National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern, speaks after taking part in contract negotiations between NBA and players association in New York

Report: Owners could be open to minor system tweaks


If the owners and players sit down and talk before Wednesday’s deadline set by David Stern, the owners might be willing to make some tweaks to the system they have laid out.

The system has been part of the issue. Union president Derek Fisher has suggested he is willing to move more on split of league revenue (the union’s last offer was 51 percent to the players, down from 57 percent before, the owners want essentially 50/50), but they wanted concessions to keep the player movement and team spending system closer to what was in the last labor deal. The owners want both the money and system changes.

But apparently they’ll listen, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

As one ownership source told Yahoo! Sports on Monday night, “If there were a couple of tweaks needed around the edges – not fundamental deal points – I believe there could be a deal if everything else is agreed upon. But there needs to be a meeting with David and Billy for anything to happen.”

There has been talk of such a meeting, but nothing has yet been set. Which is ludicrous really, but then again this whole lockout has gotten ludicrous.

The system changes the players want would benefit the highest-spending teams — allowing teams paying the luxury tax to use sign-and-trade deals and have a full mid-level exception to use. In the past, teams like the Lakers and Mavericks — big spenders — have used the mid-level to bring in good role players to go around their stars. The sign-and-trade is a different matter, according to Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated that has barely ever been used by tax-paying teams (five times total in the last six years, and Shawn Marion to the Mavs from Toronto is the only example you might recall, the rest were almost pure salary dumps). The sign-and-trades that seemed to freak out owners (LeBron James to Miami, Chris Bosh to Miami, Carlos Boozer to Chicago) would not be impacted because those teams were under the salary cap at the time.

All that said, talking system tweaks is moot if the two sides are not talking.

Tolliver admits union membership divided on next move

Leave a comment

Some NBA players want to put David Stern’s ultimatum offer to a vote, take it and get back on the court.

Some NBA players want to start the process to decertify the union and fight the owners fire with fire.

It leaves union president Derek Fisher and director Billy Hunter in a no win situation heading into Tuesday’s union player reps meeting — no matter the move they will make some players unhappy. But the divide among the membership is real, Timberwolves team representative Anthony Tolliver told the Star-Tribune.

“Pretty much everything is split,” he said on his way to the airport after playing in a charity game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. “Half of the people want to decertify. Half the people want to vote on it….

“Probably my best bet is to sit down and figure out what’s really important,” he said. “I don’t want to make any outlandish comments about it right now. I want to see what everybody else has to say before I decide what I want to do. At this point, I’m split down the middle like everybody else. I don’t know what I want to do.”

It’s not an easy choice. Stern’s offer is a radical change from the old system and a big loss for the players at the bargaining table. However, decertifying the union would start the clock toward a vote that would certainly end the season. As CBA expert Larry Coon told us, it is likely that the union would make sure the actual vote to decertify the season would come after the owners deadline to cancel the entire season — at that point there is nothing to lose by decertification.

But that decision needs to be made now. And there is a real divide in the union on what steps to take.

Report: Hardline NBA owners had conference call Monday

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls

To the hardline NBA owners, Steve Blake is the enemy.

The NBA’s hardline owners spoke Monday on a conference call that did not include David Stern, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN. Since Stern was not on the call this was essentially some form of group therapy and reinforcement, but apparently it did take place.

This is what Broussard tweeted:

7-11 hardline owners expressed their displeasure with David Stern’s 50/50 offer to the players Monday on a conference call, sources said. The owners on the call included Michael Jordan, Paul Allen and Herb Kohl. They are hoping the players reject the offer, sources said…

The owners fear the player reps meeting in NYC Tuesday will push for approval of the deal. David Stern was not on the conference call.

Why do they hate Steve Blake? Because Blake is one of the players pushing for a vote on David Stern’s ultimatum. If it goes to a vote, it very well may pass (the union is divided).

But the other question I have is this: Are 7 to 11 owners driving this? At what point do the majority of owners tell them to sit down, shut up and take the 50/50 as a massive win? Because at some point the only way a deal gets done is if someone on both sides tells the hardliners to shut up.

