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NBA AM: No Deal In The NBA Today?
Posted By Steve Kyler On November 14, 2011 @ 9:25 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Is Today The Day For A Deal? As the NBA Players’ Association gathers in New York today to review the latest proposal by the NBA aimed at ending the 136-day old NBA Lockout, there are a number of storylines clouding the process.
The NBPA has requested its 30 team representatives attend a meeting today to go over and review the offer in “exhaustive” detail. The meeting is open to all NBA Players; however the NBPA seems focused solely on the opinions of the 30 team representatives regarding the next steps in the process.
Sources close to the process say that the Executive Committee will recommend to the 30 Team reps to pass on this latest offer from the NBA, while presenting a new “amended offer” for review and approval they plan to counter-propose to the NBA.
The immediate question is why would the NBA take such an offer?
Sources say because it would come with the caveat that while the NBA’s offer was deemed ‘take it or leave it’; it would not pass and therefore a non-starter.
The new “amended” proposal which aims to tweak areas that the NBPA still finds problematic would come with the guarantee that their version of the deal would be put to a full vote of the Players immediately.
So will the NBA accept a tweaked version of their latest offer, knowing they could likely close the deal?
It is also a clever tactical move by the Players to again shift the onus of a NBA season back onto the owners, while trying to claim some moral victories at the last moment that they can sell to their players.
The NBA is sticking to its line that they are finished negotiating, and that the deal on the table is the final offer.
The NBA has gone to great lengths recently to correct numerous misrepresentations of their offer, and went on something of a damage control binge this weekend.
Not only did NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commission Adam Silver host a live “Q&A” on Twitter yesterday answering labor related questions from fans, players and reporters, but the NBA also released the full memorandum that was sent to all active NBA Players outlining the full deal offer – the full offer can be read here. And if that wasn’t enough, the NBA also posted its Power Point slide deck outlining the deal on YouTube.
The NBA has made it clear that failing to take the “the best proposal the NBA is able to make” would result in a reversion back to a much harder, aggressive deal format going forward.
Players’ Association sources continue to say they are not going to let artificial deadlines and ultimatums steer their actions, and they will agree only to a deal that is fair in their eyes, regardless of how long that takes.
Today’s meetings in New York could go a long way towards mapping the future of NBA basketball, and based on the tone going into the meetings things do not look promising.
The one glimmer of hope in all of this is that members of the NBPA joked this weekend that it was funny how many people were speculating on what the NBPA would do next, as though everything has been decided, pointing out, “We haven’t even met yet.”
If today’s meeting is legitimately going to be an open exchange of thoughts and opinions there is still room for optimism, but if the next steps have already be determined then today is just one more wasted day in the process that will likely see NBA Players in courtrooms before they see NBA basketball courts.
Is It Time For Hunter To Go? The last 30 days or so has become somewhat routine… Right around 7:30am EST the first of the day’s several phone calls trickle in.
Some are agents seeking the latest information in exchange for information. Some are players seeking similar details. League sources, fellow media members, and the like all wanting to know everything they can.
It’s been like clockwork over the last month, and it’s been fairly constant.
There are a few things that get said, frustrations boil over. There are questions about the plan and direction of the Union.
There are a lot of questions about how this group of players, the NBA Players’ Association Executive Committee, gets to decide the next decade of basketball.
There is not a lot of faith in the Derek Fishers and Mo Evans of the world crafting a deal that affects so many players.
No one has anything against those guys personally, it’s just the concept of guys who are may be one year from out of the league making some of the most important decisions in basketball.
None of those players enjoy the role they find themselves in, and all of them are out-gunned at the bargaining table. They are all smart, bright guys, but none of them garner the respect at the table some of their higher profile peers do and that’s a problem.
There is one resounding commonality from almost everyone you speak to in the process, and that’s the lack of faith and belief in Billy Hunter as the leader of the Union.
To be fair, I have always found Billy to be a very nice and engaging guy. He jokes with reporters. He answers questions in a truthful manner. He shares his wisdom and his insight without expecting a lot in return.
So to be fair, I like Billy Hunter as a person.
However, as the leader of the Players’ Association, I have to agree with the ever mounting criticism of Hunter and say the very best thing Billy could do for his Union today is realize that he has been beaten by the NBA in this process and that if he genuinely wants to help the rank and file get a fair labor deal, it will only happen when a new set of voices is allowed to steer the process.
When you hear talk today about Decertification, understand that’s the Players saying it’s time for a new voice and a new direction and supposedly there are more than 200 Players ready to break the Union apart rather than take the deal that Hunter will explore with his 30 team representatives today.
Billy Hunter has been a key part of the unprecedented growth and success for NBA Players over the last 15-plus years, but the truth of it is that the NBA Players find themselves where they are today in part because of a strategy formed by Hunter and the leaders he surrounds himself with.
If Hunter really wants what’s best for the Players… if his Team Representatives vote to reject the NBA’s latest offer, his next action should be to announce his resignation and turn this process over to a new team.
Great coaches in the NBA are fired all the time. Great players are waived and released and at some point the best players in the game recognize they cannot compete at the level they used to and retire.
For Billy Hunter, it might be time to realize that the game will not be won with him calling the shots.
That’s not an indictment of Billy Hunter’s career, but just the realization it might be time for another voice to take this thing home. This is the next decade of basketball.
