Tag: NBA lockout


Players consolidate lawsuits, but court ordered talks best hope


If you were holding out hope that David Stern and Billy Hunter were going to be having pleasant phone conversations over the holiday weekend, and that the NBA on Christmas still could happen, well, we’re sorry.

The next NBA owners and players negotiations will likely be because a judge ordered them, a source close to the labor dispute told ProBasketballTalk.

Those talks — and maybe a settlement out of them — would happen in the coming weeks, in time to have a partial NBA season. And when those talks start there will be significant pressure on both sides to reach an agreement, more than there has been at any point up to now.

On Monday, the players voluntarily withdrew their case in Northern California and will amend their case in Minnesota. It is now a consolidated case of the two, but still a class action on behalf of the players, something attorneys for the players said would speed the process along. Carmelo Anthony remains the first name on the lawsuit, other players listed include Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and more.

The league responded to that with some legal jabs, because that’s what they do.

“We assume that (lead players attorney David) Boies was not happy with either the reassignment of the case from Oakland to San Francisco or the fact that the new judge scheduled the first conference for March 2012,” said Rick Buchanan, NBA Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “This is consistent with Mr. Boies’ inappropriate shopping for a forum that he can only hope will be friendlier to his baseless legal claims.”

The league was forum shopping with its preemptive lawsuit back in August, but whatever. The league has until Dec. 5 to answer the claim, they likely will do by calling the union’s “disclaimer of interest” a sham. Bottom line for fans, if it comes to the judge deciding this case you can kiss the current season goodbye. Fans need to hope for a different resolution.

Over the weekend, we had passed along a report that there had been some recent “back channel” negotiations going on between the league and the players association.

That talk is “nothing significant” PBT was told. That’s not going to help.

Instead the battle remains on the antitrust legal front. The players’ attorneys are pushing for summary judgment (not an injunction, as the NFL tried and failed to get). Still, summary judgment hearings would not happen until the spring (April or May), which means by then the 2011-12 NBA season would be lost.

Hope of a partial season springs from the fact in the next few weeks (likely after Dec. 5) we can expect the judge to order more mediated negotiations between the two sides, PBT was told. Mandated mediation is commonly part of anti-trust lawsuits, essentially a chance for the judge to make sure the two sides really want to go down this path. To give the sides one more chance to settle their differences without a judge involved. (It is possible one side picks up the phone and calls the other to ask for a negotiating session, but that is the less likely scenario. The owners have said they wouldn’t do that and players attorney Boies said he would not because the league is not receptive.)

A judge likely will order mediated negotiations by the middle of December if not before, according to the source. Talks would start soon after. This would be similar to the talks when federal mediator George Cohen sat down with the sides last month.

The one key difference would be the level of pressure on both sides to figure this out — the players do not want to lose a season of salary ($2.2 billion), the owners do not want to lose a season of revenue (at a much higher percentage for them than the last deal), plus neither side wants to damage the game by costing a full season. What is the point of fighting over how to divide up the revenue pie if the pie itself gets smaller?

In addition, the threat of summary judgment — which would certainly be a huge loss for whichever side did not convince the judge of its case — is another motivation for both sides to figure this out.

The challenge is that people from both the owners and players have suggested they will come into the next negotiations with the last offer they made off the table. Stern has threatened a “reset” offer of 47 percent of BRI for the players and a “flex cap” that is really a hard cap. The players have suggested in kind their last offer of a 50/50 BRI split with more system issues leaning in their favor is something the owners may never see again.

This is not where either side wanted to end up. Union officials have said that the disclaimer of interest was the route of last resort — they wanted to negotiate in good faith. That’s why they didn’t decertify in July or August, they thought this could be worked out. After David Stern’s last ultimatum they felt they had no choice. League officials will tell you they expected this — which is why they filed a preemptive suit back in August — and that the union had bad timing to do disclaim interest now. The league says it has given far more than many owners wanted just to make a deal.

For better or worse, the courts are involved now. For fans they can just hope that the upcoming mediation sessions will turn out different than the last ones.

Ex NBAer John Amaechi says it’s not about love of the game

NBA Labor Basketball

What’s love got to do with it?

For all the talk of the love of the game by both sides in the NBA lockout (“basketball never stops”), the fans are not feeling that love. Fans do love the game and pay to watch it be played. Right now the owners and players are having raw emotional fights about money and freedom of player movement. That doesn’t feel like love.

Former NBA player John Amaechi was on the Dan Lebatard show last week, primarily to talk about the scandal at his alma mater Penn State. Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop watched the interview as it turned to hoops. (As a reminder Amaechi came out as a homosexual after his NBA playing days. He was in no way accused of wrongdoing as part of the Penn State scandal.)

Amaechi talked about the NBA lockout and motivations for players. When asked what he missed most about the NBA he said “the paychecks,” which is a topic Amaechi talked about in his memoir.  And while fans want to think their favorite players take to the court for the love of the game, that is not usually the case.

People who think you need to love something in order to do it don’t understand fundamental human motivation. That’s not how it works. To me, this is one of the huge hypocrisies that sports people perpetrate because it’s good for marketing. It’s this idea that … they convince everybody they love it so much that they’d do it for nothing. And yet nobody does it for nothing. Two leagues have been locked out … and players have agents to make sure that every year they make more, even though what they make is more than anyone can possibly conceive of — what they make in a month is more than anybody can possibly conceive of.