It can’t happen soon enough.

Owners, players may meet Tuesday. That would make Kobe happy.

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

What Kobe Bryant wants, Kobe Bryant gets.

Okay, it’s not that simple, but in this case it could be a good thing.

The NBA owners and players are trying to set up one last meeting before David Stern’s Wednesday deadline, reported Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The NBA and Players Association are discussing setting up a meeting for Tuesday to try and reach agreement on a labor deal, a league source told Yahoo! Sports. Nothing is finalized, but the sides were working toward having a session in New York before Wednesday’s league-imposed deadline for the union to accept the owners’ current offer.

They can’t make a deal if they aren’t in the same room talking to one another, so if they set this up it is a start. What preconditions could be on this meeting — after Stern’s ultimatium late Saturday night — are unknown. The union isn’t going to take Stern’s offer as is. But if the two sides talk maybe the system issues could be worked out, clearing the way for an agreement on basketball related income. It would mean both sides giving a little more, but hey miracles do happen.

And it would make Kobe happy.

He told Wojnarowski he just wants to see the two sides sit down and talk.

“We need for the two sides to get together again before Wednesday, because we’re too close to getting a deal done,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. “We need to iron out the last system items and save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter.”

This is what the lockout has come to: Kobe Bryant has become the voice of concession and reason. Kobe and concession in the same sentence.

(Although this is very Kobe, he knows he is at the tail end of his career and he can’t win a ring or make personal scoring goals, like passing Jordan in total points, if he has to sit out a season.)

At this point, I am pleased when the two sides sit down in a room to talk. Not optimistic, but pleased. It’s the only way anything is going to get done.

Union membership clearly divided on Stern’s ultimatum

Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter

Union leadership is clear — they don’t like the latest offer from David Stern and the league. They think it is unfair. They don’t think the owners have given enough on system issues for the players to come down from getting 51 percent of league revenues (and plenty within union leadership don’t even want to go down to 51 percent). The union is not backing down from Stern’s threat of a worse deal to follow.

And union leadership does not have an obligation to present offers it thinks are bad ones to the membership for a vote. The leaders are elected to vet such offers for the union, that’s how a negotiation works.

But they do have an obligation to know the mood of their constituents, and right now the union is a divided group. There are plenty of players out there — many the “rank and file” NBA players — who would vote to take the deal and get out on the court. And they are speaking out.

Take this note from Kevin Martin as told by Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated.

“If you know for sure [the owners] are not moving, then you take the best deal possible,” Martin wrote in a text message to SI.com. “We are risking losing 20 to 25 percent of missed games that we’ll never get back, all over 2 percent [of basketball-related income] over an eight- to 10-year period [of the eventual collective bargaining agreement]. And let’s be honest: 60 to 70 percent of players won’t even be in the league when the next CBA comes around….

“My opinion — which is just one of 450 players — is that if it comes down to losing a season and 100 percent of the money, we all definitely have to sit down and think about reality. That doesn’t sound smart to possibly become part of the country’s growing unemployment rate.”

Lakers guard Steve Blake has been working the phones telling people around the league to push team rep’s to ask for a vote on Stern’s proposal, tweets Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Amick tweeted he spoke to agents representing 19 players, all of whom want to take the deal.

On the flip side, you have team reps reaching out to see if players favor decertification today. And you have plenty of players — particularly veterans and the elite players — who do not want to give in. There is this tweet from ESPN’s Chris Broussard.


It’s impossible to tell which side is in the majority (although Wojnarowski says more players would reject deal than take it) but clearly the union is divided. Which makes the job of Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter all the more difficult because they are going to have to sell the heck out of whatever decisions they make.

And that seems to embolden the owner hardliners, who want to pull back the offer on the table and really try to stick it to the union. To heck with the game, they want to win big.

Don’t expect to see the union calling for a vote on Stern’s proposal — union leadership would consider it a loss to put it to a vote. They are more likely to lean decertification and really fighting back.

Whatever happens in Tuesday’s union meeting, some people are going to be very unhappy. The union is not a unified front.