The odds that Hunter will relinquish his power are slim, but there is an ever growing chorus of disenfranchised and frustrated people who believe the NBA Players find themselves where they are because of their leadership and that starts and stops with Billy Hunter and maybe it’s time for Billy to go.
A Few Unspoken Wrinkles: The NBA released the full details of their offer to the NBA Players yesterday and while there are number of things the NBA Players do not like about the deal, the single biggest complaint players make is about limiting their “Freedom of Movement.”
That’s the buzz word players are dropping about the offer, however there is a bigger elephant in the room that no one is really talking about.
There has been a lot made about the limitations the NBA’s latest offer has on what teams that overspend into the Luxury Tax range would be saddled with. Less Exception money, less flexibility to complete sign-and-trade deals after the third year of the deal, lower trade thresholds in acquiring players via trade, and so on.
The amusement many are finding in these public comments is how worked up people are getting over what tax teams are and are not allowed to do.
The point that’s being missed is that almost no team in the NBA will be over the tax line in three years and that the deal on the table is crafted in so many ways to discourage tax spending that the rules and restrictions being debated may end up affecting one or two teams per year at most.
First, there will be a Revenue Sharing Plan instituted in the NBA where in the richest of teams – your typical Luxury Tax teams – will be contributing revenues to fund lower revenue teams.
That’s a new multi-million dollar hit some of the top earners will be taking on.
Second, the new tax system is brutally aggressive, especially for teams significantly over the Luxury Tax line. The NBA’s offer details the tax to work like this:
$1.50-for-$1 over the Tax from $1 to $5 million over
$1.75-for-$1 over the Tax from $5 million to $10 million over
$2.50-for-$1 over the Tax from $10 million to $15 million over
$3.25-for-$1 over the Tax from $15 million to $20 million over
Using the NBA’s new system the LA Lakers who have $91.113 million in 2011-2012 salary commitments and are $20.806 million over the $70.307 million Luxury tax line go from paying $20.806 million in tax for a total team cost of $111.919 million to paying $48.025 in tax for a total player cost of $139.135 million.
Before you start talking about the depth of Dr. Jerry Buss’ pockets, keep in mind under the new system he is likely losing $25 to $30 million a year to revenue sharing, and he just added more than $28 million in new tax dollars.
But wait, there is more. The Lakers would also have less exception money and harder trade rules to compete going forward.
Informed sources point to the numerous changes in the tax system as a key reason why over the next few years tax payers will become the exception not the rule, which is why all of the debate on a Repeater tax, and what tax teams can and cannot do is somewhat moot, because so few teams will go into tax territory once the full weight of this new deal kicks in, in three years.
Under the old labor deal, all a team had to worry about was meeting the dollar-for-dollar expense of the tax and some of the deep pocketed owners viewed that extra cost as the cost of doing business to win a championship.
However this new tax system combined with revenue sharing and real restrictions for tax spenders means more and more teams will lower the bar to just under the tax line, because the hammer for being over it in a significant way becomes extremely punitive.
Which is why holding up a labor deal on the what ifs on tax teams is somewhat silly, because inside the next three years if there are two Luxury tax teams that will be a lot.
The deepest of the deep pocket owners will consider being tax teams and the rest of the league will float just under it, so the endless debate on the fairness of and virtue of restricting tax teams is pointless, because the system is designed to discourage tax spending by everyone in a very harsh and aggressive way.
Unfriendly Decertification: There are two legal terms you may want to familiarize yourself with for this weeks’ labor meetings.
The first is Disclaimer of Interest. This is when a union declines to represent its members going forward. In essence this is the Union saying we can make no further progress and we quit.
This is the route the NFL Players took earlier this year and reclassified themselves as a Trade group in order to start filing lawsuits against the league.
The second is Decertification. This is when the members of a union agree to dissolve the union to negotiate on their own.
There are friendly decertifications, in which the Union agrees to the process and there are unfriendly decertifications.
This is important because there has been talk that after today’s meetings in New York, the NBA Players Association could offer an amended labor deal to the NBA and explain that if the NBA passes on the offer the Union could file a Disclaimer of Interest petition and start the Union members down a legal path to challenge the NBA in court.
By now you have likely heard that some 200 NBA players have agreed to sign or have signed a decertification petition, which is an unfriendly decertification.
There is a key difference in the approach according to sources with knowledge of the process.
The NBA in a pre-emptive move some months ago filed a complaint against the NBA Players’ Association in federal district court in New York specifically citing claims that the Players would use Decertification to try and force a deal and that such a move would be illegal and would void all existing player contracts.
According to sources, if the NBA Players’ Association files a Disclaimer of Interest, all lawsuits that follow would be heard in the New York federal courts and that is viewed as undesirable.
If an unfriendly Decertification is completed, the Players would be free to file their lawsuits in a different venue, like the California courts which are viewed as more employee friendly.
According to sources if the Players Association files a Disclaimer of Interest, it could doom the Decertification movement, as they do not feel the New York courts are a winnable venue. All the legal advantages from decertification could be lost if this is not played out correctly.
As things play out over the next few days, do not be surprised to see the Players’ file their decertification petition quickly, because getting the Unfriendly designation gives the decertification credibility and more flexibility in court, which is where this process seems headed if both sides cannot reach a deal.
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