a huge showcase for the league and the first games on national broadcast television. It’s a showcase day that is scheduled to feature a finals rematch of the Heat and Mavericks, as well as the Lakers vs. Bulls.

Optimists around the league still think we will see those games, but there are fewer and fewer of those around. They are becoming an endangered species.

Winderman: Billy Hunter backhands players “intellectual capital,” too

Billy Hunter

The problem with a lack of games is that all we are left with to dissect is the rhetoric.

So we parse Bryant Gumbel’s “plantation overseer” comment on David Stern, even though, with the exception of those with premium cable, the last time we even noticed Bryant Gumbel was during his attempt at NFL Network play by play.

Similarly, ESPN’s Bill Simmons raises the notion of “limited intellectual capital” amid the lockout negotiations, and suddenly the philosophical debate transcends basketball-related income.

This is where we’re at amid the lockout, without games being played, balls being bounced, stats being crunched.

Which brings us to union chief Billy Hunter and one of his comments during Simmons’ most-recent “B.S. Report” podcast.

On the surface, it was seemingly an innocuous attempt by Hunter to portray his clients’ transitory celebrity:

“Most of our players, when they end playing basketball, they’re going to be living for another 40 years or so. And I don’t know how long that money’s going to last, even if they’ve made every prudent investment they can possibly make, at what level they’re going to be able to live.”

A reasoned argument.

Except . . .

Why do we have to assume that once a basketball player is finished playing pro basketball he has no other intellectual or physical capabilities to continue to earn a living?

Is that not insulting?

Hunter’s comment hardly was unique. Often in locker rooms you will hear players talking about how they have to get what they can in free agency, because this could be the last contract of their careers.

Not their playing careers. Their entire earning careers. And they’re saying this at 30, sometimes younger.

Mind you, the NBA, in conjunction with the union, offers an array of post-NBA career-training options. The union, in fact, features the NBA’s SportscasterU broadcast initiative for players on its website.

If concerns about post-playing earnings are, indeed, an issue, then that is all the more reason for the union and the league to try to get players to stay in college longer before entering the NBA, to open players’ eyes to post-NBA opportunities.

What can NBA players be after their NBA careers?

Doctors. Lawyers. Stock brokers. Accountants. Entrepreneurs. There are worse places to start a second career than with fame and a healthy bank account.

“Limited intellectual capital” offended many, even if the context was somewhat twisted.

But to say NBA players have no earning potential beyond their NBA careers? That seems to go to the same place.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Union head Hunter: “We don’t want to be totally exploited”


NBA players union director Bill Hunter sat down with Bill Simmons for an ESPN podcast.

Hunter didn’t break a lot of new ground, but you again get to see the players thinking — that the owners are trying to exploit them by driving down salaries so the ultra rich can get richer. Sure, the players will make a lot of money still but it’s an issue of fairness to them (and as long as it remains such they will not break).

Go listen to the whole thing, but here are a few highlights.

• Hunter: “I thought we were trying to reach compromise when we were there last week. I suspect it’s more about an internal battle that may be brewing or that’s occurring between the big and small markets over the proposals we’ve submitted. We don’t want to be totally exploited.”

(So, only partially exploited is okay?)

• Hunter: “I know there’s a struggle when we talk wealth, you’re going to say to me we’re talking about billionaires and millionaires. Well, a guy making a few dollars during his playing career, but most of our players when they end playing basketball, they’re going to be living for another 40 years or so. And I don’t know how long that money’s going to last, even if they’ve made every prudent investment they can possibly make, at what level they’re going to be able to live.

“But after a while it just become a principle. For a lot of these players, that’s what it’s about. They feel as though the owners have dug in.”

• Hunter talked about a “game changer” plan brought up by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a system that would not have had a salary cap. The players were open to whatever that idea was, but Hunter said the small market owners shot it down.

• Hunter didn’t say much about Bryant Gumbel’s comments, other than to say David Stern is nota racist.

• There was one ray of hope. Almost. Hunter hinted that the players would be willing to give on their call of 53 percent of basketball related income, but the players needed some give back on the “system issues” such as the luxury tax and contract lengths.

That’s usually how a negotiation works, give and take. It’s not what the owners are doing. They are going for the rout, demanding both a larger share of the revenue and changes to the existing system. Because there is no give and take from the owners, well, the players don’t think things are fair and they dig in.

And the NBA dies a little every day because of it.

Where we stand with NBA labor talks. Besides screwed.

Billy Hunter David Stern

The NBA owners and players will not be getting together on Monday to look for an end to the lockout. There are a few key things that separate the NFL from NBA lockouts — primarily that the NFL is a money making machine and the NBA’s profitability is questionable at best — but one key difference is that the NFL owners and players sat down for 16 straight days to make a deal happen. They wanted to make a deal, both sides.

The NBA has yet to get past three straight days of talks. And that took a federal mediator.

So where do things stand in this ugly, pointless stalemate? Here’s what we know.

