Tag: Lockout

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls

Why the owners should be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the 49-51 band offer.


First, some basics.

During Saturday’s talks, following a talking-points suggestion from George Cohen, the NBA offered a BRI band of 49-51. So if revenues underperform certain levels, the players would receive 49 percent. If they hit acceptable levels (considered by most to be 4 percent growth), both sides would split 50/50. And if things went insanely well (reportedly 20 percent growth which is insane), the players would get 51 percent. Ken Berger reports that in fact, players would get 57 percent of that 51th percent, but that’s getting really complicated, so let’s stick with the basics.

Now, the players rejected the offer outright for a number of reasons. The systemic changes were severe enough for them to resist such an offer. The thresholds were too high for the levels. But instead, let’s consider what the owners did here.

With the players holding at 52 percent, and the owners essentially throwing them a sham offer for 51, it looks like a compromise without being one. OK, that’s par for the course. But if you’ve got a band offer, why not make it 49-52? or 48-52? or 46-52? Any of those band proposals would give the players a public relations pickle. “They gave you 52, what more do you want?!” the uninformed public would cry. It would be seen as a concession, a move towards a deal. You’re not actually giving anything up.

So why not offer that? Yes it puts too much on the table so the players could negotiate the thresholds up. But let’s be honest, that’s not happening, and the owners know it. They’re more than aware of how much power they have. That’s why they held it at 51 percent. Because it’s one percent below what the players said they would hold at. The only way this would be more blatant is if the owners offered a band of 49-51.99999999999999999999999999. It’s a deliberate effort to not only say “we’re going to get what we want, and we’re willing to insult you on the way to taking what we want.”

That’s been the whole problem here. It’s not “the owners are going to win.” They’ve already won. They’ve gotten system concessions. They’ve gotten the players to drop from 57 to 54 to 53 where they said they would not drop from, to 52. They’ve already got what they want. But it’s not enough. The popular analogy has been that it’s not about the win with the owners, it’s the margin of victory. This isn’t even about margin of victory. This is about taunting and doing a dance on your way to the endzone. It’s T.O. dancing on the star. It’s A.I. stepping over his opponent after the three. It’s an assault on more than the players’ earning potential and power, it’s about hitting them in the crotch of their dignity, then taking a photo of it, then posting it on the internet.

They could still make the same one-sided offer they have the whole time while giving the players an out. They’re not even willing to insult the players by patronizing them.

Maybe M.J. is as involved as reports say he is.

Deron Williams is frustrated the union hasn’t already decertified

Deron Williams

You’re going to be seeing a lot of reactions to the dramatics of Saturday night’s end to talks. Some players will likely just say that they want to play; it’s not that they want to cave, they’re just tired of the whole damn thing and don’t think it’s worth it. You’re going to see a lot more outrage, including some players who may previously have been conciliatory and now will become acerbic. That’s what happens when you threaten and give ultimatums after bullying and pressing someone for two years and when you provide an offer that doesn’t even allow them to save face (a 50-52 band heavily weighted towards 50-51 would give the players the ability to say they held at 52 without giving them 52… but noooo).

And then you’re going to have those who have wanted to go after the league through the courts for months coming out stronger than ever. One such player plays for Besiktas in Turkey in front of 2500 people a night. Deron Williams on Twitter:

I’ve been ready to sign a decertification petition since July? Can’t believe we are just now going this route! SMHSun Nov 06 08:38:08 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

We’re about to see exactly how large that contingent of players supporting decertification and antitrust action is, and how big it grew to be after Stern and the owners’ tactics Saturday.

If the players don’t buckle like the league is betting they will, everyone loses. Players won’t win the suit, league loses the season, owners own a team that doesn’t exist, more jobs will be lost, fans lose games, basketball in America is hurt. No one wins. The league has given the players two options: take an offer that hurts your earning potential, union strength, and dignity, or ruin everything.

Great choices. It’s like the menu at an iHOP without breakfast food.

Quote of the Day: Eli’s Coming

NBA Labor Basketball

The NBA ownership group’s labor committee will reopen talks with the players’ side Saturday afternoon, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, a meeting one general manager, who has spoken with a few owners, described as “headed straight for disaster.”

via NBA hope bleak over labor talks, sources say – ESPN.

From Sports Night: 

Dan Rydell: Eli’s Coming.
Casey McCall: Eli?
Dan Rydell: From the Three Dog Night song.
Casey McCall: Yes?
Dan Rydell: Eli is something bad, a darkness.
Casey McCall: “Eli’s coming. Hide your heart, girl.” Eli is a inveterate womanizer. I think you’re getting the song wrong.
Dan Rydell: I know I’m getting the song wrong. But, when I first heard it, that’s what I thought it meant. Things stick with you that way.

Yeah, this isn’t going to go well.

Wizards rookie Chris Singleton shows some perspective on the lockout

Chris Singleton
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The NBPA hasn’t done the best job of managing their PR front. David Stern has done his damnedest to control the public message of the lockout, all while the factions that have reportedly formed among the players threaten to decertify the union entirely and rip the 2011-2012 season apart.

Yet individually, the lockout has provided certain players a chance to show their reasonable perspectives, in spite of the ridiculous actions and comments of their peers and negotiating opponents. For every JaVale McGee there is a Shane Battier or a Raja Bell – a player in a non-leadership role who demonstrates an awareness and an understanding of the negotiations and the lockout’s sticking points.