Ask the players right now in the NBA. “If you loved the game, would the season be eroding, knowing that you’re still going to make a gajillion dollars a year?” Really?

There are a lot of players who do love the game, and some who like it. There are players in the NBA who love the lifestyle and money and that is their motivation. In reality, it’s a mixture of all of it for most players — the money and the game and the lifestyle go hand in hand, so they work at their game to keep it all going.

It’s just a reminder not to think of this as love, but to think of this as business. Because in the end that’s what it is — the business of a game, but still business.

Derrick Rose says he is not going to play overseas

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Game Three

That sound you just heard was the collective exhale of Chicago Bulls fans. And Tom Thibodeau.

That’s because over the weekend Derrick Rose, the star and building block of the Chicago Bulls, said he has no plans of going overseas. Here is the quote from the Houston Chronicle, where Rose was over the weekend for a charity game.

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m good,” Rose said. “I’m just trying to stay in a nice place where you never know what will happen, or what can happen, what will happen. Now, I’m trying to keep myself in nice shape, and stay positive. Hopefully, we’ll have a season.”

After what happened to J.R. Smith, a lot of top NBA players have to hesitate when thinking about playing overseas. It’s one thing for a role player who has a limited window to make his money, but for a star like Rose who has a long and lucrative NBA career ahead of him, the risks of heading overseas might be too great.

Might Jazz go on market if labor deal isn’t good enough? No.

Jazz logo

UPDATE 1:49 pm: Greg Miller, the guy who owns the Jazz, shot down the sale idea with this tweet on Monday afternoon.

Speculation of the Jazz being sold is unfortunate & irresponsible. Thanks to unprecedented fan & sponsor support the Jazz is solid as ever.

11:28 am: I will tell you up front I am dubious about this. Actually, dubious is not a strong enough word, I think this is spin and… well, I can’t use the other word in a family blog such as this.

A source suggested to the Deseret News that the Utah Jazz lost $17 million last season and that if the new labor deal isn’t a good enough one for small markets the long-time owners, the Miller family, may try and sell the team.

In fact, one source with intimate knowledge of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies’ inner workings speculated that small-market-related economic hardships could force Jazz ownership to place a “For Sale” sign on the franchise. The source told the Deseret News that the Jazz were expected to report losses in the $17 million range for the 2010-11 season.

“If I was a betting man,” the source said, “my guess is that the Millers will sell the team within the next five years, unless this CBA changes the formula so that the team can make some money.”

Now, even the reporter (Jody Genessy) sounded like he questioned this and Real Salt Lake owner and former Knicks executive Dave Checketts thought that sounded far-fetched. That said, go read the whole story, it’s a great look into small market team finances.

We want to add, that while the Jazz may have lost money last year, they were tax payers — they were more than $5 million over the luxury tax threshold. They also will be over the salary cap whenever the lockout ends, the Jazz have been spenders.

What’s more, the last offer was already a good deal for small market owners. The league said it lost $300 million last season and the players gave back that much salary in the most recent talks, agreeing to the 50/50 split. Plus, the owners were on the verge of having a new revenue sharing program that would have tripled money that comes to smaller market clubs. That would more than cover the financial losses of the Jazz.

The Miller family is not going to sell the Jazz. Not going to happen. As former Jazz beat writer Ross Siller suggested on twitter, one reason is it would hurt the image of their other businesses too much.

This isn’t all about the money anymore. What held up the last deal with these same small market owners chasing the Holy Grail of competitive balance. Something that is a myth, something no system they put in place can achieve. The Jazz have been successful in a small market for years because they made smart decisions with players and drafted well. The only reason they would not be successful in the future is if they stop doing those things. It’s not the system.

NBA overseas roundup: Kevin Martin likely staying stateside

Kevin Martin
Leave a comment

We told you the big news already — J.R. Smith had a potentially serious injury and AK47 had one that looks painful but will only keep him out a few weeks. But there is other news about NBA players looking overseas, so here is a roundup.

• Rockets guard Kevin Martin is getting overseas options but he doesn’t sound like a guy likely to take them, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo.

• Pacers guard T.J. Ford has reached a deal to play for Croatia to join KK Zagreb, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. There is an NBA opt out to return (the Pacers would probably like him to stay).

• Athletic Rockets swingman Chase Budinger is close to signing with Lokomotiv-Kuban in Russia. He had a few options (including France). He will have an opt-out for when the NBA season starts.

• Turkish club Besiktas has been looking for a big to pair with Deron Williams and set their sights high (Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge) but seems to have come back to Marcin Gortat. Who is still a good fit, but not quite the athlete the other two are.

• Rockets guard Goran Dragic has agreed to terms and will play for Caja Laboral of the Spanish league during the lockout.

• Patrick Mills has left playing for Melbourne in his native Australia to sign with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. The answer to you next question is money. If the NBA lockout ends and there is a season Mills will be one of the free agent guards available in March when the Chinese season ends, but he likely will not be in the NBA before that.

• Pacers guard George Hill says he will not play overseas during the lockout.

• The Spurs Da’Sean Butler has signed with VEF Riga in Latvia on a two-week “tryout” contract.

• Dexter Pittman said he will play for Atenas de Cordoba in Argentina. He is still under contract to the Heat.