NBA: Looking Ahead
The battle between the NBA and the NBPA has finally ended . . . kind of.
With the players’ bold disclaimer of interest, the union dissolved into what is/should now be called the National Basketball Trade Association (NBTA?).
Now the negotiation will continue through attorneys (not that it wasn’t in the previous incarnation), led by David Boies on the players’ side.
Already Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chauncey Billups, Leon Powe and rookie Kawhi Leonard have united for a suit in Northern California. Additionally Ben Gordon, Caron Butler, Anthony Tolliver and rookie Derrick Williams are joined in Minnesota with a second complaint.
The NBTA has hope the courts will grant a summary judgment, a ruling in lieu of a full trial to speed the process. That would, in theory, shorten the process to just a couple of months although initial court dates aren’t scheduled until . . . February/March.
Going through to an actual legal conclusion will mean a lost season of basketball.
The 1999 lockout ended on January 20th, leading to a 50-game season. That’s not a lot of wiggle room under the current circumstances but the possibility remains that both sides gear up yet again for talks . . . eventually.
Void All Contracts? You sure about that?
Commissioner David Stern warned players that all existing contracts would become null and void in absence of the union. Whether he can make that claim stand in court remains to be seen.
It’s an onerous-sounding threat but can Stern find enough teams to support that position?
Would the Chicago Bulls be willing to lose the contract of reigning MVP Derrick Rose? How about the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Clippers and Blake Griffin, the New York Knicks with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, or the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant and the rest?
Even the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that has struggled to win the past few years, isn’t going to want to just let the contracts of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio evaporate.
Goodbye Lockout, Hello Boycott
The lockout has now morphed, at least to the NBTA, into a boycott by the owners.
From here, the most likely outcome will be court-mandated, non-binding mediation (or maybe simple voluntary negotiation).
Should the players, after protracted litigation end up the victor (or technically in shorter time via summary judgment), the owners would have to pay treble damages up to three times the amount of lost wages, possibly hitting over $6 billion.
Already the prospect of a 72-game season has passed, with additional games getting lopped off each passing day.
History would suggest another 22 are in jeopardy before the entire schedule becomes null and void.
The money lost won’t be recouped but both sides believe the right deal over the next 6-10 years is worth the short-term pain . . . otherwise from an immediate perspective neither side has acted reasonably.
Credit the players for standing strong for their convictions when they could have easily taken a deal they didn’t believe in. At the time, the NBPA felt that coming down to 50/50 on the split of Basketball Related Income (BRI) would lead to the owners yielding on system issues.
By coming seven percentage points from the prior CBA, the players felt the owners would have enough of a profit to utilize revenue sharing to provide for parity.
Instead, Stern pushed the envelope on both fronts with a number of wrinkles in the league’s proposal that the union just couldn’t accept.
From their players’ perspective, Stern’s effort to systemize parity would rid them of leverage in free agency (with teams reluctant to use Bird Rights, a limited Mid-Level Exception (MLE) for taxpayers, etc.)
The owners’ counter is that the players as a group will always receive their full portion of BRI, regardless of system. The mechanisms put in place, while providing for parity, would still give opportunity to the individual players.
Obviously the players disagreed passionately enough to walk the current path. It remains to be seen if they’ll better their fate in the end.
It may be an exercise in futility but that’s the decision that was made.
Some Notes on What Might Have Been
By the owner’s proposal, in the first two years the cap and tax thresholds would have remained at $58 million and $70.3 million, respectively. Teams would have the one-time amnesty for 100% of a single player. The stretch provision would allow for players to be waived while their salaries get paid out of twice the remaining length plus an additional year.
It remains to be seen how things shake out, especially regarding the MLE and sign and trades for tax teams, but the aforementioned items didn’t seem contentious and could end up in the final compromise.
A more controversial matter would be the actual rate of taxation, especially an even more daunting penalty for teams above the threshold four times in a matter of five years.
Before the recent impasse, HOOPSWORLD looked at two items in the proposal (CBA Scenarios: The Amnesty Cut and CBA Scenarios: The New Luxury Tax) but now some items stand out now that more details have become available.
The Atlanta Hawks, if they used the Amnesty on Marvin Williams, would have $11.9 million to spend under the tax to 1) re-sign Jamal Crawford and 2) replace Williams.
The Boston Celtics, if they dumped Jermaine O’Neal via Amnesty, would have in the ballpark of $9 million to re-sign Jeff Green, Delonte West and replace O’Neal (over the cap but remaining under the tax). If the Celtics intend to compete again at an elite level, they’re going to be a tax team.
The Charlotte Bobcats, once rid of DeSagana Diop (Amnesty), would have roughly $13 million under the cap to spend on the free agent market. That could increase to about $15.3 million if they also used the Stretch Exception on Matt Carroll.
The Chicago Bulls would probably hold onto their Amnesty to use at a later date. They’d have their MLE to try and add a starting shooting guard.
Waiving Baron Davis (Amnesty) could open up about $9 million for the Cleveland Cavaliers in cap space.
If the Dallas Mavericks used their Amnesty on Brendan Haywood, they’d have about $16 million to spend on Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea. It would probably take more than that to retain all three, so Dallas could remain a tax payer (a sizable one if they keep Haywood).
