Tag: NBA agents

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls

Agents make empty threat to steer players away from hardliners


In a lockout filled with — at times seemingly defined by — empty threats, this is my new favorite.

There are agents and players out there very frustrated with the hardline NBA owners. Understandably. Those are the owners who think even the 50/50 deal the sides are close to making is too soft a play. Guys who seem not to care about the games.

Which has led to a lot of rumblings like Alex Kennedy reported at Hoopsworld:

“I don’t want any of my clients playing for Michael Jordan, Paul Allen, Robert Sarver, Dan Gilbert or Peter Holt,” said one agent. “We won’t sign with them, unless they’re willing to really overpay. That’s going to be the only way these hardline owners are going to land any free agents after the way they’ve handled these negotiations.”

I call bull….

Money talks. The same way it talks in getting the lockout solved it will talk when the lockout ends and free agency opens up.

The first chance this agent has to get one of his clients a good payday in Charlotte or Portland he will push the player to sign. It’s always about money and opportunity for players, not which rich guys sits in the luxury box (or courtside).

But go ahead and rant if it makes you feel better. That’s what my five-year-old does.

Report about Rip Hamilton shows players, agents not all unified

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers
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A bunch of agents talked on the phone Wednesday amongst themselves, saying they were looking for ways to help the union in its struggle with the owners. Of course it was not about what the agents wanted, it was about their players and an overriding concern for the greater good. Agents are altruistic like that.

These same agents sent a letter to their clients urging them to not cave to the owners — and not let union head Billy Hunter cave either. No going below 52 percent of “basketball related income.” The players had given enough, the agents said. Trust no one.

Pistons veteran Rip Hamilton reportedly got the letter and then told his agent Leon Rose to back off, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard on twitter:

Source says Rip Hamilton told his agent Leon Rose he’s upset Rose participated in letter, which is perceived by many as anti-union.

Source adds that Rip told Rose he’ll leave & take other players with him if Rose doesn’t leave the “anti-union” group.

Or maybe not. It didn’t take long before Rip went to twitter himself to shoot down the report.

@Chris_Broussard “Source says Rip Hamilton told his agent Leon Rose he’s upset Rose participated in letter.” 100% UNTRUE. Never happened.

Who knows if Hamilton said this or not, we’ll take his word for it. But the issue illustrates a larger point. The lesson here is not to think that the players are a unified front one way or another (or easily swayed by agents). The same can be said of the owners.

The hardest part of finalizing this deal will be for NBA Commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter to sell the final deal to diverse constituencies who want different things out of these negotiations. The hardliners on both sides want more, some are ready to sign and play yesterday, and others have very specific interests. Neither the owners are players want to pass a deal where they get just over half their members to approve it — both sides need a vast majority to really make this work.

The sides are close, but those last few yards to the goal line are the hardest to get.

Agents talking labor deal, but not decertification. Yet.

Billy Hunter, Kobe Bryant
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Two days ago, a number of top agents sent out a letter to clients urging them not to buckle — and not to let players union chief Billy Hunter buckle — to the demands of NBA owners.

Now those same agents are getting on the phone today to discuss what they see as the next step, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

Officially, the agents say they just want to know how they can help Hunter and the union get a fair deal. But Hunter and union president Derek Fisher have had to work hard during these negotiations to keep the agents at arms length.

One thing we know will not be a big issue on the call — decertification of the union. It’s not that the agents wouldn’t like to disband the union but they don’t have the backing for it right now, reports Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski on twitter:

Asked two prominent agencies tonight if they thought they had 50-plus percent needed to decertify. Neither hesitated: Right now, no shot.

The agents do not have a seat at the bargaining table and would love to have one by proxy, but that is something the union has fought. Former NBA players union head Charles Grantham told PBT that when he did labor negotiations he did the same thing.

“I did not (let them have a big voice) and I’ll tell you why,” Grantham told PBT. “The agents are an extension of the union in that the agent has been granted the rights from the union. The union grants the right to negotiate individual contracts as long as they are within the context of this entire Collective Bargaining Agreement….

“The agents have a totally different agenda. Their agenda is what? To get in and make the very most money they can for each individual player because that affects their fees. And the union is trying to do a deal across the board that will be fair and equitable for everyone of the players.”

Right now, the union has been able to limit the influence of agents, and if a deal can be struck soon that influence will remain smaller. But if the lockout drags out into the regular season, the agents’ influence will grow with their players. And that could change the dynamic of the negotiations.

Derek Fisher sends letter to players answering agents

Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter

Derek Fisher and the NBA players union is now fighting a war on two fronts — one with the NBA over the new collective bargaining agreement, and one with some player agents. At least it feels that way.

Monday six agents sent out a letter to their clients saying not to ratify any labor agreement that reduces the players share of “basketball related income” (BRI) 52 percent and to make sure they take the time to really read any agreement before voting on it.