Among that group is Wizards rookie Chris Singleton, who, in an interview with Jared Zwerling for TrueHoop, gave some thoughtful answers to questions about the players’ position in the lockout, and the nature of an inevitable deal that they’ll eventually have little choice but to accept:

Are any of the players saying to each other, “Let’s just get this thing over with and earn your stripes on the court to make that extra million or two you think you deserve?” 

I mean, that’s in some peoples’ minds, but our board members are just trying to do the best for everybody. You know the superstars are going to get their money. We’re trying to see how much the max contracts are going to be. I feel like the superstars are going to be fine, but it’s just how much money are the owners wiling to put out now? They’ve given 15 to 20 million — some ridiculous amount — to some people who don’t even play 85 percent of the season. You’ve got to go out there and earn it; that’s how I feel. But, I mean, we’re together and I’m behind whatever they do.

Do you think the owners are trying to get the players to cave in? Is there any thought from the players that you won’t get the best deal once you start missing paychecks? 

I mean, we’re not going to get the best deal. We’re not going to get the deal we hoped for. It’s a business, I know that. I’m just hoping that it’s something that works out for both sides.

What has the experience of the lockout taught you? 

I don’t take for granted the opportunity that I have every day to be able to go out and showcase my abilities to the fans who are watching. I just take it all in and just try to be the best person I can be, the best player I can be. You grow up faster, especially because you don’t have anything. You’re depending on a check. That’s why you get a job; you try to earn a living. I have a job, I have a title, but I don’t get compensated by the league.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but that in itself may be notable. The NBA’s PR front would love nothing more than to have us all believe that the players are not only the problem, but oblivious to the actual goings-on of the negotiating process and the economics of a deal. Demonizing the locked out party — or at least framing them as inept — is one of the only ways to justify the league’s actions without being tagged as “greedy.” If the public thinks that the players just don’t get it, they’ll naturally side with the financially sound businessmen who are shackled from success by an allegedly broken system. Players salaries are rising! Look at the difference between the Lakers and Kings! We’ve heard it all before, framed so conveniently to exclude pesky facts and context.

Singleton, and his many informed peers, stand antithetical to the perception that the league strives for. The players may have conflict within their ranks, but that dissensions shouldn’t be confused with incompetence, even if it does stifle their efficacy. The players have reportedly made concessions in almost every area of the negotiations. They’ve made legitimate strides toward a potential deal. Yet Singleton knows and willingly tells us that the players aren’t going to get the kind of agreement they had hoped for — a softer contrast to the owners’ hard line. He may not be deeply involved in the negotiating process, but he shows flexibility and perspective, things which — although the league’s spin machine would have you believe otherwise — aren’t at all uncommon among the player ranks.

Chauncey Billups doesn’t trust players’ collective ability to remain strong for a full season


This lockout has never been as simple as one side negotiating against another in an effort to produce a fair deal. There are a number of factors circling the negotiations that inevitably have an impact on their progress and timeline. The NBPA still holds the threat of decertification, a breaking point from which there is no coming back. The NBA itself continues a campaign of half-truths and misinformation, as every press conference is turned into an opportunity to shape the opinions of the general public. The legal system attempts to unravel this mess from one end, and ineffective National Labor Relations Board hearings try to do so from the other.

All while the players fail to escape the most basic of lockout truths: due to simple economics, their adversaries are much more equipped to deal with a lockout than they are. Not only will the NBA’s offers get progressively worse as more and more games are missed, but those lost paychecks will hit some players hard and others harder. Chauncey Billups spoke on that subject when he joined Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio in New York (via Sports Radio Interviews):

What are you hearing from other players? Is it getting to a point where they feel like it’s just time to make a deal even if it’s a 50-50 split because it’s better than no deal at all?:

“Honestly, you’ve got 400-some players and obviously the general body of the league are not in my position … that are maybe as in stable position of myself or some of the older, aging veterans. We have to be sensitive to the fact that some of those guys are young, although we, for the last two and a half, three years, said, ‘Prepare yourself; save your money.’ … We’ve got to know that some guys didn’t. … Then you’ve the guys that are really, really involved in the situation saying, ‘No, you don’t really understand what that 50-50′s really going to do going forward. You’re just worried about today.”

…Do you expect there to be a season?:

“Man, I think the only way I can really answer that question is just with being hopeful and saying, ‘Yeah, I hope so.’ I hope so, but I could see it going either way.”

You really think the players would be able to do that?:

“I’ve spoken to a lot of players and I could see a lot of players wanting to do that. If you’re asking me if the general body of the NBA is willing to do that, willing to lose a year’s salary, I don’t think guys would be willing to do that. That’s going to be a position and a bridge that we’re going to have to cross when we come that.”

Billups is merely articulating what most of us already know, but it’s an important point that shouldn’t be forgotten at any stage in these negotiations. Even with help from the Kobe Bryants of the bunch, there will be players who didn’t prepare well enough for the lockout, there are those who are still on their rookie deals and didn’t heed warnings to save, and there are minimum salary guys who simply may not have the coin on hand. The ticking of the negotiating clock is audible; the players have only so long before the union’s internal pressures reach their brink, and when that moment comes, all bets are off. Maybe the players will buckle and take a poor deal, or maybe they’ll decertify in desperation. All we know is that things are only going to get more tense for the players as the conversation continues, making each meeting in the short-term all the more valuable.