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.
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.
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.