• The big issue remains the money — the split of basketball related income (BRI). That’s basically all the money that comes into the league (ticket sales, national television deals, a piece of team sponsorship and on and on). In the last labor deal, the players got a whopping 57 percent. They have offered to come down to 52.5 percent, but the owners say they are not going any higher than 50/50 (and the owners want to take more off the top before that split). The two sides are only about $100 million a season apart, which is not that far all things considered (they started out more than $800 million a season apart).

But you only close that gap by talking. Right now, both sides are dug in on this like a World War I battlefield. Until this is solved nothing gets solved.

• Even if the owners got a 50/50 split, that would not be enough, they want to win a battle for a major restructuring the system. David Aldridge of NBA.com brings us this quote from NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

“We did get a sense from the players in attendance that they felt, in essence, there should be a trade on those issues,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday. “That if we were to reach a negotiated compromise on the split of BRI … that they, therefore, should get what they’re looking for on the system issues … as I’ve been saying now for a few years, it seems, there are two independent goals, both of which are critically important for our teams. One is to be economically sustainable. And number two is to have the ability to compete. And what we told the players today is we could not trade one for the other.”

That’s from the Attila the Hun negotiations playbook. It’s domination. The owners want a complete and total win or nothing, and they will shoot the sport in the leg to get it. The players give backs (in their offer) would amount to $180 million next season and well over a billion over the life of the agreement. The players are the ones making a sacrifice here. But the owners want more — they want to hurt the players, rout them. Just winning seems not to be enough. And it’s pathetic.

The owners keep preaching “competitive balance” but that is a flat-out myth. Actually, myth may be too kind, more like intentional deception. The NBA will never have the balance of the NFL because one player (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derrick Rose type players) dominates most contests. It will not work in the NBA. Besides, the NBA was at its most popular when Jordan dominated the league like no other, when competitive balance was laughable. But competitive balance is the flag the owners are flying.

• There are other things the two sides do not agree on. Chris Sheridan has a great breakdown over at his Web site of all the issues. Go read the whole post, but are a couple highlights.

Trade rules: Under the old system, the salaries of players being traded had to be within 125 percent of each other (if both trading teams were over the salary cap). This rule will be loosened considerably, although a final formula has not been agreed to. The players want the percentage to rise to 225 percent (whereby, for instance, a player making $1 million could be traded for a player making $2.25 million), while the owners have indicated a willingness to allow the percentage to rise to 140 or 150 percent — although teams paying the luxury tax would have a tighter restraint.

The “stretch exception”: Under this proposal, a team could waive any player and stretch out the remainder of the money he is owed, reducing the salary cap number for that waived player. For instance, if an underperforming player had three years left on his contract and was waived under the stretch exception, his remaining unpaid salary would be stretched out over a period as long as seven years. (Example: A player owed $21 million for three years who is waived under the stretch exception would still be paid his $21 million, but the cap cost would be spread over seven years, meaning he would count $3 million annually against the cap instead of $7 million.) In theory, this would free up more money to be paid to players who were worthy of the increased salary….

Maximum annual raises: There has been little movement here, with the owners asking that maximum raises be 4 1/2 percent for Bird players and 3 percent for others. The union wants to keep the current system of 10.5 percent raises for Bird players, with the caveat that the maximum raises would drop to 9 percent for a player signing a four- or five-year contract. For non-Bird players the union is asking for maximum raises of 8 percent in two- and three-year contracts, and 7 percent for players receiving four- or five-year deals.

A lot of these changes I like — things that bring more player movement can have advantages to fans. Undersand what the owners want is for more flexibility with role players but want to keep their stars from moving, but in general some additional player movement would be be good for fans.

For all their talk for two years — and 30 hours of meetings last week — there is still a big gap between the sides. There’s a lot of work to be done.

And they are not doing it. Both sides are dug in, nobody is moving. And the owners don’t want to give in, they want a rout, a bloodbath. The game itself is forgotten in all of this.

So where we stand with the NBA labor talks is that if they were really working on it they could get to a deal — they are not close, but they have made progress and a deal is there to be had. Except nobody wants it, both sides are stubborn and dug in.

So the lockout drags on. And on. And on.

Expect NBA to indefinitely postpone start of season soon

Leave a comment

When the NBA labor talks blew up last Thursday, we all knew it would just be a matter of time before more games were cancelled. Probably Monday or Tuesday of this week. The first two weeks of the season we already toast so what was next, another two weeks?

How about just saying it’s indefinite?

That’s what is likely to come down in the next 48 hours. Ken Berger at CBSSports.com tweets.

Pretty widely expected that NBA’s next announcement will be that start of season postponed “indefinitely,” or “until further notice.”

Question is, will league and union meet/bargain before that announcement is made? Nothing planned for (Sunday), source says.

It is expected that the two sides will sit down again later this week, although nothing is yet set up. That’s the pattern of these talks: meet for a few days, have an ugly break up with public sniping, calm down for a few days then get back at it. The two sides are dug in and while you and I could find a middle ground that would end this lockout pretty quickly, right now neither side will go there.

So indefinite start to the season it is.