NBA AM: Owners Preparing To Mount Offensive
Lockout Update: The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) disbanded earlier this week after rejecting the league’s last collective bargaining agreement proposal.
On Tuesday NBA players filed class-action anti-trust lawsuits against the league in California and Minnesota.
For the majority of the week the players have been on the offensive trying to secure the upper hand in the ongoing labor battle.
Now the owners, facing litigation, are ready to plan their next phase of attack.
The league has already filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in New York in an effort to enforce the legality of the lockout ultimately seeking to get the players’ respective suits moved to the state.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the NBA’s labor relations committee has also scheduled a Thursday conference call with owners to plot their next steps.
It is important to note that the threat of the pending litigation alone isn’t expected to move hard-line owners from their aggressive stance toward negotiations. But the move may get both sides back to the negotiating table.
The players are seeking “treble” damages in their respective suits, which would triple the $2 billion they could have made with a full season of basketball.
Attorney David Boies, who represented the NFL during their work stoppage earlier this year, has gone public stating he believes the league overplayed its hand by issuing ultimatums and deadlines.
Boies also believes the players successfully called the owners’ bluff.
“If you’re in a poker game, and you run a bluff, and the bluff works, you’re a hero. If someone calls your bluff, you lose. I think the owners overplayed their hand,” Boies said. “They did a terrific job of taking a very hard line and pushing the players to make concession after concession after concession, but greed is not only a terrible thing — it’s a dangerous thing.”
Regular season games have been cancelled through December 15. The introduction of the judicial system into the mix has many believing the entire 2012 campaign could be scrapped while both sides iron out their differences.
“Nobody can tell you how long it’s going to take,” Boies admitted. “We all know it’s possible to delay lawsuits for a while, but I think it is in everybody’s interest to try to resolve this promptly. The longer it goes on, the greater the damages that the teams will face, the greater the damages that the players will suffer, and perhaps most important of all, the longer basketball fans will be deprived of basketball. So we hope that this will move quickly.”
Phil Jackson To Make Comeback? Back in May, less than forty-eight hours after Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson presumably coached his last NBA game; a league source told Marc Berman of the New York Post that while Jackson was definitely finished in Los Angeles he may be open to coaching offers in the future – which may include the New York Knicks in 2012.
“If the right situation presented itself, he would have to consider it,” the league source told the New York Post in May. “Phil’s going to have to find a way to keep himself occupied and fulfilled because Jeanie [Buss, Lakers executive and Jackson's girlfriend] is not retiring.”
The story didn’t gain much traction as those who witnessed Jackson physically labor through the last couple of seasons assumed the retirement was definitely final.
However, recently retired and future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who won three titles with Jackson as coach, also believes Jackson will eventually make a return to the sidelines.
“He may come back,” O’Neal told the New York Daily News. “Phil says he’s never coming back but he changed my NBA career. His focus and the way he did things and the way he taught us how to do things. He did it on a cool, calm respectable level.”
The Knicks are committed to head coach Mike D’Antoni through 2012 but he’ll likely enter the season on the proverbial hot seat after last season’s lackluster finish.
What seemingly keeps the Jackson to New York theories afloat is his deep rooted history with the Knicks organization as a player and the fact he seriously considered taking the reins of the Knicks back in 2005 before returning to Los Angeles after his second retirement from coaching.
Jackson turned 66 in September which in all likelihood makes a potential comeback even less feasible.
But until the coaching legend makes another statement reiterating his intent to remain retired you can fully expect the speculation to continue.
Splitter Headed Overseas: With the ongoing lockout waging on and seemingly collecting more momentum instead of fizzling out San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter has decided to play professionally overseas for the time being.
Splitter will join the Spanish ACB league and play for Valencia BC.
Splitter is a former Most Valuable Player of the league.
The contract will contain an out clause which will allow him to return to the Spurs once there is a resolution in the labor dispute.
As a rookie in San Antonio, Splitter averaged 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 61 contests. He is now the fifth Spur to pursue the overseas option since the lockout began joining DeJuan Blair, Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Chris Quinn.
Blair was released from his contract in mid-October.
NBA Chats: There are two chats on the schedule today. Joel Brigham is set to run the point at 1:30PM EST. Joel covers the Chicago Bulls and Eastern Conference. Be sure to get your questions in early. Next, HOOPSWORLD’s publisher Steve Kyler will host his chat at 3:30PM EST. Steve has the latest news regarding the lockout, trade rumors and offseason buzz. Submit your question here. You can always find the upcoming chats here.