The Denver Nuggets should have tremendous cap room heading into the season. If they have $26 million before re-signing Nene, that number could grow to $32 million if they used the Amnesty on Al Harrington.
If the Detroit Pistons used their Amnesty on Charlie Villanueva and the Stretch Exception on Rip Hamilton, they’d be looking at about $23 million in cap space.
Dumping both Andris Biedrins (Amnesty) and Charlie Bell (Stretch) could give the Golden State Warriors $17.1 million in cap space.
The Houston Rockets probably bank their Amnesty for a later date, already armed with about $7 million in cap.
Amnesty on James Posey would give the Indiana Pacers about $28 million to spend.
A bold move for the Los Angeles Clippers would be Amnesty on Chris Kaman and Stretch on Ryan Gomes to generate about $26 million in cap. More likely the team would Amnesty Gomes for a total of about $15.6 million in space.
Even if the Los Angeles Lakers waived Luke Walton (Amnesty), they’d still be at least $16 million over the tax. Walton could retire on his own accord but by the rules in the last deal, the Lakers wouldn’t get tax relief for an additional season.
The Memphis Grizzlies likely hold onto their Amnesty and still have approximately $17.6 million to spend to re-sign Marc Gasol (and possibly keep Shane Battier) while still remaining under the tax.
The Miami HEAT may decide Mike Miller isn’t worth keeping if he pushes the team into the tax, which would likely be the case if the HEAT spend their MLE in free agency. No Miller would place Miami about $9 million under the tax before signing any new players.
The Milwaukee Bucks will be right about at the cap once they relinquish the rights to Michael Redd. If they want to Amnesty Drew Gooden, he could help to open up over $11 million in space room . . . but the Bucks may be more likely to just hold on and use their MLE.
The Minnesota Timberwolves also likely hold with about $6 million in cap space. Waiving Brad Miller could increase that number to almost $11 million.
Travis Outlaw was not the best signing last summer and Amnesty would help the New Jersey Nets increase their cap space to about $22 million from $15 million.
If the New Orleans Hornets let David West and Carl Landry go, they’d have about $13 million in cap but they may spend instead to keep the team together and add on with their MLE. Much depends on the long-term prospects of Chris Paul, who can leave after this coming season as a free agent.
The New York Knicks are thinking ahead to 2012 when they hope to maximize cap space for a run at someone like Paul. Amnesty might help slightly to that end in trimming off an additional $1.7 million in salary (Renaldo Balkman) but the Knicks have finally gotten through the lousy contracts bogging the team down over the last handful of years.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder were thinking about adding on via cap space, they could Amnesty Nate Robinson to gain about $8.5 million in room . . . otherwise they hold and use their MLE to improve.
The Orlando Magic would still have to pay Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu but Amnesty and Stretch, respectively could take a team $6 million over the tax to $6 million under the cap. More importantly it gives the Magic room to re-sign Jason Richardson, use their MLE and still avoid luxury taxes.
Dumping Andres Nocioni could give the Philadelphia 76ers about $9 million in cap before they re-sign players like Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. Leeway under the tax would be about $21 million.
Vince Carter’s contract is only guaranteed for $4 million, so he’s likely cut for a $14.3 million savings. Aaron Brooks may play overseas for a year. Josh Childress would appear to be the obvious Amnesty. That would give the Phoenix Suns about $10 million to spend under the cap.
The trickiest decision this summer may be with the Portland Trail Blazers who have the expensive knees of Brandon Roy to worry about. Can he productively finish out the $69 million left on his deal over four seasons or should he be the cut to get completely out of tax range? With Roy on the roster and a re-signed Greg Oden, the Blazers may land well into the penalty.
Given the size of Brandon’s contract, that’s a difficult one to pay if he’s not on the roster.
The Sacramento Kings are already $24 million under the cap. Do they look to gain another $5.8 by dumping Francisco Garcia? Probably not.
Should Antonio McDyess retire, the San Antonio Spurs may be able to use their MLE without going over the tax. If they wanted breathing room, perhaps they Amnesty or Stretch Richard Jefferson, but after a poor initial year with the team . . . Jefferson was pretty solid last year. The Spurs instead may just hold pat.
The Toronto Raptors have about $10 million in space which could climb to almost $18 million if they used their Amnesty on Leandro Barbosa. A bold move, given the Raptors lack of depth in the backcourt, could be to Amnesty Jose Calderon and Stretch Barbosa to generate about $24 million in space.
Losing Mehmet Okur (and Andrei Kirilenko) could open up about $6 million in cap which may not be a sizable enough get over the MLE for the Utah Jazz to pull the trigger. The team has some level of wiggle room under the tax, even with Okur . . . but Amnesty remains a possibility if the club wants a little bit of breathing room.
At this point Rashard Lewis isn’t worth his contract but the only reason for the Washington Wizards to use is to open up significant cap space. With Lewis on the roster, they’re already about $13 million under the cap. No Shard and suddenly that’s almost $34 million which would be enough to re-sign Nick Young and land another key piece or two.
Hopefully business will resume in the NBA before the season is lost, otherwise the numbers roll over to the 2012/2013 season and a whole new set scenarios open up.