Fisher countered with a letter of his own Monday evening targeting the agents, saying that he understands a players bond with an agent but that the letter is filled with misinformation and “unsupported theories.” The Associated Press got a copy of Fishers’ letter.

One issue I need to again be very clear on…nothing can be accepted without a vote by the players. If and when there is a proposal that we feel is in the best interests of us as players, each of you WILL have the opportunity to vote in person. It’s in the union bylaws, it’s not up for negotiation. You will have the opportunity to see the full proposal before you agree, you will be able to challenge it, question it, anything you feel appropriate in order to know that this is the best deal for you and your fellow players.

As far as the negotiations, quite a few guys came out for the meeting on Friday. We met as a group first where we updated the players on the league and owner’s position which I have briefed you on previously. Everyone in the room was in agreement, we have been more than fair in our proposals…

Tomorrow (Tuesday), as you may have read, will be another larger negotiating session. Everyone in the regional meetings, Friday’s player meeting, and throughout this process has been in support of the position the NBPA has taken. We go into tomorrow’s meeting strong, remaining steadfast on the issues we will not be able to move away from. Anyone saying different is not privy to the meetings and is uninformed.

The agents don’t trust union director Billy Hunter and think he is giving away too much and will give away more (they all wanted to decertify the union to start with). Fisher is stressing unity in the face of this and saying the guys in the room have been good with the positions.

The agents meant the timing of their letter as leverage in Tuesday’s big meeting. But the owners will see Fisher having to send out letters trying to keep his troops in line the night before a big negotiating session and think the union is cracking.

The union is now fighting a two front war. If you read your history books in school, you know that usually doesn’t end well.

Top agents tell clients to reject any more givebacks in labor deal


Top NBA agents may be throwing a monkey wrench into the NBA labor negotiations on the eve of the biggest day of negotiations.

Six of the top NBA agents — who are no fan of union chief Billy Hunter and have been worried the union is giving up too much in negotiations — sent a letter to their clients Monday urging them to demand a full vote and reject any labor deal that gives up any further percentage points on basketball related income (BRI), reports Ric Bucher at ESPN.

The letter advises the players not to ratify any deal that includes a reduction in basketball-related income beyond the 57 percent or any other systematic changes from the last collective bargaining agreement, which expired July 1.

The letter sent Monday by the agents does not mention decertification, nor does it suggest that their clients break from the union. It simply — but pointedly — advises them to request ample time to review any labor deal the union might present for ratification and to demand that the entire union membership be given the chance to vote on it.

Other reports suggest that the letter says that the union has already come down to 52 percent in talks and that the players need to reject anything lower than that or that plus major changes to the current soft salary cap system.

The timing of this letter clearly is meant to give the NBA union some leverage in the talks on Tuesday. Part of that is the last line of the letter:

“Remember, it is not about when or how fast a deal is reached, it is about taking the time to secure the best deal.”

Part of it also seems to be agents warning players not to get taken to the cleaners just to get a deal.

In the last labor deal the players got 57 percent of the league’s BRI in salary. Owners have said that is the main reason they lost $300 million last season (although that number is certainly debatable). In recent negotiations, the players have dropped as far as 53 percent (and hinted they would go lower) and the owners have suggested they would go only up to 48 percent to the players. That is still a huge gap of about $200 million in the first year of the deal alone.

If the players reject going down even that far, the owners would harden their stance as well.

And then we would be headed to court — many of these same agents had pushed for the NBA union to decertify as the NFL union did at the start of its lockout, then file anti-trust lawsuits. Some still want to go that route. The courts did not rule in favor of the NFL union on the lockout and the head of the NFL’s players union, DeMaurice Smith, came to a NBA players union meeting to warn them against going the decertification path. Still, that option is on the table and the league filed a pre-emptive lawsuit to try and cut that path off at the knees.

While this latest letter from the agents does not call for decertification, it is from the same aggressive school of thought that thinks the owners can be backed off their demands.

The agents also clearly fear a deal they don’t like being forced down their throats. They want time for their players to review the deal (which really means time for them to find out about it). This is not what happened in the last lockout, ESPN reports.

When the union and owners struck a deal to end the lockout that delayed the start of the league’s 1998-99 season, players were given barely more than 24 hours to review the owners’ proposal and find their way to New York, where they had to be present to have their vote count in a show-of-hands format rather than by secret ballot, sources say. A total of 184 votes were recorded — the deal was ratified 179-5 — but that represented less than half the players eligible to vote.

The agents do not have a seat at the negotiating table — which frustrates them — the question is how much influence they carry on the outside. It can be considerable in some cases, but could they threaten a deal they don’t like? Hard to say.

Not sure we’re going to have to cross this bridge for a while, but it is out there.

ESPN reports the agents who sent the letter as:

Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group; Bill Duffy of BDA Sports; Dan Fegan of Lagardere Unlimited; Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management; Leon Rose and Henry Thomas of Creative Artists Agency; and Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports and Entertainment.