Tag: NBA lockouts


Agents can call teams Wednesday, team facilities open Thursday


The NBA is getting back to business.

On Wednesday agents of NBA players can contact teams (something that has been going on through back channels anyway but now can happen directly). No deals can be official until Dec. 9.

On Thursday, NBA players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts, so tweets Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo was first with this news). Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com also confirmed this.

For the players on teams already it means a chance to workout and play pick-up games with their teammates. It is not chance for coaches to work with players — team officials cannot coach or have anything but incidental contact with players. Although, you can bet this is skirted a bit, especially key for teams where there is a new coach or considerable player turnover. It’s a chance to install some system items before training camps officially open.

But the real action will begin with the agents. While technically teams are not supposed to enter into verbal agreements with players, you can be sure lot of handshake deals will be in place and just formalized on Dec. 9. That allows free agents to be with teams at the start of training camp. There will start to be a flurry of activity, and you will also see agents of lesser-known players working to get their guys camp invites.

Shaq points to Joe Johnson to explain owners’ mistakes

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six

Shaquille O’Neal pulled out the bad contract = lockout card again, but rather than going with the classics — Eddy Curry or Rashard Lewis — he went with the new and threw Atlanta’s Joe Johnson under the bus.

Which is both right and wrong at the same time. But we’ll get to that farther down the page.

First, here is what Shaq told the Times-Picayune when talking about the lockout (and notice how he still refers to the players as “we”):

O’Neal said a number of owners have overspent to keep players on rosters despite incurring significant revenue losses. O’Neal points to the Atlanta Hawks’ decision to re-sign guard Joe Johnson to a six-year, $119 million contract in July 2010 as a prime example of a franchise overpaying for a player when they not bringing in significant revenue to offset the costs.

“I love Joe Johnson and I hope he doesn’t get mad with me, but he’s not a $20 million a year guy,” O’Neal said. “Business-wise, Atlanta isn’t making that much money. But if you are going to offer a kid a lot of money, he’s going to take it. I think we need a system that protect the owners from each other.’’

First the disclaimer, the part where Shaq is wrong: Giving Joe Johnson a reasonable contract would not have impacted the overall health of the league. Under the old system, the players got 57 percent of basketball related income guaranteed — if the owners were smart and frugal with deals and came in under that percentage, then they had to write a supplemental check to cover the difference. Which is exactly what happened last season (and the players are just getting those checks now).

So whether it was bad deals or good ones, the players were going to get a cut the owners say is too high.

However, Shaq is spot on about the market size and owners writing contracts they knew they couldn’t afford. There was a buzz last summer that the Hawks wanted to keep Johnson at any cost to keep the fan base happy and the Atlanta Spirit ownership group was good with this oversized deal because they planned to sell the team and not be around for what will be the ugly end of that contract.

Middle and small market teams made terrible decisions about contracts then want out of them. They want protection from themselves. Don’t kid yourself, that is part of the “competitive balance” argument, that the Lakers can overpay Luke Walton and eat the deal then get another player, an option other markets don’t have.

In the end, I think even the owners would admit they have been part of the problem. But should the players have to pay for that?

NBA referees without a contract with the league, too

NBA Finals Game 3: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics
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I know what you’re saying. You read that headline and said, “Good riddance. I could do a better job than those slobs the NBA hires as referees.”

Which means you forgot about the preseason of 2009, when we dealt with replacement referees. Remember how we watched the wildly inconsistent calls from these temp workers, calls that had players shaking their heads and fans saying things we never thought we’d say, like “man, I miss Steve Javie.”

Well, when the players lockout ends we could be dealing with another lockout of refs, reports Peter May at HoopsHype.

In a ‘here we go again,’ situation, the referees’ CBA with the league expired eight days ago (on Sept. 1.) While the league says the two sides are still talking – there has been nothing for public consumption from the referees’ side for months – there is no deal and another lockout is possible….

(Referees union lead negotiator Lee) Seham, who did not respond to an email seeking comment for this story, has been anything but a shrinking violet to date. He filed two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, one of which was withdrawn. One of the complaints dealt with what he said was the NBA’s failure to negotiate in good faith “over such issues as discrimination, or the league’s attempt to terminate a referee without cause,” according to an e-mail to Yahoo! Sports last March. That was Seham’s last known public comment on the negotiations.

My guess is once the owners strike a deal with the players, they will find a deal that works with the referees and make it work. After this lockout, the league could not handle the black eye of replacement referees. But this may be another short deal because if the referees are looking more money a couple years down the line may be a better time to ask.

Bottom line, don’t expect the referee contract situation to get resolved until a deal is struck with the players union.